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Shrinking Nepali Congress Party

Issue 14, April 03, 2011

Siddhi B. Ranjitkar

Nepali Congress (NC) had been a leading party that has the history of fighting against the despotic family rule of Ranas in the fifties of the last century but this party despite the claims of its leaders for being a democratic has been almost all the time fighting against the pro-democracy forces. Its leaders have been working on a whim and for setting up a dynastic rule. Consequently, the status of the NC has been shrinking.

Democracy means the rule of law; everybody abides by the law in the democratic system of governance; nobody goes with impunity for doing anything against the law; law enforcement officials work following the law of the land, and don’t work in favor of anybody; they don’t discriminate against anybody or work in favor while enforcing the laws. Pro-democracy forces mean the forces that have been attempting on enforcing these democratic values and norms.

Let us see how the NC leaders have fared in following the democratic values and norms.

As recently as in the first week of March 2011, NC leaders and cadres have glorified Krishna Prasad Bhattarai: one of the founding fathers of NC, more than actually he deserved. Even at the end of his life, Mr. Bhattarai had been the staunch supporter of the institution of monarchy that had been the synonymous with the despotic rule under which Nepalis had live 240 years and had suffered more than enough consequently living in poverty even today. The Nepalese institution of monarchy had never been for institutionalizing democratic institutions. So, anybody supporting such an institution cannot be part of the pro-democracy forces. The show of glorification to such a man certainly goes against the democratic norms and values.

Whether such glorification had been spontaneous as a love to their departing leader or deliberately designed so that royalists are emboldened remains to be seen. However, the fact is that the leading monarchists have been emboldened by such glorification of a dead monarchist.

Royalists have remained in the NC. Some of them even dream of returning the tyrannical monarch back to the throne. For example, one of the members of the Central Working Committee of NC Khum Bahadur Khadka has been openly working on reinstating the power of monarchy. He had openly met with Mr. Gyanendra Shah: former absolute ruler. By the way, the Commission on Investigation into Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has indicted Mr. Khadka of corruption. The Supreme Court of Nepal has recently served him a subpoena for appearing in the court for hearing on the corruption case against him.

Rather than joining the coalition government of the UCPN-Maoist and the CPN-UML formed following the seven-point deal these two parties have reached on February 03, 2011, the NC leaders have declared to tear it down and make the coalition government fail and disrupt the crating of a new constitution and delay in completing the peace process. The whole world wants to make the crafting of a new constitution and the completion of the peace process a success. If we take a look at the seven-point agreement annexed to this article, it has nothing that goes against the democratic values and norms. The question is why the leaders of the so-called democratic party that claims for leading the democratic forces have been shouting against it and not joining the coalition government that has been for completing the two most important tasks such as completing the peace process and the crafting of a new constitution.

At the central committee meeting of NC held on Monday, March 29, 2011 for discussing peace process and constitution writing, one of the central committee members Bimelendra Nidhi has accused the party leadership of not taking initiatives for having a dialogue with Madhesh-based parties to form a state restructuring commission and questioned the party president about this; Nidhi also has said the performance of the party has been poor in its organization, constitution writing, concluding the peace process and in the parliament, ‘The Rising Nepal’ of March 29, 2011 reported.

NC leaders have been opposing the federalization of the country. They don’t want to see the federal structure of the country rather want to make a centrally controlled state structure in other words following the status quo. The central controlled structure is vulnerable to dictatorship. So, the pro-democracy forces want the federal structure devolving most of the power to the provinces for development and the central government keeping the defense and central police and administration.

Some of the NC leaders have plotted to dissolve the Constituent Assembly making the country vulnerable to the rise of dictatorship. They have believed that they could run the country with the support of the Nepal Army. So, they have been pushing the country toward dictatorship rather than institutionalizing democracy completing the peace process and the crafting of a new constitution. Publicly, they oppose any sorts of dictatorship and blame other political parties for attempting to impose dictatorship.

