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Dr. Baburam Bhattarai Stays On-Part IV

Issue 15, April 08, 2012

Siddhi B Ranjitkar

On Saturday, March 31, 2012, members of the alliance called United Democratic Madheshi Front (UDMF) have held a mass rally in Kathmandu to put emphasis on their demand for the federalism and a Madhesh province. They have made it clear that they would fight to the finish for meeting their demand. On April 2, 2012, President of NC Sushil Koirala has made it clear that no possibility of forming ‘one-Madhesh one-Province’, and demanded the Madheshi leaders stop demanding it and asked them for playing a creative role in institutionalizing the democratic system in the country. At the same time, a small political party called Rastriya Janamorcha Party has been protesting against the federalism, and has been shutting down the regular businesses of the common folks in Terai areas in protest.

On February 28, 2008, the Government of Nepal headed by the then-interim Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala signed off an “Eight-Point Agreement Between The Government of Nepal and the United Democratic Madheshi Front (UDMF)”. The second Article of the agreement is reproduced as follow.

2.    Nepal shall be the federal democratic republican state accepting the people’s aspiration for the federal republican structure, and meeting the aspirations of the Madheshi people for the autonomous Madhesh province, and the people of other regions for their autonomous provinces. The federal structure shall be based on the clear delineation of power between the center and the provinces. Provinces shall be fully autonomous and with power. Keeping intact the sovereignty, unity and integrity of Nepal, the Constituent Assembly shall allocate the power, and set the structure of provinces, and keep the record of the center and the provinces.

President of NC Sushil Koirala should know this Article 2 of the Eight-point Agreement the then-government and the UDMF had reached. Before his death, Girija Prasad Koirala also was the president of NC. So, Junior Koirala, Sushil cannot say that he does not know this agreement. Sushil is the fan of enforcing the previous agreements reached among different parties; so, he has been calling the UCPN-Maoist for following the previous agreements. However, the irony is that he does not want to follow the agreement his predecessor had signed with the UDMF.

Why the NC leaders don’t want to enforce the eight-point agreement the government has reached with the UDMF can be answered logically only as we cannot reached the minds of the NC leaders what they have in their minds concerning the formation of a Madhesh province.

Most of the NC leaders are the large landholders in the Terai, hills and even the mountains. We will talk about only the Terai areas in this article. Once, the Terai areas were the forestland prevalent with malaria. Spending a night in the Terai meant a death for the hill people. Only the indigenous people called Tharus could live there, as they are immune from the malaria. After the spraying of insecticide widely in the Terai areas and controlling the malaria, the old establishment cleared off the forestland and made it agricultural land, and took the control of these areas. Most of the farmers today living in the Terai areas became the bread earners for the people perhaps including the Koirala families of the old establishment. If these guys of the old establishment give in to the demand of the UDMF for the Madhesh province, these guys fear of losing the control over their agricultural land. This might be the strong motive of the NC guys for acting against the Madhesh province and federalism.

