Despite the hitches and risk of new confrontation, Nepal's much-awaited constitution is now finally on its way but its promulgation will only lay bare new challenges. The toughest one will be to reinvigorate the ailing economy by denting the cronyism and crimino-political nexus which has enriched the politicians and fueled the informal economy so far.
There is one effort that has drained the precious time and resources of the entire country over the past decade in Nepal: building the constitution. After failure of the first Constituent Assembly (CA) to deliver the constitution at the end of the extended period of four years, the second CA was formed after an election overseen by a caretaker government led by the then Chief Justice of the country.
Finally, eight years after the powerful street revolts paved the way for uprooting the centuries old monarchy and elections for CA, the new constitution is in sight. After a failed attempt to forge a consensus in divisive issues like state restructuring, the ruling parties--which enjoy a two-third majority in the CA--have resorted to the procedure in the CA which allows a voting on those issues.
Unable to influence the outcome in negotiations with the ruling coalition, the opposition led by the Maoists, the former armed rebels of the country who were the largest single party in the first CA but have been heavily downsized in the second CA, have decided to boycott the procedure in the CA.
Sans a miraculous reconciliation in the near future, the ruling coalition formed by the traditionally dominant political parties Nepali Congress and CPN (UML) is now on track to sorting out the issues through voting despite the vehement protests of the opposition.
As the rival sides are drifting further away from each other's position on contentious issues--ruling coalition with upper hand in the CA taking an increasingly hardliner position in favor of status quo vs the opposition reluctant to shed the more radical stand on contentious issues--new faultlines are appearing in a country already fraught with old ones.
The consequence of this unfortunate turn of events is this: those of us who were looking forward to the new constitution as the document of compromise between conflicting interests if not of absolute agreement and consensus, are set to be disappointed. This also raises the specter of lingering political confrontation and instability in the country that was badly shaken by an armed insurgency that ended only eight years ago.