Political Deadlock in Nepal: Opportunity for India to Mend Ways
Is Nepali Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to be blamed for the current political deadlock that is preventing a new government from taking oath?
Is Nepali Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to be blamed for the current political deadlock that is preventing a new government from taking oath?(Photo: Saumya Pankaj/ The Quint)

Political Deadlock in Nepal: Opportunity for India to Mend Ways

Weeks have passed since Nepal’s historic election results are out but there is still no trace of a new government. The delay is mainly due to political parties’ unwillingness to come to an understanding on the formation of the Rashtriya Sabha or Upper House. Also, there is lot of political scheming behind the curtain, which does not bode well for South Asia’s newest democracy.

The incumbent Nepali Congress is reluctant to give away power on the pretense of ‘constitutional provision’. Likewise, the winning alliance of two Left parties is crumbling steadily. Although KP Oli and Prachanda are assuring otherwise, leaders belonging to their parties have begun raising doubts on the future of the alliance.

Politicking Over Ordinance

Before the first general and provincial elections, Sher Bahadur Deuba’s government had sent an ordinance related to the election of National Assembly to the president for authentication. The Congress wants that the elections to the upper house be held on the single transferable vote system, and the UML (Communist Party of Nepal) is pressing for the formation through majority votes.

The Maoist Centre was sharing power with the Nepali Congress when the ordinance was sent for the president’s nod, hence the incumbent regime looks clueless. The ordinance remains unsigned.

The Congress party is insisting on the passing of the ordinance before it hands over the power to the alliance. The Left Alliance is of the view, and rightly so, that the outgoing government should have least say on the post-election business, which henceforth must be conducted based on the fresh mandate.

If the ordinance was so important, the Nepali Congress should have pressed for it being signed before going for the elections. It now looks as if the party was waiting for the results to use the ordinance as its last weapon.

Is Sher Bahadur Deuba to be Blamed for Current Deadlock?

It is well-established wisdom that a nation’s future is linked to its founding ethos, and all the future decisions are measured against the remarks and acts of its founding fathers. Nepal cannot prove it otherwise, and whatever its founding leaders are doing today will echo for long. Sadly, these leaders are not taking their historical responsibility as seriously as expected from them.

Firstly, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari has been sitting on the ordinance for three months. She could have done better by putting her signature on the cabinet’s decision without waiting for the election results.

By seeming to toe her party’s line, she is disregarding her constitutional duty and position as the impartial head of the state. She must learn from her predecessor Ram Baran Yadav’s mistakes, whose breach of the constitutional mandate in 2008 during the Army General Rookmangud Katawal episode almost derailed the entire peace process.

Similarly, the winning party UML must also refrain from pushing the country’s president against the incumbent government. It shouldn’t soil the office of the president to score political points.

But the biggest culprit in the current deadlock is Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba himself. As soon as the results were declared, his first instinct should have been to tender his resignation; doing thus, he would have made the transition smooth. Instead of behaving like a statesman, he is doing every bit to stop the winning alliance from forming the government. He may succeed today but at what cost? Deuba must realise that democracy is not just about being technically right, but it is also a set of written and unwritten principles. A dignified exit is among one of those principles.

Also Read : Nepal's Left alliance leaders demand immediate resignation of Deuba

India Should Avoid Making a Mistake

The current deadlock in Nepal may be good news for those among the ‘old guard’ in India and Nepal who have built their careers on Sinophobia, but the Indian government is expected not to disrupt the natural flow of the Nepalese politics. It should allow the Left Alliance to form the government.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling KP Oli and Prachanda a week ago and congratulating them on winning the elections is a very positive sign. It is a hint that India is ready to accept the reality of democracy in Nepal, and will respect the people’s mandate.

Now India should build on the prime minister’s initiative. The government shouldn’t allow the ‘old guard’ to win this time as they did in 2015. Had they not pressed for the unofficial economic blockade of Nepal, India wouldn’t have built a negative image in Nepal. Before the blockade, Narendra Modi was a kind of leader every Nepalese wished for in Nepal.

People were seen queuing at the famous Pashupatinath Temple and roads to get a glimpse of him. Hence, this is a godsend opportunity for India to mend its previous wrongs. She should do everything to not waste it.

Also Read : Demonetised Indian Currency in Nepal Behind Victory of Communists

(The writer is a Delhi-based journalist. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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