The most frustrating thing about the pre-Dasain political mood in Kathmandu is the utter lack of urgency.
Since he was sworn in five weeks ago, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has been in Nepal for just eight days. Last week, a dozen cabinet members were in various parts of the world. Now, we go into the lethargic Dasain-Tihar break.
What will it take to inject a sense of urgency in our elected rulers about pressing domestic issues? When will they start focussing on the people's immediate needs and stop disrupting Assembly proceedings so that it can get on with the work of constitution-building?
On Tuesday, the Constituent Assembly went into a 20-day Dasain recess. Four months after the CA was installed, the legislature is still bogged down in politics over the draft of the Rules and Procedures. There are four main challenges ahead:
* gaps in governance and delivery
* stability and keeping the peace process on track
* safeguarding freedoms during the transition
* drafting the constitution
The most urgent issue is to ensure law and order, relief and service delivery. The coalition government needs to show that it is a government that cares for the welfare of the people. That alone will give it legitimacy, not the electoral victory in April.
Good governance will also ensure the stability that is needed for economic growth, which in turn will keep the peace process on track. Instability, discord and youth vigilantism threaten law and order. The proposed integration of the armies can only happen in an atmosphere of political consensus.
Recent statements by the Maoists have raised fresh doubts about their commitment to democracy and press freedom. This ambivalence is dangerous. The Maoists need to clearly and publicly renounce violence once and for all and reassert their commitment to pluralism and democracy.
Only when these conditions are fulfilled will there be the right conditions to work undisturbed on drafting the new constitution. There is no need now to go out onto the streets. Issues must be discussed and thrashed out in the assembly chambers. You can't write a new constitution while cremating tyres.
We have traditionally let Pashupatinath take care of things, but there is a limit to what even Pashupatinath can do if we don't make a serious effort ourselves to overcome this paralysing ennui.