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Impeach Vice-president Jha

Issue 31, August 03, 2008

By Siddhi B. Ranjitkar

Taking oath in Hindi, newly elected Nepalese Vice-president Permananda Jha did a great disservice to the nation even at the beginning of his term of office. One could guess what such a person would do to the nation. From whose order former justice of the Supreme Court of Nepal took the oath in Hindi. His disloyal to the Nepalis has triggered nationwide protest. Nepalis want to oust him from such an honorable position if he does not apologize to Nepalis for his misdeed or not quit his position voluntarily. However, he issued a sorry statement on July 29, 2008 making the eight-students’ Unions call off the nationwide protest against his taking oath in Hindi.

On July 23, 2008, first president and vice-president of Nepal took oath of the office institutionalizing the Federal Republic of Nepal. It was a day of great pride and joy to all Nepalis living in different geographical regions, as ultimately Nepalis have put the sons of commoners on the highest positions of the Nepalese administration. However, the joy of putting commoners on such honorable positions has immediately faded away and turned into sour when the newly elected vice-president chose to take the oath in Hindi.

The Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 has made a provision for defining languages and using them at various level of the State under the Clause 5: (1) all mother tongues in Nepal shall be national languages; (2) Nepali written in ‘devnagari’ shall be the language for official business in the State; (3) notwithstanding anything written under the sub clause (2), there shall not be any problem of using mother tongues at the local agencies and offices of the State. The government shall translate those things done in mother tongues into the Nepali language for records.

So, taking oath of office of vice-president in Hindi, Mr. Jha has violated the Constitution of Nepal under which he was elected to a vice-president. Has Mr. Jha deliberately violated the Constitution of Nepal or not? None would believe that he had not read the Constitution or he did not know the provision made in the Constitution for using the language for official purposes, as he had been the former justice of the Supreme Court of Nepal. He must have done it deliberately to bully the Nepalese people or crack a joke on them.

Despite the constitutional provision for doing official business in Nepali, President Dr. Rambaran Yadav did not attempt to enforce it rather agreed to read the oath in Nepali and let newly elected Vice-president translate it into Hindi. Is it not the president also violating the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 letting the vice-president take oath in Hindi on the very day of being the first president of Nepal?

First, it looked unbelievable that a person reaching the second highest position of the Nepalese administration could display such indiscipline or could play a prank on the Nepalese people. However, it was not a joke but was done deliberately to show the disrespect for the Nepalese people and the nation.

Mr. Jha could have taken an oath in his own mother tongue Maithili: one of the Nepalese languages if he did not like to take it in ‘Khas’ language popularly rather erroneously known as Nepali but it also would go against the Constitution; however, Nepalis would tolerate it. So, taking oath in Hindi language Mr. Jha clearly indicates that there is something going on fishy at the highest level of the Nepalese administration. It also indicates that sovereignty of Nepal might be at risk.

Nepalese political leaders particularly the leaders of Communist Party of Nepal-Marxist Leninist (CPN-ML), CP Mainali has been telling in public that the government has given Nepalese citizenship certificates to non-Nepalis causing so much of troubles in Nepal. According to him, the one-Madhesh-province slogan sprang up due to so many non-Nepalis receiving the Nepalese citizenship certificates.

We are not suspecting the nationality of Mr. Jha. He must be born and raised in Nepal and he must have a citizenship of Nepal otherwise he would not be able to serve in the Nepalese judiciary so long and get fired because of his involvement in the international smuggling gang according to the media report. However, his mind and heart are certainly not sympathetic to Nepalese people, as he had demonstrated it making treacherous move of taking oath in non-Nepali language.

Mr. Jha has explained that his love for Hindi has led him to take oath in Hindi according to the Nepalese media. One question to Mr. Jha is tomorrow if somebody elected to his current position or to the president for the love of language choose to take oath of office in one of other countries’ languages what he would say to it. Would it be acceptable to him?

He also attempted to prove Hindi is one of the languages Nepalis speak; he even gave the statistics of 200,000 people speaking Hindi in Nepal according to the Nepalese media report. So far, none of the population censuses has shown anybody speaking Hindi in Nepal. However, some people recently getting citizenship certificates might be speaking Hindi making CPN-ML leader CP Mainali’s saying of some non-Nepalis received Nepalese citizenship come true. It is not the question of how many Nepalis could speak Hindi; it is the matter of saving the integrity and sovereignty of Nepal.

