Still worthwhile

At last, the Fifth Amendment to the Interim Constitution was passed in the Constituent Assembly on Sunday, with 442 votes for and seven against. The CA had rejected all amendment proposals to the Amendment Bill by majority but it had also voted out the Bill’s provision for Opposition representation in the National Defence Council. The amendment also opened the way, barring further House disruptions, for the election of President, as well as other top office holders, thus paving the way for the formation of a government according to the people’s fresh mandate. Leaders of big political parties continue to stress the politics of consensus on the grounds that political transition is not over yet. Indeed, this is possible whether all the major parties form part of government or not. However, the spirit of earlier understandings and agreements between the SPA partners, as well as of the Interim Constitution, is clearly in favour of consensual approach, with the major parties’ participation in power. The top leaders of the three biggest parties had made public pledges to that effect even for the post-poll period.

But the ‘unexpected’ election results have altered all that. The leaders of the major political leaders are still in consultation on finding a presidential candidate acceptable to all of them. This effort should be viewed favourably. However, given their long row over the ceremonial post since the election results were out, they may not arrive at a consensus now. The sharp difference over which party, and which individual, gets the position of President has led to the threat of a major political party to go into opposition in the CA. If they cannot decide on a common candidate, the parties have agreed to decide the presidential election by majority vote in the CA.

Indeed, the switchover during the transitional period itself from a two-thirds to a simple majority for the election and removal of Prime Minister implies a farewell to the consensual approach, as it is likely to encourage the political parties to alter the numerical equations in the CA to bring down the government. Sadly, this nominal post should not have been made the bone of contention threatening to tear apart the political alliance. However, at the same, the political leaders have said in public

on so many occasions that whether their parties take part in the next government or not, they will play a ‘constructive’ role in drawing up the new constitution within the stipulated two years and making the rest of the political transition successful. In this, the people are more interested than in who becomes head of state. Setting up the full mechanism of the Opposition in the CA signifies the adoption of majority principle, rather than consensual one. But there is still an acute need for the main parties to remain united in defending the gains of the Jana Andolan II and all later achievements, because the fluidity of the political transition can still be easily felt in the air. It is hoped that all the parties will realise the importance of this, whether any of them may choose to stay outside the government.