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Sushil-led Government-43

January Issue 2015

Nepal: Strength and Weakness of Nepalese Political Parties


Siddhi B Ranjitkar


The strength and weakness of the political parties would be measured by whether they would be able to promulgate a new inclusive constitution with a consensus of all parties or not. Secularism and democracy are the two binding elements in the 21st century the political parties should not ignore. Some leaders might think that they could promulgate a new constitution with the two-thirds majority. If all the Nepalese were to accept such a constitution, it might be the real strength but if it were to bring unprecedented political chaos certainly it was weakness. If they were to fail in promulgating a new inclusive constitution it would mean either Nepalese political leaders did not know how to negotiate and compromise and come to a common understanding or they did not want to do so following the favorable opinions of the diplomatic corps in Kathmandu.


As the deadline set for January 22, 2015 for promulgating a new constitution had been approaching, Nepalese had almost lost the hope of having a new constitution as a New Year gift in 2015. The ruling political parties such as NC and CPN-UML had been pestering the opposition political parties such as UCPN-Maoist and Madheshi parties talking to them but not yielding anything to build a consensus on a new constitution.


Following the current political activities of the Nepalese leaders I could conclude that the ruling-parties leaders had neither the vision for the future of Nepal nor they had any wish for promulgating a new constitution. They could neither learn from the neighboring Indian leader Narendra Modi not to mention emulating him nor they could demonstrate the capability to talk coolly and negotiate seriously. They did not even noticed that Modi had emulated other foreign leaders and had been standing shoulder to shoulder with other world class leaders.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi had even succeeded to convince the Kashimiri voters to vote for his party. His party had recently garnered 25 seats out of the 87-seat Jammu and Kashmir State Assembly in the state elections held in December 2014. Jammu and Kashmir was the Muslim majority state. PM Modi as the leader of the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party had not only dare to go to the Muslim territory but also won the hearts of the Muslims voters. That was really the matured leadership setting aside some weaknesses of PM Modi doing nothing to save the Muslims from the Hindu assaults when Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat, India.


The most unfortunate thing happened in the Nepalese political arena had been the so-called senior leader of NC Ramchandra Poudel and Chairman of CPN-UML KP Oli attended the political meeting at the Indian embassy in Kathmandu; fortunately, UCPN-Maoist and Madheshi leaders did not attend the meeting, according to the news on ‘,’ December 2014.


Following the embassy meeting, Chairman KP Oli had been more aggressive to the opposition and determined to promulgate a new constitution with the two-thirds majority in the constituent assembly (CA), according to the ‘,’ December 2014. If these statements were true then anybody could guess whether the Nepalese leaders were really leaders or the foreign agents. Our so-called leaders such as Oli and Poudel might have thought patting of the staffers of the Indian diplomatic mission in Kathmandu was really the blessing of the big brother and with such blessing they could do anything in Nepal. Mind it; it was a very dangerous thinking.


However, our leaders could not think what might be the reason for such a patting. I could imagine that PM Modi was a very smart guy. He must have adopted a two-pronged approach to Nepal: one state-level direct approach to win the hearts of Nepalese another through the diplomatic mission to win the minds of the political leaders.


PM Modi had already won the hearts of Nepalese people. He had been engaging the Indian State-owned Company in building large hydropower projects in Nepal. If these power projects were to be successful then PM Modi would wield a vast influence on the Nepalese administration. Such large-scale investments might be the tool PM Modi could use for direct interference in the Nepalese administration as and when needed.


Another approach probably had been to incite the Nepalese leaders of the ruling political parties such as NC and CPN-UML to forcibly promulgate a new constitution and create a political chaos that could lead to the disintegration of the country in the worst-case scenario.


The southern and eastern Nepal had been almost matured to fight for independence. NC and CPN-UML had already given birth to a leader named Dr CK Raut as a fighter for independence of Madhesh. Dr Raut received a hero’s welcome in Madhesh recently after he was arrested on the charge of treason and released. Thousands of people showed up in his public address. They listened to the leaders including Dr Raut that told them how the Nepalese colonized them and deprived them of the equal rights. Limbuwan and Khubuwan leaders had been for separate independent states if they were not have any say in a coming new constitution.


