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Baburam Bhattarai A New Prime Minister

Issue 36, September 4, 2011

Siddhi B. Ranjitkar

Nepalis have expected that Dr. Baburam Bhattarai will be the leader of all leaders and complete the peace process and the constitution writing after the parliament has elected him to a new prime minister of Nepal but on the very day of oath-taking Dr. Bhattarai has betrayed the expectation of the people simply going to revere the founding father of the communist party of Nepal Pushpa Lal narrowing his reverence down to the communist legacy. Dr. Bhattarai should have gone first to the Sahidgate in Kathmandu and pay homage to the four martyrs there then he should go to the statue of Ganeshman Singh at the Tundikhel and then only to Pushpa Lal. If Dr. Bhattarai has the feeling for taking everybody with him, he needs to follow this order of reverence to the Nepalese political martyrs. To this list of martyrs he needs to add are the Madheshi martyrs, too. So, Dr. Bhattarai has already committed the first mistake and it indicates that he has not the common agenda that would be acceptable to all.

Four martyrs such as Sukra Raj Shastri, Dharma Bhakta Mathema, Dashrath Chand and Ganga Lal Shrestha had initiated the first people’s revolution against the absolute rule in 1940s. Their blood has made Dr. Bhattarai possible to get elected to the office of prime minister otherwise Dr. Bhattarai would have remained a son of a simple farmer as the then absolute rulers denied any sorts of education to the common Nepalis.

Then, Ganeshman Singh was the Supreme Commander of the People’s Movement in 1990. He led both the NC and United front of all communist parties to topple the mighty rulers of that time, and buried the no-party system called Panchayat imposed by one of the most unethical rulers of that time. Had he not lead all the politicians of different colors Dr. Bhattarai would have remained underground and would have been roaming in the hills of Rukum and so on districts in the western Nepal. After the absolute totalitarian rule of the Rana regime, the Panchayat was the second greatest obstacle to the development of Nepalis. So, Dr. Bhattarai needs to appreciate the contributions of Ganeshman Singh visiting his statue at Tundikhel to tearing down the Panchayat system that has sucked the blood of innocent Nepalis for 30 years.

Certainly, Pushpa Lal was the founding father of the Nepalese communists but Dr. Bhattarai: you are elected by all the Madheshi lawmakers and of your party not as the son of the communist leaders but as a capable man to lead all the people to achieve our common goals of completing the peace process and the constitution writing. How could you write a constitution of all Nepalese people if you think your boss is only Pushpa Lal? Certainly, Pushpa Lal is one of your bosses but you have other bosses, too. If you really want to be the people’s prime minister rather than of only the communists you need to encompass other political leaders, too. Your faith in communism will not diminish revering other founding fathers of our modern Nepal. They are the martyrs that have spilled their blood for removing the cruel rulers of the past and present.

If you have not forgotten you have once said to the public audience in your home district Gorkha that Nepalis should not forget the contribution of Prithvi Narayan Shah. I can forgive you for saying so because you are not the student of history so perhaps you don’t know the cruelty inflicted by Prithvi Narayan to the citizens of Kirtipur that had bravely defended the city-state from the attacking Prithvi Narayan. They defended the city-state several times from the criminal like Prithvi Narayan Shah but they lost their state to Prithvi Narayan Shah not because of his power but the internal squabbling of the then rulers. Prithvi Narayan announced amnesty to all the brave defenders but it was only the trick he played on them to come out from their hiding. Prithvi Narayan cut off the noses and ears of all defenders including many brave women. Are you going to garland his statue at the gate to the state secretariat in Kathmandu for his contribution to this cruelty and so on?

If you are the true son of the nationalistic Nepalis first you will surely tear down the statue of Prithvi Narayan for his criminal acts, then of the playboy King Tribhuvan and of the killer of democracy Mahendra. Ironically, so far, none of the prime ministers of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal has dared to touch the statue of killer of democracy Mahendra standing majestically at Jamal in Kathmandu.

