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No Taxation Without Representative Government

Issue 27, July 5, 2009

Dr. Katak Malla
Once again, Nepal is back in the hands of the country's unelected oligarchs. Nepal's Constituent Assembly (CA) itself is responsible for the installation of the current oligarchy, amending the Interim Constitution (the Second Amendment Act 2064), which authorizes the Prime Minister to appoint any person as a minister on the basis of "political consensus" (which is a contemporary codeword of Nepal's leadership class, constantly making and breaking alliances for individual interest). It is an outrageous betrayal to and from the CA Members, ignoring the people's trust on the principle of representative government. In return, people are responding to this reversion of democracy by burning tires, pelting stones at each other during mass protests and imposing halts to city streets. Violence helps stemming to oligarchy otherwise will not help promote the cause of representative democracy. The best response at the current stage would be a mass public resistance movement passively to convey a message to the ruling elites: "No taxation to without representative government".
Nepal's macho politicians continue to form a coalition government composed of unelected officials. This keeps ongoing practice, despite the fact that a duly elected 601-member CA is in place itself. A lion’s share of the taxes that the oligarchy imposes on average Nepali individuals usually end up in the pockets of corrupt officials. In return the taxpayers get little, not even the basic provisions of social security for the poor and destitute. The current system is in such disarray that it persuades some to suicide eventually, the latest sad story of a woman from Bajhang named Jashuli Bista committing suicide caused by extreme poverty (see, her story below). Voters are increasingly becoming helpless, losing faith in the democratic process (see, also below). The genuine international community, who believe in the representative democracy, can be asked for no-recognition to the regime. The only viable alternative way is that Nepal's honorable citizens must refuse to pay tax so long as the representative government is not established.
On the day Nepal's Marxist-Leninist leader Mr. Madhab Kumar Nepal was sworn in as Prime Minister, a few national dailies published in a small caption news about a 26 years old Jashuli Bista, from Sunkada VDC of Bajhang, one of the remotest far-western districts of Nepal. She was a poor mother, who allegedly strangled her two daughters to death (four-year-old Ramkala and eight-month-old Ramita) before killing herself. Jashuli's husband Min Bahadur Bishta was in India - one of innumerable men from the area who go there to work as tea boys or security guards. This item should have had an equally a banner headline as it was the caption for the news of Prime Minister being sworn in item, but it did not attract any attention. The far-western people are usually treated as "un-people" or "non-people" by the class of leaders from Kathmandu based politics. However, this small piece of news from the remote West about Jashuli that surfaced via online media was a praiseworthy exception, an example of professional journalism.
In the western districts such as Rolpa, Rukum, Dolpa, Jajarkot, Jumla, Mugu, Humla, Kalikot, Bajura, Doti, Acham, Bajhang, Baitadi and Darchula, it has become increasingly difficult for people to scrape together two meals for a day. For those in desperate circumstances, a meal consists of salted chili with bread. In Mr. Nepal's first address to the nation, not even a single word was mentioned concerning the dire situation in this region. One wonders if Mr. Nepal has ever visited Bajhang district. He has said he will bring the peace process to a conclusion, and that he also has scrupulous plans to tackle Nepal’s numerous problems. But as it has become the custom with Nepal’s leaders (as they often use the term political "consensus" and "logical conclusion of the peace process", but never explain what the terms really means), these plans will never be laid out for public scrutiny. The so-called common minimum programs that the new government has put forward, which aspires to provide a focus to those who lack the basics, has no specific provisions for the crisis-stricken western region.
Recently I received an additional feedback to an earlier article of mine, entitled "Nepal's Political Crisis: Perusing Solutions", in which I emphasized the principle of "No-taxation without representation" ( columns_05.php). The anonymous commentator, who says s/he voted for the Nepali Congress in the CA election, had this reaction to the prospect of unelected leaders running the government:
"I would never ever vote in my life. I have lost faith in vote… there is no meaning in voting….Wow new Nepal!, wow parties!! you have said you respect country….You all are bunch of....All of you including the Maoist, … UML…. Congress …you are….I have lost faith in democracy...Jai Nepal and good bye to democracy" (omitted coarse language).