Immediately after the resignation of Prime Minister Prachanda on May 04, 2009, the NC as the second largest party in the legislature-parliament had the rights to form a next government but the leaders of the NC did not show any courage to build a consensus on forming a next government rather supported the man called Madhav Nepal defeated in two constituencies during the elections to the Constituent Assembly-cum-legislature-parliament held in April 2008 for leading a new government shaming not only the legislators that had supported him but also the entire country as if Nepal had not a person capable to lead the country other than the man rejected by the voters in the polls.

NC leaders had believed that the CPN-UML of Madhav Nepal would collide with the UCPN-Maoist and would end in destruction of the two communist parties. However, this political strategy of NC did not work at all. Although the UCPN-Maoist had come closer to head-on confrontation with Madhav Nepal, they never came closer to destroying each other. NC leaders neither could push the CPN-UML nor the UCPN-Maoist to directly confront each other with the force to destroy each other.

Rather Madhav Nepal took the opportunity of consolidating his party and his own position in the political arena misusing the state resources for his and his party’s benefits surely at the cost of the NC. However, NC remained disabled and could not do much to stop Madhav Nepal from amassing huge wealth and disregarding the rule of law. The result had been the NC could not get elected its own candidate for a new prime minister after Madhav Nepal quit the office on June 30 2010 even in the 16th round of elections. Again the Chairman of CPN-UML got the chance of getting elected to a new prime minister on February 03, 2011 with the support of the UCPN-Maoist. Thus, NC leaders had cornered themselves in the Nepalese politics following the wrong political strategy. They could not garner support for its candidate for a new prime minister from the same CPN-UML that they had supported.

The NC leaders had kept quiet during the entire 20-month reign of Madhav Nepal even for not following the rule of law and the irregularities in managing the state treasury. Mr. Madhav Nepal had been synonymous with the rule by the cabinet decisions and the corruption rather than the rule of law but none of the NC leaders had spoken against such irregularities in governance.

The pro-democracy forces had exposed all the misdeeds of Mr. Madhav Nepal and his cabinet decisions that had gone against the rule of law but the NC leaders again had failed to speak about such irregularities not to mention taking actions against such deeds. The pro-democracy forces took some of the decisions taken by the cabinet of Madhav Nepal to the law court; the Supreme Court of Nepal had revoked all such decisions made by the cabinet of Madhav Nepal; and the Commission on Investigation into Abuse of Authority had also annulled some of those decisions made by the cabinet of Madhav Nepal going against the laws, rules and regulations.

Madhav Nepal and his defense minister working together had promoted Toran Jung Bahadur Singh to the second-in-command of the Nepal Army (NA) despite the opposition of the international community, local and international human rights organizations and international lawyers association because Mr. Singh was indicted of enforced disappearance by the United Nations’ Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR) in Nepal. The report of the UNOHCHR had clearly indicated Toran Jung Bahadur Singh of making enforced disappearance of 49 people held by the Bhairavnath Battalion he had commanded in 2003 and 2004. The pro-democracy forces had called upon the NC leaders to oppose such undemocratic actions of the government they had been supporting but none of them had responded to such a call rather had supported the Madhav government when Madhav Nepal wanted to terminate the term of UNOHCHR in Nepal in June 2010. Under the pressure of the pro-democracy forces and the international community in Kathmandu, Madhav Nepal could not succeed in not extending the term of UNOHCHR.

Pro-democracy forces wanted to eliminate the remnants of the monarchists but the NC did not listen to it because NC itself has sufficient remains of monarchists to stop its leaders from taking actions on eliminating monarchists. Immediately after the success of the people’s movement in 2006, pro-democracy forces wanted to punish the ministers such as Kamal Thapa, Tulsi Giri and so on, army men such as Rukmangud Katuwal, and Toran Jung Bahadur Singh responsible for killing the protestors in an attempt to suppress the people’s movement but the NC leaders did not take actions against them nor give any solace to the victims of these guys.

