One step closer

With the interim constitution and interim legislature slated to come into existence today, replacing the 1990 constitution and the last elected parliament, the Maoists have set the tone for inclusiveness by nominating, under their quota of 73 MPs in the 330-member House, people mostly belonging to the Dalits, women, Janajatis, Madhesis, as well as to backward areas. Additionally, out of its quota of 10 seats from among the 48 to be chosen by the PM on the basis of consultation with the constituent political parties, the composition of Maoist nominees gives the impression of inclusive variety, including even an ex-Kamaiya. The SPA partners and other parties with a presence in the last parliament will have their MPs represent them in the interim legislature too. For the remaining vacancies, particularly for the 48 seats, the parties have new members to name. The spirit of these ‘inclusive’ times as well as the Maoist selections seem to have influenced the choices of other parties, conspicuously those of the CPN-UML.

It is a good thing that the political parties have stressed the need to make the legislature and government inclusive. But inclusiveness in itself does not guarantee good governance. The quality and integrity of the people thus represented will count much more. Whether the interim legislature and government will have this mix of inclusiveness and quality is a matter for separate discussion. Anyway, this interim legislature is a stop-gap arrangement made in deference to the stance of some of the major political parties that the country should not remain without a parliament even during the transition period. It is not an elected body and its life will end with the elections to the constituent assembly (CA). If everything goes according to schedule, the interim legislature will exist for a maximum of five months. So the level of its quality will not be as crucial as that of the parliament to be elected after the CA polls and promulgation of the new constitution.

As, during the transitional phase, everything of significance is to be settled on the basis of consultation and consensus, the importance of this legislature will be largely of ceremonial nature, providing the decisions of top party leaders with a legal basis, starting with the endorsement of the interim constitution. With the CA polls close at hand, the interim legislature and interim executive are not supposed to take decisions of far-reaching importance. The transitional government could well have been vested with legislative functions, as in the case of the interim government formed after the 1990 pro-democracy movement. Anyway, the interim parliament and government are to be there mainly to make the transition more smooth — facilitating the peace process and elections, exercising some kind of restraining influence over the interim government, passing bills if need be, and discharging other functions of the parliament so that the process of governance may not be obstructed for lack of it. All roads should now lead to the CA polls.