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How Democracy Works

Issue November 2017

How Democracy Works

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


Democracy is a self-correcting system whether folks like it or not. It is not the western notion only, as eastern nations have had democracy for quite some time in the past. In Nepal too, recently, democracy is working. Election Commission has annulled the nominations of corrupt politicians. It is the beauty of democracy. Politicians would be alert to the possible corruption that would invalidate them for any elected offices in the future.


If anybody were to read our ancient scripture such as Svasthani then s/he would find how an elephant chose a new king. The scripture says that the spirit of Lord Vishnu enters into the mind of the elephant eloquently decorated freely walked among the curious folks waiting for the elephant to chose a man for a new king and to take the man on its back to the palace and to crown him as a king. In fact, the divine spirit of lord Vishnu in the elephant selects an eligible man for a king. It is not the democracy as we have today but it is for selecting a man the most fit for the position of a king. The king could not turn over the crown to his son rather have to follow the procedure of choosing a new king soon after the demise or invalidation of the king.


NC leader Ram Chandra Poudel filed his nomination for running for the position of a representative to federal House of Representative at the Tanahu constituency one. To his surprise, his one–time colleague Govinda Raj Joshi also filed his nomination for the same.


Joshi did not receive the ticket for the nomination from the NC. Joshi was demanding the nomination from the NC party. When he did not receive the NC party ticket for the nomination he filed his nomination as an independent candidate. He filed his nomination independently.


After finding Joshi filed his nomination at the same constituency, Poudel got lost his sense in the political wilderness, as he believed that Joshi had the same influence on the voters as he had. In addition, Joshi has a tremendous amount of money to spend on the elections.


So what to do, and how to remove Joshi from the election scene at the constituency? Suddenly, an idea struck in the mind of Poudel. Joshi was a criminal the Special Court had once indicted for corruption.


Ah! The Special Court had once convicted Joshi of corruption. He has to serve the jail term and pay the fine the Special Court has imposed on Joshi but he has been free because he used the legal loophole and appealed the Supreme Court for reviewing the case and indictment the Special Court has handed him down. As long as the case remains at the Supreme Court, Joshi is free to be out of jail and needs not pay the fine.


Poduel immediately consulted with the legal experts on this matter. Lawyers have told Poudel that Joshi is a criminal because of the ruling of the Special Court; so Joshi remains a criminal no matter how long the case hangs on at the Supreme Court. Joshi would need to serve the jail term and pay the fine following the ruling of the Special Court if the Supreme Court were to uphold the ruling of the Special Court.


On the advice of the legal experts, Ram Chandra Poudel has filed a protest against the Joshi’s nomination at the local election office stating Joshi is a criminal. Poudel went to the local election officer and made an official complaint that Govinda Raj Joshi was a criminal because the Special Court indicted him of corruption and the abuse of authority, and he was a corrupt person, and the Special Court handed him down two-year jail term and the fine for abusing the power while he was a minister; any person indicted for crime cannot run for any elected position, so his nomination for candidate for the House of Representative filed at the Tanahu constituency one needs to be rescinded.


The election officer consulted with the Election Commission in Kathmandu. Checking the fact of the matter, the Election Commission decided to terminate the nomination of Joshi, and advised the local election officer accordingly. Ultimately, Joshi got his nomination ended, the news in “gorkhapatra” of November 5, 2017 stated.


Joshi said that termination of his nomination was unconstitutional and he would lodge a complaint at the Supreme Court for redress, according to the local media reports. He said that he had contested in the previous election but nobody had complained about it and the Election Commission had not annulled his nomination.


Poudel and Joshi were teachers when the political parties were illegal. They must have a clandestine link with the NC when folks could not engage in political parties openly at the time of the no-party system called panchayat the then despot Mahendra had imposed in 1962 prevailed.


Then, in 1990, the people uprooted the panchayat, and reinstated the multi-party democratic system lost to the tyrant Mahendra in 1960. Both Poudel and Joshi came to Kathmandu. Poudel became the Minister for Agriculture in the Girija cabinet in 1991.


Poudel was slim to death at that time. Probably, Poudel as a teacher did not earn much and he must have a large family to support. So, he has less to eat and too much work to do causing him to be as slim as possible.


Surely, the ministerial remuneration must be many times larger than the teachers’. Then, Poudel must have much more to eat but he must have eaten so much that his body weight must have increased multiple times the original causing him to be sick in a few years of different ministerial jobs he had secured.


Joshi was not so thin as Poudel was but he must be very hungry for money. Unlike Poudel, Joshi could not have a ministerial job immediately after the general elections in 1991? However, Joshi managed to have a ministerial job later on.


While in office the first thing, Joshi did was to make a lot of money. He asked his cadre to bring the cases that would bring him a large sum of money. He did not like to engage in petty cases that would fetch him only a small amount. Surely, he made a lot of money drawing the attention of the Commission on Investigation into Abuse of Authority (CIAA). Obviously, he made a lot of money illegally.


After examining a number of official complaints and the documents charging Joshi for corruption and the abuse of authority, CIAA filed a case against Joshi at the Special Court that ruled that Joshi was a corrupt and made a lot of money illegally while in power abusing the authority. The Special Court awarded a two-year jail term and some fines for the crimes Joshi committed while in office.


Joshi has been still out of jail because he has appealed against the conviction at the Supreme Court. Thus, he has used the loophole of the law for staying out of jail so far but it is a temporary relief. Joshi would need to serve the jail term and pay the fine if the Supreme Court were to uphold the ruling of the Special Court. Until then, Joshi is free to move even though he has been a criminal following the ruling of the Special Court.


NC had attempted to introduce a bill on legalizing the corrupt politicians to have a chance to run for any elected positions after a certain period but the parliament did not pass it. This is the way sometimes democracy works.


According to the local media, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba wanted to pay debt to the corrupt NC politicians introducing a bill on making the folks convicted of corruption eligible for running any elected positions in the coming provincial and federal elections but the parliament was not so sympathetic to the Deuba’s idea, and the parliament did not pass the bill frustrating Deuba and his corrupt colleagues that have so high expectation that the bill would be passed and they could run for the House of Representatives.


Democracy works and punishes the culprits not only all those that had been less careful to abuse the authority, and make the money openly but also those that had been careful to hide their misdeeds.


Joshi belonged to the category of careless politicians but he demonstrated that he was clever enough to delay serving the jail term and paying the fine following the ruling of the Special Court. Thus, democracy is working for the crook politician, too.


Poudel had been a very slim person as slim as a reed but he has been overweight since he had been a minister for a number of times. He has not been involved in corruption openly drawing the attention of CIAA but his bodyweight shows that he has more than enough to eat whereas millions of Nepalese continue to go to bed hungry every night. Again democracy is working for the politicians keeping millions of common folks in hunger.


November 6, 2017

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