Sunday, October 13, 2013

So It’s In The Way The Stars Spin

In case you’re worried, our pre-poll apathy won’t immediately agitate the political atmosphere. At least not when it comes to deciding on the leader of the next elected government. But you have to put your full faith in the stars. They have aligned in favor of Sher Bahadur Deuba, according to veteran starwatcher Angiras Neupane’s latest estimation.
Deuba’s Nepali Congress is poi
Whether the new assembly, even having surmounted the boycott and bluster, would be able to address its principal task – drafting the new constitution – remains uncertain. In predictions made several weeks ago, if Maila Baje recalls correctly, Neupane didn’t seemed too thrilled with the November 19 date. Postponing the exercise by a mere three days, if you went by him, would have boosted our chances of finally flipping though the printed version of the articles and clauses fresh off the presses. But we’ve gotta do what we’ve gotta do to maintain the optics of a functioning political process.
Given the likely new configurations, there is no guarantee the assembly will even try to take up from where its predecessor had left off. A new mandate also means casting a new look at things. That could mean anything from a full reversal of the arbitrariness that has become the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, to a considerable tinkering around the corners, to a lightening leap in another direction few might have contemplated.
Granted, our record with such assemblies – nominated, elected, non-party, multiparty, first-past-the-post, proportional – is not encouraging. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. For that, we’ll need a new government. And there, at least, the stars provide some sunniness.
Deuba, according to Neupane, will head the government enjoying support from the key parties. This is biggie, considering that members of our political fraternity so hated one another that they had to saddle the Supreme Court Chief Justice with a second job to get to where we are now.
The interesting part of Neupane’s latest electoral analysis is geography. Or, specifically, the notion that the places the principal candidates are contesting from will determine our collective fate. Those choosing their birthplaces or traditional constituencies, barring Deuba and CPN-UML chairman Jhal Nath Khanal, will have a hard time getting into the assembly. So would those who have veered a little west, north or south this time. Those venturing eastward have the best shot at victory.
Thus, UCPN-Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal would lose from Kathmandu, but win from Siraha. Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala can forget Banke and focus on Chitwan. CPN-UML senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal is likely to be routed in Rautahat but may squeak through from Kathmandu. Dr. Baburam Bhattarai would triumph from Gorkha (he moved to an eastern constituency) but would lose from Rupandehi.
There is wisdom, after all, in all these candidates contesting from more than one constituency. All this is good until you consider those who call easternmost Taplejung, Panchthar, Ilam and Jhapa their ancestral or political home. Where can they go? But, then, nobody said elections were 100 percent fair.
sed to become the largest party in Constituent Assembly II, which we seem on course to elect November 19 under a heavy blanket of security and acrimony. The Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist – which dominated the last assembly – and the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist are set to be distant second and third placed.