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Agreements Without Enforcement

Issue 24, June 14, 2008

Siddhi B Ranjitkar

The twenty-two political parties supporting the coalition government headed by Madhav Kumar Nepal defeated in two constituencies in the election for the Constituent Assembly have signed off on the agreements among them. This time they have signed off on not one but four agreements such as (1) Common Minimum Program, (2) Modus Operandi of Running Government, (3) Political Coordination Committee, and (4) Code of Conduct for Ministers. We have seen the flood of agreements during the last two years, and also have seen that none of them has been enforced. The new four agreements will also most likely meet the same fate.

The irony is that the same political parties that have violated the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 urging the ceremonial President to take an active step for saving the job of a top-ranking soldier have agreed to safeguard the constitution and follow the rule of law in their common minimum program.

The group of the twenty-two political parties has talked of the press freedom ignoring the Prime Minister Nepal’s action of stopping ‘Samaya Prabaha’: one of the most informative programs run by the state-run Nepal Radio without giving any reasons. They will be sincere in their words of saying press freedom if they put back the program ‘Samaya Prabaha’.

The members of this group ironically have talked of inclusiveness where as Prime Minister Nepal has appointed two other ministers of his party of the same caste making inclusive of three ministers of the Council of Ministers of the same caste only. Obviously, Prime Minister Nepal has not found any eligible persons of other caste or community or ethnic groups in his own party CPN-UML.

They have said that they will end the impunity but they have saved the job of the Chief of Army Staff Rukmangad Katuwal widely known for his role played in attempting to suppress the people’s movement by force killing so many Nepalis. Mr. Katuwal has been ignoring the order of the Supreme Court of Nepal on sending his personal dossier from the Army Headquarters that is only a few hundred meters away from the Supreme Court of Nepal. The Supreme Court has ordered him to send his personal dossier for checking his actual age but he has ignored the order for the last three years.

They have committed to alleviate corruption ignoring or forgetting Madhav Kumar Nepal in his previous reincarnation of the Deputy Prime Minister in the minority government of CPN-UML in mid 1990s has been known for corruption. The person charging him of corruption has been no other than CP Mainali also the Minister for Agriculture in the same government. Currently, Mr. Mainaii has been one of the supporters for the government of Mr. Nepal.

They have said that they will follow the consensus politics leaving the major political party such as UCPN-Maoist out of the group and forcing it to launch a movement in the parliament and on the street. The UCPN-Maoist and its sisters organizations have been calling for the shutdown of various districts in turn and staging rallies at the offices of the local governments protesting the unconstitutional action of the ceremonial President directly writing to the Chief of Army Staff and ordering him to stay on in the job overruling the government’s decision on firing him. The members of parliament belonging to the UCPN-Maoist have been boycotting the parliamentary sessions demanding the reversal of the unconstitutional step of the ceremonial President since Prime Minister Prachanda stepped down.

In addition, leaders of every political party have been scrambling for getting the juicy and prestigious ministerial portfolio. For example, the Central Working Committee and the parliamentary party of the Nepali Congress (NC) have not been able to select any candidates for the ministers to join in the coalition government headed by Prime Minister Madhav Nepal, as they have been squabbling among themselves over the persons to be selected and ministerial portfolios they want to receive. Ultimately, they have surrendered the authority of selecting candidates for ministers to President Girija Prasad Koirala.

Obviously, with the green signal of former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, NC President Girija Prasad Koirala has appointed his own daughter Sujata Koirala to lead the team of NC persons to join the Madhav Nepal’s government. It is natural for President Koirala to appoint his own daughter when everybody has been scrambling for a ministerial position. Mr. Deuba has agreed on President Koirala’s choice of his own daughter for a team leader and for the prestigious position of Foreign Minster in the coalition government, as he has been anticipating replacing Koirala as the NC President according to the local media reports. Deuba’s acceptance of Miss Sujata Koirala has been marked by his presence at the oath-taking ceremony held at the Presidential residence on June 4, 2009.

Other senor leaders such as Acting NC President Sushil Koirala, and Vice-president Ram Chandra Poudel, General Secretaries such as Prakash Man Singh, Bimlendra Nidhi and Gopal Man Shrestha have sat at their party office, Sanepa, Kathmandu on June 3, 2009 and decided to request the President for reconsidering his decision on selecting Sujata Koirala for the position of the team leader joining the government. Acting President Sushil Koirala has once said that he will quit the NC party if Sujata becomes a minister not to mention the leader of the NC team to join the government.

The Madheshi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF) has been no better than the NC in the case of its leaders squabbling with each other over the ministerial portfolios and the question of a person leading the MPRF team joining the government. Party Chairman Upendra Yadav has staked the claim for leading the team whereas Parliamentary leader Bijaya Kumar Gacchedar has been in no mood surrendering the leadership to the party president Yadav.

