Finally, We Have The National Assembly

Prem Khatry


This brings a good news for all concerned. The long wait is over. First, there were months people spent in waiting to hear the final results from the Election Commission to be happy that finally a government will be in place and it will push the slow moving development cart ahead. Then this National Assembly (NA) thing was another aspect of the current discussion heard in nearly all the corners of the towns, cities and villages. Even not knowing what is all about, what it stands for and how it is going to fare in the three-tier political and governance structure, people heard about it, read about it and therefore waited for it to see it formed according to the guidelines offered by the constitution of Nepal.
Politically and constitutionally alert people knew there is going to be a two-chamber parliament in Nepal and the NA is very much the Upper House of the Parliament in the contemporary fashion seen in many countries around the world. It is the Nepali version of the House of Lords (UK) of the Senate (US) or the Rajya Sabha (India). This is a place where reputed individuals who have made valuable contribution to the country in some way or the other are pleaded to show their presence for the final time and do something significant.

The folks leaning on the NA chair feel that finally the nation has not forgotten them altogether and that there is some time left to make some contribution to the society and the country while consuming a good package of the revenue collected from the sweat of the people. Supposedly, this lot is glad the comfortable seat is made available for them despite their non-partisan outlook and philosophy of life.
In fact, this is an ideal situation. May be there are upper houses in countries where a thorough search is made to find such individuals who will not just show up sometimes, greet the pals, receive the pay check and storm out of the building with a grin on the wrinkling face.
BUT, low and behold the scenario built around the NA formation in Nepal now! Imagine how the NA is going to look like this time in our parliament. It is supposed to make history and according to some tales moving around the city, it is going to make one. This news is very important because NA is there in the constitution and it is an integral part of not just the parliament but the federal structure as well. It has a form and function according to that form. Otherwise it won’t be there.
Political parties as major players are said to be all set in the rounds of game leading to the final form of NA. What is their preparation like and what are the gossips? Only an insider would know things better yet the writer makes an unauthorised effort to peep into the scene. He has all humility and excuses for daring this short and perhaps sour comment.
First of all, the writer sees that there is a tendency in the world and even in our own region where people believe in the continuity of good democratic practices for the interest of the people. This feeling and determination encourages them to cast their ballot for the same individual for the second or even more terms. Every now and then new faces also appear and either persist or disappear in other rounds.
South Asia is also known for hereditary transfer of power or/and the gradual induction of young family member to the party and the parliament gradually. First, they have to prove their worth. Rahul Gandhi is an example where he is now the 5th generation Nehru blood to lead the party. Only he is seen as a face to create conducive atmosphere to challenge Modi in the next election. Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh have shown their hereditary power transfer at times.
Nepal has tried to follow suit as far as family and clan politics is concerned. Some ‘kids’ have successfully established themselves while others are emerging or making effort to that direction. This is not too bad a practice if the person is worth it. But Nepalis now strongly feel the stories behind the NA election is creating ‘no-no’ type public opinion. This is a serious matter although this may be late to reverse the situation our leaders have created.
This time many leaders will find their spouses sitting around them in a very familial environment. People have the fear more than political and development agenda, this time ladies will have ample time to talk about sweater designs for their hubbies, the president’s sari craze, their children’s schools and plans for migration to the west defying Hon Lal Babu Pandit’s warnings and neighbor’s barking dogs disturbing their peace. There could be more agenda but the writer can only imagine some based on experiences in the university offices.
In Nepal, following the neighbor’s good practices are common phenomena. So, those who were critical of Deuba duo yesterday, find more duos this time at NA. When the ‘shame’ and ‘conscience’ compartments of the human brain are shunned even temporarily, many new ideas and plans emerge to amuse the humans around. This time all the major parties have shown this. Mr Mahantha Thakur did not find a seasoned intellectual to lead his Pradesh. More will follow his policy now and the time to come.

Family link
UML and the Left Coalition didn’t find enough doctors, professors, engineers, intellectuals and planners for NA and took refuge at family level. They are surprising even their ranks and voters by filling NA with spouses and relatives against the spirit of the constitution. For them Prof Kamal Krishna Joshi, or other intellectuals with credibility couldn’t match the honorable wives and family members. Joshi is but one example coming offhand in the writer’s mind. Asta Laxmi Shakya was another such person to be removed from the historic occasion of being the ‘First’ female CM of a Pradesh. Who cares? It seems to be the tendency behind the preparation of the final list of candidates to be ratified for the job NA is entrusted to do.
Finally, formation of the nation’s parliament is not a laughing matter. One can only hope the family members will not humiliate their benefactors further by indulging in gossip or keeping the chair and hall empty when serious issues are discussed and business sessions are fully on. Good luck, lucky people!!

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