The unseemly dispute between the left alliance, which is now looking to form government at the earliest, and Nepali Congress, which wants to check the left’s march to power, is a needless distraction. There is an easy way to resolve it and get the three tiers of government up and running at the earliest. If the proposal of the left alliance that the block voting system be adopted in the election of the National Assembly, the upper house, is accepted, the presence of other smaller parties in the 59-member chamber will be drastically reduced. If this happens, the opposition in the assembly will be extremely weak. This will not be healthy development, as the left alliance already has a resounding majority in the lower house. For the nascent Nepali democracy to effectively function, it is vital that there be a strong opposition. Moreover, having secured such an emphatic victory, the two parties in the left alliance should be magnanimous in their treatment of other parties, particularly Nepali Congress. The left alliance has nothing to lose by allowing more opposition lawmakers in what is a largely ceremonial chamber. Such a gesture will also help allay suspicions that the left alliance harbors dictatorial ambitions.
The ordinance on election of the National Assembly is now stuck at the Office of the President. Bidhya Devi Bhandari is clearly working on the instruction of her UML benefactors not to give her stamp of approval to the ordinance that proposes that the upper house be elected based on single transferable vote (which would make for a bigger presence of opposition) instead of block vote (which would give nearly all seats to the left alliance). We don’t want to get into a legal argument over which of these two ways of electing the upper house is better. Strong arguments can be made on either side. Ours is more of a moral stand and a call for reason to prevail. Having successfully conducted all three constitutionally-mandated elections, it would be a tragedy if the country were to now find itself stuck in yet another political fracas. For the full implementation of the new constitution, and the institutionalization of the new federal democratic republic, it is vital that at least the three major political forces in the country (or two forces if the two left parties were to merge) maintain basic decorum in dealing with each other.
This is important because if our big parties cannot even agree to the basic rules of electoral politics, it will be hard for people to believe that they are committed to agenda of prosperity and development, something they endlessly promised on the campaign trail. It is true that the left coalition now has a mandate to form a strong government that could serve out its full five-year term. But based on the checkered past of these parties, with the post-1990 period seeing a change of government every nine months on average, many people are justifiably doubtful. The earliest this government formation dispute is resolved the more they will be assured that our major political actors are serious this time about collectively taking the country on the path of peace and prosperity.