Prachanda’s rhetoric : Uncertainty over the polls

The uncertainty about the date of Constituent Assembly (CA) polls still persists. To some optimists, some sort of solution will come from consensus among the seven party alliance (SPA). To other pessimists, the cloud of uncertainty will not be cleared, at least, not anytime soon as some major parties do not seem to be interested in early elections or any election at all.

The regular session of the Interim Parliament is to resume on November 29, 2007 after a 10-day recess to arrive at some kind of consensus among the SPA alliance. The special session had passed two resolutions with majority votes, requiring two-thirds votes to implement them, which has further widened the gap between the parties, especially between the Nepali Congress (NC) and the Maoists. Some blame the CPN-UML for this confusion as it has again failed to play a mature role in national politics by forcing the two parties with opposing views to come to terms by providing a way out of the current standoff.

Instead of doing so, it decided to join the Maoist bandwagon adding fuel to the

fire of confusion. It had failed once again to live up to the expectation of the people as it had joined the then Deuba government under the king’s direct rule on the pretext that the regression the king perpetuated had been curtailed to some extent.

By supporting the Maoist resolution for adopting fullly Proportional Representation (PR) system as the electoral system in place of Mixed system accepted in the Interim Constitution (IC), perhaps, it has tried to show its credential towards its original stand for adopting the Proportional Representation system. Its good intention to hold CA election might not be challenged soon, but it has differently changed the political equation not for the better, but for the worse, as without NC’s support the impasse cannot be resolved. In order to get two-thirds majority, NC’s support is a must as no amendment is possible to the Interim Constitution without its support whether it is in the government or outside it.

Now, it is apparent from recent remarks of Maoist chairman Prachanda at Chitwan that his party is hardly interested in holding CA election in the near future. He might look justified, as the peace process could not kickstart with the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Accord except by framing an Interim Constitution, constituting an Interim Parliament and forming an Interim Government which, of course, they left this September. But it is equally true that he could have taken a serious stand on the implementation of the provisions enshrined in the CPA while fixing the date for the CA polls, the chance he missed two times in the past. Not taking up the matter seriously proves either that Prachanda was in two minds or his party leadership was divided on the party’s strategies.

On the occasion of the seventh anniversary of the founding of the Maoist People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at the PLA’s sixth division headquarters at Chitwan on November 24, amidst firing of the guns, he has advised his party’s combatants to get ready to fight another war - maybe for as long as 40 years if the goal of his party is not achieved. He also talked of a joint venture of the Nepal Army and the PLA in the Tarai region for bringing peace. In other words, he preferred military solution to the political problem again. It seems he is still in his old military mindset.

Talking in a military language when peace process is passing through the most critical phase shows his lack of seriousness towards it. Instead of talking up the language of fighting, he should have talked about the role of the PLA in the peace process. To some, it would have been better if he could have calmed the fighting mood of the fighters to prepare them to share the responsibility for constructive work in the future.

During an interaction programme organised by the Nepal National Intellectuals

Associations there, he openly ruled out the possibility of holding CA polls before the integration of the PLA into the Nepal Army. No doubt, this is a serious issue as it

is an integral part of the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA). It is commonly felt

that when serious issues like fixing the date for election are discussed at the

high-level meetings of the SPA, this issue could have been discussed with a

concrete plan of action and that way there would have been some achievement on this score by now. It is feared that it might be a Maoist strategic plan.

It is reported that he went further by saying that only on the completion of the restructuring the state CA polls will take place. Undoubtedly, such expressions have created uncertainty over the CA polls. To some, he might have been expressing his random thoughts without any

kind of seriousness or he might have been addressing more than one audience simultaneously, the common folk and his own party cadres.

Prof Mishra is ex-election commissioner