These two political scenarios provided excellent opportunity for any Indian leaders to chip away the Nepalese territory and merged them with India. Bihar could easily absorb the Eastern Madhesh and the Western Madhesh could merge with UP if the Madhesh were to split away from Nepal. The eastern hilly region could be the part of the Hill State of Darjeeling.


I prayed to the almighty for saving Nepal from disintegration but our shameless leaders had been pushing the country to this end. Instead of making an attempt on erasing the feeling of Nepalese riding on the Madheshis, these unashamed leaders had been bullying them by threatening to promulgate a new constitution with the two-thirds majority rather than accommodating to their demands in a new constitution. NC and CPN-UML had been heading to a showdown without considering the possible backfire from such an action.


Democracy and secularism had kept the Indian federalism intact so far. PM Modi knew it very well so he did not speak even a single word about declaring India as a Hindu state even if he had sufficient majority in the parliament for doing so. He also knew that the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru could not enforce a three-language formula, as the southern Indian states vehemently opposed it believing that it was indirect imposition of Hindi on the non-Hindi-speaking Indians. When I was in an all-India tour in 1968, I saw the Hindi signs were smeared with black paint on the railway platforms in southern India.


In Nepal currently secularism had been receiving death threats from the Hindu fanatics, and democracy had been under threats, too from the ruling political parties preparing to promulgate a new constitution without considering the concerns of the opposition and the ethnic and Madheshi people. Democracy means inclusive governance, rule of law, independent judiciary, and free press. Matured politicians and political analysts knew that survival of Nepal would be in danger without secularism and democracy. In the 21st century nobody could keep Nepal in one piece without these two vital political elements required for survival.


Some politicians and so-called civil society leaders had been putting pressure on the government to announce the birth anniversary of the Prithvi Narayan Shah as the national holiday. Knowingly or unknowingly these people had nurtured the separatist leader such as Dr CK Raut in Madhesh and other ethnic leaders in the hills. The wounds merciless Prithvi Narayan Shah had inflicted on the ethnic people, and the repression of the Madheshi people by the Rana-Shah rulers had been as fresh as of yesterday even though they were of two and a half centuries ago. If the government were to reinstate the birth anniversary of the brutal Shah, it would just like sprinkling salts on the fresh wounds. Certainly, people along with the Madheshi and ethnic people would mark this day as the most unfortunate day of the history. This is what PM Modi needed.


Unfortunately, the so-called leaders of the two-thirds majority not feeling guilty of attending the disgraceful political meeting at the foreign diplomatic mission had been more dangerous to Nepal than any other foreign leaders. If these leaders were to promulgate a new constitution with the two-thirds majority votes following the meeting of the Nepalese leaders at the Indian embassy and then changing their attitude toward the opposition that had been demanding to build a consensus on a new constitution that was exactly what PM Modi had designed for.


Bhutan today would have been the sovereign independent democratic country unlike the current parliamentary democracy imposed by the king if India had not stopped the re-entry of Bhutanese refugees driven out by the king for demanding the fundamental human rights. India had carefully orchestrated the landing of the Bhutanese refugees mostly the Nepalese origin in Nepal in 1990 but refused them the route back to Bhutan. The refugees had languished in the camps in Eastern Nepal for more than 20 years before the western countries particularly the USA absorbed them (80,000 refugees).


We had seen President of Russia President Vladimir Putin had easily annexed Crimea from Ukraine. None of the western countries dared to come to the assistance of Ukraine except for making loud noises in the media and imposing the sanctions on the multimillionaires and billionaires surrounding President Putin. However, President Barack Obama of the USA said that the fifty years of sanctions on Cuba did not work and was lifting the sanctions and normalizing the relationship with Cuba. Were the western countries really serious about putting pressure on President Putin? Unfortunately, Ukraine had voted for paving the way for joining in the NATO. Ukraine had been just free from the Russian domination only to go under the umbrella of the NATO.


