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Is It Consensus Politics?

Issue 16, April 19, 2009

Siddhi B. Ranjitkar

Deputy Prime Minister cum Home Minister and leader of Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist and Leninist (CPN-UML) Bamdev Gautam challenged his party leadership to prove the ineffectiveness and inability of the CPN-UML ministers in the coalition government. Some leaders of the CPN-UML have been deadly against the coalition government. The Nepali Congress (NC) and the Tarai Madhesh Democratic Party (TMDP) have enjoyed criticizing the government forever. Madheshi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF) has remained calm to the political verbal war of the large parties. The so-called: Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal (RPP-Nepal), and Rastriya Janashakti Party (RJP) could do nothing but to watch and anticipate the breakdown of the consensus politics and reap windfall from it.

The NC and TMDP did not believe in the consensus politics and did not join in the coalition government not respecting the people’s mandate for the consensus politics and opted to remain in the opposition. The opposition’s main task has been to obstruct or boycott the parliamentary sessions and shamelessly collect the remuneration paid for attending the sessions.

The Chief Whip of the NC is Mr. Laxman Ghimire. He served the Panchayat regime as a private consultant and made a lot of money. However, he joined in the NC immediately after the People’s Movement tore down the Panchayat regime in 1990, and became the minister.

Many sincere and dedicated NC cadres became the adversaries of the NC leaders, as they wanted sincerity in the leaders, too. Most of the sincere leaders of NC have either left the party or remained dormant, as the unscrupulous members have taken the leadership in the NC.

So, the NC members of the parliament have been opposing anything the coalition government has been doing so far. The most beautiful decision taken by the coalition government on appointing Nepalese priests to the most sacred Hindu temple to Lord Pasupati in Kathmandu became the hottest topic for the NC leaders to oppose it. Some NC parliamentarians marched from the International Convention Center to Pasupati to show their opposition against replacing the South Indian priests by the Nepalese priests. It was the most shameless thing to do for any patriotic Nepalis.

The NC leaders including the self-proclaimed parliamentary leader Grirja Prasad Koirala have been saying in pubic that they are not for toppling the current coalition government. If they could have tear down the government they would have done so at any moment. However, unfortunately for the power hungry Koirala brother and sisters they could not shake the coalition government at all despite their numerous efforts on toppling the government. Senior Koirala had even made attempts on continuing to stay on power even after the defeat in the election for the Constituent Assembly: parliament in April 2008.

The leader of the TMDP is Mahant Thakur. He had been the NC cadre for 45 years. Senior Koirala did not want to accept his resignation from the NC and even had advised him not to sacrifice the 45 years of his service made to the NC. However, he opted to leave the NC and form a TMDP at the opportune moment to reap the benefit of the political changes. Nobody could expect any positive things from such leaders that have grown as mushrooms in Nepal.

The CPN-UML is the party of so-called learned leaders. Every leader believes that s/he is superior to other. So, every CPN-UML leader is for finding the faults of others not only of other political parties but also of her/his own party. So, everybody is causing chaos in the CPN-UML. None of them does know which party s/he has been supporting, and entering into an alliance with. Some of them have even the dream of becoming a Prime Minister provided the NC leaders and some other political party leaders agreed on entering into a new alliance with other political parties.

General Secretary of CPN-UML Iswor Pokharel recently has said that his party is identifying a new Prime Minister. If he has been telling the truth, then soon his party is puling out of the coalition government to open the door for horse-trading of the members of the parliament, as the simple majority of the parliaments would be going to form a new government. So, Mr. Pokharel and his party colleagues are going to either buy some parliamentarians or they themselves are going to be for sale in the market of parliamentarians opened whenever none of the political parties could secure the simple majority in the parliamentary system of governance.

