Rules of obsession

The continued protest of MPs belonging to the Nepali Congress, the CPN-UML and the NC-D over the 8-point agreement between the Maoists and the seven-party alliance (SPA), particularly the provision to dissolve the House of Representatives, does not carry much of a conviction. In the Congress, MPs have gone even to the extent of demanding the resignation of Krishna Prasad Sitaula as both home minister and coordinator of the government’s team for talks with the Maoists, on the ground that the team has held peace talks not in consonance with the ‘spirit of the Jana Andolan and the 12-point agreement’. After the Congress’s parliamentary party met on Monday, NC general secretary and MP Ram Chandra Poudel said that the 8-point accord will be implemented but without dissolving the House.

These MPs hold Sitaula responsible for ‘hurrying or instigating’ the 85-year-old ailing Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to sign the 8-point accord. But the fact is that the top leader of each of the parties in the SPA, including the CPN-UML’s Madhav Kumar Nepal and the NC-D’s Sher Bahadur Deuba, put their signatures on the accord, which has been billed as an improved version of the 12-point agreement. To allege that Sitaula is responsible for what his leader has done is to ignore the universal principles of authority and responsibility. Sitaula, or for that matter, any other politician, may have played a role in brokering the deal; but, for better or worse, it is the top leaders who are ultimately accountable.

By seeking Sitaula’s scalp, these MPs have displayed a lack of moral force. They may well be accused of indirectly saying that Koirala is so incapacitated that he is incapable of independent action or sound judgement. If so, there is no reason why they should not support CPN-UML leader Nepal’s suggestion that Koirala should pass his responsibility of the government to someone else as his illness is hindering it from taking important decisions. Nepal’s suggestion, at least, is based on simple logic and yet much less unkind to Koirala than these MPs’ insinuation. It has already become public that other political parties and the Maoists had agreed to the House restoration, for a very brief period, on Koirala’s insistence. Nor was its reinstatement the demand of the Jana Andolan. Anyway, even for normal elections, the House has to be dissolved. But these MPs, strangely, are crying hoarse over the longevity of a House which is both date-expired and unrepresentative even for the CA polls which will replace the present Constitution. What, however, will be a fair and necessary demand is the creation of an arrangement that truly reflects the new national political equation as an alternative to the House. For that, the work on the interim constitution has to be speeded up, an interim government formed with the Maoists following some sort of agreement on arms management, and a date for the CA polls announced. The delay is leading to public doubt and impatience — so also uncertainty.