This voter and Jashuli Bista are the two contrasting cases to point out Nepal's current state of democracy and social justice or injustice. Jashauli ended her life because there was no hope available for survival, and this voter's good-bye to democracy should metaphorically be taken seriously. Unlike Jashauli Bista, take another example of Mrs. Suprabha Ghimere and Mrs. Bidhaya Bhandari. The two women are prominent politicians, representing the Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML respectively. Both are from the high caste Brahmin, and have been the rival candidates at one of the Kathmandu constituencies during the CA elections in 2008. The NC’s Mrs.Ghimere defeated UML’s CA candidate Mrs. Bhandari. Yet, surprisingly Mr.Bhandari is the defense minister in the current government and the NC leader Mr. Girija Prasad Koirala's daughter Sujata Koirala, who also lost election, is now Nepal's foreign minister. What message does this conveys to Nepal's voters?

Primarily this suggests that Nepal's oligarchs are interested in playing a political game for their personal benefits; monarchy or republic the rules of the political game remain the same. Key political methods used in the past are repeated again, for example recycling of intrigues, conspiracy, and coup and counter coup. A Marxist-Leninist replacing the Maoist Prime Minister reminds us the repetitions of the same history that it had in the past (for example how Chandra Sumsher replaced Dev Sumsher during the Rana regime, and Lokendra Bahadur Chand toppled Surya Bahadur Thapa during the Panchayet regime).

Nepal's enumerable colas of communist parties are the byproduct of the macho men tradition of the country. Irrespective of political ideology and parties, it is an elitist, male dominated tradition of the so-called high caste Brahmins (poor Brahmin are not the part of this elite group). It is apparent how the same people control the center and corridors of the power. Prime Minster’s position always revolves around these same caste groups, and it is all done in the name of an inclusive democracy. The current oligarchy is being supported by destructive capitalism, further enhancing a rule of the Jungle Raj means "survival of the fittest," reflected by one of the victims like Jashuli.

Because of his backdoor entry into the CA, Mr. Nepal's election as the Prime Minister may be legal on surface meaning, but it lacks legitimacy because he came to power against the backdrop of a series of unwanted political rumors and uproars concerning the so-called Maoists seizing power, involving on the agenda of the Prime Ministers' dismissal of the army chief and restatement by the Presidents. At the same time, foreign diplomats to Nepal, mostly orientalists who form a super political class in Kathmandu (who seem to believe that the Nepalese are inherently inferior and thus need their advice of any kind for any internal political issues), were openly expressing their views of which army general they prefer to and/or which party they wish to be in power. On the contrary, Nepal's ambassadors abroad never dare to ask questions or give advice about the human rights situation in their home countries, for example, in Kashmir, Tibet and Guantanamo prison. Long ago, Professor Edward Said had appropriately suggested, "why do we not accord the same epistemological mutation in what imperialism has done, and what orientalism continues to do?" Why Nepal's leadership class does not apply this approach in its international relation?
At least, the same epistemological mutation must also be applied as to the former Prime Minister Mr. Puspa Kamal Dahal's video and the current President Mr. Ram Baran Yadav's overt and covert militarism via army chief. The same law needs to be applied to the parties of armed conflicts. These are vital steps for any sensible political consensus and a logical conclusion of the peace process.
Currently, the CA should have been deciding that while Mr. Dahal, who voluntarily resigned from the position, was portrayed as to be so untrustworthy Prime Minister conspiring to seize the state power (it is strange in itself what constitutes seize of the state power when one is the Prime Minister), and at the same time how Mr. Yadav can be a so trustworthy President (who along with his allies are virtually controlling the state). Yet, the CA is neither entertaining any resolution against the President, nor making inquiries about what led the Prime Minster Dahal's resignation.
The CA's authorization of the current oligarchy may or may not amount as strangulation of democracy as Jashauli's strangulation of daughters. Nonetheless, the CA Members are individually and jointly responsible for the current state of Nepal's degenerated democracy. Under the circumstances, the only alternative for the common people is to refuse paying tax until the representative government is established. A representative government may not necessarily guarantee social security for its citizens at once, but the application of the principle will establish HOPE for the voters, which in turn - in the long run – can take care of its poor citizens (as well as the country's border). This must be the thrust of much needed political consensus in Nepal, destiny of the ongoing peace process and the basic principle for writing a new democratic constitution.

(The author has sent this article to the editor of in its full form for posting on the website:

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