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By-elections’ Messages To Political Parties

Issue December 2019

By-elections’ Messages To Political Parties

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


By-elections held on November 30, 2019 for the vacant positions at the various levels of the Federal Democratic Republic Of Nepal had sent strong messages to the political parties. Voters clearly demonstrated that they would not forgive those political parties that had attempted to take away the rights and privileges given by the People’s Constitution of Nepal of 2015. The elections held in Dharan, and Bhaktapur had clearly demonstrated the voters had rebelled against the reigning NCP candidates. Voters voted for the Nepali Congress candidates in Dharan and Bhaktapur, and for the NCP in Pokhara. By-elections in other constituencies were for local governments where ward chairpersons were elected winning from 300 votes to 900 votes had gone mostly to the NCP. Voters had shown that they would not tolerate the regressive tendency of the current reigning political party.


Voters dramatically turned around and went to vote for the Congress candidate for the mayor of the Dharan Municipality. The area had been the stronghold of the communists for the last three decades and all the time the communist candidates won the election. This time the Congress candidate won the elections thanks to the relentless efforts of the federal finance minister and local governments to squeeze the common folks imposing tax as much as possible thus taking away the money from the people’s pockets only to purchase a helicopter for the president, highly luxurious vehicles for the ministers including the prime ministers, and thanks to the communist government not taking seriously the development projects particularly the visible projects such as roads and drinking water.


The story in Bhaktapur might be a different one but the voters had the same message to the communists that they were not any more to tolerate the excessive irregularities in the state businesses. About two weeks before the by-elections, the local folks had printed the picture of the contractor that had received the contract on constructing the Bhaktapur-Nagarkot Road but never completed even after five years, and then they posted the large picture of the contractor on the electricity poles and on the walls where the public could easily noticed it.


The mayor of the Changunarayan Municipality tried to contact the contractor but without a success then, he went to the chairman of NCP Prachanda who incidentally happened to rent the house of the contractor, and living there with his family, according to the local media news. Prachanda dramatically made a call to the contractor and told him to complete the Bhaktapur-Nagarkot Road but again without any response from the contractor. Then, the mayor went to Prime Minister Oli, the prime minister also in presence of the mayor called the contractor and ordered him in the strong words to complete the road project. He also probably dramatized the telephone call to the contractor, as the contractor did not care about the call of even the prime minister. All these facts were published in the state-run newspaper “gorkhapatra.”


Finally, the mayor probably came to the conclusion that all these big shots must be behind the contractor otherwise the contractor would have worked and completed the road construction. So, he went back to the people and made the issue of non-actions of the contractor posting the picture of the contractor before the by-elections. Not only the mayor but also the entire folks of the Bhaktapur had been disgusted with the contractor and those political leaders who stood behind the contractor.


So, voters might have thought that why they should vote for the communist candidates given the foul performances of the communist leaders in power, and voters did not trust the communists would work for the people. So, they voted for the Congress candidates, as the policies of the Nepali Congress had been the main instruments for all the socio-economic and political development in the country so far achieved since 1990.


The Congress governments since 1990 had been advocating the freedom of press which the current government wanted to take away from the people crafting a Media Council Bill only to replace the Press Council Bill that had been the product of the Congress government in the past. The current administration had already enforced the cyber act forcing some folks to land in jail and others to withdraw the song that went against the State corruption, and other items posted on the social media. Instead of giving more power and freedom of expression to the people, the current communist administration had attempted to take away even whatever the people had the freedom of expression, which was surely the enemy of the communists that had zero tolerance of free expression.


Since the current administration took office, common folks had faced the unresolved grave violence of human rights.


For example, a young innocent woman that had a long life to live was raped and murdered, and then one of the police woman probably from the order of her superior washed the inner clothing of Nirmala Panta to erase the evidences, according to the so wildly made publicity of the rape and murder of Panta. The communist administration had not been able to find the culprits, yet. The most interesting part of the issue had been the question of why the administration did not arrest the woman who washed the clothing of Panta on whose orders she did.


