Politics of consensus or confrontation?

KATHMANDU: It has been exactly one month since the Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal made commitment to fulfil the demands raised by the main opposition party, UCPN-Maoist, regarding the civilian supremacy.

The PM, in his address to the parliament, had stated that Maoists’ demands would be fulfilled after consultations with the political parties. The PM gave one month to the Maoist to fulfil their demands. Following the PM’s commitment, the Maoists withdrew all the programmes to protest from the parliament and streets. However, citing the government’s apathy to their

demands, the Maoists have decided to launch fresh

nationwide protests from tomorrow.

Leaders of the ruling parties — CPN-UML, Nepali Congress and Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Nepal (Loktantrik) — say the Maoist agenda — establishment of civilian supremacy was irrelevant. Ruling parties claim that once army chief Rookmangud Katawal retires, the dispute will become outdated. The Maoists have threatened to disrupt the parliamentary session beginning tomorrow. This may affect the passage of the budget that was presented one month ago.

The ruling parties and the main opposition are heading towards confrontation, with no sign of consensus on any issue. In an attempt to seek consensus, parties are busy holding talks but the meetings end inconclusively on an everyday basis. The journey of consensus politics that began with the signing of the 12-point understanding is heading towards confrontation. The Maoists have stuck to their demand that President Ram Baran Yadav scrap his decision to restore Army Chief Rookmangud Katawal that led the Maoists to step down from the government though they are the largest party in the constituent assembly.

However, the Nepali Congress has taken a firm stand that no further discussion on the president’s decision would be held. Ruling parties claim that Maoists’ demands are no longer relevant and they should give them up. To promulgate the constitution on time and lead the peace process to a logical end, consensus among the political parties, at least among the Big Three — UCPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML — is a must. The increasing tension among the political parties has raised many questions about the timely promulgation of the constitution.

Mistrust among the political parties has only grown in recent days. NC president Girija Prasad Koirala has been saying that there is a wide gap between the rhetoric and deeds of the Maoists. It seems that Koirala is in no mood to trust the Maoists. Koirala recently blamed that Maoists used peace process as a strategy to fulfil their party’s interests.

Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal says the Maoists have not been cooperating with the him and there is a mutual mistrust between him and the Maoists. Talking to a group of journalists at his residence on Wednesday, he said the Maoists’ actions were against the politics of consensus. He added that the Maoists did not cooperate in reshuffling the Army Integration Committee.

The mistrust among the political parties will eventually hamper the peace process. For this, the ruling parties are to be held responsible, as they agreed to fulfil the Maoists’ demands.

If the Maoists’ demands were irrelevant, why did they agree in the first place to meet them? Political parties make commitments to escape the burning issues only to renege on their promises later. The UML-led government, it seems made a commitment to the Maoists only to present the budget in the parliament, as the Maoists had been disrupting the House proceedings.

UCPN-Maoist is equally to be blamed for the worsening situation, as they have been demanding that a new government should be formed under their leadership. It shows that in the name of civilian supremacy they are also after power.