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CJ-led Government-13

Issue 24, June 16, 2013

Siddhi B Ranjitkar

Speaking at the morning program called ‘antar-sambad’ of Radio Nepal on June 10, 2013, a political scientist told the anchor that the political system is fine but the political leaders are the problem. He failed to understand if the system is okay then the political leaders have to follow the system, and the leaders would not have chance to make decisions arbitrarily. The four-party political mechanism would be out of question. However, the reality is the four-party political mechanism is running the country in absence of the system. Rarely any politicians have been sincere in the past. If we have a system that forces them to maintain sincerity otherwise they would be in jail in the worst case of scenario, and out of power in the better case. Political leaders of the four-party mechanism have been debating whether to allow the politicians with criminal background to be candidates or not in the elections. If we have a system such a question would never rise. People with criminal background have even no rights to vote in the matured democracy. Concerning the elections to a second constituent assembly (CA), leaders of the four-party mechanism have been entangled. The question is what would happen if the elections to a new CA could not be held in 2013.

Most of the Nepalese politicians have been corrupt to the extent possible in absence of the system that punishes them. We have no system so the politicians discarded by voters have been running the political parties, and even one of them has been a prime minister. For example, voters had rejected Madhav Nepal not only in one constituency but also in two. He became a prime minister because of the lack of the system not to make a person failed in elections a prime minister or minister. Another example is: Sushil Koirala lost the elections in 2008 but he has been the president of NC, and he has been playing a vital role in the question of whether to hold the next elections to a CA or not.

Discarded politicians have been running the political parties because the political parties have the constitution that elects anybody: no matter whether s/he is rejected by the people or not. Once s/he is elected to a president or a chairman of a political party, s/he becomes a dictatorial. Naturally, once elected to a position, everybody tries to keep the position, and even tries to turn over the power to the next generation of his/her family. If we have a system that the political parties elected their leaders for a certain terms not for repeated terms making him/her a lifetime president or chairman of a political party, then we don’t have a man or woman running a party for a lifetime. So, the system is the main problem not the political leaders.

We cannot compare the budding Nepalese political system with the well-matured western political system in the west but it is worth mentioning the western system in which anybody could be corrupt but if anybody is caught then s/he has to face the results of his/her deeds. Take the example of American President Richard Nixon of 1970s. He illegally taped the convention of the rival political party. The consequence was he had to quit the office. After that an unelected man became the president showing even in America an unelected person could be a president. That has been a rare case but the system is not the perfect one even in America.

The political scientist speaking to the Radio Nepal anchor said that each of the four prime ministers in the immediate past had distributed more than Rs 700 million of the people’s money to their cadres. The four prime ministers are Prachanda of UCPN-Maoist, Madhav Nepal of CPN-UML, Jhalanath Khanal of CPN-UML, and Dr Baburam Bhattarai of UCPN-Maoist. Each had distributed the state money to their cadres but the system could not hold them accountable for their misdeeds. The Commission on Investigation into Abuse of Authority (CIAA) could do nothing against the prime ministers that had distributed the taxpayers’ money to their servants or cadres, as they liked, as we did not have the system to punish such culprits.

However, we have the system that allows the ministers making some money out of the proportion of their earning capacities liable to punishment. Four former ministers belonging to the NC have been convicted of amassing the wealth not proportional to their earning capacity. Two had already served the jail term and two have been still serving the jail term. The punishment is very negligible in comparison to the harm they had done to the nation. They had halted the development process if not retarded due to the abuse of the power the ministers had committed. If we consider all these negative results caused by the abuse of power by the ministers then they deserved to face the life imprisonment. Such criminals have no rights to come back to the human society, and claim again to be a leader as some of the leaders have been claiming to be.

The political scientist has rightly raised the question of not holding the elections to the different positions of the university students’ union. He said that millions of rupees were spent on enrolling false students in the university register for the purposes of elections. Student leaders have been corrupt. They have been enjoying the life styles beyond the capacity of students. Politicians have been making the young generations they have been grooming to be the future leaders corrupt. All these things what the political scientist has said are correct but all these things are happening due to the lack of a strong system that would punish both the politicians and the young generations of politicians for their misdeeds. The irony is that nobody could even punish those people that had admitted false students. Is it not the lack of system rather than having a fine system that the politicians are not behaving properly?

