Monday, February 13, 2012

Crafting A Constitution With A Bill of Wrongs

We can’t turn back from a federal Nepal but can’t seem to agree on the kind of states to create. So one of our brilliant political minds came up with a dazzling idea. Let’s promulgate the new constitution, setting aside that contention issue, and any other ones, for that matter.
The Nepali Congress has an established tradition of taking half steps and then claiming to be the only party with the fortitude to go the full mile. Yet, Maila Baje thinks Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat’s proposal may not be as half-baked as it sounds. Nepal can’t put off indefinitely the culmination of that hopey-changey moment six springs ago.
To be honest, the political shenanigans have become too delicious to miss. The systematic mockery of constitutionalism is being supported by the paragons of democracy in the south and west, as the supposedly reactionary right finds itself the lone voice pleading for a semblance of legality on our march toward newness.
What makes things urgent for us, however, is the fact that our giant neighbors aren’t really smiling anymore. A modicum of political stability is required for the three political successions in our midst.
Up north, Chinese President Hu Jintao is scheduled to hand over leadership to the next generation of communists at the party Congress later this year. However, Xi Jinping’s accession will only mark the beginning of the transition to the fifth generation of New China.
In India, the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty is searching for that propitious moment to pass the torch to Rahul Gandhi. As the party traditionally most accommodative to the Chinese, the Indian National Congress cannot afford events in Nepal to provoke any Chinese reaction that might help to spoil things.
The crucial leadership transition intersecting the two relates to the 14th Dalai Lama. His Holiness has begun the Great Withdrawal in the full knowledge that his eventual demise is likely to set off rival claimants to Great Fifteenth. To preempt Beijing, the current Dalai Lama is toying with the idea of naming a successor, perhaps even one not born inside Tibet.
The succession struggle is likely to be waged not only from Dharmasala and Beijing but also from other traditionally assertive Tibetan sects who have been overshadowed all these decades only by Tenzin Gyatso’s larger-than-life persona.
A formal if incomplete Nepali constitution, an elected government and other indicators of domestic life can give sufficient stability for the next stage of the geopolitical maneuverings.
Of course, the risks inherent in jumping the gun are obvious. Members who adopt such a constitution will have done so with their reservations. That will make it easier for some of these same people to be among the first to burn copies of the document. At least there will be a document to set ablaze.
What’s more, not all will have been lost. We can attach a bill of rights – or, more appropriately, wrongs – as and when we deem necessary. It’s not for nothing that some alien quarters have prepared themselves for at least two years of ethnic conflagration before Nepalis can decide which group’s victimhood tends to run the deepest.
Should we then agree on the model of federalism – or any other form of the state – we can keep adding them to the main document. Finding that unworkable, we would have the option of changing that. That way, hopes of everything between a people’s democratic republic and Swiss-style confederation will have been kept alive.
Sound outlandish? We’ve made enough amendments to the interim constitution to breeze through the job.