Leaders from main opposition CPN-UML and agitating Madheshi Morcha leaders have resumed talks at different levels to figure a way out from the current political deadlock.
This is a welcome move for after the constitution promulgation in September, 2015, leaders from UML and Madheshi alliance had stopped communicating with each other and instead resorted to projecting each other as main hurdle to constitutional settlement of contentious political issues. When two parties stop talking to each other, it breeds confusion, mistrust and even hatred. Communication gap between the two sides for one and half years had contributed to the same. The two forces even resorted to name calling, further widening trust deficit, leaving little space for reconciliation. This should not have been the case. The resumption of talks between the two forces on opposing poles, therefore, offers a beacon of hope. The initial signs are positive. We urge the two forces to be committed to holding three sets of elections by January 18, 2018—the deadline set by constitution itself.
The UML and the Madheshi alliance should realize that their rigid stand on constitution amendment and election issues is pushing the country into even more difficult situation. If they continue to stick to their guns, it could prove to be a recipe for political disaster.
People have started to express worries as to what will happen if the major political forces—CPN-UML, Madheshi Alliance, Nepali Congress and Maoist Center—fail to come on the same page on election.
Failure to go to the polls will be too costly for the country in all fronts. As we have stated in this space several times, only interparty dialogues and healthy discussions on contentious issues will help bring meaningful solution. Any attempts and threats that may foment political tension are unacceptable to the country and the people. Meaningful dialogue between UML and Madheshi leaders is crucial also because various extremist forces are looking to further polarize Nepali society. Only when major political forces stand on the same page will they be able to counter extremism.
Apart from constitutional issues, focus of UML-Madheshi alliance talks should be finding ways to hold three sets of elections by January, 2018 and chart the course to save the country from looming political and constitutional crisis. Consider this. About 57 percent of our population is aged between 15 and 59. Huge chunk of this population has been deprived of right to choose their representatives at the local levels for the last 20 years.
We simply cannot afford to lose the trust of this generation of Nepalis by perennially putting off elections. The major political parties need to seriously think of our socio-politics and the course ahead. How long can we afford to ignore the alarming picture of our economy? How long are we to wait for the politics to settle before we embark on a difficult journey of rebuilding the country? It is now time for the political parties to put national interest before their petty interests. They should keep talking to find a way out of the existing political uncertainty. The UML-Madheshi alliance talks must be centered on holding elections in time and restoring political normalcy.