The failure of the top political parties to write and enforce a new constitution for the country is a sign - if any signs were needed - of the incompetence of our top leaders to run this country. After four years and billions of tax payers’ rupees later, the only thing the leaders could accomplish was to take the country to another vacuum from where it might be very difficult for the country to come out.
The top leaders as well as their parties seemed to have been unaware of the consequences their (in)action would bring to the country. Even as the deadline for the constitution approached, the people everywhere in the country were worried what it would mean, for surely the road ahead cannot be as smooth as it was till Sunday midnight, the ultimate deadline given by the voters to their representatives in the now-defunct CA to thoroughly debate and proclaim a new constitution.
But despite being paid billions of rupees in the past four years for their "enlightened hard labour", the Constituent Assembly members were unable to carry out the task entrusted to them. It’s not because they were unable to do so but because the top leaders of the political parties to which they belonged effectively stifled all their efforts and virtually took away all their powers, making them kind of puppets at the hands of the top leaders of the political parties. Just how impotent they themselves felt could be gleaned from the fact that the CA members took to sloganeering in the CA premises against their own leaders. Thus, the CA members themselves are less to blame for the constitution fiasco than the top leaders of the political parties.
Nonetheless, the people will ask the ex-CA members what they did during the four years and after gobbling up almost 10 billion rupees. How many times during the past four years did they meet to talk and debate different aspects of the constitution? It’s so disappointing that the CA members were set aside by the party top brasses, and talks about and on the possible constitution were held not at the Constituent Assembly over plain cups of tea but at posh hotels and restaurants at the tax payers’ expense.
Such talks were also held at residences of the top leaders and at the prime minister’s official residence. All the time, the massive Constituent Assembly building full of rooms at Naya Baneswore lay empty and could have been used by the top leaders for free. And yet they chose to spend tax payers’ money at posh resorts, indicating just how much they cared for the welfare of the people.
A visual media yesterday (Monday) showed a simple Nepalese woman asking why the CA members chose to waste so much money to achieve nothing. She noted that the funds could have gone into activities that would have helped the poor and the needy. One could not agree more. The political parties and their leaders are not licensed by the people to do what they want and waste people’s money that would have helped the needy.
The inability of the political parties to arrive at a constitution that is generally acceptable (it can never be universally acceptable) has popped up several questions. One of the most important ones is whether the present prime minister has the legal authority to continue in office. The interim constitution framed by these very leaders is silent on the matter, and in fact the interim constitution does not even say what steps and actions to take if the CA is unable to write a constitution. The interim constitution apparently presumed that a constitution would be written and enforced and never foresaw the present eventuality.
There is bound to be writs at the apex court against the present dispensation, and the court itself will be hard put to come to a decision as the court has to abide by the constitution which is now non-existent. If the past four years had been difficult for the country, the coming years could be even more difficult with various legal questions, including fixing the date of the new elections by the government (or is fixing the date the responsibility of the Election Commission?) being raised and with different groups taking to the street to ensure that their interests are enshrined in the constitution. While making our demands we tend to forget that we too have obligations to the country and that everyone cannot have what he or she demands as their right.
The past four years saw our leaders behave as if they were the uncrowned kings and that they can do whatever they want. In keeping with this tendency, the top leaders were busy in wasting time and going on foreign junkets, forgetting that the people had mandated the CA to come up with a constitution within two years. Two years passed, and the CA was extended from time to time for another two years, and even then the leaders failed to be serious about the main purpose of the CA and tried to frame a constitution at the eleventh hour, something they should know, if they are far sighted leaders which they claim to be, would be an impossible proposition.
There is also talk in town that the failure to deliver the constitution on time is a failure of our well meaning friends like India, China and some countries of Europe (who consider themselves to know Nepal more than the Nepalese themselves and who know better than the Nepalese what is best for Nepal). If there is any truth in what these people say, the blame is not on the countries concerned but on our leaders who allow themselves to be "guided" by external forces, much to the chagrin of the common Nepalese people.
The elections for a new CA will be held as it should be, and many of the leaders who are steering the country today may or may not find favour with the voters and may or may not get elected. Though opposed by the Nepali Congress and the UML, the elections are the only alternative by which the people can have their say.
The incompetence of the top leaders of all the major political parties have now come to the fore and they might get elected again to the CA, but it is of prime importance that they shed their incompetence and narrow outlooks and work for the greater good of the country.