So, we surely could not anticipate any foreign assistance in case of the neighboring country annexing our southern and eastern regions. Some might say that China would not let the southern neighbor interfere in the internal affairs of Nepal not to mention the annexation of its territory. If China were to engage in Nepal with India then Nepal might be the battleground for the two Asian giants. One thing China could easily do was to ship the arms and ammunition through the Himalayan highways. However, Chinese leaders said that they wanted to do business with India through Nepal but Indian leaders were reluctant to respond to it so far.


Thus, the recent disgraceful activities of the leaders of the ruling political parties had not only weakened those political parties but also would weaken Nepal and would hardened the secessionist leader such as Dr CK Raut, and other leaders that had been advocating for the separate states.


Another weakness of the ruling political parties was the blanket corruption in the administration. Such corruption had considerably weakened those parties but they still had the two-thirds majority in the CA. They could be proud of the two-thirds majority and in absence of reliable pollsters we did not know whether the majority still stood among the voters or not. The answer might be probably ‘not’ and the people had been disgusted with the corruption. They wanted any alternative to arrest the corruption. The rise of Netra Bikram Chand ‘Biplav’ might be the one.


Directly or indirectly the ruling political parties had been strengthening the opposition parties. Twenty or more political parties including UCPN-Maoist and Madheshi political parties had set up a front to fight against the possible unilateral promulgation of a new constitution by the ruling parties with the two-thirds majority in the CA. The opposition would surely regain the power lost in the elections held on November 19, 2013 if the ruling political parties were to bully them in the CA.


CPN-Maoist had already realized that breaking away from the UCPN-Maoist and then playing the foul in the elections for defeating the UCPN-Maoist and Madheshi parties in 2013 were a great mistake after the ruling parties started off taking actions against their cadres for the conflict-era crimes and murders. CPN-Maoist had deliberately helped the NC and CPN-UML to win the elections in 2013. Such emotional actions that did not foresight the results had made the CPN-Maoist ineffectual and its Chairman Mohan Vaidhya impotent.


Leaders of CPN-Maoist had also wakened to the reality that they could neither disrupt the elections to the CA in 2013 nor they could force the ruling parties to call an all-party conference for building a consensus on the contentious issues of a new constitution. One of the sincere leaders of CPN-Maoist Dev Gurung publicly conceded that his party had been almost like that of the one-time communist leader Mohan Bikram that had became a one-man show, now.


Despite being the CPN-Maoist ineffective political party, its leaders had threatened to burn out a new constitution if the ruling political parties were to promulgate a constitution by the two-thirds majority votes in the CA, and then, the CPN-Maoist would set up a people’s assembly and then to promulgate a new constitution. Nobody could be so laughingstock than the leader that issued such a statement.


Then, another influential youth leader Netra Bikram Chand ‘Biplav’ set up a new breakaway CPN-Maoist accusing Mohan Vaidhya of being ineffective to lead the party to a new people’s revolution. His cadres had been collecting money forcibly in the name of voluntary contribution, according to the local media reports. ‘Biplav’ wanted to launch another revolution to regain the power lost to the ruling political parties. He might be successful if the ruling parties were to impose their constitution in Nepal, and they continued to be corrupt.


UCPN-Maoist weakened because its leaders had sidestepped from the main revolutionary course when they came to power after the elections held in 2008. Its leaders disregarded the concerns of its supporters that had fought for the cause of having a piece of land for livelihood. The cadres and supporters of the UCPN-Maoist disillusioned with the leaders wanting them to quit the land they had tended with so much love after they received them as the rewards for the fight against the state.


Landowners were most of the super leaders of NC and CPN-UML and they got strengthened, as the people needed their favor for tending the land. They could dictate their terms and conditions for renting out the land to the farmers. Landless people and farmers were the grassroots level base of the UCPN-Maoist. Non-visionary actions of the UCPN-Maoist leaders shook the foundations of the UCPN-Maoist.


