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Nepali Congress: Remnant of Feudalism

Issue 43, October 25, 2009

Siddhi B. Ranjitkar

Despite repeated public statements of Nepali Congress President Girija Prasad Koirala for saving the monarchy, and for rejecting the demand of ethnic and other communities for their autonomous identities, we have believed that the Nepali Congress (NC) party is a democratic party and would work for the welfare of the people in general. However, after the unconstitutional move of the President on directly writing a letter to the Chief of Army Staff overturning the decision of the Prime Minister on firing the Chief of Army Staff for indiscipline, the NC leaders have been saying the President’s move is constitutional and have neither been ready to discuss it in the legislature and nor to correct it disclosing their true faces of undemocratic nature and of regression. The NC is not a democratic party at all judging from the stand its leaders have taken on the undemocratic action of the President, as its leaders do not follow the democratic values and principles. So, it would not be wrong to call the NC is the remnant of feudalism. Here, feudalism means the society of rulers that want to maintain the dynastic rule and continue the rule of landlords and dynasties winning the periodic general elections using the influences of the landlords on the landless farmers.

If you take a look at the composition of the leadership of the NC you find that most of the leaders having a major say in the party are former landlords and petty businessmen. They wear the masks of democrats but rule the party through their influences on their dependents rather than through the democratic process. Recently, one of the NC leaders Prakash Man Singh has said in public that the NC party has not a democratic system to run the party. For example, despite the opposition of the Central Committee members and the Parliamentary Party Leader, NC President Girija Koirala has nominated his daughter Sujata Koirala to lead the team of NC members to join the government and then to elevate her to the Deputy Prime Minister. It remains to be seen whether NC President Girija Koirala would bully the opposing members of the Central Working Committee and the parliamentary party leader or compromise on giving them some positions to keep them quiet. So far, NC President Girija Koirala has successfully bullied them in the past.

NC President Girija Koirala has been on the way to passing on the NC leadership to his daughter Sujata Koirala. Other NC leaders vying for the leadership have been nervous if not panicked due to such dictatorial actions of NC President Girija Koirala. Bypassing so many senior leaders of the NC, NC President Girija Koirala has chose his daughter Sujata to lead the team of juniors of the NC to join the Madhav government despite the fact that Sujata has lost the elections for the Constituent Assembly-cum-legislature held in April 2008. Then, NC President Girija Koirala has forced Prime Minister Madhav Nepal to promote Sujata to the Deputy Prime Minister. Thus, Sujata has only one step to climb for reaching the top most position in the government. NC President Girija Koirala clearly wants to place his daughter Sujata on the chair of the NC, too before he really retires from the politics.

Prime Minister Madhav Nepal has cooperated with NC President Girija Koirala on promoting Sujata Koirala to Deputy Prime Minister disregarding the opposition of NC Parliamentary Party leader Ram Chandra Poudel. Some members of the Central working Committee have even telling in public that NC support for the Madhav government has been unconditional in the past but then the support will be conditional, as the Prime Minister did not listen to the leader of the Parliamentary Part of the NC disregarding the democratic norms and values.

The NC leaders have developed the hierarchy of leaders so that they could stand on the support of their subordinates. They call them youth leaders. Most of the current youth leaders have crossed the 60 years of age still they continue to be the youth leaders. They have complained when they would be full-fledged leaders is anyone’s guess. Then, they have the union of young people called ‘tarun dal’ on which they stand as leaders. Further down they have student’s unions that support the leaders. In addition, they have professional unions, labor unions and a women’s union for them to support. Almost all of them follow the leaders blindly.

Almost everybody wishing to build up his/her political career needs to please the top leaders. You cannot be a future leader simply building your political capacity: organizational or ideological. Even if the NC follows the electoral process for electing various level leaders, you need the blessing of the top leaders to be the candidates, and then you need to support of the voters who follow one leader or another. If you get elected to one position or another then you become the supporter of the leader from whom you have received the blessing for getting elected. This process of election follows up to the elections for the members of the Mahasamiti: the topmost elected committee of the NC.

When you have reached the Mahasamiti then you become eligible for being the member of the Central Working Committee. However, you need the favor of the NC President to get nominated to the Central Working Committee. So, if the NC President nominates you to the Central Working Committee, you cannot oppose any decision of the President morally or otherwise. Thus, the NC President becomes dictatorial.

Most of the NC leaders follow the ancient system of garnering the public support for him/her. Most of them are landlords. So, they hold a large plot of land. Farmers working for them are always dependents to them. And anybody taking loans from the landlords are also dependent to them. So, during the general elections, such landlords either sent the dependents to vote for the candidate of their choice or for themselves or do not send them to vote at all. So, they want to continue a feudal system, and put a strong feudal lord at the central government so that nobody could dare to change the existing system.

The NC leaders say that the ideology of their party is the democratic socialism. If you ask anyone of the leaders and influential members of the NC about the democratic socialism, none of them would answer you to your satisfaction. Probably, they do not understand the meaning of the democratic socialism.