Whether the NC leaders have realized or not their stand on no to the Madheshis’ demand for ‘one-Madhesh province’ has severely undermined the support of the Madheshi people for their NC party. As a result, they had suffered losses in the elections held in April 2008 to the Constituent Assembly-cum-parliament. Most of the current leaders of the NC have the mindset of the Rana autocratic family rulers and then of the Panchayat rulers that had made the people literally serving the rulers only. Current President of NC Sushil Koirala has been in politics since the Rana period. He has even forgotten to marry and build his own family because of running after his Koirala brothers for snatching the power from the Rana rulers at the cost of the genuine fighters for democracy and the democratic system of governance. Senior leader of NC Sher Bahadur Deuba has lost his regular voice while getting beaten by the Panchayati police for fighting to extract the power from them. Khum Bahadur Khadka is another NC leader that kills anybody voicing against him. So, Mr. Khadka wants even to continue the old regime to rule the people. These NC guys were just for taking the power from the Ranas and then from the Panchayat rulers, and running the country as the Ranas and Panchayat rulers had run the country. In other words they did not want to change the system of governance. So, they have been living in this mindset and they believe in they can do it again. Perhaps for that reasons they have not realized that they have already lost their grip among the Madheshi people due to their vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Most of the influential NC Madheshi leaders and cadres have left the NC for one or another Madheshi political party. For example, Mahanta Thakur, Bijaya Gacchedhar, and Jayaprakash Prasad Gupta were the NC influential leaders. They left the NC for the Madheshi political parties. When Mahanta Thakur submitted his resignation to the NC party, the then-President of NC Girija Prasad Koirala had told him not to lose Thakur’s 46-year political career in the NC for the newly formed Madheshi party but Thakur left the NC and had never publicly regretted for this. Then, they launched the Madheshi Movement demanding for the rights to self-determination, and got it in 2008. Certainly, these Madheshi leaders are not for giving away the rights to self-determination they have achieved in the Madheshi Movement of 2008. So, if the NC leaders stuck to their stand on ‘no to one-Madheshi Province and federal states following the identity of the ethnic people’, then, the Madheshi and the ethnic people
Would again take the issue to the streets. Another fact is whether the NC guys like or not the time has come for the Madheshi people to run the administration if these NC guys are really for the democratic system of governance, as the population of the Madhesh is soon going to be more than 50% of the total population. The NC has already lost its grip to the Madheshi parties.

Now, the question is why the small party such as Rastriya Janamorcha Party has been going on against the federalism. Again the answer to this question is only logical thinking. This party has two directly elected representatives in the parliament of 601 representatives elected in April 2008, a few more by the proportional representation means proportional to the votes the party has received. Nepalese voters had cast two votes one for the candidate another for the party in the elections held on April 10, 2008. The party has not many followers but its leaders have been going against the current political development in Nepal using the violent tools of shutting down the regular businesses of other people for protesting against the federalism. Such tools go against the law but all political parties have been using them for their political gains. One of the leaders of the Rastriya Janamorcha has repeatedly talked to the anchor of the morning program called ‘antar sambad’ of the state-run ‘Radio Nepal’ and has repeatedly talked about the wrongs of the federalism. These guys either don’t understand what the federalism is or they just don’t want federalism at any cost, as most of the state power will go to the people at the provinces. They might have been thinking that they would be able to mobilize the public opinions in their favor protesting against federalism or they have been acting for the NC leaders or they are large landowners so they want to keep their large landholdings intact. They don’t want to shed their power coming out of the landholdings. They are the remnants of the old regime, as the NC is. Whether they like or not they wouldn’t be able to stand against the will of the ethnic and Madheshi people to have the federal states in one or another name. Currently, cadres of Rastriya Janamorcha have been making use of the transitional weak government to shut down the regular businesses of the common folks for protesting against the federalism. Common folks might rise up against them if they continue to do such illegal things. Even the so-called mighty NC leaders wouldn’t be able to go against the force of the people’s will for making Nepal a federal democratic republic. The uncompromising position President of NC Sushil Koirala has taken on ‘no to the Madheshi province and to the federal states following the ethnic identity’ provokes another movement.  In fact, President of NC Sushil Koirala has no people’s mandate for saying anything concerning the people. He is only the president of NC elected by the few hundred NC cadres. In addition, the voters in the elections to the Constituent Assembly-cum-parliament in 2008 rejected him, and he s a carpetbagger as the leaders of the Rastriya Janamorcha.

Now, the question is why the Madheshi people want federalism and one Madhesh province even though indigenous people called Tharus don’t want a single Madhesh province. The main reason is they want to develop the land they plow; they don’t like to follow the order of other people. For centuries, they have been plowing the land for the masters of the old establishment. These landholders took away everything possible from the peasants and live lavishly on these resources in Kathmandu. These master landholders did the same thing to the people of different ethnic groups, too. Now, the people of different ethnic groups and Madheshi want to be the masters of their own destiny. That is the reason for demanding the federal states with full power for them to decide what they want to do for their self-development. Madheshi and ethnic people have already tasted the rights to self-determination. So, no matter what the NC leaders do, they would not be able to take back the rights the people have already enjoyed.

