Ending of constitutional gridlock in Nepal good news for India | ht view | Hindustan Times
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Ending of constitutional gridlock in Nepal good news for India

The first step towards Nepal being able to tackle its problems is the passage of a constitution. Which is why the results of this week’s Nepalese constituent assembly elections must be welcomed.

ht view Updated: Dec 02, 2013 09:07 IST

The first step towards Nepal being able to tackle its problems is the passage of a constitution. The legitimacy of the country’s political structure and structure of governance has been unresolved since the end of the civil war because of the absence of this one document.

Which is why the results of this week’s Nepalese constituent assembly elections must be welcomed.

Though the final results are yet to be declared, extrapolating from the vote percentage figures it is evident that the two largest mainstream parties, the Nepal Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), together are just a few seats short of the needed two-thirds majority needed to pass a constitution.

This bodes well for the country being able to jump what has proven a remarkably difficult hurdle for this country.

The first constituent assembly failed in its mission after four years of paralysis because it continued to reflect the polarization of the civil war. The Maoists were the largest party during the first assembly.

But they were too caught between their own internal divisions and the gap between themselves and the traditional democratic parties to agree on a constitution.

The proposal to re-carve Nepal on the basis of ethnicity, for example, pitted the Maoists and the Madhesia parties against the rest in a battle neither side could win but where the constitutional process lost. This assembly more genuinely reflects a post-war Nepal.

The Maoists saw their vote percentage fall by more than half to 15% while the Madhesia parties have suffered similar declines in support.

In other words, this vote seems to have been less about the memories of the civil war and a desire for peace and more about a desire to get on with nation-building and constitution-making.

New Delhi has never hidden its concerns about the Maoists and during the last Constituent Assembly worked hard to prevent the Maoists from emasculating the Nepalese military.

However, two successive Maoist prime ministers had indicated their desire to work with India. The constitutional gridlock and the damage it was doing to the future stability of Nepal was always of far greater strategic worry to New Delhi. The seeming end to this gridlock is what India will and should be the most pleased about.