23-29 January #742

Pass the preamble

Sign on what you have agreed to and move on
Damakant Jayshi


On many occasions, the UCPN (Maoist) leaders Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Baburam Bhattarai have accused their political opponents and media and civil society whom they deem as class enemies of indulging in “Goebbels-style” propaganda.

That’s a bit rich for comrades for whom facts have never stood in the way of an argument.

The latest lie is that the Maoist party had more than a two-thirds majority in the last Constituent Assembly, but did not press home that advantage because they wanted a constitution by consensus. If it wasn’t so serious, this deliberate truth-bending would be really funny.

Here is a breakdown of the strength in the last CA of those parties which were opposed to UCPN (M) and Madhesi Morcha’s idea of federal structure: NC–115, CPN-UML–108, CPN-ML–9, RPP–8, RJP–3, RPP-Nepal–4, Rastriya Jan Morcha–4. This comes to 251. Even if we concede that all the rest were in favour of the then ruling coalition’s idea of state restructuring, the number does not cross 350.

UCPN (M) Chairman Dahal claimed that he had the support of nearly 420 CA members in the last assembly. That is 70 more than the actual number. He and others claim that the Janajati and Madhesi CA members from NC and the UML had lent their support to the Maoist party on their idea of federalism.

Stalin was used to airbrushing history and removing inconvenient facts and people from history. What can you expect of his disciples in Nepal?

Let’s recap. After the kind of discussions we witnessed inside and outside the CA in the last few months before it was dissolved in 2012, it was clear that federalism was going to be the most prominent issue for elections a year later.

The UCPN (M) and their Madhes-based allies were so sure of getting their idea of federalism endorsed by the majority of the people that they mentioned in their election manifestos that they would adopt the democratic process of voting to decide the constitution matters if the parties failed to strike a consensus. That promise has been conveniently forgotten.

If the parties are to decide everything outside the assembly, why hold another election for the assembly to draft the constitution? If the idea was to get it endorsed by an elected assembly, the parties could have reached an agreement on contentious issues, hold the election and then get it passed by an overwhelming majority. The idea was to have the constitution by an assembly representative of the people of Nepal.

Dahal, Bhattarai and company should have the honesty to admit that the people have rejected the idea of federalism as envisaged by the Maoist and Madhes-based parties. But, of course, that is too much to ask. Most prominent Maoist and Madhesi leaders lost the elections, so it is not at all surprising that they have been trying to downplay the election result and keep harping on about ‘consensus’.

The claim that the Maoist-Madhesi Morcha commanded a two-thirds majority to draft the constitution last time is a cynical lie. It needs to be countered here and now, so does the notion that the Maoist and Madhes-based parties are the only agents of progressive change. Sorry, it’s not about inclusion. It’s about power. It has always been about power.

Now these two leaders also say that the 15 May, 2012 agreement between the NC, the UML, the UCPN (M) and the Madhesi Morcha be adopted for implementation. That agreement had proposed 11 multi-identity states, including five in the Tarai and left the naming of the provinces to state legislatures. At that time, they opposed it vehemently, preferring to dissolve the CA instead. The NC and the UML proposed some alternatives but they were rejected as well. The Maoist -Madhesi strategy now that they don’t have a majority in the CA is to prevent this House to pass any constitution.

But the alternatives are worth re-considering, and it will save the face of all and also give time to discuss the subject of federal restructuring which has aroused so much passion.

One alternative could be to pass the Preamble of the constitution containing the principles to which the currently warring political forces have committed to – a democratic republic which is federal and secular and one which guarantees independent judiciary, equality of all people, press freedom, including the freedom of speech. If there is willingness, they could also pass the agreed contents.

There are possibilities and opportunities to move forward. Grand-standing and bargaining for power will not help.

@damakant

Read also:

THE ANTI-CLIMAX, Editorial

Better later than never, Om Astha Rai

On the road, Cynthia Choo and Kenji Kwok

Manhandling the Chair, Ass

The people matter, Editorial

Maoists disrupt house yet again

No deal on federalism yet- Dahal

Black day

Sore losers, Trishna Rana

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