Government formation : Nepal can’t afford further ado

As the nation awaits patiently for the formation of a new government, the political parties have spent enormous time, resources and energy (given the jumbo size of our CA) jostling over the process of electing the President, VP, Chairman of the CA and government leadership. Fortunately, the issue of the president has now been settled. After their presidential candidate, Ram Raja Prasad Singh, lost to Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, the new President, who was backed up by the alliance of NC, CPN-UML and MJF, the Maoists cried foul, declared the three-party alliance unholy and vowed not be a part of new government.

However, at the behest of other political parties and the international community, and in view of the respectable mandate secured in the CA polls, the Maoists have relented and have taken the initiative to form a new government. They have now put forth three pre-conditions to lead the government: a) The alliance of the NC, CPN-UML and MJF be broken; b) all major parties agree to formation and implementation of a common minimum program which will largely reflect the Maoists’ manifesto; and c) a firm commitment of political parties that this government not be toppled prior to the formulation of a new Constitution.

Generally, while these conditions do merit consideration, it is difficult to see how a political alliance of the three parties formed on the basis of certain objectives could be dissolved on an ad hoc basis without a commensurate quid pro quo. As things stand, there are four ways to form the new government: 1) a government of national unity headed by the Maoists with the participation of all major political parties 2) an alliance of left parties led by the CPN-Maoist and CPN-UML 3) a government led by the newly formed alliance of NC, CPN-UML and the MJF with the support of fringe parties; and 4) a minority government of CPN-Maoist with the outside support of major parties.

Of all these alternatives, alternative 1 would be the most desirable in order to achieve peace and stability. Alternatives 2 and 3 are possible given the representation of various parties in the CA, but could prove ineffective in bringing peace and stability. Alternative 2 could propel fears of left domination, which could ultimately transform the new republic into a proletariat dictatorship. Concerned about the future of a vibrant democracy, other democratic political parties may not co-operate, thus perpetuating political instability.

In case the third alternative is implemented, the Maoists could be on the defensive and resort to go in their old, violent ways. The fourth alternative would be untenable as there would be no commitment of support from other parties. So the CPN-Maoist and other political parties must work earnestly to forge a government of national unity. Towards this end, it would be imperative for the parties to prioritise the constituents of national interest, which inter alia, could be the following:

a) People are eager for permanent peace and prosperity through the establishment of a genuine multi-party democracy, which embraces competitive politics with a level playing field. b) People’s aspirations will be best served through economically viable autonomous states that promotes cultural identity and communal harmony. c) The army must be free from political interference and bias and therefore the integration of the PLA members with the NA should be done strictly on a merit basis of individual PLA members.

d) Utmost importance must be given to improvement of law and order situation; all political parties must reach a consensus on integrating the services of the national security apparatus with a view to achieving efficiency and effectiveness in providing national security. In this respect, Maoist affiliated organs such as the YCL and other similar organs of other parties must be barred from taking the law into their own hands.e) There is an urgent need to address the woes of the economy on the verge of collapse. Towards this, all political parties must agree on creating a suitable environment to promote both domestic and foreign investment and increase production, productivity and employment opportunities. All parties must also pledge to ban national bandhs.

In the end, we must remember that Nepal has become a poor and impoverished country owing to lack of visionary leadership and inept governance. Our leaders must wake up to this reality and work towards improving governance by putting national interest above partisan interests. In this regard, it is important that we form a new government without further ado. If the process of government formation of national unity were to drag on, we should take initiatives to form a coalition government backed by some major parties that can at least secure a majority in the CA. The nation can no longer afford to be paralysed with the lacklustre performance of a caretaker government that has outlived its utility.

Thapa is NC Mahasamiti member