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Dr. Baburam Bhattarai Stays On

Issue 12, March 18, 2012

Part I
Siddhi B Ranjitkar

The Nepalese politics had been at the crossroads several times before; once again it is at the crossroads, as the deadline for completing the peace process and the constitution writing is coming nearer everyday but the politicians have deadlocked on these tasks. It has been now clear more than ever before that politicians have been only after power but not completing the noble tasks of the peace process and the constitution writing. When Dr. Baburam Bhattarai became the fourth prime minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal in November 2011, most of the Nepalis had anticipated that the transnational period would soon end and Nepal would have a new constitution and would go for general elections but after four months most of the contentious issues of a new constitutions remained as they were, and political leaders were not for stepping back from their stand on the issues. Political wrestling has continued. Dr. Baburam Bhattarai stays on.

Again we are back at the crossroads of the Nepalese politics, and don’t know which way the Nepalese politics would take. Chairman of Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal (RPP-Nepal) Kamal Thapa has prophesized that either the Nepal Army or the Maoists would take over, according to the news posted on on March 12, 2012. This might be his wishful thinking but this prophecy might have a little chance to come true. Nepalis have been politically very sensitive. They would not allow any dictatorship; they would force the political leaders to sit down and complete the two noble tasks of the peace process and the constitution writing.

The question is whether it would be possible to complete the constitution writing within the given time of the deadline of May 27, 2012 or not. If the procedures of the constitution writing have to follow then the remaining two and a half months are not surely enough. Chairman of Constitutional Committee Nilamber Acharya has declared that a new constituent would not be completed by May 27, 2012 according to the news posted on ‘The Rising Nepal’ of March 12, 2012. However, Chairman of Constituent Assembly Subash Nemwang has not given up the hope of completing the constitution writing within the remaining period. He has urged the politicians to cut short the procedures of the constitution-writing asking them to bypass the Article 70 of the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 to make the timely promulgation of the constitution possible, as following the current timetable, promulgation of the constitution by May 27 would be impossible even if the political parties build a consensus according to another news posted on ‘The Rising Nepal’ of March 12, 2012. President of Nepali Congress (NC) Sushil Koirala most probably has a magic wand, as he has claimed that he could complete the peace process and the constitution writing within a week if his party is given the chance of heading a new government, the news on ‘The Rising Nepal’ of March 12, 2012 says. If he has such a magic wand why not use it for forcing out Dr. Bhattarai from power and take the reign in his hands and complete these two noble tasks. If he could do such things his idol would be placed above all the martyrs and would be recognized as the Supreme Leader of Nepal of all times.  Rather than doing so he has asked the Maoists to pave the way for a national unity government giving his party the lead position. Would the Maoists do so? Certainly not, the Maoists have fought the ten-year war for grabbing the power, now they are in power and they have strengthened their grip on power consolidating the coalition of their UCPN-Maoist with UDMF (United Democratic Madheshi Front). Most probably, the Maoists would not listen to President of NC Koirala and let him use his magic wand for completing the peace process and the constitution writing within seven days as he has claimed. However, the Maoists might continue to rule the country even after the expiry of the deadline for making a new constitution following the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007.

President of NC Sushil Koirala has prophesized that the constitution writing would not be completed without his party leading the government according to the news posted on ‘The Rising Nepal’ of March 12, 2012. He also has claimed that his party needs to lead the government for building a consensus on the reconciliation.  However, he did not bother to explain what the reconciliation meant. His party lawmakers have been opposing everything the Maoists do even the broadening of roads in Kathmandu stating the Maoists have been promoting anarchism and corruption in the country instead of resolving the political crises. He also has charged the Maoists with the failure in the army integration but the truth is the Maoist Prime Minister has already sent combatants to home vacating 13 cantonments so far. The strange thing is the man that could make prophesy of completing the peace process and the constitution writing by the government led by his party, could not see the current phenomena of sending the combatants home happening under his nose. It looks that the NC leaders would not allow the UCPN-Maoist and UDMF to move forward, and complete the peace process and the constitution writing without having a chance to lead a government in other words they want the change in the governance than completing the peace process and the constitution writing.