MPRF Parliamentary leader Bijaya Kumar Gacchedar has submitted the signatures of thirty-two out of fifty-three members of the parliament belonging to the MPRF agreeing on supporting the coalition government to be formed under Senior Leader Madhav Kumar Nepal of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist and Leninist (CPN-UML) in exchange for the commitment of Madhav Nepal to making Gacchedar a Deputy Prime Minister. Gacchedar’s support for Mr. Nepal has been crucial for forming a new coalition government for garnering the simple majority of 301 required in the parliament of 601 members for forming a new government.

In addition, the MPRF leaders have been demanding the juicy ministerial portfolios such as Home, Water Resources, Physical Planning and works, and so on. Similarly, the NC leaders also want important ministerial portfolios whereas the CPN-UML has already captured the Defense and Finance portfolios disappointing the NC leaders that have anticipated to receive one of these two important portfolios if not both.

The CPN-UML leaders also have been squabbling among themselves over the nomination of the individuals and the selection of ministerial portfolios for them for joining the government. So, the CPN-UML has not been able to send anyone of them to take an oath of office at the Presidential residence on June 4, 2009 when MPRF leader Bijaya Gacchedar, and six NC nominees and one of CPN-ML have taken an oath of office. However, none of them except for Gacchedar and Sujata Koirala has received the ministerial portfolio. Sujata has been the Minister for Foreign Affairs as wanted by his father NC President Girija Prasad Koirala; and Gacchedar has been the Deputy Prime Minister as pledged by the Prime Minister for his support for Madhav Nepal for garnering the majority in the parliament.

However, Chairman of the MPRF and his supporters have already started the preliminary action of recalling Gacchedar from the government even when he has not completed his oath-taking ceremony at the presidential residence on June 4, 2009. Chairman of MPRF Upendra Yadav and his supporters have been busy with collecting signatures of the parliamentary party members for recalling Gacchedar from the government and taking a strong party actions against him for going against the decision on ‘not taking any decision on selecting any members for joining the new government’. Chairman Yadav also has charged the NC, CPN-UML, TMDP and Nepal Sadbhavana Party of engineering the split of his party accepting Gacchedar as the leader of the team of MPRF joining the government without the official appointment of Gacchedar to the position by his party. Chairman Yadav has even threatened to take back the support his party has given to the Prime Minister.

Will the consensus politics be possible among the twenty-two political parties in the political environment of most of the political parties have not been playing with the consensus politics?

Concerning the economic policy and program, the group of the twenty-two political parties must have simply copied the whole subject matters from one of the old ‘Periodic Plans’. The group has not dared to put forward their vision and concrete plans and programs. So, it does not make any senses whether the group follows it or not.

The funniest thing the group has said is its ‘Modus Operandi of Running Government’ will be based on the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007, the guidelines of the parliament, consensus politics and the democratic values and ideals when the current three members of the Council of Ministers are not elected and the Prime Minster has got the entry into the parliament through the back door, when everything has been going on against the constitution and the democratic norms and values.

What a ‘Political Coordination Committee’ will do when every political party has no coordination among its leaders. Every leader of the political parties wants to be above the party and above all others. For example, we have already mentioned that both the party chairman and the parliamentary leader of the MPRF want to lead the team joining the government. NC President Girija Prasad Koirala has appointed his beloved daughter Sujata to the team leader of the NC joining the government bullying the protest of senior leaders of the NC against it. None of the party leaders has been respecting the democratic values and ideals in their respective party functioning. Everybody has been trying for his or her benefits disregarding even the bottom line of the democratic norms. Can we say such an environment is conducive to function ‘Political Coordination Committee’?

Now, the Code of Conduct for ministers, the twenty-two political parties have agreed on. What the Code of Conduct will make the unelected members of the parliament difference taking the ministerial portfolios disregarding their political moral values. Code of conduct is primarily for the honest people. It will not prevent the morally hazard crooked politicians from doing the most undemocratic things. So, most of the people in the council of ministers will not be restrained by moral or ethical principles.

Parliamentary Leader of MPRF Bijaya Kumar Gacchedar has taken the oath of office of Deputy Prime Minister at the Presidential residence on June 4, 2009 despite its Chairman Upendra Yadav writing a letter to the Prime Minister giving a carbon copy to the Chairman of the CPN-UML stating his party has not made decision on nominating its members and their leader for joining the government. So, Chairman Yadav has protested the appointment of Gacchedar to the Deputy Prime Minister and has even said that the Prime Minister has broken the consensus politics, and has gone against the Interim Constitution. Can we believe that such individuals appointed to the Ministers of the coalition government led by Madhav Nepal follow the Code of Conduct made for the ministers?

So, the conclusion is that the government has simply wasted the paper for printing such dubious documents such as Common Minimum Program, Modus Operandi of running Government, Political Coordination Committee and Code of Conduct for ministers and copying them and distributing them to the political leaders and publishing them in various newspapers for the public consumption, as none of the ministers will follow these agreements and none is there to enforce them.

June 5, 2009

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