The next horrendous actions of the current administration had been that the anti-corruption activist called Rabi Lamichhane, who went to the contractor putting asphalt on the mud during the rainy season, made the videos of such work and posted the videos on the social media for the public consumption, was implicated in the suicide case. Putting asphalt during the rainy season had been the standard practice of the contractors despite Prime Minister Oli repeatedly stating he had the zero tolerance of corruption. Probably, the road-constructing contractors asphalting the muddy roads did not fall in the definition of the corruption of the prime minister.


The actions of the current administration had demonstrated probably it had no tolerance of the people talking against the performances of the administration otherwise the prime minister would have welcomed the Rabi’s findings, and would have even awarded Rabi for his relentlessly done so many videos that the contractors had been so wrongly working during the monsoon period.


The same thing had been with Dr. Govnda KC who had been the anti-corruption activist, and he wanted to remove all the evils in the medical colleges and administration. He had launched and stayed on the fast-unto-death several times, and he forced the government to come to the agreement with him but the government did not enforce the agreements again and again forcing Dr. KC to take up the fast-unto-death so many times. He deserved to have the honor of the state for his persistent work on making the government work for the common folks, as did Rabi Lamichhane but recently the most highly prestigious honors went to the foreign doctors who treated Prime Minister Oli thus relegating even the state honors to low values.


Now, let us take up the economic growth the government had set at 8.5 percent for the current fiscal year 2019 (2076) to achieve the Prosperous Nepal and Happy Nepali probably copying the attempts of the neighboring country Bhutan on measuring the happiness rather than the economic prosperity. Probably, the Oli administration was trying to do both the prosperity and the happiness for the common folks.


Rather than adopting the polices on expediting the fast economic activities for achieving the high economic growth the finance minister did was ban the imports of certain goods that would adversely impact on the national industries, and harmful to the health. By the words of the finance minister, the import ban had decreased the imports of goods by 10 percent but the state revenues also was decreased to 40 percent. Any development economist could anticipate such ruinous results from the import ban.


Politically, the import ban had violated the rights of the consumers to have the best goods at the competitive prices at the market. Economically, it was a disaster to the consumers, to the nation and even to the national industries. What the finance minister did was like it or not use the products the national industries had produced so inefficiently because they would have hardly any incentive to make their industries efficient in absence of competition in the market.


What would be the catastrophic results of export ban had amply demonstrated by the Government of India restricting the export of onions from India for making available onions to the Indian consumers at the low prices because the floods had damaged the onion crops causing the low harvest of the crop and then pushing the prices of onions up in the Indian market. The most illogical thinking Indian minister simply put an embargo on the export of onions from India.


What really the ban on the export of onions brought to the Indian farmers was a great tragedy. I watched the video posted on the facebook on December 2, 2019 that an Indian farmer was telling what he would do when the traders did not buy the onions telling him that the government had put a ban on exporting the onions; the farmers crying and wiping the tears coming out of his eyes continuously questioned how he would pay off the bank loans, how he could support his kids and parents when he had to sell the best quality onions at eight Indian rupees per kilo, how he would pay off the wages to the laborers he had hired for harvesting the onions.


This state ban on the export of onions from India was a great example of how an economically illiterate minister could make such a decision on banning the export of onions, and could lead the crop failure ultimately, and finally the consumers to suffer from the high price and short supply of onions. If the ban were to continue probably the farmers would quit farming the onions, and then the consumers would need to pay high price for the onions, as the short supply of onions would soon prevail in the market. To keep the consumers happy the Government of India either would need to import onions or could be able to send the farmers back to the onion farming.


India had already suffered from the sluggish economic growth during the last 70 years because of the state control on everything, and tying up the hands of the common folks not enabling them to develop the country as fast as possible. The Bharatiya Janata Party had promised the liberal economy and the fast track economic development but Prime Minister Narendra Modi had failed in this mission taking up one action after another that went against the fast economic growth. The current Indian economic growth has been around 5 percent, which is far less than the targeted 8 percent.


The ban on import the smart finance minister Dr Khatiwada had imposed had already slowed down the economic activities. The review of the economic activities the Central Bank of Nepal had done for the first quarter of this fiscal year indicated that the total budget expenditure did not exceed four percent. The expenditure of the development budget had been slightly more than one percent, which means the development activities had been well below what needed to achieve the economic growth target. Development experts and economists believed that the finance minister would deserve a great award and honor if the state were to achieve the economic growth even slightly more than five percent instead of the targeted growth at 8.5 percent for the current fiscal year.


