It has often been said that the reason for the current political standstill is the trust deficit among the narrow-minded and short-sighted parties.
But it has been clear for some time now that the main obstacle to the peace and constitution project is the Maoist party itself. To be more specific, they are the so-called Baidya faction that wants a "people's revolt", and the even more hardline Ram Bahadur Thapa clique that on Wednesday threatened to take Nepal down the path of a multi-ethnic civil war. Why doesn't the party just split and get it over with?
This week the ultra-left wing of Nepal's extreme leftists once more put a spanner in the works by announcing a series of escalating protests till May. Protest against whom? For what? Mohan Baidya lashed out at Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal for double crossing him. Essentially, Dahal had assured Baidya he would help bring down what both saw as an "anti-nationalist" Baburam Bhattarai government and replace it with one that would push a "revolutionary people's constitution". But when Dahal said this week that the constitution would be drafted in time and hinted that Bhattarai should remain till then, Baidya blew a fuse. It's getting difficult to tell who is stabbing whom in the back within the Maoist party anymore.
Dahal and Bhattarai keep blaming the UML and NC as being the reason for the delays in the constitution. They can't fool all the people all the time that the main obstruction is and have always been the hardliners that they have flirted with time and again to improve their short-term bargaining positions. As for Dahal, this is a man with a single-minded and vaulting ambition to be an executive president, and is willing to do anything, give anything away, threaten anyone, to get his way. Which is why he has suddenly gone soft on ethnic federalism, given in on the rank of Maoists to be inducted into the new directorate, and abandoned just about everything his party fought a ruinous war for.
Most Nepalis don't buy this nonsense anymore. They've heard it all before, and know that the Maoists will blow hot or cold depending on internal party dynamics. The integration of Maoists into the Nepal Army should have been finished by December, and it kept being pushed back because the Maoists kept moving the goalposts. Every time there was an agreement in the Special Committee on the terms of integration, compensation packages, or the composition of the directorate, the Maoists would pull back from already agreed terms. What do they take the rest of the country for, "useful idiots"?
With two months to go for the unextendable constitution deadline, the real issue is that there is no time left to resolve the stumbling blocks in the new constitution on federalism and government. It is unlikely that they can be miraculously resolved in the next few weeks, especially since there has been so much politics played around ethnic federalism and presidential system.
Our humble suggestion would be to start thinking about post-27 May scenarios by readying a national unity government to protect Nepal's national unity from the centrifugal forces threatening it. Then, we can approve a new federal republican constitution that guarantees in its preamble fundamental values like democracy and pluralism, ensures social justice and gives every citizen the right to food, shelter, health care and security. We can shelve the deeply divisive issues for later when there is more stability and Nepal's politicians exhibit more maturity.
After all, there is no point passing a constitution that is hardly worth the paper it is written on. It is a dynamic document that should evolve, and can be changed to suit the times.
Contours of a new Nepal
Wrong visit at the wrong time, KUL CHANDRA GAUTAM
The questionable wisdom of Ban Ki-moon's proposed visit to Lumbini
A step back to step forward, ANURAG ACHARYA
There is plenty to be cynical about, but we are inching ahead on peace and constitution