The April Movement (AM), 2005 of Nepal has great importance in the political history of Nepal. Its character, in the main, is bourgeoisie, but to a limited degree. Out of the achievements of the AM the election of the Constituent Assembly (CA) is of decisive importance, which in its very first session took the historical decision to abolish monarchy and establish republic. But all these achievements are within semi-feudal and semi-colonial conditions. So the AM cannot be taken as a bourgeoisie democratic movement in a real sense. A bourgeoisie democratic movement, to be a real one, should bring an end to semi-feudal and semi-colonial condition and only a New Democratic Revolution can achieve this goal. However, in spite of limited bourgeoisie character of the AM, considering the great changes brought about by it, the AM should be regarded as a progressive one. But it seems that after the election of the CA, the progressive character of the AM has ceased to exist. That is obvious from its failure to enact the constitution.
The CA died without delivering the new constitution. As the election of the CA was a great historical achievement, the dissolution of it is a most unfortunate event. The CA in fact was the by-product of the political change of 1951. The people or various political forces of the country have been struggling continuously for that for last six decades. But in spite of its election, it could not bring to completion the assignment given to it by the people to make the constitution.
The CA could not fulfill its great mission of constitution making even in the period of two years formerly fixed and after successive extensions. Its dissolution without making constitution is indeed a great loss. It is difficult to forecast how long we may have to struggle and how much sacrifices we shall have to perform to fulfill the loss caused by the dissolution of the CA. Now the main task before the country is to make the democratic constitution. It would not be possible to consolidate or to institutionalize the republic in absence of the democratic constitution. CA is gone. But it has left behind it a challenge before the whole country and people. The future of the country will depend upon how much successfully and skillfully this challenge will be met.
There is a long history of constitutional development in Nepal. Many constitutions were enacted during the last six and half decades. What differentiates the one that is to be built today from those of the past is its republican aspect. The constitution which will be enacted in the present condition will definitely be within the limits of semi-feudal and semi-colonial condition. So it would not have revolutionary character or it would not be people’s constitution. It would not solve the basic problems of the people. But in spite of all these limitations, the constitution would be progressive one for the historical role it would play to institutionalize or to consolidate the republic.
What made the CA to dissolve? To get a correct answer of this question we will have to analyze the political situation of the country and the role of the various political parties, mainly that of the major political parties of the country since the AM. But refraining from making a detailed analysis of the past history, this article will be confined mainly to tracing what in the last moment made the CA to dissolve. After the meeting of the major parties and organizations of the CA, both belonging to the government and the opposition had reached othe 5-point agreement on 15 May 2012. The important point of that was consent to make Pradeshes (provinces) on multi-ethnic basis under federal system. We have been opposing the federal system from the very beginning. We have been holding the view that the federal system is not appropriate for a small, underdeveloped and land-locked country like ours surrounded by Indian expansionism from three sides. In place of it we prefer a unitary system based upon local self-rule and democratic decentralization. However, in principle, we do not deny the necessity of constructing provinces, zones and districts because such an administrative division is required even in unitary system.
With our reservation on the federal system and many other aspects concerned with the formation of the Pradeshes, we supported the formation of them on multi-ethnic basis. But such an agreement was vehemently opposed by all the racist political forces or organizations. Even a large number of the CA members belonging to the Maoist organization itself together with those belonging to UML and Nepali Congress opposed the understanding reached by their own leaderships on 15 May 2012. Their emphasis was that Pradeshes should be formed on single-ethnic identity basis. This difference on the formation of the Pradeshes occupies very important place at present as, firstly, the difference became the main cause behind CA dissolution; secondly, it is certain that in future too this factor will play very important role in the election, constitution making and politics of the country. So it will be helpful to know at least in brief the complication of the racist problem in Nepal.
There are more than hundred tribes, ethnic groups, clans, minorities etc. in Nepal. All these can be divided into two groups: tribes and minorities. People having a common language, blood relation, culture, tradition, geographical location or having comparatively undeveloped economic and social conditions can be grouped into tribes. When such people develop economically and socially they become minorities. Many of the people living in Nepal are tribes although some of them have developed into minority groups. In this paper, the term 'race' is used for all these groups although the term 'ethnic' will also be used wherever necessary.