Taking oath in Hindi, Mr. Jha has shown the highest political immorality, disloyal to Nepal and disrespect for the Nepalese people, and Nepalese culture. This is also betrayal to the Nepalese people. So, the Nepali Congress (NC), Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist and Leninist (CPN-UML) and Madheshi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF) members of the Constituent Assembly (CA) that have elected Mr. Jha a vice-president need to recall such a person from the second highest position of the administration otherwise sincere Nepalese people loyal to the nation would never forgive such members of the CA, too; such members would have no rights to represent Nepalese people and write a constitution for them.

Realizing the mistake of taking oath in Hindi, Mr. Jha needs to quietly resign from the position of vice-president and apologize to the Nepalese people for causing troubles to them. Otherwise all the 601 CA members need to impeach him for such a grievous mistake and crime committed against the Nepalese people. He is not fit to remain as the vice-president of the Nepalese people at all.

In addition, the Chairman of the CA needs to stop the practice of speaking foreign language at the CA session. It has been intolerable to proud sincere and real Nepalis to listen to some CA members speaking Hindi at the CA session in the past. The Chairman needs to take appropriate actions not to repeat such things happening again at the CA session.

Protests have been flaring up in Nepal for the third day against newly elected Vice-President Parmananda Jha taking oath of office in Hindi instead of taking in the national language or his own mother tongue Maithili spoken in the Terai. Eight student organizations affiliated to major political parties stepped up protests blocking main roads in Kathmandu and its adjoining Lalitpur city burning tires and demanding apology or resignation of the vice-president. Protests were also reported from remote Dhangadi and Kailali districts in far west Nepal. Some minor parties and nationalistic organizations joined in the protests. [1]

On July 25, 2008, senior advocate Bal Krishna Neupane has filed a writ petition at the Supreme Court of Nepal against newly elected vice-president Parmananda Jha taking oath in Hindi violating the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 that has made a provision for using Nepali for State official business. The writ petition also demands the Supreme Court of Nepal to issue a stay order against Mr. Jha not to allow him to function as the Vice President of Nepal until he swears in Nepali language. He made the offices of the President, Vice President and Prime Minister the opponents in the case. [2]

A day after Nepal’s Vice President Parmananda Jha took the oath of Office, Street protests continued all over Nepal. Protesters have called for his resignation and burnt him in effigy because the holder of the second highest office in the newly proclaimed republic pronounced his maiden speech in Hindi, not in Nepali, the country’s official language, and wore Indian-styled clothes, not traditional Nepali garb. The controversy is further complicated by the fact that when Mr. Jha was a Supreme Court judge he was involved in international smuggling and forced to resign as a result of the probe. [3]

After the meeting with President Dr Rambaran Yadav for political consultation at Shital Niwas on Saturday morning, July 26, 2008, at the time of speaking to the reporters responding to the question on the controversial oath of Vice President Parmananda Jha, leader of MPRF, Upendra Yadav said, "I love Hindi language as you love Nepali." He also said that Hindi is one of the languages of Nepal. However, parliamentary leader of MPRF Vijaya Kumar Gacchedar said that it was unfortunate; the first vice-resident of the country had been dragged into controversy since he took the oath of office. Protests against Jha taking oath in Hindi despite being a Maithili speaker are continuing across the country including the Terai districts. [4]

At the time when Nepalese students have been protesting vice-president Parmananda Jha taking oath in Hindi across the country, he attempted to defend his unconstitutional act of taking oath in Hindi. On Friday, July 25, 2008, talking to the BBC Nepali Service, Mr. Jha said, “Hindi is also a mother-tongue of (some community) in Nepal. As per the census, there are around 200,000 people whose mother-tongue is Hindi.” Although he himself is a native Maithili speaker, Mr. Jha said that he chose to take oath in Hindi, as Maithili, Bhojpuri, Awadhi and other lingual groups of Madhesh region understand it. Responding to the filing of a writ petition against his swearing in Hindi at the Supreme Court, Mr. Jha said that he would abide by the court decision. He, however, claimed that his taking of oath in Hindi language had not breached the Interim Constitution. [5]. Mr. Jha has shamelessly ignored the Clause 5 of the Constitution of Nepal of 2007 that has clearly stated that Nepali is the language for doing the State official business.

