Protect ya neck

The constituent assembly (CA) elections are just four and a half months away. Ideas for polarisation have been floated. Divided parties have made efforts at reunification, encouraged or pressured by friendly forces within and outside the country. The Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandidevi) and the Nepal Sadbhavana Party recently merged. After the NSP had supported regression and joined governments after the royal coup of October 4, 2002, a faction had broken away to form the NSP (Anandidevi), which joined the anti-regression Seven-Party Alliance. The leaders of the parent Nepali Congress (NC) and the NC (D) have intensified efforts at achieving reunification as they think it is necessary to improve the Congress poll prospects. Other suggested realignments include a pro-republican front, a Left front, a front of rightists and centrists, or a non-left front, including also one or more of the agitating Madhesi groups.

Amid all this medley, it seems, the popular view favours strengthening the unity of the eight-party alliance (EPA), at least until the CA elections. The case for this is strongest as it was these parties that clinched the historic 12-point agreement, spearheaded Jana Andolan-2, signed the eight-point agreement, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, etc. and made the Interim Constitution and formed the interim legislature and government. The onus of translating these agreements and commitments into action in letter and spirit therefore falls squarely on the EPA. Unless the CA polls are successfully held and the understanding between the EPA constituents is retained, it will be difficult to carry out the pledges made to the people. Those who are outside the EPA might choose to strike out on their own as the CA polls get closer. However, the EPA owes it to the people who put it in power through the historic people’s movement that none of its constituents becomes a party to any new political combination at the cost of the alliance’s unity.

Some political leaders held the view during recent public debate or discussions between leaders of Left parties concerning Left unity that any such unity should not threaten the EPA unity. They may be right. However, the EPA leaders should also be careful to guard against any bid from any quarter to break the alliance apart, something that had been attempted soon after the historic 12-point agreement. To send a unified and encouraging message to the people ahead of the CA polls, the eight parties would do well to consider organising joint mass meetings and campaigns across the country, particularly in the face of designs to derail the CA polls and to cause disturbances or violence. The political leaders and workers should make no further delay in fanning out into the villages with their message for the people. For this, however, the leadership of each party has to be clear about what message it wants to convey. At the same time, the EPA constituents need to expand their area of agreement, particularly on vital issues such as the fate of the monarchy and the structure of federalism.