EDITORIAL: Stand united

The united stand the three major parties displayed at the time of drafting the constitution should be maintained till the new elections are held under the new constitution

When Nepali Congress president Sushil Koirala was elected Prime Minister of Nepal on February 11, 2014 the NC and CPN-UML, the second largest force in the Constituent Assembly, had reached a seven-point agreement in which both had also reached a “gentleman’s agreement” that Koirala would resign immediately after the promulgation of the new constitution. The new constitution was supposed to be promulgated on January 22, 2015. But it could not be delivered on that date, and it stretched for eight more months till September 20 when the new constitution was declared by 90 per cent of the vote in the CA. PM Koirala himself had, on records, also said that he would resign the moment the new constitution is delivered. Instead of announcing his resignation, the PM, however, while addressing the Legislature-Parliament on Friday, said that he would ask the President to proceed with electing the new PM as per the transitional provision of the new constitution. The constitutional provision has it that the process of electing the new government shall begin within seven days from the commencement of the Legislature-Parliament.

PM Koirala should have announced his resignation as per the parliamentary practice and the constitutional provision. When the four major parties reached the 16-point agreement on June 8 that paved the way for the promulgation of the new constitution they had also reiterated their commitment, albeit in an informal agreement, to form a new government under the UML leadership. With the promulgation of the new constitution the NC leaders have started claiming that there was no gentleman’s agreement as reported in the media between the two or four parties. The NC leadership has, as in the past, shown a kind of political dishonesty by breaching the unwritten agreement reached between the two major parties. In politics everything is not recorded in writing. The political parties often reach an unwritten understanding to settle the immediate pressing political issues.

The need of the hour is to maintain a united stand of the three major parties as displayed before the constitution-drafting process. The new constitution would not have been possible without the three major parties coming together for a single cause. The united stand the three major parties displayed at the time of drafting the constitution should  be maintained till the new elections are held under the new constitution. The concerned parties should also abide by whatever agreements they had reached in the past. As many as 100 Bills are to be drafted to conduct the elections of the local bodies, Pradesh Assemblies and Federal Parliament under the new constitution. The major parties should remain untied as the country is still passing through a transitional period, even though the new constitution has been delivered as it will take time to fully implement the new constitution. It will also be an uphill task to amend the constitution to address concerns of the agitating Madhesi parties if the three major parties stand divided. They should also understand the fact that the constitution cannot be implemented if the agitating parties are not brought on board the democratic process. This is possible only if they remain united.

Be fair

Every year, prior to the festivities the government usually opens fair price shops. These shops sell commodities like rice, sugar and edible oil at a price less than the market price. Therefore, the intervention of the government during this period assists in keeping the market prices of such essential commodities fair. However, now although Dashain is just around the corner, it is uncertain if such fair price stalls will be opened this year. The Salt Trading Corporation and National Trading Ltd. are the two government-owned public undertakings that operate these stalls. However, it appears that these yet have to be given the funds. Last year they reported a huge loss from operating these stalls.

The fair price shops are popular among the consumers. The private sectors are also encouraged to participate by opening stalls at the fair. The Finance Ministry should release the funds to compensate for the loss. The Ministry of Commerce and Supplies says it intends to open more of these shops, particularly in the earthquake-affected districts.