Many racist organizations or scholars have started using the term 'nationalities' or 'nations' for tribes or minorities. But this interpretation is not in line with both sociological or Marxist-Leninist point of view. It is only after a long process of political, economic, social or cultural transformation or interaction that the tribes or minorities develop into nations. In the course of such development former separate or narrow relation based upon blood or tradition tend to weaken or slacken and a new, higher or national type of relation, emerges among them. It is in such a historical process that nations come into existence. Capitalism intensifies such a process. It was during the period of capitalist development that many nations have come into existence in Europe. In fact the nations are quantitatively and qualitatively too extended or developed form of the tribes or minorities. The "nationalities" is a middle stage between the tribes and minorities on the one side and nation on the other. But in this stage also the tribes or minorities tend to transform their former racial relation into ‘national’. In other words, it is only through a long process of political, economic or social development that the tribes or minorities develop into nations. It is wrong to upgrade all the tribes, ethnic groups, minorities into nations or nationalities at a single stroke. Such a tendency overlooks the historical process related to it. Caste is a social system found in various races. Such a social system is found mainly among Hindus. But due to influence of the Hindu religion many other races also in one or the other way have adopted this system. The most suppressed or exploited under the caste system are Dalits.
Out of the about one hundred races in the country, about one dozen, such as Newar, Magar, Gurung, Tharu, Rai-Limbu etc. are demanding that the Pradeshes under the federal system should be formed on the basis of single ethnic identity. They also are demanding the right of the self-determination and special political privileges or political prerogatives for them. Such a identity or privileges for them would be on the cost of other overwhelming races or ethnic groups. Nepal is a country of mixed settlement where people of various races live together in different parts of a country. Besides it, races which are demanding the formation of Pradeshes on single ethnic identity basis are in minority overwhelming people in is Pradeshes being of other races. After allotting such privileges to about a dozen races, more than about 90 races would be deprived of those. Such a discriminatory practice will create a situation of profound dissatisfaction or conflicts among various races of the country. The formation of the Pradeshes on racial ethnic basis itself is wrong and devastating. Besides it, the division of races into two groups, on the one side, one having Pradeshes on the basis of single identity and with prerogatives and others deprived of those will amplify social or political conflict in large scale endangering the both the newly established republic and sovereignty, nationality and integrity of the country as whole.
Racism in fact has become a serious problem in Nepal at present. The imperialist forces have been using it as part of their strategy to weaken the leftist, democratic and nationalist movement or even to disintegrate independent/sovereign countries in different parts of the world. They have practiced such a policy mainly in countries of East Europe, Africa and Asia. Now they are trying to implement the same strategy in Nepal. Imperialist forces, especially those belonging to European Union (EU) and thousands of NGOs and INGOs working in Nepal in collaboration with them are working in a planned way for many decades to escalate racism in Nepal. The Marxist-Leninists anywhere in the world, even these having right - revisionist character, have record of uncompromising policy of struggle against the conspiracy of the imperialist forces to use the weapon of racism to divide the exploited people or their movement. But in Nepal they (the imperialists) are 'fortunate' enough for it that they have succeeded to use some of the very powerful 'leftist' forces, the Maoists being prominent among them, to follow the imperialist policy. Even after split in the Maoists, both of groups of them - the UCPN (Maoist) and CPN-Maoist (in this article both of them will be referred as Maoist and "Maoist" respectively in short) are determined to enforce racism. Such a policy of both of them was well manifested in the context of 15 May 2012 agreement. After the agreement to form Pradeshes on multi-ethnic basis, the Maoists came forward to express their solidarity with the racist movement against the agreement. Maoists also after the racist forces organized country-wide movement and members of their one organization in large number stood against the agreement backtracked from the agreement and supported the line of formation of the Pradeshes on 9-point single-ethnic identity basis. The Bhattarai government also entered into an agreement with the racist organizations accepting their demands of formation of the Pradeshes on the basis of single racial identity with the right of self-determination or prerogatives for them, while the UML and Nepali Congress insisted on application of the May 15 Understanding. Such a change of stand on the part of the Maoists or the government led by them led the understanding of May 15 to a collapse and that ultimately caused the CA to dissolve without making the constitution.
After the CA dissolution, the government declared the polls for the CA on 22 November. The decision in itself is correct. But that was widely opposed by almost all opposition political parties and people in large numbers. Firstly, despite that the decision of the government was correct, the way the decision was taken was wrong. The government being a caretaker one has no right to take decision on any important policy matter such as the election of the CA; secondly, various political circles are against the election of the CA. They are emphasizing on the restoration of the CA, appointment of a commission of experts or holding a roundtable conference. We hold the view that the restoration of the CA would be only the continuation of the past. The experience of four years of the CA has manifested that there is fault in the very structure of it and its restoration will not serve any propose. It is interesting to note that the members of the CA belonging to various political parties or organizations are raising their voice more loudly for the restoration of the CA. Such a demand is guided by the objective of preserving the posts and gains they had enjoyed in the past as members of CA rather than by the objective to serve the country and people.