In the general convention of the CPN-UML held in Butwal in 2009, most of cadres expressed their concern about the CPN-UML ministers not being able to do much in the coalition government, so they wanted to pull all the ministers back from the coalition government and enter into a new alliance with other political parties. Despite the pressure of the party cadres, the leadership could do nothing to take back the ministers from the coalition government, as either the simple arithmetic of majority did not work for them to form a new government or the powerful factions of the party have been backing the ministers in the coalition government.

Former General Secretary of CPN-UML Madhav Kumar Nepal said that if the party leaders did not work for the consensus politics his party would split after the general convention in Butwal. However, none of the leaders aspiring for the top leadership could come to consensus on selecting the leaders for various party positions during the convention in Butwal, and they ultimately went for the elections. About two thousand party cadres were eligible for voting for their leaders. Jhalanath Khanal won the elections for the party Chair but his rival K.P. Oli charged him of winning the election using 500 bogus voters. Mr. Khanal remained silent on this charge.

Former General Secretary of CPN-UML Madhav Kumar Nepal said that it was a mistake to bring the Maoists to the government. He did not elaborate whose mistake it was. However, NC, CPN-UML and MPRF could continue the alliance they entered into to elect the president and the vice-president in August 2008 but they did not. Obviously, Mr. Nepal must have hinted the three parties in question committed a mistake not continuing their alliance.

Probably, in response to Mr. Nepal’s statement of ‘it was a mistake to bring the Maoists to the government’, addressing the mass rally held by the Maoists in Kathmandu to celebrate the People’s Movement Day on April 06, 2009, Prime Minister Prachanda said that the Maoists came to power on the people’s strength not by the favor of some leaders; he went on hitting hard on other political leaders provoking their strong reactions to his statements.

Almost all Maoist leaders except for Prachanda have been charging the CPN-UML leaders of deliberating attempting on making the coalition government headed by the Maoist a failure; the CPN-UML leaders have been doing so in the government, in the parliament and on the streets, too. According to the Maoist leaders the CPN-UML leaders have three crucial ministerial portfolios such as Home, Local Development and Power.

According to the Maoist leaders, Home Minister has been worsening the law and order situation to discredit the Maoists, the Local Development Minister has been obstructing the setting up of local bodies preventing any development activities at the grassroots level as wanted by the Maoists, and the Power Minister has increased the power outage hours again to discredit the Maoists. So. Maoist Minister for State Restructuring speaking to the state-run Radio Nepal anchor on April 08, 2009 on the program called ‘Samay Prabaha’ said that the CPN-UML ministers needed to leave the coalition government immediately otherwise they would be forced to leave the government.

Some of political leaders particularly Girija Prasad Koirala and Madhav Kumar Nepal have repeatedly said that the Maoists’ cantonments have turned into a safe haven for criminals. According to the local newspapers of April 08, 2009, the People’s Liberation Army Commanders of all seven cantonments issued a joint statement challenging the leaders to prove their serious allegations; they had been patiently staying in the cantonments so far, soon their patience might run out and might come out of the cantonment halting the peace process.

MPRF leaders have refrained from indulging in verbal political combats. Probably, they are sure that the large party leaders have been fighting the psychological war to defeat the rivals psychologically. So, they have remained silent on all the political issues the large parties think so important and even have been obstructing the parliamentary businesses.

RPP, RPP-Nepal, and RJP leaders have been silent political observers of the political development. Voters have rejected them. So, no matter what they say in public their statements do not count.

Some Maoist leaders have said in public that they would stay on in power for another ten years. So, they have been working to achieve this goal. Some political leaders have regretted for turning over the power to the Maoists. However, it was too late for the political parties such as NC and CPN-UML to do something to stop the Maoists coming to power. They wasted their golden opportunities of doing something for the people during the exercise of the parliamentary democracy in 1990s indulging in power struggle and doing nothing for the people. Consequently, they could not go to the people with proud in what they had achieved in the past. They had done nothing for the benefits of the people but introduced anarchy, and open corruption and gave political protection to the criminals of various categories.

April 18, 2009.

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