PROF. BIRENDRA P MISHRA
The major political forces in the Constituent Assembly (CA) have finally decided to proceed further in the drafting of the constitution by voting, with less than two weeks left to meet the deadline for promulgating of the constitution. Interestingly, the two contentious issues, namely state restructuring and form of governance, will not be put to voting as efforts to reach consensus will be continued. These two issues have very much delayed the progress of writing the constitution for a long time as the issue of state restructuring is related to the devolution of actual power to the people and the form of governance is connected with grabbing state power by the political parties.
The most striking feature of the failure is that the political parties tried to reach consensus separately on the issues, which are integrated to other issues. For example, the issue of governance at the federal level is related to the level of the province as well. If we go for a directly elected executive president, then logically, the chief executive of the province too has to be directly elected. These two issues are to be tackled simultaneously. If they are considered separately, we will be deliberately putting ourselves in a mirage and not trying to get out of it. Similarly, while choosing the electoral system for federal legislature, the CA must keep in mind the electoral system chosen for the provincial legislature and the village or municipal level as well. Similarly, the number of members for the federal legislature should have to be decided along with the provincial legislature, as this will facilitate the CA members to have a rational and composite view of the legislature. Simultaneously, the roles of the central legislatire and the provincial legislature too have to be considered for choosing the number of the members of both the legislatures. The CA should not base its decision confining itself to the number of federal legislatures in India alone, but also keep in mind the he members in other countries like China and Britain.
The decision to draft the constitution on the basis of majority of votes has both positive and negative effects. Positively, if a two-third majority passes any issue at this stage only, it should be declared passed finally by the CA. This will eliminate second voting at any later date. Negatively, it will consume more time when time is running short.
Regarding the decision of making efforts to reach consensus on the disputed issues stated earlier, one wonders as to how these parties, who have wasted almost four years in not forging consensus will reach consensus during this short span of time. If they reach consensus, it can be said that they deliberately extended the house for self-gratification, and if they fail, they will be called incompetent to short out the differences in the larger interest of the nation.
These two issues are related to the greater interests of the people. After the epochal change in the country, if the people with their identities do not share the state power, they will not be satisfied and may vent their resentment in other ways. If the executive power is put in one individual’s hand, this will not satisfy them, as there would be no change in the process, at least apparently, for the executive president cannot have different identities simultaneously being a madhesi or a dalit or a indigenous nationality.
Neither he can represent those who cast their votes against him. In such a
case, the representation cannot claim to have proportional and the elected executive president can hardly claim to represent all. Of course, there are presidential systems in various counties in the world. But each country has its on background. So has Nepal. To represent the diversity, the state power should not be concentrated in one individual. It must be in the hands of more than one at least, if not in many, on the basis of rotation at the highest level.
Similarly, the issue of restructuring of Nepal should be based on the aspirations of the people and not on the interests of certain individuals, whose political base seems to be threatened, though not necessarily.
It is argued that identity and capacity should be made the very bases of the re-structuring. It is good if these two are met. If a situation demands to choose between the two, identity should prevail upon capacity as the latter can be improved or enriched, but not the former, for the identity invariably presupposes individuals and larger groups settled in a territory for a long time with their own custom, tradition, and
The issue of state restructuring is not an issue to be settled once and for all. This has to be followed in the future as well as per the wishes of the people. If the number of provinces is fixed at nine or eleven, there should be a provision in the constitution to have a state reorganization committee to be formed every ten years to evaluate the functioning or the performance of the provinces. If they want, they can further be divided or unified together as well to live and progress together in the days to come. If this provision is kept in the new constitution, it may meet the aspirations of all those, whose wishes are not fulfilled right now.