Indigenous people Tharus don’t want a single Madhesh province, as they fear that someone else rather than themselves would rule them. They are for having a province for themselves. They don’t want to be the part of the one Madhesh province. So, Tharus too have been not for ‘one-Madhesh one-province’. Tharus would be in minority in a ‘one-Madhesh one province’, and their voice would not be listened to; that is what they fear of. Tharus deserve to have their own province to develop their land they want. They have plowed the land of their masters for centuries but could not paid off the debt that their forefathers had taken. They remained the perpetual indebted people until Nepal became a federal democratic republic in 2008, and the centuries old symbol of tyranny: monarchy gone forever.

However, the remnant of the monarchy such as President of NC Sushil Koirala has remained shrouded in the democratic political party. NC and its leaders repeatedly claim that they are the democrats and their party is democratic and vow to fight for democracy but their speeches and deeds have been just the opposite. If they are democrats why do they need to fear of giving power to the people accepting the federal states following the ethnic identity? As we have already said that they are not for giving the power to the people but for following the system of governance of the old regime. So, some of the NC leaders including Khum Bahadur Khadka are for a monarchical rule. Senior NC leader Sher Bahadur Deuba is for reviving the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 with some cuts and pastes in other words to revive the old system of governance. Thus, they want to crush the people’s rights to self-determination. They believe anybody fighting for the people’s voice is their enemy number one.

Now, how has federalism come to exist? On January 01, 2007, the Seven-party Alliance with the then-CPN-Maoist currently UCPN-Maoist promulgated the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 dissolving the parliament and setting up a new 302-member parliament with 83 members of the CPN-Maoist, and proportionally increasing the number of parliamentarians of other political parties in proportion to the number of new comers of the CPN-Maoist. This Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 made the provisions for holding elections to a Constituent Assembly-cum-parliament that would decide the fate of the monarchy but not with the federal states and federalism. So, the then-leader of Madheshi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF) Upendra Yadav burnt down a copy of the Interim Constitution in Kathmandu on the very day of its promulgation in protest against not making the provisions for the federal states and federalism. That incident had sowed the seed of the Madhesh Movement that was for the federalism and federal states. All the Madheshi political parties came closer and formed United Democratic Madheshi Front (UDMF) to fight for a Madhesh province and federalism. UDMF not only fought against the Interim Government headed by NC President Girija Prasad Koirala but also against other political parties that came in the way of its movement. After months of the Madhesh Movement, Interim Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala gave in to the demand of the UDMF and made an eight-point agreement. Then, the interim parliament amended the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 making the provisions for federalism and federal provinces including the Madhesh province. UDMF went ahead demanding one-Madhesh one-province.

Madheshi political parties disintegrated into several parties to suit the interest of the individual leader but UDMF remained intact. The total strength of the UDMF is 83 in the 601-member Constituent Assembly-cum-parliament. UDMF (83) became the fourth largest party after UCPN-Maoist (240), NC (114) and CPN-UML (104) in the parliament. However, Madheshi parties such as Madheshi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF), Terai Madhesh Democratic Party and Nepal Sadbhavana party split into a number of parties in the line of highly ambitious leaders. MPRF with 53 representatives in the parliament was the largest Madheshi party but split first into MPRF-Nepal of Upendra Yadav, MPRF-Democratic of Bijaya Gacchedhar. Then, MPRF-Democratic has split into MPRF-Democratic of Bijaya Gacchedhar and MPRF-Republican of Jayaprakash Prasad Gupta. All the three MPRFs have almost equally shared the 53 representatives. Upendra Yadav was a Maoist. He left his mother party to form a new party called MPRF. Other NC members such as Gacchedhar and Gupta, too left their mother party NC and joined the MPRF of Yadav when the MPRF became stronger and influential. Some political analysts believed that Yadav made a great mistake taking the NC leaders in his party, as these NC leaders were carpetbaggers and became the cause of the disintegration of the MPRF. Currently, Upendra Yadav has been holding his MPRF aloof. So, he did not show up in the mass rally held by UDMF on Saturday, March 31, 2012 for putting pressure on the political leaders for accepting federalism and federal provinces with one-Madhesh one-province for Madheshis. Similarly, Terai Madhesh Democratic Party (TMDP) also split into two. Nepal Sadbhavana Party split into a number of parties in the same names; I even lost the count. The main reason for breaking the Madheshi political parties into smaller parties was to have a share in the juicy pie of power in the government.

