Election wisdom

The election to the Constituent Assembly election is just forty-one days away. The closed lists of candidates have been submitted to the Election Commission for proportional election, and the candidates have filed their nomination papers under first-past-the-post system. Today is fixed for withdrawing one’s candidature if one wants to pull out of the fray. As the SPA constituents have put up separate candidacies in all the constituencies, it appears unlikely that any open, official electoral alliance will take place between the parties, even partially. But, in the meantime, consultations were held between leaders of some of the parties, particularly between those of the CPN-UML and the CPN-Maoist, to discuss the possibility of forging some kind of electoral alliance. But not much headway seems to have been made. Though the leaders of the CPN-Maoist and the Janamorcha Nepal had made efforts recently to achieve party unification, it did not come off because of certain differences. Some are also betting on the probability of the Nepali Congress striking some kind of deal with one or the other party inside or outside the SPA alliance later on.

Whether any such alliance materialises will be clear in the few days. The CPN-UML has already ruled out any electoral deal with any party at central level, but it has kept open the option of district-level patch-ups. This still keeps alive some hope of partial electoral adjustments between parties within the alliance. Some of the leaders of major political parties have said that if they had to make electoral deals, they would do so only in the interest of their own parties. But stress on mutual interest would make any deal more likely. Even more important is the task the nation has entrusted to the SPA — steering the country through the political transition by fulfilling the people’s mandate given through the 2006 Jana Andolan. There has been a large area of commonality between the SPA partners on some of the most vital issues facing the nation — such as the question of monarchy and federalism — that an electoral alliance of some kind, even partially, would only contribute to the attainment of their common goals.

As the Constituent Assembly is going to draft a new constitution to guide the future governance of the country, it would indeed be a wiser course for the SPA partners to make certain of their joint majority to institutionalise the gains of Jana Andolan, as they have so many common agendas and are bound by their joint commitments. So, it would not make much sense for them to fight one another, boosting the prospects of the outsiders who did not lead the Jana Andolan, did not participate in it, or even opposed it. The SPA should possess this spirit. But in doing so, there should be no discrimination between Leftists and non-Leftists. After the gains of Jana Andolan are formalised in the new constitution, there will be so many occasions for fighting elections solo or through any kind of electoral permutation and combination that may suit them. But now the common tasks are not complete yet.