The political scientist said that he still has the respect for Sushil Koirala rather than for Gagan Thapa: an ideal of the young generation. The scientist should not forget that Gagan Thapa received the maximum number of votes while getting elected to the member of the central committee of the NC whereas Koirala was rejected by voters in the elections to a CA members held in 2008. Sushil Koirala is running the NC party while Gagan Thapa could make only noises in the media. I don’t understand why the political scientist has so much respect for the person that has been obstacle to crafting a new constitution. The scientist should understand that Koirala advocates for preserving democracy but he himself behaves as a dictator. He did not listen to the voices of the so many central committee members of the NC for not agreeing on appointing the most tainted man called Lokman Singh Karki to the most responsible office of the chief of CIAA. If the scientist correctly evaluates the performances of Koirala then he would find that Koirala deserves to be not more than a cadre but he is running the NC single-handedly.

The young generation politicians or student leaders have collected millions of rupees from the large industrial and business houses in Nepal. They have used all such money to enrich themselves, and fund the students’ elections to bring the results to their favor. Again, the political scientist has correctly said that such things have been happening in the country but he needs to understand that it has been possible due to either the continuation of the bad system we have inherited from the Rana-shah corrupt rule that had lasted for 240 years or we did not set up a new correct system to stop such malpractices.

The political scientist also is right in saying that anybody after becoming the prime minister of Nepal tries to enrich him, his/her relatives, friends and cadres. We have not corrected the system set up by the corrupt 240-year rule that had enriched the families of the rulers, their sycophants and servants only. They kept the entire other population in destitute. So, by the repeated efforts, Nepalis had driven such rulers from power but we have not been able to correct the system rooted not only in the laws and rules but also in the minds of the people. For example, most of the Nepalis even now think that if somebody is a prime minister or even in the top position of the bureaucracy then s/he could do anything. So, people tend to go after such a person for ‘chakadi’ means seeking his/her favor.

We need to set up a system that would educate the people that prime minister, ministers and bureaucrats are not the masters but the service delivery people following the rule. They cannot do anything without following the laws and rules. So, they need to force those service delivery people to follow the laws and rules otherwise the service delivery people need to face the consequences of not following the laws and rules. So, the system is not fine and not working, too.

We have not made our mindset, yet that everybody needs to follow the rule of law; and every state decision would be made following the rule of law, then we need not seek the favor of anybody in power. We need to make aware the people of the law not a person or a group of persons rules the country. We could not drive such notion in the minds of Nepalis, yet because of the hangover of the 240-year misrule of the Rana-shah dynasty. The despotic rulers had had laws in their word of mouth than in a book. So, the cadres go around the political leaders because they need the favor of the leaders rather than their capabilities to rise in the political hierarchy. The disease has infected not only the bureaucracy and the ministers but also the political parties, too.

One thing we have to take positively is that Nepalis have been strong enough to challenge the government and the state system. However, Nepalis have been mostly using the illegal means of shutting down the traffic and other people’s businesses forcing the government to meet their demands. This has been so because the government does not take prompt actions to redress the loss of the victims. For example, if a vehicle crushes someone to death, then the government does not take immediate actions to compensate the family of the victims. Then, the family members and well wishers need to block the traffic, and cause the inconceivable misery to the passengers before the government makes decisions.

Ministers have the mindset that they are not accountable to the people, and they are not for delivering the services to the people but they are accountable to the prime minister or the leaders that made them the ministers. So, they are for ruling the people not serving them. Naturally, they seek rent for what they do for the people. They seek commission on each decision they make. They make use of that money for keeping cadres to increase the chances of getting elected in the next elections.

Probably, the political scientist in question has seen that the leaders of the four-party mechanism have been not for crafting a new constitution but for grabbing power. They are not interested in holding the elections to a new CA but they are interested in creating an environment conducive to grab the power. Leaders of the four-party mechanism have held numerous meetings but they have not been able to come to a definite conclusion. They charge each with not willing to hold elections. Why anybody should risk at going to polls and leave their destiny to the mercy of voters if they could find some other means to grab the power. They are trying to find every possible means to this end.