In a story written in the ‘Janadisha Daily’ of July 26, 2008, Suresh Kumar Yadav disclosed that the first vice-president Parmananda Jha took the oath of office following the decision made by his “party’s high command”. MPRF President Upendra Yadav instructed Parmananda Jha to take the oath in Hindi according to a MPRF central committee member. “If you do not take the oath of the office in the Hindi language then your victory as the vice president of Nepal will go to the dogs and I will be taken to task by my Higher Authorities”, said Upendra Yadav to Parmananda Jha. However, the MPRF source did not reveal as to who was higher than Upendra Yadav in the party hierarchy? He also remained tight lipped as to whether this high authority was a local or an alien power? Nevertheless, the Janadisha writes, the MPRF leaders have contemplated that the higher authority might mean his bosses in India. MPRF senior Tharu leader, Mr. Bijaya Kumar Gacchedar was not happy with Parmananda Jha taking the oath of office in Hindi. “Do not ask me why Jha took the oath of the office in the Hindi language better ask the President of the MPRF because it was his solo decision”, said Gacchedar. [6]

On Saturday, July 26, 2008, Vice President Parmananda Jha defended his taking the oath of office in Hindi saying that his party MPRF has adopted the policy of establishing Hindi as one of Nepal’s official languages. Newly elected Vice President Jha claimed that he took the oath of office in Hindi, as the language has become indispensable in Nepal. He said that the MPRF has been preparing to establish Hindi as one of the languages in the soon-to-be drafted constitution. Jha also made it clear that he took the oath in Hindi to meet the aspirations of Terai residents who played a crucial role in placing him in such a high position of vice-president. Mr. Jha also said that he has not even thought of rectifying his error, as he has not made any mistake using Hindi. On Wednesday, July 23, 2008, President Dr. Rambaran Yadav administered the oath of office in Nepali while the vice-president dressed in what seemed like an Indian lawmaker’s outfit translated the oath in Hindi. [7]

On Saturday, July 26, 2008, an organization called Tharu Kalyankarini Saba (TKS) took to the streets in Kathmandu to protest vice-president Parmananda Jha taking oath in Hindi. The participants in the rally said that the oath taking in Hindi was against the nation and chanted slogans against Mr. Jha during the protest rally. Speaking at the corner meeting held after the protest rally, the speakers also protested against the demand for “One Madhesh, One Province”. Various organizations and student unions affiliated to various political parties have been carrying out massive street protests against vice president Parmananda Jha taking oath in Hindi. [8]

General Secretary of CPN-UML, Jhalanath Khanal said that vice-president Parmananda Jha hurt sentiments of Nepalis taking oath of office in Hindi. 'It was a very unfortunate scene when we saw our first President Dr Ram Baran Yadav administering the oath in Nepali while Vice President Jha was translating the oath into Hindi, which is not even the mother tongue of any single community in our country," he said. He was of the view that being a very important person, Jha, whose every action represents the whole nation instead of a particular community, should correct it. Khanal stressed that constituent assembly should bring out a policy on oath-taking for its members as well. [9]

On Saturday, July 26, 2008, local people in Saptari: home district of Parmananda Jha, burnt him in effigies in several places and blocked the East-West Highway for over three hours protesting his taking oath in Hindi. The Madheshi community in the areas during the protest demanded immediate resignation from Mr. Jha, as his taking oath in Hindi insulted his own mother tongue: Maithili. Various Students’ organizations vowed to intensify their protests against Parmananda Jha’s taking oath of office in the Indian national Language, Hindi. “Unless vice president Jha apologizes to Nepalis for his mal-intent to victimize Nepal’s National language: Nepali, the protest programs will continue”, Himal Sharma: General Secretary of All Nepal National Free Students Union- Revolutionary (ANNFSU-R) said. He also said, “The vice president who wants to make Hindi a national language must resign.” The Maoist affiliated Students organization will submit a memorandum to President of Nepal, Hon. Dr. Ram Baran Yadav demanding resignation from vice-president Jha. [10]

For the third day in a row on Saturday, July 26, 2008, tumultuous protests continued in Kathmandu, the Terai plains and other regions of Nepal with thousands of students burning newly elected Indian-origin vice-president Parmananda Jha in effigies and demanding an apology from him for taking his oath of office in Hindi. Hordes of students blocked main thoroughfares in the capital while protests were also reported from nearly a dozen districts in the Terai plains and remote districts such as Dailekh with political parties as well as socio-political organizations joining the fray. Mr. Jha told BBC Radio’s Nepali Service that the protests were stoked by a few people with vested interests and did not indicate the response of all Nepalese people. [11]

