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CA Election and Potential Winners

Issue 10, March 09, 2008

By Siddhi B. Ranjitkar

After the eight-point agreement reached between the Government of Nepal and the United Democratic Madheshi Front (UDMF) on February 28, 2008, the Constituent Assembly (CA) election is almost sure to be held on April 10, 2008. Some of the monarchists’ parties that did not see the possibility of holding a CA election, had declared the boycott of the CA election, rejoined the election fray. Now, the natural question is who will be the winners in this election. The potential winners are the representatives of the ethnic groups, Madheshi groups, and certainly of the political parties based on the ideological lines. Losers will be the monarchists, and the representatives of the political parties that attempt to maintain status quo. Despite the political leaders talking about the need for the proportional representation of women in the CA, the women candidates for the direct election of 240 representatives in the CA are only 11% of the total candidates of 2191 on February 26, 2008; the total number of candidates reached 4,208 on March 06, 2008; so, the proportional representation of women remains the empty rhetoric of politicians.

Recent defect of some of the Madheshi leaders such as Bijaya Kumar Gachchhedar, Sarat Singh Bhandari, Hari Narayan Chaudhry, Ram Janam Chaudhary, Mangal Prasad Tharu and Lachhman Prasad Mehata from their parent party called Nepali Congress (NC) to Madheshi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF) indicates that they are not agreeing with the policy of the NC party, and do not see the chance of winning the election standing as the candidates of the NC, as the Madheshi people want their proportional representation in the CA not the representation of any other political parties on their behalf.

Similarly, representatives of the ethnic groups will win the election in the ethnically strong areas. Limbus in the Limbuwan areas, Tamangs in the Tamsaling areas, and Tharus in the Tharuwan areas will win the election rather than the candidates of any political parties. They also want the proportional representation in the CA.

In the Kathmandu Valley, candidates with strong political backings will win the election. Except for a few diehard communalists, voters will parade in the political ideological lines. The chances of the NC candidates winning the election in the Kathmandu Valley are slim due to two reasons: first, the Kathmanduities have suffered a lot from the NC rule in the past and in the present, too; second, the Girija-Congress will not let Prakash Man-Congress win the election. Infightings in the NC will split the votes and make the NC candidates losers.

In addition, Prakash Man and his party will never win the election if his fellows and he do not improve the technique of attracting voters to them. Their relations with the grassroots level voters have never been good in the past. They did not know how to lure the voters into voting for them. They need to learn the technique of attracting the voters from the successful politician such as P.L. Singh. He won both the position of the Kathmandu Mayor and the position of the member of the parliament in the separate elections in the past. However, such a successful politician has been stopped from coming to limelight.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala knows that it will be hard to win the direct election; so, he opted for an indirect election for a representation in the CA. So, his party kept his name on the top of the sealed-list submitted to the Election Commission for the proportional representation election believing that his party will garner sufficient votes for electing at least a few candidates. He knows that the NC leaders will get a few votes from the Madheshi people, as he has failed to give the Madheshi people the rights and honor they deserve during the rule of the NC in the past and in the present, too. His constituency is in Madhesh.

In the Madhesh, other NC candidates will have a less chance to win the election. The NC is the political party of landlords, businesspersons and middle class people. The current political trend prevailing in the Madhesh indicates that the landlords cannot play a significant role in the election as did in the past. The grassroots level people have been so well conscious of the need for their representation in the CA; they are not going to vote for anybody except for those advocating for their cause. This logic is applicable to the ethnic areas, too.

Another reason for the NC candidates will not receive the votes from the regular and normal Nepalese voters is they are monarchists and want to save the monarchy in one form or another. However, Nepalis in general look at the monarchy with hatred, as the monarchy has been responsible for the exclusive administration, and for denial of the equal treatment of all Nepalis for the last two and a half centuries. Despite the fact that the NC has removed the provision for a constitutional monarchy from its statute, logically thinking Nepalis believe that most of the old generation leaders of the NC are still for keeping the monarchy. That is why the suspended king has been living with confidence in the palace even after the Interim Legislature-parliament has declared Nepal a federal democratic republic, and the agreement between the Government of Nepal and the UDMF leaders signed on February 28, 2008 has endorsed it.

In addition, the NC has nominated the notoriously corrupt person such as Govinda Raj Joshi as the candidate for the seat in the CA. The Commission on Investigation into Abuse of Authority (CIAA) had filed a corruption case against him in the Special Court but the court released him based on the technicality of the filing of the case. Mr. Joshi as a Minister for Education had stole a lot of taxpayers’ money from the state treasury and made himself rich. We can imagine what inputs he will give to the crafting of a new constitution of Nepal if he is elected.

The NC has not given tickets to youth leader Gagan Thapa to run for the seat of the CA although he has a good chance of getting elected. He is a diehard supporter of Nepal making a democratic republic. Thus, the NC has discriminated against some leaders that have been campaigning for making Nepal a democratic republic, and has demonstrated its true nature of being biased against Nepal making a republic.

