Don’t Subvert Mandate: Let Maoist Lead the Government

Nepal should, wisely, follow the Turkish path and avoid the Algerian tragedy from being repeated here. Democracy cannot move forward—let alone prosper—by subverting the people’s mandate. It’s foolish to think that constitutional technicalities can be manipulated to get around the popular mandate.

By Ameet Dhakal

Some people in the Nepali Congress (NC) are still contemplating a government under its leadership. One could have brushed this aside as a silly thought if it had come from some NC mavericks. But it should be taken seriously since it has come from people close to Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala. It is hard to believe that they could have floated this hard-to-swallow proposal without GPK’s consent or at least without reading his mind. It assumes a serious proportion also because some sections of the security forces and some quarters in the international community also think that way.

They are trying to make a case on a purely technical ground: Since the Maoists don’t have even a simple majority and the Interim Constitution says the government would be run through consensus, the prime minister is not obliged to resign; and if the Maoists want to remove him, they should muster a two-thirds majority.

True that the Interim Constitution does not have a clause on the formation of a new government as any non-transitional constitution would have. It envisions continuity of the coalition government. But that’s a constitutional flaw, and it should not be allowed to subvert the popular mandate of the people. The sovereign people have made their preference clear, and that should guide the future course of politics.

There are instances in the world where army and international forces have converged to block popular but radical political parties from ascending to power. Algeria is a case in point. The Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) won 231 seats out of 430 in the first round of the parliamentary election held in 1991, and it was well set to capture power in Algiers. But the second round of the voting never took place; the army intervened with the active support of Algeria’s former colonial master France and the enthusiastic backing of the United States. What followed was further radicalization of the FIS and the death of 50,000 Algerians in the subsequent years. The polyglot, tolerant and cosmopolitan Algeria, loved by poets and intellectuals of the West, was soon lost.

If the FIS had been allowed to ascend to power through the popular mandate in 1991, there was a chance that it could have followed the path of Turkey’s AKP (Justice and Development Party). When the AKP —with Islamic roots though not as radical as the FIS—won the election in Turkey in 2002, there were similar concerns and misgivings about them. Many pro-secular forces in this secular republic wanted the army to block the AKP’s ascendance to power. They army, which had got its fingers burnt in 1997 by sacking an Islamic president, thankfully, refrained from intervening. The AKP, once in power, further moderated and modernized itself and remained loyal to the secular constitution. In 2007, it received a resounding victory, expanding its popular vote from 30 to 46 percent. Today, the AKP is aggressively pushing for Turkey’s entry into the European Union.

Nepal should, wisely, follow the Turkish path and avoid the Algerian tragedy from being repeated here. Democracy cannot move forward—let alone prosper—by subverting the people’s mandate. It’s foolish to think that constitutional technicalities can be manipulated to get around the popular mandate.

The Maoists should be given the opportunity not only to lead the government but to lead a sole government. According to the people’s mandate expressed in the CA polls, if any other parties have the moral authority to join the coalition, they are the Madhesi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF) and the Tarai-Madhes Democratic Party (TMDP), both of which are new parties.

Many people, including the Maoists, argue that the CA election’s mandate was for the formation of a coalition government to write a new constitution. That’s not true. When the people—mainly the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized—voted in the CA polls, they had CHANGE, not constitution, on their minds. They voted with a hope that the Maoists would bring about meaningful change in their lives. It is, therefore, the responsibility of the Maoists to form a government and try to fulfill that popular expectation.

That said, the Maoists should not, however, behave as if they have got a two-thirds majority in the CA. They are still a minority, but the largest party; and they should be ready to share power at the top. The Maoist position on this, so far, has been very rigid: They want to retain both the posts of prime minister and the head of state. That’s an unfair demand, though their concern — that two different people as the head of state and the prime minister might give rise to parallel power centers thus complicating the transition —is genuine. But they should also understand the concern— read suspicion—of other parties. There is a big question about whether the Maoists would be ready to transfer peacefully should they lose the next election. The Maoists should not blame other parties for second-guessing their intentions, for their democratic credentials haven’t been established yet. There should, therefore, be some power-sharing formula at the top so that both the Maoists and other parties can be self-assured about the future of the transition. If the Maoists stick to their demand, it’s possible that the NC might be inclined not to give up power, leading to a constitutional deadlock.

My assessment of the UML is that they are also not willing to give the Maoists a “blank check”. There should be clear check and balance during this transition so that it puts a rein on any autocratic ambition of the Maoist party, said a UML leader.

