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Making Mockery Of Democracy In Nepal

Issue 08, February 21, 2010

Siddhi B Ranjitkar

Falgun seven (Feb. 19, 2010) is the anniversary of the democracy day in Nepal. It is the 60th anniversary of democracy. So, Nepalis have been living under democracy for sixty years. During this period, Nepalese politicians have defined democracy to suit their needs rather than follow the fundamental principles of universally known democracy. Killers of democracy have proudly celebrated the anniversary of democracy in the past. Currently, too, the head of state supposed to defend the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 has abused it inflicting serious damage on democracy has also celebrated the anniversary of the democracy day.

President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav has participated in the celebration of the 60th anniversary of democracy day in Nepal on February 19, 2010. He must have his own definition of democracy because he does not fit in the democracy of universally adopted principles. President Yadav has taken the oath of office for defending the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007. However, he has abused the same constitution he has pledged to defend on May 3, 2009 to save the job of the then army chief. If the President has been a morally strong person he would not have abused the constitution and would quit the position voluntarily when he has realized that he has violated the constitution. However, he has continued to stay on the job saying he has simply followed the urge of the leaders of the eighteen political parties for abusing the constitution.

Making mockery of democracy, President Yadav has made Madhav Nepal defeated in two constituencies in the elections for the Constituent Assembly-cum-legislature held on April 10, 2008 the Prime Minister as if Nepalis don’t have any other capable person for the position of Prime Minister. Prime Minister Prachanda has resigned from the position of Prime Minister protesting the President’s unconstitutional move on directly writing a letter to the then army chief ordering him to stay on the job after the Prime Minister has fired the army chief for his disruptive behavior.

The 601-member legislature has elected Madhav Nepal for the position of Prime Minister by the majority vote going against the democratic principles. President Yadav has quietly appointed Madhav Nepal to the position of Prime minister following the recommendation of the legislature. He has violated the democratic principles appointing the man defeated in the two constituencies to the Prime Minister of a new government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. At the end of the day, if we coolly think Nepal has been neither a republic nor a democratic because the legislature has replaced Gyanendra with Yadav and Tulsi Giri with Madhav Nepal. What a mockery of democracy has been in Nepal.

Nepalis have voted for the candidates and for the political parties in the elections held on April 10, 2008 for the Constituent Assembly-cum-legislature. They directly elected 300 of the 601 members of the legislature and for the balance number of the members of the legislature, they voted for the parties believing their leaders would nominate the honest politicians to the members of the legislature based on the votes the parties have received. However, again making mockery of democracy and abusing the voters faith in them, most of the leaders of the political parties have nominated the politicians rejected by the voters during the elections for the Constituent Assembly-cum-legislature paving the way for the person rejected by the people in two constituencies to be the Prime Minister.

Another injury to the fledgling democracy has been done by an amendment to the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 for making provision for the simple majority rule replacing the two-third-majority rule. This provision has made easy for the unscrupulous politicians to buy or sell the votes of the members of the legislature for making a simple majority in the legislature. The result is Madhav Nepal rejected by the voters in two constituencies has come out as the elected Prime Minister most probably buying the votes of legislators belonging to Nepali Congress (NC), Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist and Leninist (CPN-UML), Madheshi People’s Rights Forum-Democratic (MPRF-D) and other minor communist parties and parties of former Panchas. Madhav Nepal could not buy the legislators of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-Maoist) and of the Madheshi People’s Rights Forum-Nepal (MPRF-N). So, his administration has been shaky and he has to spend sleepless nights for keeping his administration from breaking up.

We cannot expect the government of Madhav Nepal formed by the money power would be accountable to the people and would work for the people. For example, Madhav Nepal and his Defense Minister have promoted Toran Jung Bahadur Singh indicted by the UN for enforced disappearance of 49 people to the Second-in-Command of the Nepal Army despite the opposition of the International Community and human rights organizations. Similarly, Madhav Nepal and his Defense Minister have not turned over Major Niranjan Basnet fired by the UN for his involvement in killing a minor to the police for producing him in the Kavre District Court.

Home Minister Bhim Rawal has introduced a special security plan ostensibly for curbing crimes obviously for making money as he has added 16,000 new recruits up to the Nepal Police. We can guess how much money he has made buying uniforms and other police gears for these 16,000 new recruits at the cost of billions of rupees. We have seen that the crime rates have increased since Bhim Rawal became the Home Minster and Madhav Nepal the Prime Minister. As recently as Sunday, February 7, 2010, in a broad daylight and on the very busy street Lazimpat of Kathmandu Metropolis, two people riding a motorcycle with a fake license plate, shot dead the Chairman of Channel Nepal and owner of the cable TV called Space Time Network.

Home Minister Bhim Rawal needs to resign from the job for not being able to protect the lives and property of the citizenry. However, we cannot expect the minister not accountable to the people would behave so responsible and sincerely. Mr. Rawal continues to run the police administration patting the armed policemen that have killed the innocent people on the pretext of forcibly ejecting the people encroaching on the forestland in Ataria, far western Nepal a few months ago. Mr. Rawal also obliges the police not to make serious investigation into criminal cases for escaping criminals from crimes when produce at the law court. Thus, Mr. Rawal has been protecting the cadres of his party and of the partner political parties committing crimes.

