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Sadak and Sadan (Street and Parliament)

Issue 14, April 05, 2009

By Siddhi B. Ranjitkar

Contrary to the people’s mandate given in the election for the Constituent Assembly (CA) for the consensus politics, most of the political parties opted for opposing each other on the streets and in the parliament; CA also works as a parliament. That is why we have so many shutdowns of the country, so many strikes, and traffic blockades causing tremendous troubles to the innocent Nepalis and also the loss of businesses and of the economic development. However, disregarding the people’s mandate for the consensus politics and the people’s desire for peace, stability and development, leaders of political parties have been staging fights on the streets and in the parliament for getting upper hands in the rule of the country.

After the election for the CA in April 2008, the leaders of the Nepali Congress (NC) particularly former Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and his family members refused to follow the people’s mandate for turning over the power to the winner of the majority seats in the CA for four months; thereafter, they opted to stay in the opposition rather than working together with all the political parties.

The members of the parliament belonging to the NC blocked the budget session of the parliament for several days demanding the Maoists return the property seized during the conflict between the state and the Maoists. The NC members let the budget session run only after the Prime Minister delivered a speech in the parliament promising to return the seized property.

The NC leaders could not keep quiet without power in their hands. So, they held mass rallies in several large towns in the name of creating the awareness of the Maoists’ authoritarian rule among the people but they could not create even ripples not to mention the waves. So, they gave up the strategy of creating mass opposition to the coalition government.

Then, in mid March 2009, NC President Girija Prasad Koirala and his former Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist and Leninist (CPN-UML) KP Oli and Home Minister Bamdev Gautam of the CPN-UML went to New Delhi ostensibly for health checkups obviously for setting a united front against the Maoists. However, they could not receive the support for such a front from the Indian leaders, as the Indian leaders knew that such front means would be a civil war in Nepal. So, they advised them to go back and cooperate with the coalition government on crafting a new constitution and institutionalizing a lasting peace.

NC President Girija Prasad Koirala has encouraged the cadres of the sister organizations of his party to confront the cadres of other political parties particularly with the Maoists’ cadres. Being the senior most political leaders NC President Girija Prasad Koirala needed to play a role of a guardian political leader and take all other leaders with him to creating a new Nepal. However, his activities have been to topple any other government rather than his own. It is no wonder that he could not get elected to the first president of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal and even to the parliamentary leader of his party.

Finding the Maoists the serous rivals to them and most of their seats in the Kathmandu constituents lost to the Maoists, the CPN-UML leaders have developed bitterness toward the Maoists and opted the strategy of fighting against them on the streets and in the parliament, at the same time staying together in the coalition government of six political parties. The CPN-UML leaders created an organization of youths, and called it ‘Youth Force’ similar to the ‘Young Communist League’ of the Maoists.

The CPM-UML leaders have been opposing any constructive decisions the coalition government has taken so far. So, the Maoist leaders have been charging the CPN-UML leaders for making the coalition government failure for fear of the Maoists being popular among the people. Some political analysts think that the CPN-UML leaders have been nervous of the success the Maoists have made in the election for the CA; so, the CPN-UML leaders have been critical of even trifle matters that do not warrant the criticism of the top leaders of the CPN-UML.

Some political analysts say that the NC and CPN-UML leaders had fifteen years to do some drastic things to change Nepal for better but they did not capitalize the opportunity rather wasted their energy in power struggle degrading their political moral to the bottom to the level of the leaders of the former regime, and bringing misery and poverty to the millions of Nepalese people, as they served only a well-do section of the population.

The NC leaders while in power did nothing but dismantled the state-owned factories and businesses to give way to the businesses of their favorites. The NC ministers sought commissions for any major decisions they made. They made the administration corrupt beyond the level of the previous regime. They replaced the sincere and long-standing civil servants by the fake certificate holders. They did not build a single major hydropower plants nor did build any significant drinking water supply projects during the fifteen years of their reign. Their governments had been for defending a group of lobbyists.

A faction of the Communist Party of Nepal split away from the mother party and founded the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist and took up arms against the state in 1996 after their 40-point demand made to the then-Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba was not met. At that time, Deuba brushed off the demand thinking that a group of young leaders was making such a demand. However, the Maoists grew into a formidable political force that they could not ignore anymore.

The government headed by Sher Bahadur Deuba had initiated peace-talks with the Maoists. However, the peace-talks were not successful because the Maoists had put forward their main demand for the election for a CA. At that time, the government was not in a position to meet this demand, as the Constitution of Nepal of 1990 did not have any provision for such an election.

On the one hand the Maoists had been making tremendous progress in capturing one district after another on the other hand the absolute ruler Gyanendra Shah killed democracy in February 2005. Gyanendra Shah could dare to do so because the NC and CPN-UML leaders had been morally bankruptcy and they did not enjoy popular support at all.

The NC and CPN-UML leaders could not bring the Nepalis in general against the undemocratic rule of Gyanendra Shah, as they themselves had indulged in the most undemocratic political games for grabbing power and then rule the country for their own benefits. So, they saw no alternative but to go to the Maoists and form a joint front to fight against the despotic regime of Gyanendra Shah.

The Maoists also saw that they would not been able to win the power militarily given the international and internal political situation. So, the Maoists thought that if they could get the monarchy abolished with the help of the NC and CPN-UML parties then they would not have much difficulty in grabbing the power.

So, both the Maoists and the leaders of the NC and CPN-UML parties came closure and succeed in agreeing on abolishing the monarchy and holding an election for a CA. However, the NC and CPN-UML leaders did never acknowledge a joint front with the Maoists publicly, as the Maoists were on the list of terrorists.

Having experiences in unscrupulous political games, NC and CPN-UML leaders were sure that they could trick the Maoists to follow them after tearing down the absolute rule of the Gyanendra Shah. However, the Maoists forced them not only to finish off the absolute rule of Gyanendra Shah but also the House of Representatives after crafting an Interim Constitution of 2007, forming an Interim parliament and an interim coalition government of all political parties including the Maoists, and then to hold an election for a CA.

The Maoists adopted the strategy of fighting against the coalition government of all parties including the Maoists’ party in the ‘Sadan’ means the parliament and in the ‘Sadak’ means streets to grab the power. They have successfully forced the then government headed by Girija Prasad Koirala to bring the proposal for abolishing the monarchy to the CA and passed it.

Currently, the coalition government headed by Maoist Chairman Prachanda has been facing the same strategy once he had adopted the strategy of fighting against the government in the parliament and on the streets. So, we have many street fights for even a trifle matter. The victims are the innocent people.

None of the political parties have been following the consensus politics although it is the mandate given by the Nepalis to the political parties in the election for the CA held in April 2008. The Maoists have received the mandate to head the coalition government; so, they have been heading the coalition government but they have not been following the consensus politics. They have failed in bringing the NC to its fold and smoothly run the administration. They have been sailing in the high tides rather than on the smooth sea.

April 3, 2009.

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