With the fifth amendment to the Interim Constitution (IC) on July 13, it is hoped that for the time being, no further amendment will be required for the formation of government and smooth functioning of the Constituent Assembly (CA). As a matter of fact, the elected CA is yet to embark upon its primary function; it is engrossed in legislative actions which are of secondary importance. Interestingly, it is the peace process itself that has been pushed to the back burner.

The passage of the amendment is likely to erect some hurdles in the near future. First, at the time of its approval, there were only 449 members present in the House, and 152 members, including the six Madhesi parties with 87 members, were notably absent after boycotting successive assembly sessions for more than a week. Secondly, the bill seeking representation of the main opposition party in the National Defence Council was rejected by 337 votes against 124 votes cast in its favour. These are signs that the daily business of Costituent Assembly will be a bumpy ride. Thirdly, the provision for inclusion of opposition party in the CA has also sent a wrong message to the people who had given their mandate for consensual

constitution making.

In the absence of consensus in the House, it would be a Herculean task to pass each and every Article on the basis of a two-third majority. Lastly, the constitution has been amended with a two-third majority of the members present in the House, ignoring a substantial number

of members who represent a region fighting for its own identity.Ironically, it took about two months to pave the way for formation of a government, necessitating amendments to the IC. Regretfully, political leaders tend to concentrate only on current problems, overlooking even the issues that are in the near horizon. Sometimes, vital decisions are taken without considering their pros and cons, resulting in unusually lengthy delays in reaching the desired goals.

Some people are of the view that there would have been no problem in the formation of the elected government had the leaders been foresighted enough to visualise the outcome of the CA election. Mixed/Parallel system for CA election was the main cause for the fractured electoral verdict. First-Past-the-Post system, a component of the Parallel system, is good for parliamentary elections, for it provides seats in the House to the party in proportion to the votes received by it, facilitating easy formation of the government.

The electoral calculations made by the major parties were based on their previous electoral performances, ignoring the changed ground reality of shifting voter mindset; they failed miserably to understand this simple fact. What also came into the equation was the disruptive Maoist tactics aimed at garnering votes in their favour and the failure of government machinery to rein them in.The outcome of the CA election has vastly altered the dynamics of

consensual politics that had started with the signing of the 12-point agreement. CPN-Maoist emerged as the single largest party; NC and CPN-UML became distant second and third. The emergence of Madhesi parties, which control 15 per cent seats, has added a new dimension to the whole CA structure. Their presence cannot be ignored.

One of the two political scenarios might emerge: one, if the Madhesi parties decide to boycott the House, it may spoil the peace process as well as the constitution-making process. If the constitution is written without their participation, the Madhesis will not own it as theirs. Hence, their demand for their own constitution will remain unfulfilled, sowing seeds for future conflicts. Two, if the NC and the Madhesi parties form a joint front, it would be difficult to proceed further in the constitution-making process.The peace process seems to be nobody’s concern. It calls for serious attention of all those represented in the CA as the House itself is an integral part of it. Several issues, including that relating to insurgency victims, have remained unattended. If CPN-Maoist victims are taken care of by the party itself, it will be all right; if not, deep scars left by Maoist violence on the minds of the victims will remain for a long time. Insurgency victims have not received any substantial relief.

Seized properties have not been returned. There is no consensus on the bill regarding Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The culture of impunity continues unabated. People are afraid that such critical issues are likely to be dealt with the old Maoist way if the party comes to power. The party has also failed to control the Young Communist League cadres. Since the Maoists have to head the government and lead the House in making constitution, it must realise its obligation to bring all stakeholders together to run the House smoothly so as to reach its final goal of writing a constitution for a democratic and federal Nepal.

Prof Mishra is ex-election commissioner