On July 26, 2008, talking to journalists in Butwal, Rupandehi District, President of Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal: Kamal Thapa said, “Vice President Parmananda Jha taking oath of office in Hindi is not just a coincidence. It was indeed a part of the grand design to challenge the Nepali sovereignty and nationalism.” “The country is facing enormous crisis as regards preserving the Nationalism, Territorial Integrity and Sovereignty of the country is concerned…we will soon declare nation wide protest programs deploring recent activities of the political parties that have compromised the Nepali Integrity.” [12]

On Sunday, July 27, 2008 at a program held by the Women’s Wing of the CPN-UML party in Kathmandu CPN-UML General Secretary Jhalanath Khanal said, “A person like Parmananda Jha who could not rise above the benefit of a community, a caste or a language cannot take the responsibility of the entire nation let alone preserving nationalism and national integrity.”  “The CPN-UML I represent and I personally, as a Nepali national demand immediate resignation of vice president of Nepal Mr. Parmananda Jha”. [13]

On Sunday, July 27, 2008, Nepal Bar Association (NBA), the umbrella organization of lawyers in Nepal, in a statement described Jha's swearing in Hindi as unconstitutional. The Bar also called for public apology from the Vice President, urging him to take oath again, in Nepali language. [14]

On Sunday, July 27, 2008, speaking at the CA session, leaders of the main three Madheshi parties such as Madheshi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF), Terai Madhesh Democratic Party (TMDP) and Nepal Sadbhawana Party-Mahato (NSP-Mahato) insisted that the Vice President made no mistake by taking oath in Hindi as Hindi is a mother tongue of hundreds of thousands of Madheshis. Stating the ongoing protests against Jha's swearing in Hindi as inopportune and unacceptable, MPRF coordinator and CA member Upendra Yadav accused the protesters of having warped sense of patriotism and claimed that the protests were being fueled deliberately. Yadav said, “Madheshis will continue their struggle for cultural and linguistic identity.” Addressing the CA in Hindi, TMDP's Hridayesh Tripathi said that the Vice President's swearing in Hindi was a non-issue. He also said that there was nothing objectionable in taking oath in Hindi, as Hindi is the mother tongue of hundreds of thousands of people in Terai. Sadbhawana chairman Rajendra Mahato also spoke on the same line urging the parties to ask their student wings to stop the protests. [15]

On Monday, July 28, 2008, protesters blocked traffic and held rallies in Nepal to protest the newly elected vice president taking oath of office in a foreign language. They called for Parmananda Jha to publicly apologize for taking oath in Hindi. Student groups burned tires to block traffic on the main streets of the capital, Katmandu, and chanted slogans against Jha. Protesters blocked the main highways closed markets and schools in eastern Nepal. Demonstrations were also held in different districts of the country including Kaski, Chitwan, Siraha and Itahari. "The vice president must retake the oath in Nepali or step down," they chanted. Though Hindi is widely understood in Nepal, it is not an official language and elected officials are required to take their oath either in Nepali or their ethnic language, which in Jha's case is Maithili.  Jha has defended his action, saying it was an attempt to promote the inclusion of Hindi as an official language in Nepal. Thakur Gaire of All Nepal National Free Student Union said that the eight student groups holding the protests would continue until he apologizes. "We are demanding he should correct his mistake and make a public commitment pledging he will not repeat such mistakes," Gaire said. [16]

On Monday, July 28, 2008, the Constituent Assembly (CA) issued a directive to the government asking it to take immediate steps to hold communal harmony in the wake of the ongoing street protests in the capital and outside against Vice President Parmananda Jha for taking oath in Hindi language. Maoist CA member Chandra Prakash Gajurel submitted it as a 'proposal of public interest' at the CA session on Monday and the CA unanimously passed it. The proposal expresses worry that the agitations, if unchecked now, could disturb the communal harmony and tolerance prevailing in Nepal. [17]

On Monday, July 28, 2008, a single bench of Justice Damodar Prasad Sharma of the Supreme Court of Nepal issued the show cause order in the name of the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers and the Office of the Vice President to furnish an written explanation to the oath taken by Vice-president in Hindi within seven days. Advocate Bal Krishna Neupane had filed a case at the apex court on Friday, July 25 demanding rejection of the oath taken by Jha and demanding he take oath again in Nepali, or be expelled from the post. The offices of the President, Vice President and Prime Minister were made the opponents in the case. [18]

