Follow @southasiaanalys

Nepal: Maoists Suggest a Neutral Government under the Chief Justice: Update No. 276

Note No. 674                 Dated 12-Feb-2013

By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan.

Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai met President Yadav on 10 Feb 2013 and told him that since the political parties failed to forge a consensus for leading the government to conduct the elections, his party has floated the proposal to form a government under the leadership of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Khil Raj Regmi.

The reaction of President Yadav is not known, but it is presumed that he would formally consult other party leaders before taking a decision.

Before meeting the President, PM Bhattarai claimed that the proposal to form a neutral government under the Chief Justice would be the last proposal from his party and that if the opposition parties refuse his party will not float any other proposal.

As before, Dahal, the freshly anointed Chairman of UCPN (M) made a ‘flip flop’ claiming that the Chief Justice is not the only candidate for the PM. He was later contradicted by his own General Secretary Post Bahadur Bogoti as well as the Prime Minister himself. Bhattarai told the media persons after his meeting with the President that they consider the judiciary as an independent institution and could ensure a "free and fair" election.

Unfortunately, except the top leaders of the Nepali Congress and the UML, leaders of all the parties including the second rung of the NC and UML leadership have rejected the proposal on some ground or other, but none of the reasons given by them appear to be justified.

Sher Bahadur Deuba and R.C Paudel of the Nepali Congress, Ishwor Pokharel and K.P. Sharma Oli of UML, and Pasupathi Samsher Rana and Dr. P.C. Lohani of RPP have all expressed their opposition to the idea as they feel that since Maoists exercise complete influence over institutions like the Army, Police, Civil service, a free and a fair election cannot be ensured!

The Madhesi Groups are opposed to the idea for different reasons.

The TMDP (Terai Madhesi democratic Party) does not want the Chief Justice to head the government, as he as the Supreme Court Judge had not given "positive verdicts" on any of the public interest litigation about the Madhesis like integration of Madhesis in the Army, in the issue of voter identity cards or in the issue of citizenship certificates to Madhesis- a strange and a ridiculous allegation indeed!

The other Madhesi Group- the MJF ( Madhesi Adhikar Forum) said through its spokesman that the party would prefer forming a government under somebody, who was in politics before but not a member of any political party currently. They want someone committed to democracy, republicanism, federalism and secularism! And what is more they are against the present CJ who is said to be a ‘Status Quoist!’. The idea of the party appears to be to continue the present constitutional crisis and not allow any solution at all!

To add to the confusion, the Deputy PM, Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar continues to insist that the parties should concentrate on forging a consensus to form a government on the basis of a political agreement. He knows that this is not going to happen but still wants to continue with this failed initiative- perhaps to continue as Deputy PM as long as possible!

There is still time to conduct the elections by May end before the rains. The dissolved Parliament will have to meet at least for a few minutes to amend the electoral laws and some provisions of the interim constitution to conduct the elections. But it can be done.

Last month, Justice Sharma in a talk programme opined that the President can still reinstate the dissolved Constituent Assembly to bail the country out of the current constitutional and political crisis.

It was also pointed out that the interim CA was dissolved 27 minutes before the automatic death at 12:00 midnight on the 27th of May. So legally also, the interim parliament can meet for the remaining 23 minutes and amend the laws to pave the way for fresh elections.

Reinstating the interim CA for a few minutes just to endorse the amendments and thus paving the way for fresh elections by May end and having a "neutral government" to conduct the elections appears to be the only way to get of the present mess created by the political parties.

It is hoped that good sense will prevail to save Nepal from the present crisis!