ANANTA RAJ LUITEL
KATHMANUDU: Wary of missing the May 27 deadline once again, with less than a week remaining to promulgate the constitution, top leaders of major political forces today, during their meeting with President Dr Ram Baran Yadav, floated the idea of yet another extension of the Constituent Assembly term.
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala, CPN-UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal and DPM and Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Democratic Chairman Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar held an hourlong meeting this morning with the Head of State and briefed him on country’s politics and negotiations they are holding. The leaders, it is learnt, told the President that term extension was the only option left if the constitution were to be promulgated through CA.
However, Prime Minister Bhattarai’s press adviser Devendra Paudel told THT that what leaders said was just an idea.“It was discussed just as an alternative when discussions reached the point: What if CA fails to deliver the constitution by May 27.”
Paudel said the leaders ‘are well aware of the fact that this is not the right time to discuss term extension option’. “The leaders assured the President that they will do their best to forge consensus on disputed issues,” he added. Term extension, however, is an option the leaders will dread to go with in view of Supreme Court’s November 25 verdict in which it had said failure to promulgate the statute by May 27 will result in automatic dissolution of CA.
Experts on constitution and politicians, on the other hand, argue that the SC verdict does not bar CA from extending the term ‘if abnormal situation arises in the country’, which implies that a state of emergency can be declared to extend the CA tenure.
The leaders told the President that the situation had become complicated with growing demands from several castes and communities and that they were facing difficulties to work on the constitution.
According to a source close to the government, the leaders are of the view that the constitution must be promulgated through CA and for that term extension was required.
President’s Press Adviser Rajendra Dahal said Dr Yadav cautioned the leaders to complete the task of drafting the constitution by the May 27 deadline and told them to try to resolve all the problems by today itself.
When CA Chairman Subas Nembang asked about the idea to extend CA term that the leaders discussed with the President, Nembang said, ““I did not have the faintest idea that leaders talked about it. No one discussed this with me.”
‘What will be political justification?’
KATHMANDU: Lawmakers have said extending the Constituent Assembly term by declaring state of emergency may give legitimacy to the move but that will require serious political justification. “Such a move will create room for misuse of authority, and we must be cautious about this,” said UML lawmaker Agni Kharel. “Though the Interim Constitution has given this option, it is not easy to prove the rationale for such a move. What will be the political justification for such a step when there has been no significant progress made on the constitution front. An artificial emergency cannot be imposed just to extend the CA term,” said Kharel, adding that seeking fresh mandate, as suggested by the Supreme Court, will be rather a more fruitful option. NC lawmaker Radheshyam Adhikary also said the parties do not have justification for yet another extension as no vital progress has been seen in the constitution-making process. “Further extension will invite serious question against CA’s legitimacy because it was elected only for two years. One more extension and CA will lose its legitimacy,” said Adhikary.