Much ado

The opposition parties, particularly the Nepali Congress, have created a hue and cry in the Constituent Assembly, which doubles up as the Legislature-Parliament, over the issue of a Maoist CA member entering the compound of the CA building along with arms-carrying guards. This row even contributed to disruption of House proceedings for two days. Deputy Prime Minister Bamdev Gautam, who is also home minister, told the Legislature-Parliament on Saturday that nobody, except the government’s security personnel, is allowed to enter the CA premises along with arms for whatever reasons, including personal security, and that if anybody did so, they would face action according to the law. Speaking as acting Prime Minister, Gautam said that the ‘CA is a sacred, arms-free place, and that the government has made sufficient arrangements for security within the CA premises. He added that if any party leader or activist needed personal security, the government could consider further arrangements.

The Congress made an issue out of a non-issue. In the past, too, since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed, certain Maoist leaders had been moving around, escorted by their private guards bearing permitted light arms, and they even entered the premises of the parliament, Singhadurbar, and the Prime Minister’s residence. A designated number of Maoist leaders have been given this facility under the CPA, and government decided to that effect. This issue should be viewed in the light of this to determine whether Maoist CA member in question was permitted or not. If they did according to the agreements, government decision and understanding with the government, there was no cause for concern. Obviously, nobody is allowed to enter the CA hall carrying arms, and Maoist MPs in the past and CA members now have not breached this rule. As long as the Congress headed the coalition government, it did not object to it, because it had been permitted. So, making an issue out of it now not only indicates its double standard, but also points to the lack of better issues.

Gautam’s statements in the parliament cannot be branded as not authoritative, as one Maoist leader tried to do. And he must have made them in full understanding with top Maoist leaders. And the Maoist lawmakers have stopped entering the CA compound with their private armed escort. This particular issue has been resolved for now, but it could be raised again for other places, too. And it, therefore, needs to be resolved finally when Prime Minister Prachanda returns from his UN visit today. Admittedly, there is no doubt that it would make no difference if designated Maoist lawmakers entered the CA compound without arms, as government security is tight within. Nevertheless, one-sided solution or predilections of any party or individual should not guide resolution. The peace agreements and understanding must be respected, as the peace process is yet to be brought to a logical conclusion. Political parties and lawmakers should think more about making the latter part of the peace process successful than about making mountains out of a molehill.