Nepal’s present crisis is the product of haste and a cavalier indifference to the rules and norms. If the men in power had given greater importance to the constitutional dictates, the country would not have been embroiled in this crisis. It began with Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, better known as Prachanda, dismissing the army chief. Other parties described the step as unconstitutional so President Ram Baran Yadav, as supreme commander of Nepal’s armed forces, reinstated General Rukmangad Katuwal. Prachanda reacted by tendering his resignation. He may have still remained in office if, rather than rushing into dismissing the army chief, he had discussed the issue in detail with his Cabinet and other parties.
Likewise, rather than instantly reinstate Katuwal, it would have been appropriate for the president to ask Prachanda to reconsider his decision. Even Katuwal may have considered his options — including seeking a little time — before letting his own dismissal and reinstatement lead to a political crisis.
With democracy still in its infancy in Nepal, the process was bound to go off track some time, so there is nothing surprising about this particular glitch. Irrespective of whether Katuwal was justified or not in refusing to yield to Prachanda’s desire for integration of Maoist cadre into the army, the option of settling the controversial issue through talks was not given enough importance. This point is being deliberately raised as similar crises may surface again in the near future, spelling more trouble and tension for this fragile democracy. But whatever they may be, problems are not going to be resolved by dismissal followed by reinstatement and another premier taking over after the resignation of his predecessor.
With 24 parties present in the 601-member Constituent Assembly, only a coalition with the support of at least 301 members, which is ready to make compromises with different parties, can form the government. Yadav, Prachanda and Katuwal slipped on the democratic track by not considering this political reality. Unwilling to admit their mistake, they are now blaming ‘foreign powers’ for the crisis. But even if these reports were correct, policy makers in Kathmandu would still be guilty of allowing these ‘foreign powers’ to play their role. It is hoped that the next government will be a little more circumspect in its behaviour.