A philosophical dictionary says socialism means a social system that follows the public ownership of means of production for equal distribution of products. However, when NC President Girija Koirala was the Prime Minister, the government sold many state-owned companies to the private individuals and companies to benefit his friends and relatives. He also sold two brand new Boeings of the current Nepal Airlines Corporations and took two old Boeings in hire earning large commissions from both the dealings. He also annihilated the state-owned trolley bus system and Sajha bus system paving the way for the operation of the company called ‘Nepal Yatayat’ belonging to his relatives and friends.

Similarly, if you ask anyone of the NC leaders or prominent members about democracy, none of them would be able to give you an answer to your question satisfactorily. Again if you consult a dictionary then you find one of the features of democracy is the rule of law. However, none of the NC leaders follows the rule of law not only in running the party administration but also in running the government when they are in power. In addition, they shamelessly have been calling the most undemocratic move of the ceremonial President on directly writing a letter to the Chief of Army staff and ordering him to stay on in the job as democratic and constitutional. So, they are not for following the constitution of the nation, too.

None of the NC leaders have been for inclusive politics, and for federalism rather they have been deadly against the federalism based on the ethnicity. They do not want the independent development of different languages and culture of all Nepalis. For example, on October 18, 2009, speaking at the function held in Thimi, Bhaktapur to honor Shankhadhara Shakhava the founder of the national calendar called Nepal Samvat, NC Parliamentary Party leader Ram Chandra Poudel has said that while developing the identity of the ethnic groups and communities we are going to lose the national identity. Either he does not understand what is national identity or he deliberately pretends not to understand the national identity. He needs to understand that the identity of all people belonging to different ethnic groups and communities is the national identity.

The NC leaders particularly former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has been deadly against holding elections for a Constituent Assembly for writing a new constitution. In November 2001, Prime Minister Deuba refused even to listen to the team of the then Maoists advocating for the elections for a Constituent Assembly during the peace talks held between the government and the Maoists. Then they broke up the peace talks.

Under the pressure of the Maoists, Girija Prasad Koirala agreed on holding elections for a Constituent Assembly. In November 2005, the leaders of the Seven-party Alliance have reached the 12-point Understanding with the Maoists agreeing on holding elections for a Constituent Assembly. The major parties of the Seven-party Alliance were NC and CPN-UML. Girija Prasad Koirala for the NC and Madhav Nepal for the CPN-UML signed on the 12-point Understanding reached with the Maoists.

Currently, the NC leaders have been not for listening to talk about the undemocratic move of the ceremonial President on directly writing a letter to the Chief of Army Staff not to mention the demand of the Maoists for discussing it at the legislature. They believe that the President’s unconstitutional and undemocratic action taken abusing the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 is the most democratic one and they do not want to embarrass the President talking about it in the legislature. They have been so grateful to the President for his abuse of power, as they could be back in power.

The Maoists have been saying that the NC leaders are not for federalism so they have been obstructing the writing of a new constitution and intriguing to impose a presidential rule in the country on the pretext of current political deadlock created by the Presidential undemocratic action. Leader of Nepal Workers’ and Peasants’ Party Narayan Man Bijukchhe has recently said that the government has no other option but to impose a presidential rule as provided in the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007. Probably, Mr. Bijukchhe has been working as the mouthpiece of the NC leaders. If the NC leaders are really pushing the President to impose a presidential rule then the NC leaders make another move on nipping the infant democracy in the bud in Nepal.

One of the worst things the NC leaders have successfully done is the institutionalizing the corruption. You might have noticed some of the most corrupt politicians are still the members of the Central Working Committee of the NC. One of them is indicted by the Special Court and supposed to be in jail has been enjoying the honorable status of the Central Working Committee member of the NC. NC ministers directly ask you for money for doing even regular business following the rules and regulations. So, you cannot get done any business at the state administration without making payments to the concerned officials when the NC has been in power.

NC President Girija Koirala has the history of firing the most sincere and experienced civil and police officials and then hiring new recruits. Most of the new recruits have been the holders of fake certificates. They do not mind asking you any payment in return doing the regular official business for you.

The NC leaders have never been in favor of empowering the Commission on Investigation into Abuse of Authority (CIAA). Girija Prasad Koirala and Sher Bahadur Deuba as Prime Ministers never did bother to empower the CIAA to investigate the corruption cases. CIAA needed to take the approval of the Prime Minister to investigate the corrupt ministers and to receive official documents concerning corruption cases. Both Koirala and Deuba never did cooperate with the CIAA officials on these matters.

What Nepalis could expect from the NC leaders when they have been only after power and then amassing huge wealth for themselves and for their relatives and friends at the cost of the entire Nepalese people? Under their rule, Nepalis found nothing but corrupt and messy administration that has encouraged black marketing, smuggling and illegally amassing wealth making the lives of sincere Nepalis unbearable.

October 24, 2009.

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