So far as writing a new constitution and implementation of the federal democratic republic is concerned, all the parties should work jointly in the Constituent Assembly to write a consensus constitution within two years and hold the parliamentary election in another six months. That’s the moral obligation of all the parties and no one should shy away from that.

Ameet Dhakal is the news editor of the Kathmandu Post where this article appeared today.


22 responses to “Don’t Subvert Mandate: Let Maoist Lead the Government”

  1. hemant Avatar

    what is in the head of the congress leaders???
    i just can’t understand….what is the meaning of leading the country despite of such humiliating defeat..

    this thing shows the autocratic thought that congress always had …maoist should be given to lead the government and follow the mandate given by the majority of nepali people

    they didn’t even felt the shame saying that we should lead the government despite scoring less than 40 seats in 240……..what a good joke was that……………………….

  2. hemant Avatar

    if this thing happens then congress won’t secure even 10 seats in the elections that will happen in next 2 years………………they think as if they are the born leaders of the country…i am really surprised they are not yet understanding that nepal and nepalese were looking to get the rid of these obsolete and corrupt party of all times…….
    prachanda should be the primeminister as well as the head of the state..
    let the maoist prove that they are worth leading a country and see their efficiency and diplomatic

    the enthusiasm of all the nepalese to find change will be crushed if congress leads this government
    the controversy like such if arosen by the leadership ,it will be the dark spot in the morality of congress party………………….

  3. Jay Nepal Avatar
    Jay Nepal

    1. On moral ground NC has lost right to be in GOVT leave alone
    the matter of heading the GOVT.

    2. On constitutional ground Maoists do not have right to claim
    for heading the GOVT. They wrote INTERIM constitution clearly
    stating that the present cabinet will not be changed after CA election. May be they agreed fearing their possible loss in CA.
    The sole purpose of CA election was to write CONSTITUTION and not to form a new GOVT.

    3. Now they have emerged as the largest party. They are putting
    aside the interim constitution and can’t even wait till the new one.
    They are eager to head the govt.

  4. Tilak Avatar

    One of the most analytic and comprehensive review I have read on Nepalese politics. I am impressed and fascinated by the analytical depth of the article.

    I am in favor of balance and check in the government. It could be in the form of government and opposition or coalition government. Political stagnancy would be minimized if government and the opposition is established. However, the Maoist legitimacy is still under international question mark. Thats why they are seeking for the coalition goverment.

    Anyway, a brilliant piece of article. Rea

  5. utsav Avatar

    These maoists have no right to form the government under their leadership because they failed to garner even a simple majority even if they used all sorts of dirty politics like intimidation, abduction, and terror. And the most important thing is this election is not about who forms the government. People has given mandate through this election just to draft new constitution.

  6. tulsi Avatar

    Let the Games begin……….

    NC will lead next govt, says Dr. Mahat

    Finance Minister Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat (File Photo)
    A senior Nepali Congress (NC) leader and Finance Minister Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat has said that NC itself would lead the next government.

    Speaking at an interaction at the Reporters’ Club, Friday, Dr. Mahat said that since none of the parties could muster two-third majority by themselves, the next government must be a coalition one and be led by NC.

    Dr. Mahat said that although it was natural for Maoists to stake claim to form the next government since they emerged as the largest party from the election, the fact remains that any party would require two-third majority to form the government.

    He added that consultations should be held among seven parties as well as other parties to form a coalition government.

    His remarks have come at a time when Maoist leaders have said they would lead the next government. sd Apr 25 08

  7. tulsi Avatar

    The people have spoken. They have thrown out the crooked bums. IF these bums refuse to leave…then it is time to start hanging ropes from the lamp posts along New Road.


    Is this all a part of the Indian Strategy???

  8. Chandra Avatar

    Good and well thoght analysis. Since context of Algerian and Nepali political enviornment are so different this analysis looks justification to Maost in government. In Algeria, there is a violence of constitution. We don’t even hava constitution. We have contract between political parties that how we are going to bring a constitution. All agreed in contract that two third will be the threshold to form a transitional government. We can not run behind the emotion. We are about write a constitution that our coming generation would benifit . We can read nepali mind in many different angles, but leaders must understand that it is to bring a document tha no one in the future would have opportunity to betray nepali people.

  9. noananarchypleaz Avatar

    you can say what you like.

  10. Shree Shrestha Avatar
    Shree Shrestha

    For the sake of democratic process, next primeminister should be elected by CA members.

