When the Constituent Assembly elections were held four years ago and its first meeting declared the nation a republic, people had high hopes that the CA would deliver a new constitution that reflected and ensured the aspirations of the different segments of the Nepali society. Prominent leaders of the political parties had then shared their lofty vision of development that was to follow with the new constitution. But, now with the collapse of the CA due to the failure of the major political forces to agree particularly on the names, numbers and delineation of the federal states even at the last hour of the extended term of the CA on Sunday, the historic body has become history.
The end of the CA has not only prolonged the transitional period, it has also eroded the confidence of the people in the political leadership. Despite much confusion and frustration, the people were still hopeful that the political parties, especially their top leaders, would eventually resolve the remaining disputed issues related to the new constitution, i.e., federalism, and pave the way for endorsing the constitution at least by the last hours of the CAís term. In fact, the parties had been able to find a common ground on all the other outstanding disputes in the last one-and-a-half months after the peace process was virtually concluded with the handing over of the Maoist army cantonments to the Nepal Army. They had also put in place all the procedures for endorsing the constitution at one go through the CA and also formed a consensus government lately.
But now all those efforts have gone in vain along with the billions of rupees spent for the CA, which was termed one of the most inclusive bodies in world history. Although the end has stunned us all, it has brought an end for the time being to those strikes being imposed in different parts of the country. In this context, the Far Western Region has been the most severely affected as there had been strikes for a month over demands that the region not be divided while carving out the federal states. Despite this bitter experience, it seems that the parties are yet to learn from the past as they started the blame game no sooner than Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai decided to go for a fresh poll for another CA. There is much to do to implement the decision in want of legal provision because the interim constitution had not envisioned such a situation. However, there was no other democratic option for writing a new constitution than seeking a fresh mandate from the people after the first CA failed. The parties such as the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, which recently pulled out of the government objecting to the governmentís decision to extend the CAís term and Prime Ministerís move for fresh elections respectively, should cooperate with the government, while the UCPN-Maoist, the main ruling party, should work to keep at least these two major parties on board so that an environment for consensus to hold the polls scheduled for November 22 is built.