Dr. Bhattarai: you have already committed a first mistake going to Pushpa Lal and revering him ignoring the martyrs that have made you possible to be the fourth prime minister of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. How can we believe that such a man would be able to lead all the leaders and complete the peace process and constitution writing? But you have still time to correct your mistake and make you possible to go along with all other leaders.

Next, you did not use the high-value car your predecessors had used but opted for a locally assembled car called ‘Mustang’. Is it your advertisement or you are really sincere in saving the state money? If you are really saving the state money you need to sell the high-value cars your predecessors had used. If you are advertising the car then you are certainly making money even in your first step as a prime minister. What about the millions of rupees worth of tax not paid for the vehicles your colleagues in the UCPN-Maoist and you have used in the past?

If you are really wiling to save the money your predecessors have set to waste, you need to immediately scrap the subsidy on fertilizers, and recover the money paid by your predecessor Jhalanath Khanal to the state officials and the staffs of the state-run companies for uniforms. Billions of rupees have been wasted even on these two things.

Your predecessor Madhav Nepal had reinstated the subsidy on fertilizers costing the nation Rs 2 billion. Then, succeeding Prime minister Jhalanath Khanal had increased the subsidy to Rs 3 billion. However, the regular farmers have to buy fertilizers at the open market because the government could never bring the fertilizers at the time of agricultural seasons. In view of not getting the benefit of the subsidy on fertilizers and the subsidy goes for greasing the palm of the ministers and state officials, the donor community had made great efforts on annulling the subsidy on fertilizers in the past but the most unscrupulous Prime Minister Madhav Nepal had reinstated the subsidy on fertilizers for stealing the money from the state coffer. Jhalanath Khanal had not only followed Madhav Nepal but also increased the subsidy on fertilizers to Rs 3 billion. Dr. Bhattarai needs to revoke it otherwise your choice of ‘Mustang’ as your official vehicle will be only a show-off. Such a show-off will not make a good prime minister.

Your predecessor Jhalanath Khanal had introduced the dress code for the state officials and even paid for the outfits. Billions of taxpayers’ money has been wasted on the uniforms of the state officials. You need to recover the money wasted in such a way and introduce the system of the officials wearing identify cards while on duty.

If you are really for providing Nepalis with economic relief then you need to break up the cartels of the transport companies. They have been causing high prices of transportation of goods to the markets causing high prices of consumer goods. Such cartels go against the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 but none of your predecessors has either could not break such cartels or did not want to do so for the benefits of themselves and their cadres. Now, it remains to be seen whether you will be able to break up these powerful cartels of transport companies.

Everybody knows that the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has been corporation of corruption and for making money to the minister and the concerned officials. Naturally, your predecessors did not want to do anything except for increasing the prices of petroleum products in the name of cutting the losses incurred by the NOC. Now, it is your turn to act positively means to curb the corruption at the NOC or just to keep quiet keeping the tradition of making money at the NOC.

Your cabinet has decided that you will not release the money from the prime ministerial fund without the standard set by the parliamentary committee. That seems to be fine but stalling the flow of money from the prime ministerial fund whether you can achieve the goal the fund has set. If you are not sincere then nothing could prevent you from misusing the fund.

Your spouse Hisila Yami (correct me if I have wrongly spelled it) is one that has tailored the gray coats for about 65 newly appointed Maoist lawmakers to the new parliament in 2007. After the parliament passed the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007, your party got 83 slots in the 330-member new parliament formed following the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 in January 2007. Then, Hisila Yami arranged to tailor 83 grey coats to be worn by 83 new members of your party in the parliament but tailors could stitch only 65 coats. I saw your lawmakers cheerfully wearing the grey coats including your spouse lawmaker Hisila Yami in 2007 on TV. You need to bear in mind that the grey coat is the part of the dress code the previous regime has set. Your party had fought to topple the regime and succeeded it but your lawmakers were happy to follow the same dress code your enemy had set.

