NC over a barrel on House revival issue

Damaru L Bhandari

Kathmandu, January 1:

The demand for reinstatement of the House of Representatives is gaining momentum within inter-party circles, but the Nepali Congress (NC) leadership seems to be dragging its heels insofar as efforts to step up pressure on concerned quarters for that objective matter.

Although the tilt of ruling coalition ministers and Deputy Speaker Chitra Lekha Yadav in favour of reinstatement has come as a shot in the arm for the NC, the party leadership remains hamstrung in absence of support for the issue from the CPN-Maoists and the monarchy.

“Don’t expect any breakthrough until all stakeholders agree. Consensus eludes them on the common agenda to follow the proposed reinstatement. This rules out an early solution,” said Daman Nath Dhungana, constitutional expert, who was on the panel that drafted the current constitution.

Dhungana, an advocate of constituent assembly as a viable solution, insisted that the resolution of the constitutional crisis depended on evolving a formula agreeable to all, including the Maoists and the King. He also came down heavily on those describing restoration of the House of Representatives as the “need of the hour.”

“The demand now coming from NC and sections of the NC (D) and the CPN-UML, cannot be called a formal one,” Dhungana said, alleging that it was just a plank to piggyback to power — a charge hotly denied by NC leader Krishna Prasad Sitaula. Sitaula said the NC leadership was committed to take the battle to its logical conclusion by convincing both the Maoists and the monarch of the need to evolve a common political agenda. This would, however, still depend on the organisational unity of the parties and political forces involved.

Analysts point out that the NC cannot be deemed to have made any headway until either the SC or King Gyanendra sees room for the recommendation for House reinstatement, following a judicial review or recommendation under Article 127.

Analysts also say that though Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has been rejecting calls that he recommend the revival, the fact that he is under tremendous pressure on that score leaves room for it , with some of the ministers and influential leaders like Deputy Speaker Yadav openly calling for revival of the House and others demanding a constituent assembly too.

Even Speaker Taranath Ranabhat agreed with Yadav, albeit in a more subdued tone.