A year after the Constituent Assembly elections, the fate of the constitution being promulgated on time remains uncertain. Despite repeated claims by politicians that they will deliver a constitution within the stipulated time frame – January 22 – people have become increasingly wary of the see saw views of the political leadership’s commitment on the constitution writing process. Last year’s historic elections saw over 70 per cent voter turnout demonstrating the desire of the Nepalese people to see the promulgation of a democratic constitution. Equally strong were those voices that hoped with the promulgation of a democratic constitution, Nepali politicians would usher Nepal into an era of development.
The landmark elections witnessed people in the grassroots coming out in large numbers and as a community they bargained with the candidates on core developmental issues such as education, health and the need for improved physical infrastructure. A year later, both constitution and development remain a distant dream. The failure of political parties to promulgate a constitution by January 22, 2015 will put them at odds with the people who have continuously supported the political transition by participating in two separate constitution assembly elections. Both these elections saw two very different verdicts – first, in favour of the Maoists and the second, in favor of the democratic parties. What the political parties can’t afford now is another failure and their misguided belief of taking the people for granted time and again. The mood of the people can take a decisive turn for which political parties in Nepal are unprepared.
At the center of problem that continues to affect the constitution writing process is that political parties remain predisposed in power games as opposed to giving priority to the constitution writing process. Since 2006 when the second people’s movement gave way to change, Nepal has had seven different governments. In simple words, political parties lack clarity and a vision in taking the political process towards a logical end. What we have been witnessing in Nepal is that political parties continue to engage in a game of political brinkmanship by making decision by singing one agreement after the other for the simple purpose of remaining in power. Even more bewildering are the constant change of goal posts for ending the transition India, Nepal’s closest neighbour continues with her policy of supporting Nepal’s democratic evolution that began in 1950 – India, King Tribhuvan and the Nepali Congress came together to overthrow the Rana regime.
In the name of democracy, Nepal has witnessed countless number of regime changes and the continuing instability in Nepal has a direct bearing for India’s national and energy security. Nepal with an untapped reserve of water resources could be the engine propelling South Asia’s growth. An unstable Nepal coupled with poverty could serve as a fertile platform for radical forces to come together against Nepal’s democratic achievements. India’s policy of counselling political parties in the direction of promulgating a democratic constitution remains the most prudent approach in ending Nepal’s transition towards a republic. In fact, India’s faces an uphill challenge in Nepal. On one side, the political parties in Nepal look up to India for advice but when India advices political parties in Nepal they are blamed by the political parties in Nepal for interfering in Nepal’s internal affairs. Caught in a blind are both India and the political parties of Nepal. A fractured political landscape in Kathmandu has to a degree affected Delhi’s good advices to the political parties in Nepal.
Nepal and India remain close not just because they are situated next to each other but also because the people of the two countries remain intimately attached to one and another. These has been exemplified by our shared history, culture, religion and our collective belief in democracy and because of our joint aspirations to one day see a prosperous South Asia. A sustainable, meaningful India-Nepal relations can only be characterised by the relationships the people of our two countries share. Therefore, the deteriorating political situation in Nepal could ask policy-makers in New Delhi to answer some pertinent questions regarding Nepal’s continued political instability and the solution to it. The inability of the political parties in Nepal to come up with a constitution could also force the people of Nepal to pose tough question for the political parties in Nepal. Whatever, Kathmandu and New Delhi decide next; the two will have to work even more closely than ever before in finding a durable solution towards ending Nepal’s protracted transition.
As Prime Minister Modi’s prepares to visit Kathmandu at the end of the month to attend the SAARC Summit which Nepal is hosting, all eyes are on him as Nepal struggles to find a solution to her problems.