In our image

While the SPA and the CPN-Maoist face the challenge of meeting the deadlines for other schedules after the November 21 signing of the Comprehensive Peace Treaty (CPT), even SPA constituents, visibly the CPN-UML, do not seem emotionally united. The CPN-UML feels it has been shabbily treated by the Nepali Congress. It also seems to be nursing a grievance that it could not get more seats in the yet-to-be-formed 330-member interim legislature. In Biratnagar a few days ago, CPN-UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal clearly indicated his displeasure by saying that his party would not drag itself to interim government unless it was given a “respectable” status. He even accused Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala of “direct interference” in the ministries held by CPN-UML members, thereby cutting their effectiveness. Koirala’s reply, fired from Biratnagar two days later, was none too conciliatory either when he said it would make no difference even if “some” people did not take part in the Maoist-included interim government.

The central committee (CC) meeting of the CPN-UML that got under way yesterday is expected to come up with significant decisions on the performance of the present coalition government led by Koirala and on the implementation aspects of the CPT. It is also reported likely to come up with a stance on the question of its participation in the interim government. No doubt, the CPN-UML deserves due representation. What does not, however, sound like a strong argument under the peculiar circumstances of the country is that the CPN-Maoist should have got less than the CPN-UML did because the Maoists had not won the elections. But the CPN-UML did not lay a claim to having more seats on the grounds that it had bagged more popular votes than the Congress — this assumes importance at a time when a mixed electoral system is being adopted for the CA polls.

No less important is the need for the dissatisfied to make their point in time and, if need be, even take a strong stand. But it does not create a favourable public image of any political party if it first signs an agreement or accepts any compromise formula, including that on power-sharing, and then makes a big issue of it after the fact. This is the problem that has been dogging the CPN-UML for the last several years. The past agreements cannot be undone, however flawed they might have been. The political parties should now look forward to the present and the future, displaying a sense of mutual accommodation and fairness to one another, even persisting in their stands provided these are justifiable. It is not clear how many SPA constituents will finally stay out of the interim government, but the Nepal Workers and Peasants Party has announced that it will follow its present policy in not joining it. The parties ought to take much greater interest in pushing for measures needed to ensure free and fair CA polls than going to great lengths to get one more cabinet berth. In this, all the parties should demonstrate flexibility, all the more so the party of the Prime Minister.