Nepali parties continued to battle on Wednesday over whether to go for fresh elections or revive the expired Constituent Assembly (CA), to promulgate a new constitution.
While the Maoists pushed for agreeing on contentious constitutional issues and CA reinstatement, opposition parties demanded Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai’s resignation first, and remain divided on revival.
Speaking to reporters on his return from a visit to Europe, Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ said, “I am confident that all parties will eventually resolve constitutional issues and agree to promulgate the statute through revival. We can take issues on which we still retain differences to the people during the next elections.”
Giving a timeline, Mr. Prachanda said it would be ‘best’ if they could come to an agreement before Vijaya Dashmi (October 24) but to work out everything, it may take mid-November.
Dr. Bhattarai is learnt to have reached out to second-rung leaders of the Nepali Congress (NC) and Communist Party of Nepal (Unified-Marxist-Leninist) to push for revival. Sources close to him told The Hindu that his key message is holding polls is ‘impossible’ and unless there is an agreement, ‘six decades of democratic achievements’ would be at risk.
On federalism, over which constitutional discussions broke down in May, Dr. Bhattarai has suggested two options. According to a former NC MP who met him in this regard, “Dr. Bhattarai said the constitution could commit there would be six to fourteen states in the federal set-up, with names and boundaries to be determined in the next Parliament. The second option could be stating there would be two provinces in the Tarai, excluding five districts in the east and western plains. Their fate could be decided in the future through referendum or parliament.”
In May, Madhesi parties and Janjati groups had opposed ‘postponing’ issues related to federalism for the future.
The former had also demanded that there be only two provinces across Tarai.
The opposition parties have rejected the proposal of revival. After a joint meeting of NC and UML, former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal was reported in the local media as saying, “We will not be confused by the Maoist proposal. There is no alternative to fresh elections.” He also said that president should think of how to appoint a new Prime Minister. UML General Secretary Ishwor Pokharel warned at a public program that seeking to revive the CA could be ‘contempt of court’, since the Supreme Court (SC) prohibited further extensions.
While NC leaders Sher Bahadur Deuba and Ram Chandra Poudel have supported revival, party president Sushil Koirala has spoken out for fresh elections.