  11. Neil Horning Avatar

    This article’s analysis is correct. If the parties are looking to give the Maoists an excuse to seize power through urban insurrection, obstructing them from leading the government after they have won the elections is a good way to do it.

    This piece here may provide some perspective on what the mainstream parties have achieved.

    I think I might write a follow up.

  12. sunil regmi Avatar

    what a foolish logic thea NC leader gave. if they do contuining saying against the people verdict then they will be clean sweep once.respect the verdict of the people. they themselves were non eligible this time. let the maoist lead the government.they were the figure of change and hope who emerges from the poll legitimize by the nepali people.naya nepal congress ko chintan ra paddati bata chalna sakdaina.

  13. Shailendra Koirala Avatar
    Shailendra Koirala

    1. Let’s not speak about what happened to other countries…i think….the peace process is progressing….and hope it will progress…..(Let’s be optimistic)

    2. Maoist are stating that they want to work with India, America & so on….they have changed the glasses to look at the south block after they are in power….that may be the ‘strategy’…..(coz nobody guessed that they could win the election)

    3. I don’t believe the logic Maoist could manage to get 220 seats just because “intimidation, abduction, and terror in the election”…they may be partly true because in the past Congress winning the election by capturing the booths….

    Another thing to be noticed, the ppl of ktm also voted for Maoist, were there any sort of threatenings…… look at Jhapa, Morang as well (i think ppl there r forward….that are not maoist affected area)

    So there r various reasons that the maoist managed to get 220 seats in CA

    4. Dr. Mahat has to be ashamed of what he said (Hagnelai bhanda dekhnelai laj)…

    5. There should be all party government (including Regional Parties).

  14. change (human right, prosperous nepal) Avatar
    change (human right, prosperous nepal)

    those nc looters should buy some laaz

  15. utsav Avatar

    I just would like to liken the maoists to one saying: Regardless of how much a frog expands, it does not weigh one dharni. The same thing applies to these arrogant maoists. Regardless of how much they were boosting of their success before the full poll count, failed to get even a simple majority.
    That is why people have not given them full mandate to form government in their leadership. The PM should be from the party that can get simple majority. These maoists are showing their arrogance as if they have garnered a two third majority. They need to understand where they stand.

  16. Madhesi Avatar

    Excellent analogy. These maoists led by Prachanda are like the frogs in an expanded state.

  17. lol Avatar

    the maoists should be running the govt – if for nothing else then to either show that they have to become democratic and worldly wise (meaning their 10 year “war” was not for what they said it was for -i.e. maoism) or indulge their maoist fantasies and show to the world that it infact is a failed ideology and is plain wrong. Rather , thy not be dogged and admit that they misled the people, but if they do a good job as democrats then people will forgive them – i guess.

  18. suva chintak Avatar
    suva chintak

    Very sad… Yo politician haru ko kahile budhhi aula?
    Maybe it’s time the old parties should do something good for our country, simply by letting the real visionary leaders, who agreeably have swiped votes across the country, lead the way towards a better NEPLAL. Oldies had their chance. And what did they do? They screwed it up real badly.

    It’s time for a change. Change is what we need… not old politics and old mentality. We need leaders who have studied the country, lived with the people and learned their problems, and mobilized them and taught them that they too are equal and have rights as everyone else. We don’t need another 18 years of cronies, who betray the public and relax in the comfort of their bungalows, while many suffer in the claws of poverty and neglect. We need patriots not impersonators!

  19. suva chintak Avatar
    suva chintak

    Correction on my previous post: 4th line should read – “lead the way towards a better NEPAL.”
    My finger-heart coordination is not as good when it comes down to typing about this very important issue of the future of our country.

  20. Deva Avatar

    Girija drop dead. You will do some good for the Nepalese people if you now quietly quit active politics. Deuba, you are a silly incompetent bastard. Drop dead. Nepali Congress leaders, please look at the ground realities, it is now time for you to GO TO THE VILLAGES.


  21. Runil Wazlib Avatar
    Runil Wazlib

    Once upon a time, there was a man who could not bear the thought of his opposition doing well. He wanted them all dead.
    His name??? ——————————Adolf Hitler
    Let us not be Hitlers…Tolerance is the word of the day…
    Let Nepal be the Zone Of Peace just like King Birendra wanted.

  22. paribartan Avatar

    Good article!!!

    I dunno why NC is behaving this way.
    If they start letting the likes of Govinda Raj Joshi blabbing in TV and proving they are just a bunch of power-hungry-old-ppl then that will decrease their popularity to another extreme.

%d bloggers like this: