ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A New Constituent Assembly?

Elections are the only way to overcome the political and constitutional impasse in Nepal.

The dissolution of the Constituent Assembly (CA) in Nepal late last month was a disappointing end to a promising process that began with the People’s War (PW) from 1996 to 2006, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the 2008 election, the convening of the CA, proclamation of the republic and abolition of the monarchy. The Maoists might well have expected that the Nepali Congress (NC) and the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) – the UML – would pitch their tents on the side of the status quo and prevent the writing of a progressive constitution that would assure a truly federal democratic republic of Nepal.

Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) [UCPN(M)] suggested that he had run out of options in the face of the intransigence shown by the NC and the UML and had no other democratic choice but to proclaim the dissolution of the CA. It was the PW and the Maoists’ decision to suspend it and make a deal with the mainstream political parties in 2006 that led to the end of monarchy, the proclamation of the republic and the convening of the CA, and Bhattarai, along with Prachanda, the UCPN(M) chairperson, was a leading proponent of the whole process. Hence it is difficult to impute any ulterior motives to his government’s move to dissolve the CA, as some of the NC and UML leaders have inferred. Frankly, as communists, the Maoists have done things that were unexpected of them. Indeed, they have been quite innovative; to bring about peace without giving up the fight for social justice, they took big risks. They placed their combatants in cantonments under United Nations supervision pending integration with the Nepal Army. After coming out on top in the CA elections, and contrary to Leninist tactics, they entered the existing power structure and tried to use it to attain their revolutionary goals in a stepwise manner. But, in this, they have not, as yet, found much success. Maybe they think that if they win a majority in the new CA elections, the existing power structure can be made amenable to achieving at least some of their objectives, for instance, at least guaranteeing the rights of the oppressed nationalities and ethnic communities, besides, of course, the rights of the working class and the poor peasantry.

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