Nepal: Stalemate Continues,
No Constitution Still in Sight

Propelled by a powerful people’s upsurge, the process of abolition of the nearly 250-year-old monarchy in Nepal had turned out to be quite swift and surgical. The subsequent process of republican transition has however proved to be extremely slow and tortuous. Even as the extended deadline for a new draft constitution draws near, Nepal is now stuck in a serious political stalemate.
The term of the existing Constituent Assembly ends on May 28. The CA was however also meant to double up as the interim government. It seems ‘governance’ became the primary agenda while the job of drafting a new constitution got relegated to the background. The present government which is backed by the CPN(UML) and NC and bitterly opposed by the UCPN(Maoist) wants an extension for the CA, the Maoists want a new national government before anything else.
To press for the resignation of incumbent PM Madhav Kumar Nepal and formation of a new Maosit-led national government, the Maoists had launched an indefinite countrywide mass strike preceded by a big protest rally in Kathmandu on May Day. Interestingly, a group of UML leaders too reportedly submitted a memorandum to UML Chairman JN Khanal, “strongly advising” Madhav Nepal to resign and pave the way for a consensus. The Maoist strike, christened “Teesro Janandolan” (Third Phase of People’s Movement), was however called off after six days – though Maoist leaders described it as a mere ‘postponement’ of the movement.
It was clear that this time around there was much less support for the strike from within Kathmandu valley and the strike had to be enforced to a large extent on the strength of supporters and activists brought from outside. Beyond a point the Maoists too must have found it unsustainable while the government and non-Maoist parties successfully pitted an increasingly vocal ‘civil society’ against the strike. Maoists also complained of attacks by state-sponsored ‘vigilante’ groups on their supporters.
A key issue of contention between the Maoists and the UML and other parties concerns the implementation of the Peace Agreement which had envisioned disbanding of the Maoist Army following integration of Maoist guerrillas into the national armed forces. The UML wants to first decide the number of Maoist combatants to be integrated (the government proposes retirement and economic rehabilitation for some, and absorption of only a select few who fulfill the necessary criteria), while the Maoists argue that the number can only be found after ascertaining the wishes of the combatants. The UML wants the Maoists to disband not only the Army, but also the Young Communist League which is seen as a ‘paramilitary structure’ rather than a genuine youth organization.
There are also debates about the nature of the Army and the pattern of the republic. Maoists have been raising the issue of civilian supremacy over the military and they apparently also prefer an executive presidency to a parliamentary system while most other parties are in favour of a multi-party system on the basis of first-past-the-post elections. While hectic negotiations are on to form a new national coalition, the Army is reportedly drawing contingency plans. Maoists have also threatened to announce their own constitution if the stalemate is not resolved satisfactorily by May 28, when the term of the CA ends.
As well-wishers of republican Nepal, we can only hope that the stalemate is resolved soon and the royalist-imperialist nexus is not able to exploit the situation to its advantage.


Comrade Brajendranath Pandey and his wife Saroj Pandey were murdered at 2.30 am on 12 May 2010. The murder is attributed to a family dispute over land. Comrade Pandey was 80. He had joined the CPI in 1959 and when the CPI split in 1964 he joined the CPI(M). He was jailed during the Emergency. In 1994 he joined the CPI(ML) and remained a member till the end of his life. He attended the Party Congresses at Varanasi and Patna and was a member of the Madhya Pradesh State Leading Team. Comrade Pandey always raised his voice against deprivation and feudal oppression in Rewa.
His funeral was attended by Central Committee member Comrade Rajaram who bid farewell to him with the red flag. On 14 May a memorial meeting was held in Kothi Compound, Rewa. A condolence resolution was read out by Chhattisgarh State Secretary Comrade Brijendra Tiwari. The meeting was addressed among others by Comrade Rajaram, CPI(M)’s MP State Secretary Comrade Badal Saroj, the UP AICCTU State Secretary Com. Anil Varma, and many lawyers. The meeting demanded the sternest punishment for the killers. The meeting was presided over by Ajay Khare of the Samajwadi Jan Parishad, and conducted by socialist activist Subhas Srivastava.