President of NC Koirala also has said that the Maoist leaders have engaged in the politics of bargaining. As a leader of one of the old political parties, Mr. Koirala needs to understand that every politician would take the opportunity of taking benefits from the current political situation. If the NC leaders have not been bargaining with other leaders why they continue to stick to their stand on the system of governance, state restructuring and on the army integration causing the deadlock on completing the peace process and the constitution writing. Negotiation means giving and taking. The question is why the NC leaders don’t start off giving something to the UCPN-Maoist and UDMF at the same time taking other things from them. Another question is why the NC leaders don’t want to give anything to the UDMF leaders of even their just demand for including the Madheshis in the army, police and civil services in proportion to their population. Currently, jobholders in these three state machineries are skewed to Brahmins, Chhetris and Newars (Nevahs).

Mr. Koirala also has said that his party is not ready to follow unethical path to reach power and engage in unfair politics to form the government, ‘The Rising Nepal’ of March 12, 2012 quotes him. The truth is nobody turns over the power to Mr. Koirala; so, he needs to mobilize the majority votes in the parliament first to move the current government out of office by the no-confidence move and then form a new government by the majority votes in the current political situation. His party has the votes slightly more than one sixth of the total votes. So, he needs the support of almost all political parties except the Maoists to garner the majority in the parliament. In the current situation, even the CPN-UML leaders might not like to return the favor the NC leaders have given them supporting the man rejected by the voters in two constituents for running the country and making him even a strong leader again even though he had no people’s mandate for being the prime minister. He is Mr. Madhav Nepal that has stayed in power for 20 months doing nothing for completing the peace process and the constitution writing thanks to the strong support of Mr. Koirala’s party. UDMF leaders would not be surely in favor of the NC leading the government, as the NC leaders have not been for meeting the just demands of the Madheshis for having a piece of the pie of the governance they rightfully deserve in proportion to the population. So, Mr. Koirala whether he follows the unethical path to reach power or engage or not in unfair politics to form a new government, he would not be able to form a new government until all political parties except for the Maoist party support him for forming a new government. Certainly, if he manages to get the favor of the UCPN-Maoist leaders, he could form a new government without any troubles. Thus, Mr. Koirala has the choice of mobilizing the support of all political parties in the parliament or of the UCPN-Maoist for forming a new government. He has no other ways either ethical or unethical to get to power, whether he engages in unfair or fair politics for forming a government. However, both of these options are unlikely to happen soon.

He has urged the Maoists to implement the earlier peace agreements and has asked them to follow the path of peace according to the news posted on ‘The Rising Nepal’ of March 12, 2012. If Mr. Koirala were wise enough to understand that enforcing any agreement was not the responsibility of one party only, he would have never said so; agreements are between two or more parties. Most of the recent agreements are reached among the four major power centers such as UCPN-Maoist, NC, CPN-UML and UDMF. Enforcement of any deals would not be possible without all parties involved in any deal sincerely acting to do so. Blaming one party or another for not conforming the previous deals only shows that Mr. Koirala himself has not complying with the previous deals. Certainly, he could have forced other parties to comply with all the past agreements if he himself has done so, and he has been sincere to the values and ideals of democracy and the rule of law. 

He has said that his party would never accept the ethnic-based federal system and added, "The new federal system will be formed on the basis of identity and power," ‘The Rising Nepal’ of March 12, 2012 quotes Mr. Koirala. If Mr. Koirala has read the history of Nepal, the ethnic Nepalis have suffered from the repression for 240 years of the Shah rule including the 20-year reign of Mr. Koirala’s party. During this period, the rulers mostly the Brahmins and Chhetris have their monopoly on the use of the national resources for their luxurious lives leaving the majority of Nepalis in poverty and destitute. Now, the ethnic Nepalis simply want to get rid of such repression and develop their socio-economic conditions. It does not matter whether you name the federal states by the ethnic names or by any other names you have to give them the power to run their states as they need to otherwise the ethnic Nepalis would not live you in peace. The problem is that Mr. Koirala and his party don’t want the federal system. That is why they have been using any possible excuse to stop Nepal from being a federal state. That is one of the reasons why the previous agreements have not been enforced. So, if Mr. Koirala is sincere to enforce the previous agreements then he should agree on forming federal states giving full power to these states. Mr. Koirala saying, "The new federal system will be formed on the basis of identity and power," has failed in explaining what is identity and power. If the ethnicity is not an identity what is the identity Mr. Koirala means. What power means for him? Mr. Koirala needs to say whether it means the absolute power to him and his party. Now, the power is with the Nepalese people including all the ethnic Nepalis; so, the federal states should be in the hands of the people.