Ministry of Information and Communication has suspended the issue of license for running FM Radio stations in the Kathmandu Valley. Thus, the Madhav administration has restricted the rights of the people to run FM radios and inform the people on the national activities. Similarly, the Madhav administration has been restricting the autonomy of the state-run media such as Nepal TV, and Radio Nepal, newspapers such as ‘The Rising Nepal’ and ‘Gorkhapatra’.

Deputy Prime Minister Sujata Koirala has recently charged Prime Minister Madhav Nepal with abusing his authority to appoint cadres of his party to various government positions. Possibly, Madhav Nepal has been appointing cadres of his party to various vacant positions in the government to strengthen his position. Madam Koirala has even said that she would need to find an alternative to the current government if Madhav Nepal does not correct it.

The Madhav administration has disabled the Commission on Investigation into Abuse of Authority (CIAA) not filling out the vacant positions of chief commissioner and member commissioners at the CIAA. CIAA is the autonomous agency for controlling the corruption and abuse of authority. If it is out of action Madhav Nepal and his ministers could make money without fear of somebody looking into their corrupt actions. So, Madhav Nepal is not in a hurry to appoint eligible persons to the vacant positions of chief commissioner and commissioners at the CIAA.

The Madhav administration has increased the price of sugar from Rs 60 per kilogram to Rs 90 per kilogram during the season of purchasing sugar from the sugar mill owners. The government has monopoly on buying and selling sugar. So, the Madhav administration has shamelessly increased the price of sugar to let the sugar mill owners reap profits from the high price of sugar, and then possibly having a share in such profits. The Madhav administration has also let smuggle in huge quantities of sugar from neighboring country India, as the price difference between Nepal and India has gone up to Rs 30 per kilogram.

Ministry of Energy has issued a license for producing 300 MW out of the capacity of 4,180 MW of the Upper Karnali Hydropower Project with a reservoir and with the possibility of irrigating most of the agricultural land in far western Nepal terai to the foreign companies with the terms and condition to export the power. Nepalese experts in hydropower have publicly opposing the government decision on issuing the license for 300 MW out of 4,180 because Nepalis would lose the opportunity of harnessing the balance of the potential capacity of the Upper Karnali Hydropower Project. Thus, the Madhav administration has sold the Nepalese natural resources to the foreign company at a dirt-cheap price.

Deputy Prime Minister Bijya Gacchedar has done nothing to construct a tunnel for bringing water from the Melamchi River to the Kathmandu Valley. Prime Minister Madhav Nepal has laid the foundation stone of the tunnel but the contractor has not been able to do anything even after months of laying a foundation stone. However, Deputy Prime Minster holding the portfolio of Physical Planning and Work Bijya Gacchedar has boasted that if any person other than him has been in the position of the Ministry of Physical Planning and Work, the Asian Development Bank would have pulled out of financing this project.

Drinking water and power have been short supply in the Kathmandu Valley. The state-run utility companies provide Kathmanduites with water for two hours every four days, and power for two hours a day and ten hours a night during the dry season. However, the Madhav administration has been serious neither to build the tunnel for bringing water from the Melamchi River nor for building thermal plants immediately to mitigate the short supply of water and power. Saying UPS consumes more power acquiring additional power outage, Minister for Energy has been very smart to stop the import of inverter/Home UPS denying the people to have even light at the high cost of installing such an inverter/Home UPS.

Thus, the current government of Madhav Nepal and his ministers not accountable to people have been serving their own interest not the interest of the people. This is what Nepalis have received from the government formed by abusing the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007. These guys have celebrated the anniversary of democracy day shamelessly.

One of the main pillars of democracy is judiciary. However, the judiciary has not been able to be free from the influences of politicians. The Supreme Court of Nepal has ruled the case of the Vice-resident taking oath in Hindi and annulled it. However, the Supreme Court has been taking time to hold even hearings on the case of the President’s move on directly writing a letter to the then army chief. Such delay in the business of the judiciary has not certainly strengthened democracy.

It has been sixty years since the return of the Nepalese political leaders such as Ganesh Man Singh, BP Koirala and Subarna Shumsher Rana from India on February 18, 1951 (Falgun 7, 2007) making this day the first democracy day but they did not institutionalizing democracy rather got entangled in grabbing power consequently losing power to the killers of democracy making Nepalis need to fight for democracy again and again.

For thirty years, the Panchayati despotic rulers have celebrated the anniversary of the Democracy Day garlanding the statues of the killers of democracy such as Tribhuvan and his son Mahendra.

The history of democracy is repeating in the sense that political leaders have been busy with the political game of grabbing power than institutionalizing democracy and persons such as President Yadav and Prime Minister Madhav Nepal mutilating democracy have celebrated the anniversary of democracy day. Is it not the mockery of democracy in Nepal?

February 20, 2010.

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