Sagar SJB Rana

The news of reinstatement of Sher Bahadur Deuba as Prime Minister of the country has received diverse and most interesting responses from different quarters. The hot debate as to whether it is an appointment similar in nature to those of previous two appointments or a reinstatement seems to have received even greater focus than analysis of the merits and demerits, opportunities and challenges in the context of impending crisis.

It is natural that political parties and their followers would make their own interpretation, in line with their interests, but some eminent jurists have also expressed opinions that I must beg to differ with. First of all, there is no provision of a ‘reinstatement’ in our Constitution, so the fact that the communiqué categorically accepts that sovereign power rests with the people and the executive authority with the Council of Ministers is far more significant, and in line with the constitutional provisions, than the use of the word reinstatement. According to the Oxford Dictionary, ‘reinstate means’ ‘to re-establish in former position and privilege’.

Former position of Deuba is of the last elected prime minister, elected in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. His privilege and authority in that position was derived from the people; on this basis, representing and respecting the will of the people, he resisted the pressure put on him, prior to October 4, to resign from his post. His refusal brought about his dismissal. NC (D) commenced its movement for restoration of this position and reinstatement of the deposed prime minister, which places the constitutional process back on track, perhaps not wholly and fully, but in substantial measure. The jurists are correct in the conclusion that there is no provision in the Constitution that allows the King to unilaterally dismiss a prime minister or Council of Ministers, as a consequence no provision for him to restore it; thus until new elections are held reinstatement is the closest process to revive the essence of the Constitution.

Reinstatement of Deuba, however, is merely the first step towards normalisation, but a corrective step nonetheless. If viewed in a positive light, one must acknowledge that the King has recognised that his analysis of the national situation as of October 2002 needed to be revised, that while the people were dissatisfied with performance of the parties in the past 12 years, they were and are still in favour of a democratic process in preference to an authoritarian state. One can take a constructive view therefore that the King has taken the present step, in realisation of these sentiments and feelings of the people and in line with his messages, often expressed, but as often doubted, that he would like to see continuation of the democratic process and his commitment to constitutional monarchy.

The ball is now in the court of the political parties and, in particular, with PM. The need of the hour is that the authority as well as responsibility of bringing about a solution to the national crisis should be taken up and shared by and amongst the parties, especially those represented in parliament. The corrective measures must now come from them. The PM should lead the way in displaying the magnanimity and broad-minded approach towards other parties and establish values and norms that are aimed at the benefit of the people, where his allegiance lies. Similarly, the other parties, and in particular their leaders, should also think first of their accountability to the people at large. Only on this basis will it be possible to bring about national reconciliation, a prerequisite for the primary desire of the people: Peace.

Rana is a member, Central Working Committee, NC (D)