The Lack Of Political Acumen

 

Uttam Maharjan

It is axiomatic that political stability is one of the prerequisites for development. Political instability would mar the overall landscape of any country. This is what is exactly happening in this part of the world.

It has been over a decade since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed in 2006 between the then seven-party alliance and the Maoists so as to bring the latter into the mainstream of politics. When the pact was signed, there was a feeling of euphoria across the country that the country would soon pick up the pieces from the decade-long insurgency.

But the pact could not be implemented so easily. Even a decade into the pact, the transitional justice mechanism is yet to be implemented. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been formed but it is yet to complete its assigned task. Without fully implementing the transitional justice mechanism, the peace process cannot be deemed fulfilled. However, the party leaders are boasting that the peace process should be taken by the world community as a model for accomplishing the peace process in other conflict-stricken countries.

Challenge

The biggest challenge facing the country at present is the implementation of the new constitution. The constitution was promulgated in 2015 after going through almost an ordeal. For this, the country had to form the Constituent Assembly twice, incurring billions of rupees. The constitution was promulgated at a time when the country was going through the trauma inflicted on in by a powerful earthquake, necessitating it to make provision for rehabilitation and reconstruction for the earthquake victims. It is an irony that the rehabilitation and reconstruction works are still going on.

The main reason for inordinate procrastination in promulgating the constitution was lack of consensus among the political parties. The Constituent Assembly, which also doubled as the Legislature-Parliament, was held hostage to the whims of the political leaders, thus precluding it from functioning as a constitution-making body. A handful of political leaders acted as if they were the Constituent Assembly, thus balking the majority of other members of their right to express their views and suggestions on the contents of the constitution.

However, the constitution came out at last. The earthquake factor played a major role in the promulgation of the constitution. The political parties had to show to the world community that they were united so as to attract funds for the rehabilitation and reconstruction drive. But the elan with which the constitution was promulgated did not last even a day. The promulgation of the constitution was not able to regale the people. As soon as the constitution was promulgated, the country had to face hardships in the form of the Madhes agitation and the unofficial trade blockade at the hands of India.

The Madhes agitation and the Indian embargo came to a halt more than a year ago. But the protests of the Madhesi parties have not come to a halt. They are still adamant about having their demands fulfilled at any cost. As such, they are threatening to disrupt the upcoming local polls if their demands are not fulfilled. The present government which came to power with backing from, among others, the Madhesi parties with the promise that their demands would be fulfilled is now trying to pacify the Madhesi parties.

The other day, there was an understanding between the government and the Madhesi parties that the latter’s demands, other than the re-demarcation of provinces, would be fulfilled by endorsing the constitution amendment bill, which would be supported by the political parties, including the CPN-UML, and that a powerful commission would be formed to deal with the issue of provincial re-delineation.

Before turning the understanding into a lasting pact, the government has proposed another constitution amendment bill to fulfill the demands of the Madhesi parties in view of the current bill not commending itself to the Madhesi parties and the CPN-UML. As per the revised bill, some articles of the constitution will be revised and put to Parliament and the constitution amendment bill, which has been lying fallow in Parliament for months, will be scrapped. And the issue of provincial demarcation will be resolved through a separate commission to be established soon.

The government was considering registering the bill in Parliament on April 9 but due to a row over the right to change boundaries, the bill could not move ahead. The government has proposed that the right to change boundaries should be given to the concerned provincial assembly or assemblies, whereas the Madhesi parties are in favour of giving such a right to the federal government in consultations with the concerned provincial assembly or assemblies.

 

Undemocratic Attitude

Even if the revised bill is registered in Parliament, it should be put to the vote as per the principles of democracy. But the Madhesi parties are insisting that the bill, whether put to the vote or not, must be endorsed, come hell or high water. This shows their undemocratic attitude. The Madhesi parties should have the guts to accept the outcome, whether it is in their favour or not.

The uncertainty hovering over the political arena in the country may be ascribed to lack of political acumen and vision among the political leaders. They act as if they were leaders but they have never been able to prove themselves to be statesmen. There is a vast difference between leaders and statesmen. So lack of statesmanship qualities among the political leaders may be taken as responsible for all this political chaos in the country.

 

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