Senior leader of NC Sher Bahadur Deuba has suggested promulgating a revised version of the Constitution of Nepal of 1990 without monarchy but incorporating the clauses defining republic setup, federalism, secularism and presidency in case the new constitution couldn't be drafted within the May 28 deadline according to the news posted on the on March 14, 2012. Mr. Deuba has no ability to manage dispute. So, it is not surprising to have such wild suggestions from Deuba for making a new constitution just cutting and pasting something to the Constitution of Nepal of 1990. Mr. Deuba had a dispute with President of NC Sushil Koirala over Mr. Koirala dissolving the district committees of the sister organizations of the NC. Most of the dissolved committee members were the supporters of Deuba. So, it was natural to have a dispute over the dismissal of his supporters with his rival Koirala but Mr. Deuba gave in to Koirala after making some noises for reinstatement of the dissolved committees. Mr. Deuba became prime minister three times. He became prime minister for the first time thanks to the weakness of his predecessor Girija Prasad Koirala that could not manage the squabbling of rival leaders for power in his party and went to midterm polls that became disastrous to Girija Koirala. The second time, Mr. Deuba took the office of prime minister was after the royal massacre on June 1, 2001 because Girija Koirala as the prime minister could do nothing to stop such massacre and then could not hold any impartial investigation into the annihilation of the monarch and his family mercilessly, and gave in to the new Shah ruler. Consequently, Girija Koirala stepped out of the office and Mr. Deuba stepped in. Then, Mr. Deuba dissolved the elected parliament calling for general elections in November 2002 allegedly on the advice of the then-Shah ruler Gyanendra. Girija Koirala as the president of the NC fired Deuba from the party membership for not consulting him before dissolving the parliament. In fact, dissolving the parliament, Deuba paved the way for the then-ruler Gyanendra Shah to grab the power later on. When Deuba went to Gyanendra Shah recommending him to cancel the general elections in view of the ongoing conflict with the Maoists, Gyanendra Shah simply fired him calling him the incompetent. Deuba claimed that Gyanendra could not fire him because he was the elected prime minister but he could not stand on it for long. The third time Deuba became prime minister was when Gyanendra appointed him again to the office of prime minister only to fire him again later on. So, Deuba was not a man of principles; as a result he could suggest anything but Nepalis would not take him seriously. We don’t know how many followers he has in his party but the news has been in the Nepalese newspapers that his strong supporter Govinda Raj Joshi has left him for Sushil Koirala. By the way, the state anti-corruption agency called Commission on Investigation into Abuse of Authority has dragged Mr. Joshi to the law court for abuse of power during his term of office of minister for education. Gyanendra Shah imprisoned Deuba with charges of corruption until the people’s movement forced Gyanendra to step down. However, Deuba managed to get elected during the elections to the Constituent Assembly cum parliament in April 2008 unlike his rival Sushil Koirala that lost the elections.

In fact, Deuba was not the first person to propose reviving the Constitution of Nepal of 1990, late Girija Prasad Koirala had proposed reviving the Constitution of Nepal of 1990, later his daughter Sujata Koirala also had suggested reviving the Constitution of Nepal of 1990 rather than having a political wrangle for making a new constitution. Girija Prasad Koirala and his daughter Sujata Koirala wanted to revive the Constitution of Nepal of 1990 in its totality, means reviving the constitutional monarchy, too. Thus, we can see the real pictures of these NC guys not much different from of Chairman of RPP-Nepal Kamal Thapa that has been relentlessly advocating for the reinstatement of the monarchy that has been dead and has no chance of coming back to life again no matter who says what. Gyanendra was not for spending even a dime on his supporters. Kamal Thapa has already difficulty in holding rallies, as he has a little money left he has grabbed from the state coffer when he was a home minister in the cabinet of Gyanendra. The few people we have seen shouting slogans in favor of Gyanendra wherever he visited were the people that had benefited from Gyanendra in power. They anticipated that the return of Gyanendra to power was still possible and if that happened they would benefit from it again.

We could understand Chairman of RPP-Nepal Kamal Thapa going for reviving the monarchy but it was hard to figure out the reasons for Girija and his daughter opting for bringing back the dead monarchy because one monarch after had treated the NC party as a foe rather than an ally that advocated for the constitutional monarchy. Most probably, the NC party had no courage to run the country without the shadow of the monarchy or had fear of the communists taking over the country or might be both. Girija had removed the provision for the constitutional monarchy from the statute of the NC only after the tremendous pressure the Maoists had put on him for declaring Nepal a republic, and joined the Maoists and others to declare Nepal a republic in 2008.

