Will Politics Move Ahead Smoothly?


Narayan Upadhyay

The politics of the nation is still mired in confusion and chaos, though the major political parties appear to have inched closer to address some of the key political issues. Only time will tell whether these solutions would be of long-lasting or of temporary nature, because in our nation the mood and demands of the parties and leaders keep on changing with every change in the government.

Lately, to bring the agitating Madhesi parties on the election board, the government has withdrawn the contentious constitution amendment bill with a view to table a new amendment bill that would be devoid of the clause on the redrawing of the provinces. The withdrawal of the contentious bill came following the long rounds of parleys among the major political parties including the Madhesi Front and the CPN-UML.

These parties had been at opposing poles on the recently withdrawn bill. While the main opposition UML termed the bill anti-national and was dead against its endorsement, the Madhesi Front had exerted unprecedented pressure on the government to endorse it. So much so that the angry Madhesi parties that earlier pulled out its support to the government, had threatened to disrupt the May 14 elections should the bill fail to get the Parliament's endorsement.

As the tussle among the parties over the bill deepened, the government, mainly the ruling coalition partners- the Maoist Centre and the Nepali Congress and their leaders, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and NC President, brought out a new formula that would be acceptable for the two opposing forces. As per the new decision, the task of redrawing of the provinces, as demanded by the Madhesis, would be authorised to a powerful commission that would be formed in subsequent days. Some other clauses pertaining to the citizenship and the language has been kept at it is while the clause related to the formation of the upper house of the parliament has also witnessed a slight change. Earlier, it was decided that the representatives of the village, municipal level could also vote to elect the representatives at upper house. Now, only the representatives of the provincial parliament will be authorised to elect the upper house representatives.

The new amendment bill is expected to sooth the nerves of the agitating Madhesis and the main opposition and is expected to facilitate the Madhesi parties to get involve in the local elections. The main opposition too will be happy if the May 14 elections, for which it is dying for, will be held in a peaceful manner. Given the present political situation, which has given rise to the "nationalist" and "anti-national" fervours in the political discourse of the country, the participation of the all political parties in the local elections have become a surmounting issue of political importance. The main opposition is hoping to cash on the party's nationalist fervour to "sweep" the election results in its favour.

It was not an easy ride for the Prime Minister and his coalition partners for taking a call on the withdrawal of the constitution amendment bill and to replace it with new one which will be without the provincial redrawing clause.

Apart from the Madhesi's demands, the issue of the seniority among the deputy prime ministers consumed much of the government's time and delayed the crucial Cabinet meeting for more than three weeks. The DPM seniority issue proved too hot to handle for the Prime Minister of the coalition government that he went on China visit without handing over the government's responsibility to the any of three deputy prime ministers. The issue snowballed into major crisis after Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bimlendra Nidhi threatened to resign if he was not given the senior DPM's role. The Prime Minister, it was learnt, was in favour to hand over the seniority role to DPM Kamal Thapa, which he did. Before giving the role of the senior DPM to Thapa, the PM must have taken into consideration RPP’s support to the government in the aftermath of the Madhesi parties' pulling out the support. Thapa had claimed that among the three DPMs, he is the senior most, because he had become the senior DPM in the earlier governments, much before Nidhi.

The seniority issue was settled after much delay and only after the intervention of the NC president who convinced Nidhi not to blow the issue anymore. As a face saving measure, Nidhi did not attend the cabinet meeting held on Monday that took some major decisions including the replacement of the amendment bill with new one and the appointment of the new inspector general of police. Though Nidhi attracted raps for failing to attend the cabinet meeting, he survived to continue as the DPM and the Home Minister.

The matter related to the appointment of the IGP too caused embarrassment to the government that had two months ago appointed Jaya Bahadur Chand to the post. The Supreme Court quashed the appointment citing that the government failed to take into consideration the performance assessment marks to appoint the IGP. The government, compelled to take up performance assessment of the eligible senior policemen into consideration, had to appoint DIG Prakash Aryal as new IGP, who had higher marks than other IGP hopefuls.

The Nepali Congress later criticised the Supreme Court decision and later some Congressmen including the party general secretary was heard saying that the judiciary should be brought under the Parliament's domain. The NC acts drew flak from several quarters that cited that the NC's verbal volleys against the SC have not gone down well with the party's "much revered" democratic credentials.

Many political pundits see the present solutions to the political crises as temporary. The major coalition partner, the NC, seems to be in need of such solutions because the NC president is supposed to hold the government's rein soon after the local elections. The party and its president do not want any troubles brewing before the elections as it may jeopardise his chance of taking the government helm. The NC president must be aware of the fact that in the Nepali political landscape, even the sworn enemies can join forces when opportunity to form government comes to them. The NC is fearful that it should not upset the Prime Minister and the ruling party at this juncture because the Prime Minister is supposed to hand over the key of the government to the NC president.

This shows that the Nepal's present day politics has been centred on power. The parties and leaders are deeply engrossed in ensuring a place in the government rather than in resolving the crisis and to give an exit to the present chaotic political situation. This is the prime reason we often witness changes taking in the government but fail to see strong permanent solutions to the problems.


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