Imagination, energy desert parties at crucial phase
THIRA L BHUSAL
KATHMANDU, Feb 12: Political parties seem to have run out of imagination and energy when they needed these the most, as they enter the final phase of constitution writing.
Top leaders from the major political parties, who would sit for hours-long meetings at various CA committees and often actually make some progress, have lately been either postponing such meetings or avoiding deliberations on the thorny issues.
The political parties have addressed their differences on minor contentious issues in constitution writing, and so far whittled down a list of over 200 disputes to around a dozen. But differences persist on the thorniest issues such as system of governance, restructuring of the state and electoral system.
"Earlier, the leaders selectively sorted out the minor issues and reduced the number of disputes that were in duplication in different thematic reports; in some cases they merely transferred the items from one report to another," said an official at the CA secretariat privy to developments.
"But confronted with the complicated issues, they are trying to evade them instead of making genuine and persistent efforts," said the official.
It seems they have run out of imagination and creativity and are busy hardening their respective positions instead of exploring any common ground.
Chairman of the Constitutional Committee, Nilambar Acharya, thinks that there are two main reasons behind the current difficulty the party leaders find themselves in.
First, they have run into a problem because they hadn´t reached any broad agreement on the key principles of the future constitution.
"If they had agreed on the fundamental issues and key principles of the future constitution, things would have been much easier," Acharya said.
Secondly, the external environment--outside the CA-- is not conducive to progress. "The parties haven´t made good enough progress on the peace process and the mistrust among the major parties is widening, sapping their energy for dealing with the complicated issues," Acharya said.
Leaders from the major political parties don´t seem to be in the mood for any give and take as they see their values, their future and even their existence at stake.
Nepali Congress (NC), the second largest party in the CA, is relentlessly lobbying for a parliamentary system as the grand old party sees it as its ideal, for which it has fought continuously for the last 60 years.
But for the Maoist party which walked out on parliament and waged a 10-year insurgency against the parliamentary system, accepting the same old system now would be tantamount to surrender.
Even as differences on key issues persisted, Dahal announced while emerging from a subcommittee meeting in the last week of December that they had resolved all the contentious issues except for a few.
Five weeks since that dramatic announcement the parties are still stuck on those "few" issues, and agreement looks as distant as ever.
Distrust among the major political parties runs so deep that members of a committee formed to draft an amendment to the CA regulations and pave the way for forwarding the State Restructuring Commission report to one of the CA committees has failed to reach agreement even weeks after it was entrusted with the responsibility.
While four of the five-member drafting committee are for forwarding the commission´s report to a full sitting of the CA for deliberations before sending it on to the CC, which is entrusted with preparing an integrated draft of the new constitution, Maoist lawmaker Amrita Thapa, who also heads the committee, is adamant that the report should be forwarded to the CA´s thematic committee on state restructuring before it goes to the full CA and the CC. Failing to find a solution, Thapa has stopped even convening the committee meetings.