The only way
The five agitating political parties have said that their struggle against “regression” continues on the streets as well as on the table. They are obviously referring to the royal audience granted to them collectively and to the CPN-UML and the Nepali Congress leaders separately later on. But not all allied parties are happy with the separate meetings Madhav Kumar Nepal and Girija Prasad Koirala had with the King. The five parties insist that the “sovereignty and state authority” should be returned to the parties with a Royal declaration to that effect and that their consensus candidate should be appointed as the next Prime Minister. An all-party government and the restoration of the parliament are their explicit demands.
The fact that the King consulted them does not necessarily mean that he may go along with their choice. But, their irony, particularly of the big two, is that they differ over who should hold the coveted post. The Congress is seeking to overturn the one-year-old five-party decision to field CPN-UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal as their consensus candidate. Whatever be Koirala’s motives, his new stance confuses the issue of their common candidate, thus tending to weaken their movement. Logically, the old decision should stand unless the parties decide otherwise. But Koirala’s dragging the feet has become clear more than once — for example, when the foreign donors had asked the five parties to name their candidate, before they were going to meet the King in case he asked for a name, and at Sunday’s five-party meeting. However, the King has not asked for one, and he may not at all. Things would perhaps have been different if they had told the donors their candidate. To the general people, who becomes Prime Minister is not very important. Conflict resolution, elections, and tackling the root causes of the conflict are the central issues for them. The agitating parties do not speak for the other parties in the dissolved parliament, namely, the Deuba-led NC (D), the RPP, and the officially recognised NSP (Mandal). It is also true that as the King has committed himself to the multiparty system, the crucial role of the political parties cannot therefore be ignored. But, in order to put the derailed Constitution back on the rails, elections are the only legitimate and universally acceptable way. The critical question would, nonetheless, be how to conduct free and fair polls. Though the Congress says policy issues with the King are central, this does not, however, make up for the alliance’s failure to name a consensus candidate. Their difference has now become public, and this has certainly not sent the right signals to the general people whose suspicion of their greed for power is becoming stronger by the day.