Path of construction

I n the past few days, consultations among the leaders of major constituents of the eight-party alliance (EPA) have taken an upswing on how best to carry out the mandate of Jana Andolan-2. The focus of all these has been to further strengthen the EPA unity. This is an encouraging sign. Recent tentative attempts at forging Left unity have not gathered steam. The idea of forming a front of the centrist and rightist forces has proved to be a non-starter, as it would go against the spirit of Jana Andolan 2. The two-hour-long meeting on Sunday between PM Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist chairman Prachanda ended with a renewed emphasis on EPA unity, besides helping end the bitterness in their ties that came out in the open over Sitaram Prasain, accused of irregularities amounting to Rs.280 million, when the Young Communist League (YCL) took him into custody on June 3 and then handed him over to the police the next day.

The idea of Left unity was floated because the Leftists suspected the Koirala-led Nepali Congress of trying to retain monarchy in some form. There was also talk of a Republican Front, fed by similar suspicions. This is not the time for the EPA constituents to go in different directions. The best is to make the alliance even stronger and more united. For this, they need to go head over heels to evolve a consensus on the remaining important contentious issues. On Sunday, Koirala reportedly told Prachanda that the NC would like to institutionalise a republic through the constituent assembly (CA) polls. He also urged Prachanda, with some justification, not to press too hard on other issues but to concentrate on the CA polls, the nation’s paramount agenda at this point in time.

If they meant what they said, it is likely to form a sound basis for a new understanding between the two sides in an atmosphere otherwise charged with mutual distrust after the CA polls, slated for this June, were postponed. In such a situation, the Maoists may not press hard their case for a republic through a two-thirds parliamentary majority — a provision to that effect is being incorporated in the Interim Constitution (IC)— provided that the monarchy stays clear of all serious controversies. The recent hurdles to political momentum were caused by the indifference to implementing the various agreements in full. The two leaders covered a wide range of topics — such as release of prisoners, disclosing the status of the disappeared people, relief and treatment for the conflict victims, return of the seized property, cantonment management and allowance for the PLA combatants, and YCL activities. The talks were billed ‘positive’. It was no less important that they reached an understanding that mudslinging should be stopped and discussions allowed to resolve any differences. Any major rift in the EPA is bound to embolden the forces of regression. The EPA should stay united, at least until the CA polls and promulgation of a new statute, to carry out the people’s mandate. The constituents need to expand their area of agreement, particularly on vital and contentious issues like the monarchy.