Until 1990 , Nepal was an absolute monarchy. A communist movement started in the same year and according to the demands , the king brought about some political reforms. A parliamentary monarchy was established with the king as the head of the state and prime minister as the head of the government. But the governments formed thereafter were highly unstable and none of them could last for more than two years, either due to the internal party issues or dissolution of the parliament by the king.
Although there was a provision for a multi-party system in 1990 reforms , the political power was concentrated in the hands of a few elites , especially those belonging to the Nepali Congress – the majority party since 1950s. As the socio economic disparities grew, Maoists started mobilizing people against the king and the elected government. A civil war started in 1996 and Maoists demanded abolition of monarchy, framing of a new constitution, a presidential form of government and formation of states on the basis of ethnicity.
Consequently, the king renounced his position in 2006 and Government signed a peace agreement with Maoists. According to the agreement, Nepal army had to stop operations against Maoists and the government had to establish cantonments with basic amenities for Maoist combatants. After some time, these combatants would have the option of either joining the Nepal Army or getting the financial aid to lead a normal life as a citizen of Nepal. The constitution framed in 1990 was replaced by an interim constitution and elections were held to form a constituent assembly. Maoists participated in the election as well.
None of the parties could secure majority in that election and a coalition was formed, with Maoists (UCPN – main leaders, Prachanda, Baburam Bhattarai and Kiran), UML (Madhav Nepal) and Nepali Congress( Sushil Kumar Koirala , Ram Baran Yadav ) as the main parties. Prachanda was chosen as the Prime Minister and Ram Baran Yadav as the President of the interim Government.
The constituent assembly thus formed had to deliver a Constitution by 2010 and a new Parliament had to be formed according the new Constitution. But due to plethora of disagreements among parties, constituent assembly failed to deliver the constitution. The disagreements were based on the form of government, the federal structure, the role of judiciary etc. While Maoist party wanted to have the Presidential form of government, provinces based on the ethnicity, and the judiciary to be accountable to the parliament; other parties proposed to adopt the Parliamentary form of government, provinces based on economic and geographical factors, and an autonomous judiciary. The term of the constituent assembly was extended till 2012, but no consensus was reached over disagreements and hence, constitution could not be framed.
One interesting fact to note here is that over three leaders have taken the charge of the prime ministerial post from 2007 to 2012. The ambitions of the party leaders and their demands were the major roadblocks to the framing of the new constitution.
The first prime minister Prachnda, the main figure of the Maoist movement, demanded recruitment of more number of ex combatants of Maoist movement in Nepal Army. His other demands like Presidential form of government and a non autonomous judiciary, are signs of his ambitions to have a ruling President with maximum power. But the then President Ram Baran Yadav did not give assent to his proposal and he resigned from his post in 2009.
The next PM was Madhav Nepal from UML. Due to a violent protest started by Prachnda against him, he also resigned in 2011. The next PM, Jhala Nath from UML could not stay even for a year.
Finally, Baburam Bhattarai from UCPN was chosen as the PM. Allegedly, both Baburam and Prachnda were involved in siphoning off the funds, which were given as aid by the international community for rehabilitation of ex Maoists combatants.
Amidst all this hullabaloo, president Ram Baran Yadav dissolved the parliament as it had exceeded the term to deliver the constitution and asked Baburam to continue as a caretaker PM.
In 2007 interim constitution,there was no provision to re-elect a second constituent assembly and thus, elections were put on hold by the election commission. Finally, all parties reached a consensus and decided to hold elections in November 2013. Nepali Congress secured the maximum number of votes, followed by UML and then UCPN with a very small proportion of vote share.
Initially, the election results were severely criticized by Maoist party for alleged fraud during election, but later they extended unconditional support to the Nepali Congress to form the government and decided to stay in the opposition. In Jan 2014, the first meeting of constituent assembly was held. February 2015 was set as a deadline to deliver the constitution.
As the deadline is nearing, the Maoist have resorted to violent means to disrupt the process. Their demands are same, as they have been during the first attempt of framing the constitution. According to UCPN, the ruling coalition of NC and UML has majority to push through their own proposals and have a greater say in deciding upon the nature of the state and its institutions.
National Congress has been criticized by UCPN for being elitist, owing to its long term presence in Nepal politics. NCs refusal to form ethnicity based states are cited as the wish to perpetuate its interests by marginalizing ethnic minorities and garnering the support of the rich and upper cast Hindu majority.
It is not possible to frame the new constitution unless both the sides accept to compromise on some of their stands. Only when party leaders put aside their ideological differences, they can arrive at the possible solutions to settle their differences.