President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav has asked the political leaders to find a consensus outlet to the current constitutional deadlock in the country. Inviting the chiefs of 33 political parties for tea at Shital Niwas, he said it was a matter of shame and sorrow that the elected Constituent Assembly died unattended and without promulgating the new constitution. This event, he said, lowered Nepal’s pride in the international arena. The nation was, thus, left without a mechanism to deal with the political and constitutional issues.
In making these remarks, the president clearly appeared to be in a fix at a time when the government has announced re-election of another CA and the political parties are tossing options such as election of a legislature parliament, referendum on federalism and revival of the CA. Although the immediate purpose of his consultation with the leaders was to decide what to do with the anti-money laundering bills that Nepal needed to approve to maintain its good financial standing before the meeting of the Financial Action Task Force, which begins in Italy on June 18, the head of the state was taking the opportunity to show what merited the main focus at the moment.
The president has been holding meetings with the political leaders and experts to decide how to introduce the budget plans, policies and estimates for 2012/13 in the absence of the parliament. However, the opposition parties, including the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, have asked the president not to sign any ordinance, placing him under tremendous pressure. As the custodian of the constitution, President Dr. Yadav will need to act, even while putting the seal on the government decision. But in these unusual times of political twists and turns, each of his actions will be viewed in terms of whether it helps foster democracy, communal harmony, peace, stability and prosperity in the country.
Only a broad political consensus behind the president’s action will guarantee him a non-controversial place. So far, that particular kind of consensus has been elusive. The CA died in its absence although every political party had been reciting the consensus mantra for public consumption. By being pronounced too often, the word has turned into a cliché after the CA election. In reality, the leaders never arrived at any meaningful consensus to write the constitution despite the clear risks of being vilified by their voters and international friends. The president had been reminding the political leaders of the danger from time to time in the past until nothing came out of the CA. Once again, he is calling for consensus, because, even as a cliché, it is the key to every endeavour towards filling the constitutional void.