The successful election for President of Nepal marks an event of historic importance. Nepali Congress general secretary Dr Ram Baran Yadav has won the distinction of becoming the First President by defeating Ram Raja Prasad Singh, the candidate fielded by the CPN-Maoist who has also been a republican crusader for decades. The verdict has ended many weeks of political uncertainty arising from the stalled process of government formation even nearly two months after the convening of the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly (CA), which has the double role of a constitution-making body and Parliament. The election of a president will thus speed up that process. Without filling the top executive and legislative posts, it will be impossible to start work on constitution making and complete the remaining tasks of the peace process. The new constitution has to be prepared within two years, and nothing to this end has been done during these two months.

The election was held without the main political parties taking a consensual approach — the newly formed three-party combine consisting of the NC, the CPN-UML and the MJF being pitted against the CPN-Maoist. This rivalry has left considerable bitterness between the two sides, threatening to kill the possibility of the CPN-Maoist and

at least the other two biggest political parties coming together to form a government of consensus like the interim government led by Girija Prasad Koirala. After the three-party alliance was announced on Saturday, the first day of election, with the immediate objective of defeating the Maoist presidential and vice-presidential candidates, CPN-Maoist leaders had described it as ‘unholy and unnatural’, whereas the alliance leaders said it was not directed against the Maoists. According to them, it is limited to the elections of the top three posts, including CA chairman, and their intention is to take the Maoists along in government formation later on.

But with the presidential result out, the possibility of a new government without the Maoists appears stronger, unless both the Maoists and the NC and the UML make special efforts to forge a new consensus to form and run a joint government for the next two years. Senior Maoist leaders have publicly said that without ‘consensus and cooperation’ from the other parties, the Maoists will choose to stay out of the government, or if their presidential candidate loses, the chances of Maoist participation in the forthcoming coalition will fade.

The way various political developments have been taking place since the CA polls, one cannot be sure that a consensus government will emerge. However, it is the duty of the three major political parties to pursue this goal sincerely and seriously if they want the rest of the peace process to move on smoothly and a new constitution written within the given

timeframe. On this, all the key parties need to come across sensibly and responsibly, keeping uppermost in their minds the strong likelihood that a failure to reach consensus on power sharing may weaken the government, probably make it unstable, and affect the peace process adversely.