There’s no choice

At a programme on Saturday, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala stressed the necessity of developing the political culture of consensus and collaboration. Also stressing the fact that no political party commanded a majority in the Constituent Assembly, he called for all to concentrate on drawing up a new constitution. At another function, he said joint government was needed until the new constitution was ready. Koirala also claimed that his personal responsibility for the writing of the new constitution remained unfulfilled. The leaders of the other political parties have also been speaking of consensus as the basis for the next transitional government.

The focus is well placed and undisputed. But the dispute has arisen over various parties’ interpretations of what consensus means in the current state of affairs. Koirala also regretted that, so far, nobody has paid any attention to forming a government of consensus.

But the Prime Minister should have cleared the way for the process of government formation to begin in the first place. After the election of a new parliament, no head of government elected by the outgoing parliament, all the more so of a party that has emerged only as a distant second in seat tally, remains in power except as a caretaker, a status obtained by practice through resignation immediately after the election results. Despite Koirala’s expression of good sentiment, his failure to do so has started attracting accusations of greed for power. If no political understanding is developed by the first convening of the CA about government formation and power sharing, questions challenging the legitimacy of the old government leadership will be increasingly asked. This kind of situation might endanger the smooth sailing of the peace process, besides compromising Koirala’s personal reputation, which has greatly gone up in recent times, particularly for his stand against the active royal rule and for his contribution to the peace process.

Just because the Interim Constitution is silent on the issue, no supporters of any prime minister can logically put forward the argument in favour of a vote of no confidence in a new legislature if anybody wanted to remove the incumbent. Nowhere in the world is the privilege available to any prime minister elected under the old parliament of even telling the others, even indirectly, to move a no-trust motion in the new one, or even of seeking a vote of confidence. He must simply resign, and seek fresh support if he happens to be a member of the new legislature and he is also in a position to do so. Questions of motions of trust or no trust will arise only under the same

parliament as has made one the prime minister. There can be no extension of the old mandate; the incumbent must win a totally new mandate in the new parliament. One’s ambition, one’s opinion of another party or one’s objections to some of the latter’s activities may hold an importance of their own in their proper places. But these are no reasons for anybody to stand in the way of starting the process of government formation under the new legislature, for whatever purpose.