Dr. Bhattarai: you have met with President of NC Sushil Koirala at his residence on the morning of August 30, 2011 and requested him for joining in your government. I say it is entirely your hypocrisy. You are just pretending that the NC leaders will join in your government at your call on their president. If it has been so easy to convince the NC leaders of the need for joining in your government perhaps you would have been a prime minister of the grand coalition of the UCPN-Maoist, NC and UDMF even if the CPN-UML refuses to join in. However, the CPN-UML leaders would surely join in your government if the NC joins in. But this grand coalition has been wishful thinking in the past and would be in the future, too. So, you better attempt on getting two-thirds majority for completing the peace process and the constitution writing.

NC leaders have been prepared to go along with you on the two conditions: surrendering the arms your army has been keeping and returning the property seized by your cadres during your conflict with the state. Can you meet these two conditions set by the NC leaders? If yes, then only, NC leaders would join in your coalition government.

One thing I have to make it clear that the four-point deal your party has reached with the UDMF is not acceptable to the NC leaders. They have been surprised how your party has convinced the UDMF of going along with you. They have publicly said that your coalition with the UDMF is for the temporary political gains, it would not break up the political deadlock rather would provoke political chaos. The NC leaders are against the four-point deal your party UCPN-Maoist has reached with UDMF for electing you as a prime minister and then sharing the power with the UDMF leaders. How could you anticipate the NC leaders would join in your cabinet at your request?

Other thing your party has successfully convince the UDMF leaders of is the need for forming a coalition with your party rather than with the NC and CPN-UML even though they have been setting the same two demands the NC leaders have set for surrendering the arms your army possesses and returning the property seized by your cadres.

One of the Vice-chairmen of UCPN-Maoist and his followers have openly protested the turn over of the keys of the containers that have stored the arms of the People’s Liberation Army and even have gone to the streets for opposing the turn over of the keys to the Army Integration Special Committee (AISC) on September 1, 2011. Obviously, you have either the communication gap or you have not been able to convince your colleagues of the need for doing so.

The parliament has extended the term of the Constituent Assembly (CA) for three months on August 30, 2011. You have three months until November 30, 2011 to complete the peace process and the constitution writing. Your party has put forward the proposal for completing the peace process in one and a half months but you have to demonstrate that you can really do it otherwise you would be one of the failed prime ministers.

You have correctly said that your priorities are completing the peace process, and the constitution writing and then giving relief to the people. Any other elected prime minister would have said the same thing but you have to prove that you have the capacity to do so. Your deeds do not show us that actually you are moving to this end. For completing the peace process you need to build a consensus on it with the NC leaders. Your high-profile meeting with Sushil Koirala and turning over the keys of the containers that have stored the arms of your army to the Army Integration Special Committee (AISC) alone will not help to complete the peace process.

One of the main conditions of completing the peace process is setting up a Truth And Reconciliation Commission for dealing with the crimes committed by the political cadres and the state through the Nepal Army and the Nepal Police. All the political parties including yours have ignored it. NC leaders have the priority of getting back the property they have lost to your cadres whereas you have the priority of integrating your PLA members with the Nepal Army. You guys believe that the peace process will complete after integrating the PLA members and the return of the property seized by your cadres. However, it is not so. The real completion of the peace process will be only after criminals are punished and the victims are compensated for their loss of their human rights.

You need not only to build a consensus of all political leaders on completing the peace process but also to set up a Truth And Reconciliation Commission so that victims of the conflict would have compensation for the loss of their loved ones and of their property. Once you have completed the peace process perhaps the completion of the constitution would follow but you need to work hard.

The third priority you have set is the relief to the people. Rightly, you have invited all the law enforcement people to your office but your order to these officials has been wrong. Rather than simply asking them for strictly enforcing the law you have asked them to bring their proposals for giving relief to the people. Is it not your hypocrisy rather than sincerity?