The compensation set for the land acquired for the Budhigandaki Project had been so low that the folks rose up against it. One of the Congress leaders had charged the government with setting the compensation well below the values to freeze project, the news on the ninth page of “gorkhapatra” stated on December 5, 2019. What the Oli administration wanted to do had been just the opposite of the development, and the opposite of the welfare of the common folks if the Congress leader were to be accurate.


Now, let us take a look at the elections held in the Kaski-2 constituency in Pokhara. The election was for the member of the House of Representatives. The constituency had been vacant since the death of Minister for Cultural, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari, who had gone on a helicopter to inspect some airports but landed on the premises of the Goddess Pathivara at the high altitude, and he and his entourage including the pilot went down with the helicopter after a few seconds of takeoff from the ground paving them the way to heaven untimely.


The spouse of Rabindra Adhikari got elected by eight thousands majority votes in the Kaski-2 constituency. In her victory speech she said that she would work on meeting the dream of Rabindra Adhikari. What would Prime Minister Oli think about the statement? Why she did not mention that she would do everything possible to realize the dream of Prime Minister Oli to achieve “Prosperous Nepal and Happy Nepali.” Why she did not say that she would work on meeting the dream of the common folks. Nobody would know what the dream of her beloved husband was until she would publicly say to people. Cleary, she had won the elections receiving the sympathy votes.


One of the communist leaders Bhim Rawal stated publicly that the voters in the by-elections had cautioned the reigning communist party and encouraged the opposition Nepali Congress party. It won’t go wrong when a leader of the Rawal’s stature speaks out. So, the leaders of Nepal Communist Party (NCP) have to be careful what they do and what they speak out in the coming weeks, months, and years.


Spokesperson for NCP Narayan Kaji Shrestha said the party's secretariat meeting held at Dhumbarahi; and Chairman Prachanda presided over it on Wednesday, December 4, 2019; the meeting decided to ask the lower committees to review the results of the by-elections and send it to the secretariat, the news posted on stated on December 4, 2019. This was the first meeting Chairman Prachanda alone had presided over thus establishing himself as the sole chairman of the NCP otherwise he could have waited for another Chairman Oli who was discharged from hospital on December 5, 2019.


A meeting of the NCP election mobilization committee for Dharan convened to review the election results, and it has decided to instruct the Dharan parliamentary committee to review the tax rate, as the common folks had complained bitterly about the tax. "The meeting has instructed the CPN Dharan parliamentary committee to review the tax rate implemented by the sub-metropolis for the fiscal year 2076/77 and start to immediately cut tax rate respecting the public opinion and recommendation as we found intense grievances against the taxes levied by different levels while going for door-to-door campaign," said a press statement issued by coordinator of the CPN election mobilization committee for Dharan Ramesh Basnet, as posted on on December 4, 2019.


The tax complaint was valid for the entire nation, as the finance minister had successfully taken away the money from the pockets of the common folks in the name of bringing as many people as possible to the tax net, and then he put the money in the pockets of the contractors that never completed most of the construction projects, and of course in the pockets of the political cadres in the name of the subsidies on various items and activities including the fertilizers, and then in the pockets of the political cadres in the name of the Prime Minister Employment Project to name a few that the finance minister had taken measures to put the money in the bags belonging to different fellows.


Leader Rawal had truthfully cautioned his own reigning political party. Common folks had been disgusted with the tax reform the finance minister had imposed. And the people also had been disgusted with the inability of the prime minister to fill up the potholes and pockmarks on the roads in Kathmandu and elsewhere in Nepal. The health risk to the commuters had been quite high because of the dust and mud everywhere on the roads.


If the NCP folks were to continue reigning in this way, political analysts believed that the NCP candidates would need to pack up their baggage, and leave Kathmandu in the next general elections, and then the entire nations in the successive elections. Former Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai had correctly said that the NCP had been going down hill fast. That might be the reason why he left his parent party and joined the Federal Social Party after an unsuccessful bid for setting up a new party.


December 5, 2019


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