Two weeks will elapse in no time. The deadline for the Constituent Assembly to do something creative or die a vegetative death is right around the corner. So, literally, every hour counts if the political leaders truly want the elected assembly of the people to fulfill its mandate of writing the new constitution. Their hectic parleys over the past few weeks have shown that they are serious about the dead end the CA will reach on May 27. According to a Supreme Court verdict, the CA, which extended its original tenure of two years to four years on installment, will cease to exist beyond that date. To avert the constitutional crisis, the political parties have decided on a two-pronged strategy: continue the search for a consensus solution to their disputes over the constitution and, failing to find it, vote in the CA to resolve them. The first option, the search for consensus, has so far produced nothing substantial. The political parties are adamant on their stands, for example, on the number, name and demarcation of provinces in restructuring the country. The procedures for the second option, that is, voting in the CA, will need time. The Constitutional Committee and the Dispute Resolution Sub-Committee will have to prepare and agree on a list of objective questions on each contentious issue on which the lawmakers will vote. If voting resolves the issues, that will be good for the nation. Even in that case, consensus and co-work among the political leaders will be necessary to write and promulgate the new constitution by the deadline.
What will happen if the vote does not resolve the issues? What if the CA fails to promulgate the constitution in time? A brief statute, with recommendation for the Legislature Parliament to sort out the remaining issues such as of state and government later, could be one option. The legitimate options, however, are few. Emergency rules and orders will be less desirable for the nation to go beyond May 27. In this fluid and uncertain situation, it is natural that the people look up to the political leaders to start a new kind of politics to steer the nation out of the prolonged transition. In fact, our leaders are known for doing just that, but at the last minute. When every past CA deadline created anxieties about looming uncertainties, the leaders brokered deals and defused crises. That political acumen is necessary now than ever before. While protest rallies, demonstrations and demands for rights are common in an aspiring democracy, shutdowns of roads and markets for days and weeks, however, scuttle the possibility of sane dialogue to take place. Worse still, some of the discourses emanating out of these protests seem to have drawn on communal overtones.
Our political struggles in this country have been for a better deal for its citizens, not for grabbing the land and dividing it among groups or snatching an area from one group and giving it to another, at the cost of social justice and harmony. Therefore, in redesigning the state, the leaders will have to manage the genuine Nepali voices, but then, at the same time, they should guarantee that the people can continue to live together in this land forever.