December 14 ,2017 , 03:33 PM
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No rays of hope


WM correspondent

Undoubtedly, the political situation continues to go downhill. Like previous rounds of talks, "decisive" dialogue between the ruling parties and the opposition alliance on Sunday turned into yet another fiasco.

The failure of the one-on-one talks between Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and UCPN (Maoist) chair Puspa Kamal Dahal can be attributed to their rigidity regarding the most contentious issue of new constitution, state restructuring.

There had also been talks between the ruling coalition- Nepali Congress and CPN (UML)- and the opposition alliance led by UCPN (Maoist) on last Friday and Saturday after the first phase of agitation launched by the latter on February 28. But such negotiations did not fetch an iota of meaning output.

This has only prompted the opposition to aggressively announce the second phase of agitation. They have planned for a nation-wide general strike on April 2 and three-day nation-wide general strikes on April 7-9 besides imposing blockades on government offices and baton rallies in all district headquarters during the agitation.

As part its political strategy to increase pressure on the ruling coalition, the UCPN (Maoist) is also trying to rope its breakaway party-CPN-Maoist- into merging with it.

The ruling parties, on the other hand, are not ready to annul the voting process meant for promulgating a new constitution through two-thirds majority in the Constituent Assembly (CA). And the opposition is simply unwilling to negotiate with them unless and unless they cancel such process. 

Dispute over the three eastern Tarai districts and two in the far-western Tarai seems to be rendering the recent talks between the two sides futile.

The ruling coalition wants to resolve the tussle over the five districts by different options: holding referendums, creating a separate Pradesh assimilating other hilly districts with three Terai districts (Sunsari, Morang and Jhapa) or entitling a high-level commission to decide on the issue.

Nevertheless, especially the Madhesi parties belonging to the opposition alliance are flatly rejecting such options by insisting that these districts should be divided on the basis of demographic settlement not by mixing with the hills.

Though the stance of the UCPN-Maoist on this issue is nebulous, it is also clamouring for identity-based federal units. Such modus operandi of federalism has already been rejected by the ruling parties.

It does not need a rocket scientist to say that the gulf of mistrust between the ruling and opposition parties is getting more cavernous.

As if it is not enough, the relation between the two coalition partners themselves is also fraught with misgivings.

The UML is charging that the NC is dillydallying to start the voting process in the CA just for prolonging the tenure of premier Sushil Koirala (who is also NC president).

UML Chairman K.P. Sharma Oli wants to conclude the voting process, which has been prorogued indefinitely, as soon as possible to draft a new constitution. It is driven by his desire to become the next Prime Minister by displacing the current NC-led government.

Be that as it may, the chronic inability of the political leadership to resolve their disputes is only marring the constitution-making process.

The sharply polarized polity does not give any hope about breakthroughs in this long-stalled process anytime soon.

Thursday, Mar 19, 2015 2:07 pm

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