Currently, Kamal Thapa has been openly calling for the reinstatement of the monarchy and for dissolving the Constituent Assembly. Pro-democracy forces certainly don’t want to see the country going back to the monarchical rule. So, why don’t the NC leaders of the so-called Democratic Party take actions against Kamal Thapa and stop him doing all sorts of things going against the rule of law?

Former Prime Minister Parchanda had attempted to eliminate the remnant of the monarchy firing the then Chief of Army Staff Rukmangud Katuwal but the NC had not only oppose it but also even went to the president for taking an unconstitutional step to stop the prime minister from such an action causing the prime minister to quit the office in protest in May 2009. Pro-democracy forces wanted to eliminate all sorts of the remnants of the monarchy and make drastic changes in governance, judiciary, and society but the NC leaders opted for continuing the age-old system and resisted any changes because they were the parts of such a system.

NC leaders have been charging the UCPN-Maoist leaders with making attempts on usurping the state power and imposing their dictatorship. UCPN-Maoist might have leaders and cadres that believe in taking power but the fact is none could take power without elections. Some of the UCPN-Maoist might be dreaming to take the power but we have seen elsewhere in the world particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, one dictator after another has been falling from power. The 21st century is not for the dictatorship. It is the time for the pro-democracy forces to win.

As a matter of fact, the UCPN-Maoist is the forerunner or setting up Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal and an inclusive government. The leaders of UCPN-Maoist leaders have proposed 14 provinces, and a federal government. They are for giving equal power to minorities and forming provinces based on the ethnicity and so on. So, they are not far from democracy if we leave out those leaders still dreaming for the people’s dictatorship.

NC despite being a democratic party its leaders could not act as the leaders of democratic forces and could not support the pro-democracy forces for institutionalizing the democratic institutions. Their efforts had been mainly concentrated on securing power and then used the power not much differing from the despotic rulers. Consequently, they repeatedly muddle up the power and they did not work for the people that had supported them. The NC is bound to shrink if its leaders don’t correct their political strategy.

As posted on the
The Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) on February 3, 2011 signed an agreement with the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) to get its support in the prime ministerial election and to end the seven month-old deadlock. Presented below is the full text of the seven-point agreement:

1. By protecting national independence, integrity and sovereignty, we agree to move forward by ending all forms of feudalism, build an independent economy through socio-economic transformation, strengthen inclusive democracy and develop a pro-people political order. On this basis, we have agreed to go forward along with all the leftist, patriotic and democratic forces.

2. Both the parties agree on drafting the new constitution that ensures national independence, ending all forms of feudalism and strengthening people’s inclusive democracy besides institutionalizing a republican set-up and turning Nepal into a federal system by restructuring the state.

3. To take the peace process to its logical conclusion, voluntary retirement, rehabilitation and integration will be implemented. On integrating Maoist combatants into security forces, we have agreed to form either a separate force of Maoist combatants or a combined force of Maoist combatants and other security forces, giving continuity to the ongoing work on the peace process.

4. Both the parties agree to form a joint government. A high-level mechanism will be created to help in the functioning of the government. It will be led by the chairman/president of the party on a rotational basis. In this context, a new government will be formed by as many parties as possible. The sharing of important ministries, including home and defense, will be done in an appropriate and respectable manner. The top leaders of the two parties will take responsibility for the mechanism.

5. The Minimum Common Program of the new government will be implemented by creating a code of conduct.

6. By leading future governments on a rotational basis based on mutual agreement, the long-term partnership and journey between the two parties will be carried forward.

7. It has been agreed that the UCPN-Maoist will support the CPN-UML candidate in the prime ministerial election.

Prachanda                                             Jhala Nath Khanal

Chairman, UCPN-Maoist                        Chairman, CPN-UML

February 03, 2011

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