Talking to reporters at his residence in Kathmandu on Thursday morning, March 15, 2012, Nepali Congress (NC) senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba ruled out the possibility of federalism in the country, and said that elections should be conducted for fresh mandate if the constitution could not be promulgated by May 27 according to the news posted on on March 15, 2012. If this news is correct then Mr. Deuba has been a half mad. Mr. Deuba is not different from the insane leaders of the Rastriya Janamorcha Party that have been launching a movement against the federalism.

Another news on the of March 15, 2012 says that the shutdown called by the Rastriya Janamorcha Party’s Mechi-Koshi against federalism has sparked protests (of supporters of federalism) today. Supporters of federalism and locals of major cities in Mechi and Koshi zones have fought back the strikers. However, the call of the shutdown has affected the regular life in the morning, federalists descended on the protesters in the daytime. In Dhankuta, supporters of Limbuwan and locals descended on the protesters on the road. At the call of Limbuwan supporters, some businesses opened and some vehicles plied. Federalists have done the same thing in other parts of eastern Nepal and stopped the protestors reappearing on the streets according to the news posted on the

After a meeting held in Kathmandu on March 15, 2012, UDMF leaders have said that UDMF would not accept any constitution without federalism because a constitution without federalism would go against the aspirations of the people for federalism that has been the goal of the decade-long people’s war, popular April uprising of 2006 and Madhesh revolution, ‘The Rising Nepal’ of March 16, 2012 reports.

The news posted on on March 16, 2012 says that seven political parties including Madhesi People’s Rights Forum-Nepal (MPRF-N) have warned that constitution sans federalism, and federalism sans identity, right to self-determination and autonomy won’t be acceptable. In a news conference held in Kathmandu, on Friday, March 16, 2012, MPRF-Nepal, Tamsaling Nepal, Nepal Rastriya Dal, Sanghiya Loktantrik Rastriya Manch, Rastriya Janamukti Party, Nepa: Rastriya Party and Nepal Nagarik Party have given such warning, stating the top political parties have been acting against federalism with identity, working to reinstate the constitution of 1990 and conspiring to establish the unitary and centralized nation by pushing the country into shambles after dissolving the Constituent Assembly (CA).

In the face of the people’s aspirations for federalism, speaking against the federalism, Mr. Deuba has shown his mental instability. If he is really sane then he must have been incited by somebody to be so bold to say such nonsense in public. If Mr. Deuba were really sane, he would not make such an insensible statement even though he has a support from somebody for such thing, as he knew that none of the force could stop the Nepalis from making Nepal a federal state. The truth is anybody trying to do so would end up in a disaster.

Under the veil of opposing the federal states on the ethnic lines, Chairman of CPN-UML Jhalanath Khanal also has been going against the federalism. Mr. Khanal is not one of the unwise leaders but his belief in the disintegration of Nepal into pieces if it were divided into federal states makes him not much different from other half mad leaders of Rastriya Janamorcha Party and even from Mr. Deuba concerning the federalism. Mr. Khanal has been very smart to win the elections to his party chairman by hook or crook if we were to believe his rival Mr. KP Oli that has publicly charged Khanal with using 500 bogus votes to win the election to the Chairman of his party. Mr. Khanal has also managed to be in the office of prime minister for six months riding on the shoulder of Chairman of UCPN-Maoist Prachanda. Mr. Khanal has been very famous prime minister for doing nothing of not only the peace process and the constitution writing but also of other regular state affairs except of course for appointing his henchmen to the office of vice-chairs of various state-run universities during his term of office of prime minister for six months.

Even some of the so-called leaders of UCPN-Maoist have publicly said that the federal states on ethnic lines would not be good for the country. Certainly, these guys have rights to speak up their ideas publicly following the democratic norms and values but the question is why the UCPN-Maoist that has waged ten-year people’s liberation war and has been advocating for ethnic-based federal states has not taken actions against the leaders that have gone against the ethnic-based federal states publicly. The suspicion is whether the UCPN-Maoist has the second thought on the ethnic-based federal states and the top leaders are shy to say so publicly, so they use the less significant leaders to tell the public that the UCPN-Maoist also has been not for the ethnic-based federal states. Would the UCPN-Maoist also follow the footprints of the NC and CPN-UML leaders that have been deadly against the ethnic-based federal states in particular and against the federalism in general? If it is so then every Nepali needs to be braced up for another conflict between the pro and against ethnic-based federalism.

to be continued in part II

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