The idea of writing the constitution by a commission of experts or a roundtable conference will deprive the people from their sovereign right. CA also had weaknesses, the most important being the failure to draft the constitution. In spite of it, the CA is the best way to make the constitution because, first, it has glorious history of six decades behind it and the election of the CA would preserve that history; secondly, it is most appropriate method used throughout the world to make constitution and, lastly, it recognizes sovereign right of the people to make the constitution. There is no other way out but to go to the people to correct the mistakes committed by any elected body. That is why we emphasize re-election of the CA in spite of its failure.
Regardless of the intention (motivation) of the Maoist government, their decision to hold the election of the CA is correct one. They do not seem honest or firm on that. The statements they occasionally have made public indicate that they have more inclination towards the restoration of the CA rather than on the election of that. The election commission has again and again attracted the attention of the government or political parties that it would be impossible to hold the election if necessary amendments are not made in various provisions of the interim constitution or laws concerned with the election in time, at least four months before the election. But no initiative is taken in this regard until now. So, it is unlikely that the election of the CA would take place in the date announced by the government because of these two causes: firstly, suspicious (vulnerable) attitude of the Maoist on the questions of the election of the CA and, secondly, lacking of the amendments in the provisions of the interim constitution and laws concerned with the election, it should not take place as the present government is not a legal authority to take the decision and to conduct the election of the CA. On July 30 the election commission declared and notified the government officially that the election on Nov. 22 will not be possible as the deadline to amend provisions of constitution or laws concerned with the election has run out.
Despite being a caretaker, the government tends to behave as a government having full constitutional authority or a full-fledged government. Its style of functioning has not only created controversy but has also brought a serious constitutional and political problem. If this problem is not solved in time, it will hold back the constitutional or political development of the country.
There are immediate tasks before the country at present: firstly, to form a full-fledged legitimate government that will take decision on the election in an appropriate way. Secondly, to take timely measures to amend the constitution or laws concerned with the election. In the absence of the constituent assembly or legislative assembly, there are only two ways to solve these problems: firstly, political consensus, secondly, ordinances by the President. But caution must be taken not to let the president turn into an autocrat and that can be done by limiting the ordinances to political consensus. In this context the possibility of the Maoist government using the President to rule the country by compelling him to issue ordinances according to arbitrary decision also cannot be ruled out.
Political consensus and ordinance by the President are only way out at present to solve the constitutional and political complications existing in the country. But it does not appear that problems would be solved easily. The attitude of the government is posing the first and foremost obstacle for solving the deadlock. Considering the history of the Maoists and the autocratic way they are working now there is ground for suspicion that they will do their best to stick to power. Their attitude will block all constitutional doors for political consensus, formation of consensus government or election of the CA in a proper way. In principle, they do not deny the necessity of political consensus or a consensus government. But they have their own explanation for it. For them consensus means nothing but support by all other parties or organizations for their proposals or policies and the government under their leadership. If they continued to stick to this policy, will leave no alternative before other parties to either surrender before them or to struggle jointly against their despotic rule - to go to the path of 'Third, Jana Andolan'.
The CA or legislative assembly does not exit at the moment. So the Maoists do not require majority to stick to the government. The best way for them would be to find out a democratic way to come out of this situation. But instead of doing that it is likely that they would do their best to utilize this situation to hang on to the power by ignoring the democratic norms, suppressing the public opinion or undermining the opposition parties. Such attitude of the government is an output firstly, of their social fascist type of methods which they have inherited from the time of their "people's war" and, secondly, the support of the Madhesi organizations, on the one side, and the backing of the Indian expansionism on the other. After returning from the Rio International conference, Dr. Bhattarai asserted during media encounter at the airport that they would not hand over power till the new government was formed after the election. It is crystal clear that the support from Indian expansionism is well assured and they want to use the Bhattarai government for their expansionist objectives as much as they can. Such a policy of the Maoist government is certain to endanger, firstly, the achievements of April Movement in general and democratic republic in particular and, secondly, the nationality, sovereignty and integrity of the country. In such a back ground it has become responsibility of the whole country and people to struggle jointly to defend the democratic republic and nationality of the country.