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Stranded Khanal

Issue 09, February 27, 2011

Siddhi B. Ranjitkar

Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal has been stranded for three weeks and it might continue if he cannot meet the demands of both his colleagues in his party and of the leaders of the UCPN-Maoist. Nobody is anticipating that he will follow the will of the NC leaders but he should be able to end the political deadlock created by not forming a new cabinet. He can enjoy staying in the official residence of prime minister and holding a lavish dinner to his party members at his official residence while the impoverished Nepalis foot the bills of delicious dishes and foreign drinks he serves them but he cannot hold on to the office of prime minister indefinitely not forming a new full-fledged cabinet.

Mr. Khanal has not proved he is really a leader so far. If he cannot form a cabinet, he will fail in his political career and leave the official residence of prime minister prematurely as his rivals Madhav Nepal and KP Oli want. They have played a strong opposition to his government and will always do so because they don’t want to see him in the chair of prime minister for long. In fact, Mr. Khanal has tricked both Madhav Nepal and KP Oli to propose his name for the candidate for a new prime minister and to second his name giving the feeling that he will not get elected at all. However, he has again tricked them making a deal with Chairman of UCPN-Maoist Prachanda just before the election to a new prime minister and Mr. Khanal got elected. Now, infuriated Madhav Nepal and KP Oli are playing the role of a demon in making a full-fledged cabinet difficult if not impossible.

Madhav Nepal and KP Oli have been scared of giving the portfolio of the Ministry of Home Affairs to the UCPN-Maoist. They have not forgotten how the then-Deputy Prime Minister Bamdev Gautam holding the portfolio of Home Ministry of the coalition government headed by Lokendra Bahadur Chanda had successfully manipulated the local elections to get majority of the CPN-UML candidates elected in 1997. These guys are afraid of the UCPN-Maoist will repeat the same story. However, their thick brains cannot think that Nepalis have been politically more conscious than used to be in 1997. Now, Nepalis can easily challenge the police but at that time Nepalis could not even dream of doing so, as Nepalis have not been politically so aware of their rights and duties as they are today. Now, after the loss of lives of more than 10,000 people and tearing down the despotic monarchy, Nepalis will not follow what the police of the home ministry will say to do. So, if these two guys have better brains they could turn over the portfolio of home ministry to any party and go to the people for building a hold on the grassroots level people for the elections to be held after the promulgation of a new constitution rather than thinking to use the crook method for winning elections in the future.

Mr. Khanal certainly cannot meet the demand of the NC leaders for scrapping the seven-point deal he has signed with Chairman of UCPN-Maoist Prachanda. This deal has been instrumental for putting him in the office of prime minister. So, he cannot kill the deal for the sake of the NC leaders that holds only about 19 percent of the total seats in the parliament. Mr. Khanal might be better off letting the NC leaders go on their own rather than trying to meet their demand.

The coalition of the UCPN-Maoist and the CPN-UML has made NC leaders nervous. The two communist parties together makes more than a simple majority that requires for running the administration. The NC people are afraid of the two communist parties monopolizing on the governance. In case, they manage to lure 60 members of the parliament from among the Madheshi parties and other small political parties they can have the two-thirds majority required for the promulgation of a new constitution. So, NC leaders have been so mad at the coalition of the two communist parties and at the prospect of other small political parties joining them to make the two-thirds majority.

In addition, Mr. Khanal is not the man the NC leaders like very much. Mr. Khanal has kept some left ideology; so, NC leaders don’t like him. Unlike his rivals Madhav Nepal and KP Oli, Mr. Khanal is still tilting to the left. So, he finds cohabitation with the UCPN-Maoist comfortable.

NC leaders made Madhav Nepal defeated in two constituencies in the elections held in April 2008 a new prime minister after Prime Minister Prachanda abruptly left the office in May 2009 protesting against the President violating the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007. Madhav Nepal has been closer to the NC leaders in abusing the authority and stealing money from the state treasury and from the pockets of the people than in ideology. So, the NC leaders unanimously chose him as their leader and then made a new prime minister.

