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What exactly happened on the night of May 27?

New Delhi, June 5 -- Ten days after dissolution of Nepal's Constituent Assembly, that was to give the country a new constitution, details of what transpired in the meetings among political heavyweights on that fateful night which led to breakdown of talks still remain hazy.

That was to be expected when major parties hijacked the constitution drafting process away from the CA months ago and decided on promulgating a new statute with the help of deals signed behind closed doors in secrecy.

Ruling Maoists and Madhesi parties claim the rigid opposition of Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), the second and third largest parties in CA, to restructuring of Nepal on single-ethnicity based identity was the root cause.

Refuting the charge, NC and CPN (UML), who want multi-ethnicity based states, blame Maoists of refusing to reach a consensus on federalism and dissolving CA in a premeditated manner to capture power.

Though disagreement on federal states was the core reason for lack of consensus among parties, recent interviews given by Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai on the events of the day give some insight into how the day unfolded.

Contrary to reports that attempts were made till late evening to reach an agreement of some sort before the CA deadline expired at midnight, Bhattarai says that talks between the major parties broke down in afternoon itself and NC and CPN (UML) wasted the remaining hours.

The Prime Minister says he discussed the possibility of declaring an emergency to extend the CA tenure, but since NC and CPN (UML) opposed it, he was left with no option but to announce fresh elections.

Bhattarai maintains that with less than one and half hour left for the deadline to expire, the cabinet decided on holding of fresh elections as the Supreme Court had already put a ban on extending the CA tenure one more time.

Dismissing that the decision to dissolve CA and announce polls was premeditated, he says that on the morning of May 27, he met President Ram Baran Yadav and assured him of getting the constitution ready within the stipulated deadline.

Despite failure of talks, the constitution may still have been possible if the CA session was allowed to convene and all disputed issues put to vote. But NC and CPN (UML) refused to take part.

A signature campaign in favour of single-ethnicity based federalism was underway and nearly two-third of lawmakers across party lines had supported it. Maoists and Madhesi parties had warned that if NC and CPN (UML) opposed it, voting would give them victory.

Not willing to bow down to such threat, NC and CPN (UML) used all means to ensure that the CA session didn't get underway. This led to Bhattarai announcing polls.

Both factions, Maoists-Madhesis and NC-CPN (UML), are now giving statements justifying their stances. But the exact truth of deliberations on that day may be difficult to excavate.

Till that happens theories would abound. Despite whispers in some quarters on India's role behind all the drama, Bhattarai said both India and China played a constructive and neutral role and there was no reason to blame both countries for what happened on May 27.

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Date:Jun 5, 2012
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