An all new, proto-republican, Nepal will appear on the international horizon from January 15, 2007, the first day of the solar month of Magha in the Nepalese calendar, following the festival of Makar Sankranti, which politicians of both India and Nepal scrupulously avoid for launching any new venture.
On that day, the interim Constitution will be promulgated, the interim Parliament will be sworn in with 73 members from the Communist Party of Nepal(Maoists) as members, a new cabinet constituting of representatives of the seven-party alliance as also the Maoists will take office and the present Pratinidhi Sabha (House of Representatives) will first approve the new Constitution and then dissolve itself.
It has been made very clear by both the camps?of the democratic political parties as also the Maoists?that there would be no change in the draft of the Interim Constitution despite stringent criticism of some of the provisions by not only the Supreme Court of Nepal but also the Nepal Bar Association, and despite Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala'srepeated assertions that the interim Constitution makes him a virtual dictator with the offices of the Head of the State and the Head of the Government.
More significant is the fact that from January 15, 2007, the King of Nepal will not have any role in the administration of the country, marking the virtual end of the Shah dynasty which had started its career on September 13, 1769 by capturing the Kathmandu Valley from the tottering Kingdom of the Mallas. The last Malla King Jaiprakash Malla had faced the same fate as that of the last Nawab of Bengal, Sirajuddaula, at the hands of the British in 1757 led by Robert Clive and assisted by a bunch of traitors led by Mir Zafar. Jaiprakash Malla too was betrayed by his ministers.
The Interim Parliament, which will be a unicameral House, will draft the new Constitution of Nepal, which is expected to usher in a republican Nepal. When the Constitution is adopted, it will decide at the very first meeting, the fate of the monarchy. After its draft is approved, this House too will be dissolved to and general elections for the new Parliament will be held. At present, the tentative date is mid-July, which is not the proper season for holding general elections.
When on Jan.15, the new, but interim, Parliament is constituted and a new Constitution is adopted, it would become the sixth Constitution in the history of Nepal since 1948. Generally forgotten, the last but one Rana Prime Minister of Nepal, Padma Shumshere Jung Bahadur Rana, a liberal-minded person had actually got drafted a Constitution for Nepal with the assistance of Sri Prakash, a well known Constitutional expert of India. In fact, it was promulgated too on January 26, 1948 (the coincidence of the date of the promulgation of the Indian Constitution on the same date two years later was merely an accident), and had come into force from April 14, 1948, the New Year Day according to the Nepalese solar calendar. (First day of Baishakh, 2005 according to Vikram Samvat, but solar, not lunar).
This poor Padma Shumshere was dethroned by his younger brother and hard-line Rana, Mohun Shumshere Jung Bahadur Rana, on April 30, and that was the end of the experiment with constitutionality in Nepal. But within less than two years, the Nepali Congress-led revolution inspired by the prisoner-like King Tribhuvan, ousted the Rana regime and a people'sGovernment was formed on February 18, 1951. The same day King Tribhuvan had promulgated an interim Constitution. This was the second Statute. This Constitution had provided for elections for a Constitution Assembly.
However, when King Tribhuvan died in March 1955 and his son Mahendra took over, it was a different story altogether. He more or less despised democracy and after four years following his father'sdeath, he did hold a general election, but for a Parliament and not a Constituent Assembly
He got a Constitution drafted with foreign assistance and promulgated it on February 12, 1959. This was Nepal'sthird Constitution.
Surprisingly, this election, held with the assistance of the Election Commission of India, threw out a Nepali Congress win with two-thirds majority with the King'sown party ( a ?benami? one, of course) failing to even one of its 75 candidates win. The great Bishweshwar Prasad (?BP?) Koirala became the Prime Minister on May 27, 1959 and Nepal started its maiden democratic journey then.
Not for long, however, King Mahendra dismissed this Government, dissolved the House more or less abrogated the Constitution, on December 15, 1960 and two years later gave the country another Constitution on December 16, 1962. This was Nepal'sfourth Constitution.
It took the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) and other parties long 29 years to thrown out this Panchayat regime on April 8, 1990 and on November 10, 1990, Nepal'sfifth Constitution was promulgated. When on January 15, 2007, the new Interim Constitution takes over from the Nov.1990 Constitution, that will be the sixth one. Let us hope Nepal becomes seventh times lucky.