After the summit talks commenced between the Seven Party Alliance and the CPN Maoists, people thought Nepal’s transition is shortening. They cultivated hopes that decade long conflict will soon come into a formal end and Nepal will enter into the age of peace and prosperity. The first day declaration of constituent Assembly Polls by Mid June next year enlivened those hopes. Besides, the high rhetoric of the government and Maoist negotiators made people think that something is being cooked and they’ll soon be informed.
However, even after a week of commencement and despite four sittings, much awaited talks could not reach any consensus on Sunday. They postponed them for indefinite period to do further homework on the crucial issues. That was the only understanding among them. As the previous talks set date for another sitting and Sunday talks even failed to do so, people are now more concerned about the real progress in the talks. People aspired for the early settlement of matters before Dashain so that they could observe the festival with profound peace. Against those aspirations, doubts still loom large that the matters will really be settled before Tihar. And people are getting restless.
Thousands of people gathered outside the talks venue at Prime Minister’s residence in Baluwatar to give pressure for the early settlement of the issues. A visitor guessed that nearly five thousand people gathered at Baluwatar on Thursday. The number was higher this Sunday. The number comprised of civil society representatives, political leaders and cadres and general public in large number. Many of them were Maoist cadres as well. On Sunday, hundreds of Maoist militia gathered outside the venue, obstructing people’s movement and even prohibiting journalists from covering the event. This shows that Maoists are more concerned about the delayed progress. However, it can’t be an excuse for the seven parties. Those are the common aspirations of people.
The talks seemed to have progressed on the early three sittings and many speculated that Sunday talks will reach a consensus. The negotiators of both sides cheerfully expressed their hopes. It implied a cordial atmosphere. This Sunday, the situation seemed unusual. Unlike previous sittings, the negotiating parties didn’t think it necessary to inform public/press through a formal press conference. Those who individually appeared on Television screens looked more serious.
Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s stances on Monarchy and Maoists’ arms have created deadlock in the talks. Prime Minister has stuck to his stance that the Monarchy is unmoved otherwise as provided by the Parliament Declaration. He is neither ready to opt for republicanism nor to suspend Monarchy till the Constituent Assembly polls. Koirala has said that his party will accept people’s choice during the Constituent Assembly polls regarding Monarchy. Then why should Koirala have trouble that the institution that is to face people’s choice is suspended for the period? The Maoists have understood that this is Koirala’s move to sustain monarchy. As they are well aware that overwhelming majority of people wants to opt for republicanism, they have made it a bargaining tool. They are forcing PM Koirala to make his stance on Monarchy clear among the public- yes or no. For the cause, they have offered an option that could address both the issues of Monarchy and arms management as well. Koirala has demanded for total disarmament, which Maoists say, will mean surrender for them and will never agree. They have expressed readiness for total disarmament, if only Nepali Congress decides to opt for Republicanism. This option is favored by other SPA constituents except Nepali Congress Democratic, which have already declared to opt for republicanism. It has become tough choice for PM Koirala. This proposal is designed to force Koirala to publicly speak on Monarchy- yes or no. People also want clear answer from PM Koirala- Ceremonial Monarchy as advocated by him earlier or Republic? As he assumes power on the foundation of popular movement, it is people’s right to seek answer from him. He can’t remain dumb on the issue that has dominated the whole progress on talks.
People are more desperate that other issues of state restructuring and modalities of Constituent Assembly are over shadowed by the talks. If the political parties are determined to hold the CA polls in time, there are only seven months left. Constituent Assembly is new practice for Nepalese ever in the history. It will take a long time and good stuff of efforts to make people understand what Constituent Assembly is. But it is already late. More than four months are needed even for usual general elections. Had they really been serious, political parties should have declared their election manifesto and initiated election campaigns by this time. Polls dates would have already been declared by the interim government formed as per the interim constitution. But it’s a long way even interim constitution is finalized. Whatever the political leaders say, time constraint has made people doubt on their seriousness. And the question revolves around Nepali Congress and Prime Minister Koirala. Koirala is holding the executive rights. His party has the key of the talks. At the hour Nepali Congress opts for Republicanism, Monarchy will lose its significance. Though undeclared, Nepal will be a Republic and many of the problems seen in the surface will be resolved. Then only discussions could be focused on future outlook of Nepal, which need great discussion. Though a few matters will be resolved on the negotiating table, major social, economic and political problems lying behind the emergence of Maoist problem are still to be addressed. Those doors are ever shut unless the Prime Minister or Nepali Congress decides to opt for republicanism. If he sticks to his stance for a ceremonial monarch, or keeps people in illusion, we can’t deny a situation of confrontation. And he should be solely responsible for the situation. It is high time; Koirala chose to be a hero or a villain.