How much is left?

While the uncertainty over the country’s political future remains unchanged, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala continues to make remarks which at times are hope-inspiring and at others confusing at best. Statements emanating from senior members of big parties and senior ministers have hardly helped clear up the public confusion, either. Koirala, who has spoken of giving the monarch some ‘political space’ to avoid unpleasant consequences, has now also spoken of giving ‘space to non-democrats’. Talking to children from fourteen zones at Baluwatar on Saturday, Koirala also said he had told Maoist chairman Prachanda that the latter had a future only if problems were solved during the former’s tenure. Citing the saying ‘Man proposes, God disposes’, the Prime Minister laid the blame at God’s door for ‘disrupting’ him in ‘accomplishing his mission’.

The obstacles standing in the way of transition to a new political order through the constituent assembly elections are no doubt mountainous.

Anybody in Koirala’s position now would be under heavy pressures from various quarters as regards how to approach the issues at hand. While acknowledging this, one cannot ignore Koirala’s duty as the Prime Minister installed by the people’s movement. His main duty is therefore to the people, to the mandate they have given through Jana Andolan II, to the 12-point agreement on which stood the success of the movement, as well as to the eight- and five-point accords signed later. The people will recognise no other compulsions of Koirala, and for that matter, of Prachanda. They want the CA polls held as early as possible. And in order to pave the way for the polls, an interim constitution and interim legislature must be finalised without further delay, leading to the formation of an interim government, including the Maoists.

But what seems indefensible is the stalling of the progress towards this goal over the issue of arms management, which has been well taken care of by all the three agreements (of 12, 8 and 5 points). If both sides stick to these, the deck gets cleared for a political settlement. It does not behove any political leader, all the more so Premier Koirala, to speak of arms management in ways that tend to contradict the agreements they themselves or their parties have signed. Now, with the five-point letter sent to the UN requesting help in managing arms, the two sides are supposed to see to it that they abide by what they have agreed on. No national leader, including Koirala, can get away by shifting his lack of resolution to God or to some ‘invisible hand’. Once they have given their full mandate, the people do not want it to be diluted. It is not for Koirala either to give or not to give space to anybody, in this case to ‘non-democrats’. Everybody should create his own space, although it is the people who decide how much space each political entity will get. The constituent assembly will be a major test of that.