NC leader Sushil Koirala has been politically and morally ambiguous. He has been for grabbing the power rather than settling the issues of federalism and federal states and promulgating a new constitution thus institutionalizing Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. President of NC Sushil Koirala has said that his party now takes the turn of forming a national unity government to complete the peace process and the constitution writing within the deadline of May 27, 2012, as one government after another of the UCPN-Maoist and CPN-UML has failed to resolve the national problems and the ongoing peace and statute writing tasks, and he hoped that the Maoists would support his party’s government if the Maoists were positive and honest; he also has made it clear that the bottom line of his NC party is a federalism and the NC would never compromise with any forces on anything less than the federal democratic system, and the NC would never accept the ethnic-based-federal system and one-Madhesh one-province system demanded by the Madheshi parties ‘The Rising Nepal’ of Aril 04, 2012 writes. President of NC Koirala has questioned the integrity of the UCPN-Maoist while taking the support of the CPN-UML for his party’s government as granted. He also has taken the stand on never accepting the ‘one-Madhesh one-province’ heading off the reasonable demand of the Madheshi people and the ethnic people for their federal provinces.

Chairman of UCPN-Maoist Prachanda in turn has said that the ongoing peace process and constitution writing would be completed without compromises with anyone, ‘The Rising Nepal’ of April 04, 2012 writes. According to the literal meanings of this piece of news, Prachanda is neither for compromising with President of NC Sushil Koirala nor with Vice-chairman Mohan Vaidya Kiran but compromise on what, Prachanda did not specify. He has adopted the policy of ‘give-and-take’ in other words he is wiling to give if he gets something in return. Chairman Prachanda also has said that the protests launched by Vice-chairman Mohan Vaidya faction of his party does not make sense, as their activities would not adversely influence the peace process and constitution writing. However, the dissenting faction has started its campaign but remains to be seen how far their activities would affect the process of the peace and the constitution writing remains to be seen.

Another interesting piece of news in the Nepalese and India media is: the opposition party CPN-UML warned on Tuesday, April 03, 2012, of toppling the current government if the army integration is not completed by the mid-April. The news has quoted former Home Minister Bhim Rawal belonging to the CPN-UML, "We would topple the Maoist-led coalition government if the army integration process doesn't completed by mid-April." Rawal also has said that another major opposition party NC holds the similar views. The irony is that the Rawal’s party is only the third largest party holding 104 seats in the 601-member parliament. However, Rawal dares to talk as the majority party in the parliament. This is the trait of not only CPN-UML leaders but also the NC leaders, too but President of NC Sushil Koirala at least calls the UCPN-Maoist for the support for the government of his party. These leaders should be honest to the fact that as long as the coalition of the UCPN-Maoist and the UDMF remains intact no body can topple the current government.

According to the news posted on ‘The Rising Nepal’ of March 16, 2012, the CPN-UML leaders gave the government of Dr. Baburam Bhattarai a week to complete the peace process otherwise they would launch a movement; they have decided it at the meeting of the parliamentary party (PP) of the CPN-UML held at Singh Durbar on Thursday, March 15, 2012. They also have objected the proposal presented at the Army Integration Special Committee by Prime Minister Dr. Bhattarai for integration of the combatants stating the proposal does not follow the seven-point agreement the four major parties signed off on November 01, 2012.

