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Blocking Roads And Parliamentary Sessions

Issue 07, February 12, 2012

Siddhi B Ranjitkar

Blocking roads and parliamentary sessions have been the easiest things to do for the so-called students and the opposition lawmakers to vent their anger. They don’t care about how they violate others’ rights to travel and do business. They just want to cause inconveniences to others for forcing the government meet their demands. This is called a parliamentary democracy. Some so-called democrats called it the most democratic system.

On January 31, 2012, we have had an urgent business to do at the Nepal Bank, New Road in Kathmandu. We have to drive from Maharajgunj nearby the official residence of prime minister to New Road. So, we took a regular route via Nagpokhari to Durbarmarga to Trichandra College. One day before, one of our relatives while driving to Maitighar had advised us to avoid the Trichandra College route. However, seeing the smooth flow of traffic at Nagpokhari, we simply drove ahead. As we reached nearby the statue of Mahendra that had killed democracy in 1960, the traffic police started off diverting the traffic to our left meant something had been going on at the Trichandra College. The roads were jammed with the traffic. We felt as if all the vehicles were there to stand we could not move at all if could by inches only.

Some people started cursing the students. They said that these guys called students were not students at all; they were criminals hired by the politicians. About 10 youngsters were at the Trichandra College to block the traffic. They did not look like students but they shut down the road causing so much inconvenience to others. They did not care about the businesses of others. Most probably they were well paid for causing troubles to other.

Recently, a new culture of hiring some criminals for creating havoc on the streets has been developed in Nepal. Previously, political parties calling for the shutdown of Kathmandu or Nepal needed to deploy their cadres at a high cost. Some estimates had it that they spent about Rs 2.5 million to Rs 5.0 million on one shutdown depending on the scale of the shutdown they called for. The money was spent on bussing the cadres to various parts of the country, allowances paid to them and on providing them with some food and drinks. However, recently, the political parties did not needed to do so they could simply hire a group of criminals that could go from one place to another breaking vehicles and smashing the stores and so on to terrorize anybody disregarding the call of shutdown.

Some of the drivers were cursing the government for not controlling the students. They said that the government needed to use forces to stop the so-called students blocking the road to protect the rights of the people to travel smoothly. However, the government does not care about it and let the criminals rule the streets. Anarchy and chaos on the streets have been regular business for the criminals that make money out of blocking roads and causing inconvenience to the people.

The government increased the prices of petroleum products following the price rise in India. Some students had been taking the issue to the streets. Some experts said that it was not the business of the students to protest the price rise; their business was to study well. However, the Nepalese students have been more concerned with the politics than the study. Politicians have been inciting students even hiring criminals to create chaos in the country. It is the political offense but the Nepalese politicians believe that such things are their prerogative.

The blockade of the roads had delayed the smooth supply of petroleum products in Kathmandu. Students had been blocking the highways demanding the rollback of the price rise in the petroleum products. Some tankers carrying the petroleum products could not reach Kathmandu causing the short supply of petroleum products, the state-run oil company called Nepal Oil Corporation says. People needed to stand in line for several hours to fill their tanks with gasoline.

I myself had a bad experience in filling the tank of my vehicle with gasoline. I put my vehicle just behind about 15 vehicles standing in a line to fill their tanks at the Naxal gas station run by the police. It took me one and a half hour to reach the pump. Even after reaching the pump I had to wait more than fifteen minutes before one of the police staffs was ready to fill the tank of my vehicle. He was filling up the tanks of the motorcycles and vehicles lining up in the compound of the police headquarters just keeping the regular customers standing. The police could open a special pump for their dear ones to serve rather than using the regular pump. The police supposed to enforce law and order just violate the rule of law. As a matter of fact, the police could use the pumps set up for them by the Government of India at a free cost but they are not using them rather using the pump that they could use for serving their dear ones than the public. That is how the Nepalese law enforcement people work.