Except for Narahari Acharya contesting at the Kathmandu constituency number five, none of the fifteen candidates fielded by the NC in the Kathmandu Valley has a less chance of winning the election. Not only the contestants are very weak politically but also the ideology of the NC has been in question since Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and his daughter and Minister without portfolio have advocated for saving the monarchy in one form or another.

The position of the Communist party of Nepal-Unified Marxist and Leninist (CPN-UML) is not much better than the NC. It also has earned the reputation of being a supporter of the monarchy due to the position on the monarchy taken by the leaders such as Khadga Prasad Oli better known as KP Oli, and General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal. KP Oli has been openly supporting the monarchy in public and in private, too. He must have been a spy of the palace at one time. General Secretary Nepal has expressed love for the monarchy a number of times despite his repeated public statements on abolishing the monarchy. His performances as the Deputy Prime Minister of the government of his party in 1994 leave much to be desired. His desire for amassing wealth for his party made him not better politicians than the contemporary dishonest politicians.

The reputation of the CPN-UML has been dwindled by another leader such as Bam Dev Gautam. During his tenure as the Deputy Prime Minister of the coalition Government of the CPN-UML and the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) in the mid 1990s, he earned the reputation for running the shady administration. He successfully brought the results of the elections for the local governments in favor of his party by unscrupulous means. If we believe in the local Nepalese press, he went to the airport to collect the suitcase filled with gold bars when he was a Deputy Prime Minister.

The CPN-UML also lost the reputation for being the party of ideologically strong leaders after its leaders formed a coalition government with the heavily tainted leaders of the RPP in 1997. Former Prime Minister of the most hated previous regime called Panchayat and Leader of the RPP Lokendra Bahadur Chand became the Prime Minister, and the leader of the CPN-UML Bam Dev Gautam became the Deputy Prime Minister of the coalition government of the CPN-UML and the RPP. Thus, the CPN-UML leaders demonstrated that they could do anything just to capture the state power. The question is whether Nepalese voters will elect such leaders as their representatives to the CA.

The NC leaders were not far behind in indulging in such a dirty politics. The NC leaders forced Prime Minister Lokendra Bahadur Chand to resign and formed a coalition government of the NC and the RPP making his rival Surya Bahadur Thapa the Prime Minister. Thus, the NC leaders also did not lag behind to capture the state power jointly with the past unprincipled politicians. Ultimately, Girija Prasad Koirala emerged as the Prime Minister forcing Surya Bahadur Thapa to resign in 1998. Thus, the dirty politics of the corrupt politicians reached the climax, and encouraged the regressive force to capture the state power anyhow.

The Maoists have been famous for being extortionists and for grabbing the property of others; however, they claim that they have been fighting for the poor. Recently, they say that they have been returning the property they had grabbed to the concerned owners following the ‘Comprehensive Peace Agreement’ they signed with the government of Nepal in November 2006. The CA election will test the popularity they have gained among the common people.

Monarchists will face the unprecedented defeat in this CA election, as they have been synonymous with corruption and the exclusive administration, and have been attempting to save the monarchy that the Nepalis have already discarded. Saying the decision on the monarchy is the rights of the Nepalese people, they have not accepted the declaration of Nepal a federal democratic republic by the Interim Legislature-parliament, and endorsed by the Madheshi and ethnic people’s movement. The agreement signed between the Government of Nepal and the UDMF on February 28, 2008, has clearly stated Federal Democratic Republic Nepal. So, except for a few monarchists, mountain, hill, and terai people are for making Nepal a republic. Certainly, they will not vote for the monarchists even if they belong to their areas and their communities. Consequently, none of the leaders of the three fractions of the RPP (RPP, RPP-N, & RJP) has a chance of winning the election either in the direct or in the indirection election.

Most of the winners in this CA election will be the representatives of the ethnic Nepalese people elected from the ethnic areas, and Madheshi people from the Madhesh, ideologically strong candidates from the hill and mountain areas. NC candidates will have difficulties to convince the Nepalese people of the NC being the true democratic party, as some irrational leaders such as Prime Minister Koirala and his daughter Sujata Koirala-Jost have lost the credibility of being democrats as they have been supporting the monarchy that the Nepalese people want to see the end of. Only a few NC candidates elected through the proportional votes will be on the CA.

Representation of women in the CA will be the minimum despite the fact that the population of women is more than 50% of the total population of Nepalis. The Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 has the provision for 33% representation of women in all state agencies; so, the Election Commission has made it mandatory for all political parties to have 10.5% of women candidates for the direction election, and 22.5% of women candidates for the proportional representation in the CA. However, the NC has fielded only 9% women candidates for the direction election to the CA, the CPN-UML has 10% and the CPN-Maoist has 18%.

The CA election is for crafting a new constitution of Nepal. So, the representation of women as of all other ethnic groups and communities is equally important for crafting a meaningful constitution. However, the current attitude of all political parties and the mixed electoral system the Interim Legislature-parliament has adopted made the mockery of the proportional representation of women, all ethnic groups and communities. So, the constitution crafted by the CA with the proportional representation of all political parties participating in the CA election will meet the interest of the political parties rather than the multi-lingual, multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-racial Nepalese people.

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