Madhav Nepal managed to remain in office for eight months even after resigning on June 30, 2010 thanks to the trick the NC leaders had played not to let anybody get elected. So, NC leaders kept their candidate Ram Chandra Poudel running for the office in the prime ministerial elections even after he has been defeated 16 times. During this period, Madhav Nepal, his colleagues and other cabinet members belonging to the NC and Madheshi parties and the party of former Panchas have made a lot of money making Nepalis poorer.

Madhav Nepal and his colleague KP Oli have not lost the hope of forming a coalition of their party with the NC and other small parties to run the administration bypassing the UCPN-Maoist. They can sideline the Maoists but by doing so they will provoke the UCPN-Maoist to the rebellion and invite a conflict. However, they prefer this situation to a regular peaceful political environment believing the 100,000 strength of the Nepal Army can easily defeat the 20,000 Maoist combatants. This dream has been haunting the NC leaders and Madhav Nepal and KP Oli, too.

Madhav Nepal has one only regret that he could not sufficiently provoke the UCPN-Maoist to an armed conflict while he had been in office. He has tried several means but he could not provoke the Maoists to the extent of an armed conflict. However, he had taken a great pleasure of forcing the UCPN-Maoist to shut down Nepal for six days, and the UCPN-Maoist had to cancel their shutdown program at the call of the business community that had held a peace rally. Madhav Nepal helped the business community sending mercenaries to participate in the peaceful rally to make it look like an anti-Maoist rally. At that time, Madhav Nepal had successfully tried how to employ the paid protestors against the Maoist demonstrators and bring a confrontation between his paid protestors and the UCPN-Maoist protesters.

Mr. Khanal has a choice of going to the camp of such a highly unscrupulous leader or stand as a morally strong man running the administration and other state business following the will of the people rather than doing everything for meeting the will of the NC and CPN-UML leaders. Mr. Khanal has a chance of staying on in office even if he cannot meet the demands of the UCPN-Maoist and even not following the seven-point deal he has reached with the Chairman of the UCPN-Maoist. In fact, he has already stated that none of the past deals has been strictly enforced hinting the seven-point deal will also meet the same fate.

What Mr. Khanal does with the deal he has reached with the UCPN-Maoist is not a matter of concern for the people; the main concern of the people is for completing the peace process and the writing of a new constitution. If he can complete these two noble tasks without the support of the UCPN-Maoist, he should do it; but the reality is he cannot do it because to complete these two things he needs two-thirds majority in the parliament. Two-thirds majority is not possible without the presence of the UCPN-Maoist. So, he has the choice of going with the NC and other political parties sidelining the UCPN-Maoist not doing anything for completing the peace process and the writing of a new constitution, and make a lot of money as Madhav Nepal did, and the go down as one of the most corrupt politicians in the history of Nepal, as Madhav Nepal has gone or go along with the UCPN-Maoist and other political parties if the NC does not follow leaving it behind for completing the peace process and the writing of a new constitution ultimately institutionalizing the federal democratic republic of Nepal.

Unlike Madhav Nepal and KP Oli, Khanal has the people’s mandate to follow the will of the people. Both Madhav Nepal and KP Oli were defeated in the elections held on April 10, 2008. Khanal has not only got elected in the lections held on April 10, 2008 but also even defeated KP Oli in the election to the chair of the CPN-UML. So, Khanal has not only the mandate of the people but also of his own party. He must be strong enough to stand on the mandate given by the people and the party to enforce the programs and polices following the will of the people. He should not be stranded any more.

On Wednesday, February 23, 2011, Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal has started using the state money for entertaining the central committee members, politburo members and the Assembly members belonging to his party holding a dinner for them at his official residence in Baluwatar. Former Prime Minister Madhav Nepal has enjoyed the dinner but senior leader KP Oli did not even attend it according to the Himalayan News Service. Spending the state money on entertaining his party people is not an auspicious beginning.

February 25, 2011

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