It comes as a whiff of fresh breeze that Nepali Congress (NC) prime ministerial candidate Ram Chandra Paudel has spoken his mind as regards backing UCPN (M) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal for the premier post if the Maoists are committed to take action on the peace process initiative. This comes as a piece of genuine flexibility transcending the boundaries of personal motives. However, there are those four long-standing demands that the NC had made to the Maoists quite a while back concerning the return of the seized properties during the insurgency, managing the combatants and handing over weapons in their possession to the state and the dismantling of the paramilitary structure of the YCL. On all these genuine demands, the Maoists have been indifferent but they go on making their own new demands at every turn. The Maoists by playing neutral during the prime ministerial election, as the CPN (UML) and other parties have done, are not working to break the political deadlock that is taking a heavy toll since Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned almost four months back. That nothing concrete has emerged shows that the Maoists have not been sincere in adhering to the agreements and commitments that they had made. Paudel was right in pointing out that the Maoists have defaulted in their promise to look into the peace-related issues as soon as PM Nepal quit. As the observers can plainly see, no leaf in the peace issues have been turned by the Maoists.
By pulling out of the election, UCPN (M) has not offered any way out but rather has complicated the whole scenario. Together with UML, the Maoists talk the theoretical consensus without any roadmap to arrive at a solution. They also have been urging Paudel to opt out of the fray, but it will make no sense without any agreed path to diffuse the stalemate. It is yet another attempt to delay the whole transition period which is highly undesirable. Moreover, it is only with the formation of the high level taskforce with Dahal as the coordinator that some real thrust has been taken to deal with the over 200 contentious issues of the seven thematic Constituent Assembly (CA) committees. At the slow pace that the taskforce is moving, it is difficult to see the constitution being promulgated by May 29, 2011. It is agreed that constitution-writing for a democratic republic that Nepal is cannot be easy or a overnight task, a lot goes into making it. But, the political parties in the CA have not been sincere and dedicated in the statute writing task, foremost being UCPN (M), which has only recently thawed a little.
In this context, the Maoists have to prove that they will fulfill their promises made repeatedly so that the country rights itself, the budget comes to dislodge the economic crisis, the statute-drafting moves at a refined pace and the peace process gets the urgent attention for a logical conclusion. And, Paudels’ prescription that only the establishment of peace prior to the promulgation of the constitution augurs well for those desiring sustainable peace in the country. The gauntlet, in fact, is in the court of the Maoists, and they must act without mincing words for ending the impasse.
Banking on hope
Traffic chaos in Kathmandu valley is something that is here to stay unless drastic measures are lined up. To make matters worse, the high level of air pollution from vehicular emissions is a genuine health hazard the effects of which are telling on the people living here. While the roads have not increased, the entry of new vehicles of every size and shape is continuously increasing. The easy EMI system has made it convenient for people with small earning to be the owner of a vehicle-mostly two-wheelers. Besides the congestion of the roads and the increasing road mishaps, the traffic cops and the department concerned are at their wit’s end to find a solution. They have not mulled over stopping the import of vehicles, and it is only something innovative that can work wonders for the traffic movement in the valley.
Now, a Kathmandu Sustainable Urban Transport Project is to be launched by the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works. The project aims at upgrading the major junctions in the valley. The pedestrians trail will also be upgraded, and the traffic police will be trained among others. It is hoped that unwinding the valley traffic chaos could be the outcome as the project’s achievement.