Times to come

The Interim Government (IG) on Wednesday unveiled its annual policies and programmes in the Interim Legislature-Parliament, making elections to the Constituent Assembly (CA) its focal point. Indeed, while other aspects declared in the document are important because they have an important bearing on various sections of society, the public interest in the CA polls, the core demand of Jana Andolan-2, is supreme, as it will affect the entire country politically, economically, socially and in other ways. The CA will lay the future basis for a new Nepal and is expected to institutionalise peace, democracy, justice and inclusiveness. Given its limits, the government cannot be expected to do a lot during the interim period. If it can manage the transition smoothly without putting unnecessary burdens on the people, maintain law and order, and provide some positive signs that indicate that the country is moving in the right direction, the policy statements should be seen in a favourable light.

Presenting the government’s policies and programmes, the Prime Minister said the document revolves round the November 22 CA polls and the national budget would have the same focus. He also said a supplementary budget would be unveiled after the CA polls. Koirala, alluding to the monarchy and stressing the importance of the CA elections, said that the vestiges of the old order would be swept away after the November 22 polls, which he said would herald a new era and the country would then turn over a new leaf. He declared, “This is the last battle. Let the remnants of the old order take to their heels and go wherever they want”. Koirala spoke of another revolution (change) after the CA elections — social and economic reforms. The Prime Minister’s statements concerning the monarchy, recorded in the sovereign parliament, assume added significance and hint at the shape of things to come. There are a number of signs that go to strengthen the Prime Minister’s assessment. The latest comes from the decision of important Kathmandu-based ambassadors to stay away from the King’s birthday reception.

As for the annual policies and programmes, it should be considered as the compromise document of the political parties represented in the interim government. Each may have its reservations. For instance, the CPN-Maoist has announced ‘critical support’ to it. Indeed, as Koirala said, the policy document and the budget may not satisfy everybody, though effort has been made to ‘touch all’. His message was that the Nepalis should have some more patience and make the CA polls their singular agenda. On this will depend whether the country will move into the bright or the dark future because the CA elections will mark the successful conclusion of the 10-year Maoist insurgency and the 19-day Jana Andolan-2 based on the 12-point agreement between the Maoists and the Seven Party Alliance. The alternative is fraught with serious dangers to democracy, peace, and prosperity, and above all, to the country’s very existence as an independent entity.