In response to the criticism of the CPN-UML leaders that the prime minister was backtracking from the integration process, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai accused on Monday, April 02, 2012 the CPN-UML leaders of obstructing the peace process by standing in the way of the army integration that were already agreed upon according to the news posted on “The PM is committed to complete the peace process as soon as possible, but the army integration Special Committee has not been able to move forward due to the unnecessary stance of CPN-UML representatives on the committee," Prime Minister's personal aide Bishwodeep Pandey said in a press note, quotes. General secretary Ishwor Pokharel and central leader Bhim Rawal represent the CPN-UML on the Special Committee.

Speaking to a delegation of Reporters Club at his office on Monday, April 02, 2012, Vice president Paramananda Jha said "nobody believes the constitution will be ready by May 27" and suggested the political parties to start discussion on the alternatives, writes. Vice-president Jha also has said that the 601 CA members are not responsible for the delay in drafting the constitution but just ten leaders of the three major parties are. The Vice-president has said that the term of the Constituent Assembly could not be extended anymore; if they failed to promulgate the constitution during the remaining period of the term of the Constituent Assembly, they needed to look for an alternative. Vice-president Jha also ruled out the possibility of the President taking over the state power in his hand in case of failure of promulgating a new constitution on May 27, 2012 and if the term of the Constituent Assembly were to end thereafter.

A group of Constituent Assembly members held a sit-in rally at the entrance to the hall where the Constitution Committee (CC) was holding a meeting in Singha Durbar on the Monday morning, April 02, 2012 demanding timely promulgation of a new constitution. They allowed the members of the CC to go in but refused to let them go out before the meeting ended forcing them to stay on in the meeting. However, the CC in its meeting could not settle the disputed issues of the constitution. The CC has started off the debate on the report of the State Restructuring Commission (SRC) the Chairman of the Constituent Assembly had forwarded to it after the CA members completed the debate on it.

We have another leader that has no people’s mandate but shouts at the government and decisively says that the peace process and the constitution writing would be completed in time but sometimes not, too. This man is so-called leader of CPN-UML Madhav Nepal that had lost the elections to the Constitution Assembly not only at one constituency but also another constituency. Speaking at a function of journalists held in Kathmandu on April 06, 2012, Madhav Nepal has said that the ultimate deadline for completing the peace process and the constitution writing is May 27, 2012 following the ruling of the Supreme Court of Nepal on this matter but the constitution writing would not move forward an inch without vacating the Maoists cantonments, ‘The Himalayan Times’ writes quoting the state-news agency RSS on April 06, 2012. However, Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai has blamed the CPN-UML for blocking the completion of the peace process and vacating the cantonments.

On behalf of the parliament, Speaker of parliament Subash Nemwang and on behalf of the government, Attorney General Mukti Pradhan separately registered an appeal for reviewing the ruling of the Supreme Court of Nepal of November 25, 2011 on not extending the term of the Constituent Assembly for the next time allowing the last extension for the maximum of six months thereafter the Constituent Assembly will be automatically dissolved, ‘gorkhapatra’ of December wrote. The registrar of the Supreme Court of Nepal rejected to register even the appeals of both the Speaker and the Prime Minister.

Hearing on the appeals of the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the parliament for reviewing the decision of the registrar of the Supreme Court of Nepal on not registering the appeals of the Prime Minster and the Speaker of the parliament for reviewing the ruling of the Supreme Court of Nepal made on November 25, 2011 on extending the term of the Constituent Assembly for the last time for not exceeding six months, the Supreme Court of Nepal upheld the decision of the registrar on March 29, 2012. Following the ruling of the Supreme Court of Nepal, the term of the Constituent Assembly ends on May 27, 2012. If all the procedures prescribed in the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 are to follow the remaining time for completing a new constitution is not enough, so, the parliament is considering to amend the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 for cutting off certain procedures for writing a new constitution to make completing a new constitution during the remaining time possible.

To be continued

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