Differences take a backseat

  • The focus of the government and all political parties should be on holding elections
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Oct 16, 2017-

The Constituent Assembly-turned-Parliament completed its four-year tenure on Saturday. All efforts of the government are now meant to be geared towards holding federal and provincial parliamentary elections. 

However, there have been some complications. The Nepali Congress has been deeply affronted by the decision of CPN (Maoist Centre) to form an alliance with the CPN-UML. The NC is in a mood to retaliate. Prime Minister Deuba recently inducted a range of ministers from the RPP into the government. He now appears to be planning to oust the Maoist ministers from the government altogether.

The Maoists and UML have strongly opposed this plan. They argue that such a move would be unconstitutional, as the constitution requires the consent of the party leadership before their ministers are removed. If Deuba decides to go ahead with the plan, and the Maoists and UML keep deciding to oppose it, there could be severe political ramifications. 

In normal times, parliament exists to impose checks on the executive. If Maoist and UML leaders wanted to demonstrate opposition to the government, they could threaten to bring a vote of no confidence in parliament. But now that 

parliament no longer exists they do not have the ability to do so. The prime minister might 

think that nobody can challenge his power as a result, and decide to take a range of executive decisions. In their turn, the Maoists and UML might decide to escalate the conflict, by appealing to the president to block such decisions. Such a scenario would be deeply unfortunate, for it would mean that politics would go beyond constitutional bounds.

It is evident that an intensification of conflict between parties could negatively impact the electoral environment, possibly even leading to a derailment of elections in an extreme case. If elections are postponed indefinitely, the country would be in a situation akin to the one between 2012 and 2013, when there was a protracted constitutional crisis. 

The parties must realise, therefore, that this is a scenario that they have to avoid at all costs. Deuba must not give in to his more vindictive urges. He must realise that ousting the Maoists from government at this time does not make much sense. Elections are only a month away and the government will change in any case after this time. Moreover, he should especially remember that he was once sacked for failing to hold elections on time. He cannot afford to make another mistake that leads to a postponement of elections and constitutional crisis. Doing so would put a new blot on his already-chequered political history. 

The government would do well to focus on the elections for the time being and follow the directives and code of conduct issued by the Election Commission. 

Published: 16-10-2017 08:03

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