Considering the shortage of gasoline and the erratic behavior of students mostly the criminals, traveling on the streets of Kathmandu has been uncertain and unsecured, too. Drivers need to watch where the students have been blocking the roads. They might not only damage the vehicles but also kick the drivers that disregard their call for not driving on the streets. The strangest thing has been that the police simply watch how the strikers kick motorcyclists and how they throw stones on vehicles. Law enforcement people have been the most irresponsible people and have ignored their duty to protect the public from the criminals.

Politicians have been openly protecting the criminals. Political parties have been keeping criminals for serving their interest and for deploying them to shut down Kathmandu or Nepal to force the government to meet their demands. They also have been using such criminals for obtaining the state contracts for constructions and so on. Sometimes, the rival criminal groups fight against each other to gain such contracts. The fights even result into killing one of the members of the rival groups. Then, that becomes one of the issues for shutting down Kathmandu or Nepal. The concerned political party steps in and demands the government to declare the criminal died in the skirmishes of the rival groups a martyr and pay his family Rs 1 million as a compensation for the loss of their loved one. So, Nepal has a lot of criminals declared martyrs demeaning even to the word ‘martyr’.

Lawmakers find it easy to block the House session to vent their anger or force the government to meet their demand. However, if the lawmakers belonging to small or insignificant political parties, the Speaker quickly suspends them and even deprives them of the perk they are supposed to receive.

Currently, lawmakers belonging to NC and CPN-UML have been blocking the House session demanding the government revoke the decision on legalizing the property deals done by the Revolutionary Council of the Maoists during the insurgency, and the resignation of Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai for his statement on merging Nepal either with north or south. They don’t care about the need for passing a number of important bills pending at the House. In addition, one of the advocates has brought the case to the Supreme Court of Nepal. So, the ruling of the Supreme Court will be the final one no matter what the government does. The government has also put on hold the enforcement of its decision on this matter. Then, the question is what is the logic of blocking the House session for such a matter.

President of NC Sushil Koirala says that his party will never approve the legalization of the property deals done by the Revolutionary Council of the Maoists during the insurgency indicating that his party and CPN-UML: a partner in the politics will continue to block the House session. He also has said that the peace process and the constitution writing will complete in seven weeks if the Maoists comply with the seven-point deal the UCPN-Maoist, NC, CPN-UML and UDMF have reached.

Deputy Prime Minister Bijaya Gacchedhar has said that lawmakers belonging to NC and CPN-UML have been blocking the regular business of the House for a trivial matter; they should not do so if they are a responsible opposition. He also has said that the current government will complete the peace process and the constitution writing following the four-point deal the UDMF has reached with the UCPN-Maoist. He also has said that the 11 states recommended by the State Restructuring Committee (SRC) is good enough as they are more or less similar to the 14 states passed by the majority votes in the Constituent Assembly.

However, Minister for Information and Communications Jaya Prakash Prasad Gupta said that the Madheshi people would rebel against the 11 states recommended by the SRC, and insisted on enforcing the 22-point and 8-point agreements the government had reached with the Madheshis during the Madhesh movements.

Mr. Gacchedhar and Mr. Gupta belong to different political parties but to the same UDMF. In fact, they were in one party called Madheshi People’s Rights Forum. Currently, Mr. Gacchedhar leads Madheshi People’s Rights Forum-Democratic, Mr. Gupta Madheshi People’s Rights Forum-Republican.

Previously, half of the CPN-UML leaders were leaning to the UCPN-Maoist while another half to the NC. Now, the whole bunch of the CPN-UML has been behind the NC stating they have resolved the problem of leaders having groups of their own in the CPN-UML, and they are united to go along with the NC for blocking the House session for a trivial matter as Gacchedhar has said.

Currently, the UCPN-Maoist and UDMF in coalition run the government while the NC and the CPN-UML together oppose the current government. So, as the opposition to the current government, the NC and CPN-UML lawmakers have been blocking the House session on a trivial matter as Mr. Gacchedhar has said.

