Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, in his first address to the nation on Wednesday after taking office a week ago, has appealed to all the political parties represented in the dissolved parliament to join hands with him to form an all-party government. Yesterday, he formed his cabinet by inducting two of his own partymen, Prakash Man Singh and Bimalendra Nidhi. The remaining four parties in the “anti-regression” alliance appear to be continuing the agitation. Congress president Girija Prasad Koirala, speaking in Biratnagar on Wednesday, said that the alliance would not be weaker and that its demands and 18-point agenda would see some changes. Deuba said that the street protests would have no meaning, now that he has been “reinstated.” Elections, the peace process, and resolution of the present crisis within the framework of constitutional monarchy and multiparty democracy are some of the major features of his address. These points had been covered by the previous government, too, in its statement of policy. But the RPP is withholding its decision till the CPN-UML comes out with its own. Similarly, the RPP is making its decision to join the government conditional on the latter’s response to its “policies and programmes.”

The CPN-UML has taken a positive view of Deuba’s appointment as Prime Minister. But it has attached a number of riders to its support or participation. It is seeking guarantees from Deuba that he enjoys “sovereign and executive powers.” It also appears to have reservations about Deuba’s priority of holding the polls over resuming the peace process. It favours a new constitution if it can bring peace and this is included in its nine-point road map. A good number of its central leaders insist on taking part in the government to provide “good governance.” But the party leadership seems to be fearful that an alliance with Deuba may land it in difficulties, tarnishing its public image. Vacillation is no virtue. In the absence of the parliament, backing for the government from outside will carry little meaning, though it may see a halt to the party’s protest programme. If the country is to be given a way out of the crisis, the CPN-UML should take the plunge. Elections are the only way to make the Constitution fully functional again. When an all-party government exists, there is no need for a neutral electoral government. Making impossible demands like the restoration of the parliament will make matters only worse, prolonging the political and constitutional crisis. The CPN-UML, as also the other parties, would do well to join the government with their clear agendas and work for crisis resolution. If they find that the government is powerless, as alleged by some, they might want to quit in protest.