We know that the weak law enforcement has been the main cause of the sufferings of Nepalis. The weak law enforcement has been due to asking the administration to follow the order of the ministers rather than following the rule of law. You have simply repeated the same mistake ordering the administration to follow your order rather than the rue of law. I know as one of the high-level bureaucrats in the past that the secretaries to the ministries, and the ministers have been for following the order of the bosses rather than following the rule of law causing the chaotic administration. The chaotic administration as of the vehicular traffic elsewhere in Nepal would not able to deliver the services smoothly to the people. If you could discipline the traffic police and the drivers then it would be the miracle. If you could do it then you would be able to perform other tasks, too.

You know and we know that the state administration and the police have been corrupt because your predecessors have not attempted on enforcing the rule of law. They had simply followed the rule of their orders. The result has been the sufferings of the common folks.

The four-point deal your party has reached with the UDMF has the provision for the withdrawals of the criminal cases against your party and UDMF cadres registered at the various courts is certainly not the relief to the victims of the conflicts and their relatives. If you withdraw the cases then it will go against the humanity and the human rights and it will be the example of the highest level of impunity Nepalis will experience with your wrong deed of withdrawing the criminal cases against the political cadres. All human rights activists vehemently oppose the withdrawals of the criminal cases against the political cadres.

‘Gorkhapatra’ of September 1, 2011 has the news that the Attorney General has written a letter to the Government of Nepal requesting for presenting Saroj Basnet to the Court for standing trial for a murder case registered at the court. The then Attorney General Dr. Yuvaraj Sangroula has written to the prime minister that even though the lawsuit has been registered by the order of the Supreme Court of Nepal but the case could not move forward because the alleged culprit has not been presented to the court. So, the Attorney General has requested the prime minister for sending a special order through the Ministry of Defense to the Nepal Army for presenting the culprit to the civil court. Similarly, the Attorney General has requested the prime minister for holding an investigation into the alleged involvement of the Maoist leader Agni Prasad Sapkota in killing. Dr. Bhattarai: you will be really sincere prime minister if you could meet the requests of the then Attorney General.

You have the best wishes of the neighboring prime ministers and of other friendly countries. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had directly contacted you on the telephone a few hours after you got elected to the office of prime minister indicating he was happy to have you a new prime minister of Nepal. Such a good will of the prime minister of the neighboring country is the great asset to you and it must have enhanced your morale. You have the good wishes of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao the next day. Mr. Wen did not hurry to congratulate you on your elevation to the office of prime minister but at least you have it even belatedly in comparison to the Indian Prime Minister.

"We congratulate the people of Nepal on the election of the new prime minister," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters according to the news posted on the on August 30, 2011. "We look forward to working with Prime Minister Bhattarai and continuing the warm and constructive relationship that we've had with Nepal," she said. "We're hopeful that his election will give renewed momentum both to the peace process and to constitution drafting," Nuland added. You have the best wishes of the US government, too.

Dr. Bhattarai: thus, you have the good wishes of all friendly nations and the high expectation of Nepalis; so, you need to perform well to meet the expectations of Nepalis and not to betray the good wishes of the international community and high expectations of Nepalis. You have duties to perform well for breaking up the political deadlock and for promulgating a new constitution. So, don’t waste your time on any other things than completing the peace process and then promulgating a new constitution.

September 3, 2011.


Biography of Dr. Baburam Bhattarai published in ‘The Rising Nepal’ of August 29, 2011.

Newly elected Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattatrai was born in a lower middle class-peasant family on June 18, 1954, in Belbas, Khoplang VDC, Gorkha district.

A vice-chairman of UCPM-Maoist, Dr Bhattarai is widely recognized for his political and intellectual activism. Upholding his popular epithet the ‘Always First’, he was elected from the constituency 2 of Gorkha district in the Constituent Assembly elections securing nearly 82 per cent of votes of his constituency that also made him the first in terms of the votes any candidate got in the elections.

Dr Bhattarai also proved his capacity to be the first even when he held Finance Ministry by collecting the highest amount of revenue in 2008.

Formal education of Dr Bhattarai from Amar Jyoti High School in Luitel village, two-hour walking distance from village. Ever since getting enrolled in grade 3, Bhattarai stood out as a bright student, scoring first position throughout his school life. In 1970 he made the headlines for topping the national-level School Leaving Certificate (SLC) examinations, till then unimaginable from a remote village school.

