TOPICS : Challenges of the post-poll era

CA polls are over, so are the initial reactions of euphoria or sorrow. With the dust settling, politicians are eyeing for maximum gain. As ever, they cannot see much beyond power and are little concerned about the serious challenges the country faces. Naive and power-hungry politicians are unable to foresee the inevitable challenges or to envisage the possible dangers that lie ahead.

Despite Maoists’ unexpected victory, verdict of the polls is fragmented. No single party can have its one-upmanship. The assembly is truly pluralistic and representative. No force, however big, can fully deny or defeat other force(s), both within the House and outside. Consensus or 2/3rd majority is essential to pass the constitution as well as to make and change governments. But, cohabitation skills, the number one pre-requisite both to write a constitution and to run a government, seems to be in short supply.

All parties will also face powerful pressures from their constituencies not to compromise on bottom-lines. This will create deadlocks. Tactics like demonstrations, sit-ins, chakka-jams and even blockade will be intensified to put pressure on the House. Lawlessness and anarchy will escalate, political instability may be prolonged. Behind- the- door manoeuvrings will take precedence over formal proceedings of the House, like in the days of Mahakali treaty.

This will erode credibility of the House and also cause delay in drafting the constitution. Radical and adventurous experiments of Maoists, decline of NC and UML and emergence of strong regionalism and ethnic politics may result in a loss of direction. The size and composition of the 601-strong assembly is inviting problems. How will a jumbo House divided among four big and 20 small parties draft a constitution that requires utmost flexibility on everyone’s part? In success stories like India or South Africa, there were liberal and selfless leaders like Gandhi, Nehru and Mandela, who had vision, understanding and command.

In the past political forces advocated for an ethnically structured federal system. They did so to weaken the establishment and to win support from ethnic groups. Now, the parties are trapped in the web of their own promises. The ground reality of this country is that no geographical area has majority of any single ethnic group to make ethnic states possible. Because of the one-sided deliberation, any discussion on the (de)merits of ethnic federalism is bound to invite a backlash.

Also, there is a danger of another rebellion as gaps emerge between promises and performance of politicians. Corruption and greed apart, inability to fulfil these promises will be counterproductive. If recent history is anything to go by, the usual ills of a made-in-Nepal coalition — which this time will last longer — is sure to anger people. The familiar cycle of intra and inter-party clashes, misrule and misuse of state coffers, preference for self and party interests, corruption and bhagbandas, will only add to the annoyance of the people.