Leaders of NC and CPN-UML did not want to go to the polls without having the threshold of one-percent votes requirement for the proportional representations. Without this threshold they are sure that they could not stop many ethnic people coming to be the members of a new CA. They know that the ethnic people have been the headache for them to craft a new constitution suiting them the most. They believe that only eliminating the representation of the ethnic people in the CA they could craft a new constitution. They have been successful to stop the crafting of a new constitution wanted by the majority of the people with the provision for the identity-based federalism. They had wanted to keep the parliament: part of the CA, and let die the CA that was supposed to craft a new constitution. They wanted to play the dirty power game of the majority in the parliament, and continue the most corrupt power play. However, Prime Minster Dr Baburam Bhattarai did not let their dream come true.

Leaders of UCPN-Maoist and UDMF wanted not to have the threshold to ensure the representation of the ethnic people in a new CA as much as possible. However, leaders of NC and CPN-UML charged the leaders of UCPN-Maoist and UDMF with not wanting to go to the polls on the pretext of not agreeing on the threshold. Time has been running short very fast. The 25-point Removal of Constitutional Hurdles Ordinance issued by the president has a time limit. After the expiry of the ordinance, the current government set up by the four-party syndicate would become unconstitutional and collapse. The question is whether the four-party syndicate would propose another ordinance for continuing the current government set up for holding elections. If not, then what happens? Whether we would have a political and constitutional vacuum. Where is the system that navigates the country to the right political direction?

If we think a little bit and remind us the past political events then we know that Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai has not resigned from the office of prime minister. He has simply step out of the way for forming the interim election council of ministers for holding elections to a next CA. In case, Mr Khil Raj Regmi could not hold the elections, and let his time of office expire, and he returns back to his office of the Supreme Court of Nepal, Dr Bhattarai might claim the office of prime minister. The president needs not swear him in, as he has been only out of office for the time Mr. Regmi is in the office of prime minister. In this case, UCPN-Maoist and UDMF would not like to have elections under Mr. Regmi. Dr Bhattarai would be back in the office of prime minister; and he would have a chance of holding the elections to a new CA.

The political scientist talking to the anchor of the Nepal Radio needs to understand that the system is not only not fine but also we even don’t have a real system to run the country. Political leaders would need to follow a system if we have one. They would restraint from indulging in unlawful activities if we have a system that punishes them for such kinds of activities. So, elections to a new CA should be held without delay, and craft a new constitution, and promulgate it, and set up a new system to run the country in a manner fit for the leaders to act as sincerely as possible otherwise they would be not only be out of power but also would be behind bars for life.

June 11, 2013

Note: Prof. Surendra KC is the political scientist in question.

We can see even in the USA, they have the dispute over the elections from following news clippings:

Biden: Gore 'was elected president'

In some ways, the dispute over the 2000 presidential election will never end.

Witness Vice President Biden's comments Wednesday about predecessor Al Gore

"This man was elected president of the United States of America," Biden said at a fundraiser that Gore also attended. "No, no, no. He was elected president of the United States of America. But for the good of the nation, when the bad decision in my view was made, he did the right thing for the nation."

George W. Bush was declared the winner in the deciding state of Florida in 2000 after an (obviously) still-disputed ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that essentially stopped a recount in the Sunshine State.

Biden and Gore appeared at a Massachusetts fundraiser for U.S. Senate candidate Ed Markey.

"I can't think of very many who would put his country first like that, at a really, really, really difficult time," Biden said. "There's an awful lot of folks Al and I both know who have run for president and still haven't gotten over it. Al, you set an example for this country that is going to live as long as recorded history."

Biden also joked about Gore's success in the business world since 2000.

"I want to make a direct admission here," Biden said. "I've been talking with Al for a while. I'm, quite frankly, just lobbying for a job when I leave with Al."

(Source: USA TODAY, THE OVAL NEWS, David Jackson, 10:37 a.m. EDT June 12, 2013)

So, we cannot avoid such disputes from the future elections, as we have in the previous elections, too.

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