UCPN-Maoist and UDMF are for federalism and federal states following the ethnic groups whereas the NC and CPN-UML are for attempting on pulling the country back to the centralized administration. Consequently, these NC and CPN-UML guys have been provoking the Madheshis and the ethnic groups. Direct confrontation between the Madheshis on one side and the NC and CPN-UML on the other side becomes inevitable if the NC and CPN-UML guys don’t change their stand on federalism and the autonomous states.

NC leaders have been saying that now is their turn to run the administration but they have not been able to form a majority to tear down the current government. Even in coalition with the CPN-UML and other small political parties, NC cannot make a majority. They need the support of the UDMF for forming a majority but they have pushed the UDMF leaders so far away even to the extent of reaching to the UCPN-Maoist.

CPN-UML leaders have been saying that the current government has lost its legitimacy and should quit the office forgetting that they can force the government to quit the office only by a no-confidence motion in the parliament and then removing the government by the majority votes against it in the parliament. However, they simply have ignored this fact and demand the current government to quit making themselves ridiculous.

Speaking at the House on February 9, 2012, Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai has explained to the lawmakers that he has suspended the decision on legalizing the property deals done by the Revolutionary Council of the Maoists during the insurgency. Concerning the media report on the word ‘merge’, the prime minister has said that the media has distorted rather deleted the ‘sub’ from the word ‘submerge’ he has said, and make it sound like merge. He explained to the lawmakers that in fact, he has said that the Nepalese economy will submerge if Nepal could not take the benefits of the tsunami like waves of development coming from the north and the south. Explaining about these two concerns to the lawmakers, the prime minister has paved the way for running the House session smoothly.

All political parties suffer from the oligarchic rule, personality clash and even anarchy. For example, personality clash between Prachanda and his vice-chairman Mohan Vaidya Kiran has almost led their party UCPN-Maoist to split. Mohan Vaidya Kiran has successfully stopped Prachanda from making further concessions to the NC and CPN-UML in making a new constitution that has been almost halted. Similarly, personality clash between President of NC Sushil Koirala and senor leader of NC Sher Bahadur Deuba has continued even though they have said that they have reconciled but both of them has been looking for an opportunity to hit another. Jhalanath Khanal and his rival KP Oli have been at each other’s throats. Mr. Oli had even charged Khanal with the rigging of the election to the chairman of the CPN-UML after Khanal defeated him in the election. Leaders of the Madheshi don’t fight at all but disintegrate their parties quickly for making new leaders.

Anarchy prevails in the administration of the political parties. Leaders send their cadres to the streets to protest against the leader either trying to topple him or to tame him to the tune of their interest. For example, Mohan Vaidya Kiran had sent his cadres to launch a protest against Prachanda and his vice-chairman Dr. Baburam Bhattarai. Secretary to UCPN-Maoist CP Gajurel has said that the current government of Dr. Baburam Bhattarai has done nothing good except for the decision on legalizing the property deals done by the Revolutionary Council of the Maoists during the insurgency. President of NC Sushil Koirala has dissolved the district committees of the sister organizations of his party to the utmost dismay of his rival Sher Bahadur Deuba, as most of the committee members have been Deuba’s supporters. Leaders of CPN-UML KP Oli and his colleague Madhav Nepal had worked to tear down the government of Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal since he became the prime minister with the support of the Maoists.

The government seems to be not bothered even though the opposition members of the House have been blocking the session. Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai knows that the opposition cannot do any harm to his government as long as the coalition between his party and the UDMF of the Madheshi parties remains intact. UDMF leaders find the Maoists are Madheshi friendly.

Prime Minister Bhattarai also knows that his party has once blocked the House for more than 40 days without any results. NC and CPN-UML also have blocked the House for more than 50 days without any positive results for them. The current blockade of the House also ended up without any positive results. So, Prime Minister Bhattarai and members of his government are so relaxed and not bothered with the events in the parliament. However, this time, NC and CPN-UML lawmakers became happy, as the prime minister came to the House and spoke to the lawmakers about suspending the decision his cabinet had made on legalizing the property deals the Revolutionary Council of the Maoists did during the insurgency.

February 11, 2012

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