On July 28, 2008, in a statement, the CPN-UML Central Advisory Committee said Vice President Parmananda Jha using a foreign language Hindi for oath taking was against the Interim Constitution, and has hurt the national unity, sovereignty and integrity of the country, nationalist sentiments of the Nepali people as well as the country’s existence. The committee said, as such a person cannot take guardianship in preserving national unity and sovereign integrity, he should resign from the post immediately. [19]

On Tuesday, July 29, 2008, Madheshi Youth Forum (MYF) affiliated to Madheshi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF) imposed a shutdown in Bara district to protest the vandalism of MPRF's Central Secretariat office in Kathmandu by a group of students. The protests had spilled over to Kanchanpur, Nawalparasi and Siraha districts also with their supporters and MYF cadres taking out rallies in support of Vice-president Jha, burning government vehicles and obstructing vehicle movement. The most intense protest were seen in southern industrial town Birgunj in Parsa district where protestors resorted to vandalism smashing vehicles and shops. They staged demonstration supporting Mr. Jha and denounced attack on the MPRF central office. On Monday, July 28, MYF cadres vandalized the CPN-UML's Saptari district office at Rajbiraj in response to some students vandalizing the MPRF office in Kathmandu. [20]

On Tuesday, July 29, 2008, after six days of taking oath in Hindi and after five days of intensive students’ protest against his taking oath in Hindi, in a statement, vice-president Parmananda Jha said sorry for inflicting a deep injury in the minds of Nepalis taking oath in Hindi, and said that he signed off the document of the oath in Nepali, he translated the oath into Hindi to let some people understand it. The eight-students’ Unions called off the protest against the vice-president taking oath in Hindi in response to his sorry statement, and in view of the possibility of disturbing the communal harmony in Nepal, and in view of the case against the vice-president taking oath in Hindi violating the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 at the Supreme Court of Nepal. [21]

The newly elected vice-president taking oath in Hindi disregarding the provision made in the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 is the indication of the total breakdown of political discipline at the highest level of the Nepalese administration.


[1], July 25, 2008, “Uproar over Hindi continues in Nepal”

[2], July 25, 2008, “Nepal’s VP Jha dragged to Supreme Court”; ia July 25 08, “Case against VP for taking oath in Hindi”

[3], July 25, 2008, “Nepali nationalists call for vice-president’s resignation”

[4] ia July 26 08, “President Yadav confers with MJF leaders”

[5] sd Jul 26 08 “VP Jha defends his swearing in Hindi”

[6], July 26, 2008, “Nepal: MJF in disarray, Gacchedar annoyed”

[7], Kantipur Report, July 26, 2008, “MPRF preparing to establish Hindi as language in Nepal, says VP Jha”

[8], Kantipur Report, July 26, 2008, “Tharu community protest Jha’s use of Hindi”

[9], Kantipur Report, July 26, 2008, “National consensus govt best option: UML chief - VP hurt people's feelings”

[10], July 27, 2008, “Protest to intensity against Nepal’s VP Jha”; sd Jul 27 08, “Students to continue protest against VP”

[11] Howrah news service, India, July 26, 2008, “Terai anti-Hindi protests grow”

[12], July 26, 2008, “Nepal VP’s oath in Hindi is a part of grand design, Kamal Thapa

[13], July 27, 2008, “Nepal: UML demands VP Jha’s resignation”

[14] mk July 27 08, “Madheshi CA members throw weight behind VP Jha; student protests continue”

[15] mk July 27 08, “Madheshi CA members throw weight behind VP Jha; student protests continue”

[16] Associated Press, AP, July 28, 2008, “Protests against Nepal's vice president”; mk July 28 08, “More protests against VP Jha”;, Kantipur Report’ July 28, 2008 “VP Jha’s oath controversy in rise”

[17] mk July 28 08, “CA directs govt to take steps to maintain communal harmony; students call off protest”

[18] ia July 28 08, “SC seeks written explanation from govt, VP Jha over swearing in Hindi”

[19] The Rising Nepal, July 29, 2008, “UML advisory body demands VP’s resignation”

[20] July 29 08, “MJF student wing protests in Terai”;, July 29, 2008, “MPRF office vandalized in capital; MPRF’s youth wing torches UML Saptari office”

[21] Radio Nepal, July 30, 2008, 7:00 A.M. Morning News

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