Monday, November 05, 2007

A Compromise(d) Solution

After nearly a month of high-stakes legislative posturing, blighting the Dasain bonhomie, the best the Maoists could claim was a resolution directing the government to prepare the groundwork for declaring Nepal a republic as well as fixing a new election date for the star-crossed constituent assembly.
The proportional representation front brought a worse PR fiasco. The nonbinding nature of both votes says it all. The people, again, have been taken for a ride. Or have they? For many, from the outset, the only thing special about this session of the interim legislature was its senselessness.
Each constituent of the ruling Six Party Alliance (SPA) had formally espoused the cause of republicanism. Clearly, Maoist leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara could have used his erstwhile position in the cabinet to press his party’s agenda. In retrospect, by quitting the cabinet, the Maoists only acknowledged their inherent ineptitude to govern.
The triumphalism echoing across the ruling establishment stands in sharp contrast to the mood among its fellow travelers, not to speak of ordinary Nepalese. Laxman Prasad Aryal, the chief drafter of the interim constitution, has decried the ad hoc legislature for adopting “anti-constitutional proposals”. (Not that the twice-amended document really resembles the text Aryal and his cohorts drew up.) Other notable legal scholars, spanning the political spectrum, have underscored the inherent futility of the exercise. Some have even posited that the constituent assembly now has been pushed deeper into uncertainty.
If the trajectory of our “new” Nepal has been trivialized, the fault lies collectively with the architects. The principal pivot of the peace process – the fallacy of holding the monarchy responsible for Nepal’s problems – now lies in tatters. The “mandate” of the April Uprising was not the abolition of the monarchy. It was reinterpreted as such amid the political whirlwind whipped up in large part by the Indian sponsors of the 12-point agreement between the SPA and the Maoists. (The fact that the two sides came out with different texts on a supposedly ground-breaking alliance underscored its tentativeness.)
Even then, republicanism was little more than a tactic to bully King Gyanendra into submission ahead of a redesigned monarchy. Evidently, that hasn’t worked for New Delhi. The crux of the matter was apparent all along. Long before loktantra entered the Nepalese lexicon as an apt translation for a kingless democracy, successive monarchs had been using lok sammati (popular will) as the guiding principle of their reign.
Also thoroughly exposed was the ruling alliance’s fraudulence in accusing the Maoists of kicking up the republic frenzy. The entire political establishment had voted for the second amendment to the interim statute that, among other things, provided for the immediate abolition of the monarchy if the palace were found to be conspiring against the constituent assembly polls.
If the palace is indeed behind the post-April Uprising instability, then that provision does enjoy relevance. Obviously, the SPA couldn’t afford to be seen or heard defending the palace against the Maoists’ charges of conspiracy. So the inane became inseparable from the impeccable
The Unified Marxist-Leninists can gloat all they wants over having fashioned an 11th-hour compromise that has essentially compromised the SPA’s ability to govern. The Nepalese people are too smart to miss the sham.