How serious could the political tremors unleashed by contrived tentativeness really be, even factoring in our individual and institutional infirmities?

By Maila Baje

Since today’s political machinations revolve around an ailing leader’s attempt to grab power from an equally infirm prime minister, we can forget about the new constitution being promulgated any time soon.

So sayeth Upendra Yadav, chairman of the Federal Socialist Forum Nepal, seething at what he sees is the expropriation by the Prime Minister’s Office the authority of the Constituent Assembly.

Now, with the major parties having hammered out a six-province model – a key stumbling block all these years – the prospects of the new statute have once again brightened.

Khadga Oli, the leader of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist, has foresworn the notion that the constitution is merely the route to his ascension to the premiership. (Although some politicians have candidly credited his ambition with the series of post-earthquake political breakthroughs.)

SushilOliPrime Minister Sushil Koirala, too, has sought to disabuse us of the idea that the constitution is at the center of political skullduggery, notwithstanding clear appearances on the surface.

Let’s face it. Fatigue has set in. The political class cannot go on holding their primary task in abeyance. The April 2006 ‘consensus’ – if there was ever one – holds political legitimacy in the collective consciousness of the constituents of the erstwhile Seven Party Alliance and the Maoists. Individual parties and personalities therein have long acknowledged the shift in public perceptions. The external drivers of change still hold enough political and economic sway to make them collective pretend that republicanism, federalism and secularism remain the operative aspirations of the Nepali populace.

When you perpetuate a fiction, you have to play the part, no matter how tiresome it may get. We see the lethargy on the faces of our political class, the civil society luminaries that once egged them on, and motley crew of social engineers still bent on foisting upon the nation a nebulous newness.

Behind the apparent steadiness of decision-making lies a lack of self-assurance. We cannot have fewer than six states because the Panchayat system had already segmented five regions. And that sucked, right? The logic and lucidity of the six provinces need to be invented anew, but no explication seems to be able to placate the votaries of federalism. Who can concede today that federalism was introduced as a tool to destroy the existing order, not to build a new one.
Yet the constitution must be promulgated, if only to prove that the political class is capable of delivering on its promise. In that regard, Upendra Yadav’s allegory of illness may have more relevance than even he imagined.

We read last week that the Great Earthquake turned out to be not as deadly as it was supposed to be because it merely unzipped a process that is likely to result in greater devastation soon.
How serious could the political tremors unleashed by contrived tentativeness really be, even factoring in our individual and institutional infirmities?



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