He then pursued his Intermediate in Science from Amrit Science College in Kathmandu where he once again excelled and became the only person till date to top two consecutive national exams. In 1977, under the Colombo Plan, Bhattarai completed his Bachelors Degree in Architecture from Chandigarh, India.

In 1979, he went on to complete his Masters in Town and Country Planning with specialization in Urban and Regional Planning, from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. It was here that he met and married Hisila Yami, also a daughter of a prominent scholar-politician Dharma Ratna ‘Yami’ from Kathmandu. In 1986, Yami gave birth to a daughter, Manushi. The same year, Dr Bhattarai obtained his PhD degree in Regional Development Planning, from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. His thesis titled— ‘The Nature of Underdevelopment and Regional Structure of Nepal’ has been published as a book.

According to family genesis, the Bhattarais were traditional priests and astrologers to the Sen Kings of Palpa who were known to have migrated to Liglig area of Gorkha around 15th century AD. Interestingly, one Gajanan Bhattarai, along with Ganesh Pandey and others, was instrumental in installing Drabya Shah as the King of Liglig and Gorkha. One branch of the same Bhattarai lineage remained in Belbas, in the foothills of Liglig kot, as peasants. It was here, in the mid-hills of Nepal that Baburam Bhattarai was born to Bhoj Prasad Bhattarai and Dharma Kumari Bhattarai. He was the second son in the family.

In an ironical twist of history, 240 years after the establishment of the Shah dynasty in which the Bhattarais played an important role, a member of the same Bhattarai lineage was to become instrumental in abolishing the feudal monarchy.

Politically conscious but not an activist in his early college days, he soon found himself in the midst of anti-monarchy activities of banned political parties after the royal coup of 1960. In 1977, he became the Founder President of the All India Nepalese Students Association.

In India, he came in contact with top political leaders of Nepal like B.P. Koirala, Tulsi Lal Amatya, Mohan Bikram Singh, Rishikesh Shah, and plunged headlong into democratic politics.

In 1980, he got arrested for the first time by the Indian police while demonstrating black flag against King Birendra visiting New Delhi. In 1981, Bhattarai became member of the Communist Party of Nepal through Mohan Bikram Singh. Subsequently, he became active in organizing migrant Nepali workers in India through All India Nepalese Unity Society (1979-1986). Between 1977 and 1986 he became the Editor of Janamanas and Nepali Ekta published from India.

After completion of his formal education, he returned to Nepal in 1986 and became full-time party cadre and political activist. He was arrested twice, in 1986 and 1988, by the royal regime.

From 1986 to 1991, he was the Chief Editor of Jhilko (Monthly). During the anti-Panchayat people’s movement of 1990, Bhattarai was the Central Spokesperson of United National People’s Movement, a coalition of CPN (Masal), CPN (Mashal), Proletarian Labor Organization and other left groups. Post-1990, his political activism only intensified against, in is own words, ‘the weaknesses and limitations of the chronically infirm parliamentary system after 1990’.

Between 1991 and 2001, he was also the President of United People’s Front. During the People’s War, he remained underground from 1996 to 2006, and led the revolution in different fronts. He was the Convener of the United Revolutionary People’s Council, a shadow People’s Government, during the wartime. In 2003, he led the Negotiating Team of CPN (Maoist) for peace dialogues.

He has a number of publications in Nepali to his credit. His publications in English include –

1.    Nepal: A Marxist View (Jhilko Publications, Kathmandu, 1996)

2.  Politico-Economic Rationale of People’s War in Nepal (Utprerak Publications, Kathmandu, 1998)

3.  The Nature of Underdevelopment and Regional structure of Nepal: A Marxist Analysis (Adroit Publishers, Delhi, 2003)

4.   Monarchy vs. Democracy: The Epic Fight in Nepal (Samakaleen Teesari Duniya, New Delhi, 2005).

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