After Dr Baburam Bhattarai became the prime minister in 2011, he tried to rebuild the image of the UCPN-Maoist bulldozing the illegally built compound walls and even houses and then widening the roads in Kathmandu and elsewhere in the towns across Nepal. He succeeded to do the things that his predecessors could not. He also became the laughingstock riding the Nepal-assembled car but letting his spouse continue to ride the luxurious foreign car. He won the elections in his constituency in Gorkha but his spouse could not do so in her Kathmandu constituency in the elections held in 2013.


One of the greatest weakness of the UCPN-Maoist had been to let the man named Madhav Nepal defeated in two constituencies in the elections to the CA held in 2008 take the office of prime minister in 2009 after Prime Minister Prachanda abruptly quit the office in protest against the president’s interference in the prerogative of the prime minister to fire the then Chief of Army Staff Rukumangud Katuwal. Another weakness of the UCPN-Maoist that followed was an attempt on dislodging Prime Minister Madhav Nepal. UCPN-Maoist leaders spent tremendous resources on such politically unproductive efforts causing the disastrous results after the six-day shutdown of the country.


Madheshi leaders could not recover from the dreadful disease of disintegration of their political parties. They split into so many parties that I lost my count of them. Consequently, they could not force the government to enforce the agreements they had reached with the government. That hampered the delivery of what they had promised to the Madheshi people at the time of the Madheshi movement.


Madheshi leaders promised the people to have the jobs in the Nepalese army, police, and civil service in proportion to the population. That did not happen. Madheshi people thought that these Madheshi political parties had been not much different from other political parties. They needed to seek the favor of the same landowner politicians of the NC and CPN-UML. How could they trust the Madheshi political leaders if they were not to bring any changes in the lives of the people that they had promised during the Madheshi movement.


Political leaders could promulgate a new constitution acceptable to all the Nepalese on January 22, 2015 provided all concerned political leaders were sincere to it. A new constitution was ready with all the frames and contents. All political parties had various versions of their own of the disputed issues of a new constitution. Only thing they needed to do was to pull out one portion after another and discuss them and then bring them to the common understanding.


Ambitious leader such as KP Oli of CPN-UML and Ramchandra Poudel and Sher Bahadur Deuba of NC had been engaged in how to topple the most incompetent Prime Minister Sushil Koirala from the power, and then grab the power. In the name of forming a national government for promulgating a new constitution, these guys wanted to take the opportunity of not agreeing with the opposition and then prolonging the promulgation of a new constitution. Power brokers such as Madheshi political parties and UCPN-Maoist had been watching the power play with disgust after Chairman Oli courted them for the support. Oli had been mad at not having the required majority to take the office of prime minister.


CPN-UML leaders also had been for replacing the current president and the vice-president of the Madheshi origin with their leaders such as Jhalanath Khanal and Madhav Nepal. However, they needed the support of other political parties including the NC. So, their ambitious dream of becoming the historical figures would not come true at any time in the near future. In fact, they did not deserve such honorable positions, as they were the most corrupt and morally wrong politicians.


Ultimately, the UCPN-Maoist and Madheshi political parties including other small parties had set up a front to launch a movement against the possible promulgation of a new constitution with the two-thirds majority in the CA. That might be how the opposition political parties were fitting in as Kamal Thapa taking the Hindu-chariot journey did in the design of PM Modi for meeting the target of absorbing Nepal into his domain. Probably, these Nepalese politicians had been the multiple arms of PM Modi for hitting Nepal into pieces.


If the ruling political parties such as NC and CPN-UML leaders were to ignore the opposition demand then it was almost sure that the ruling leaders were acting on the signals of the foreign embassy staffers in Kathmandu. They had no love for the country and for the people. They wanted to have the power that would bring them the money but not the prestige as common folks already knew that these guys were corrupt to death. Consequently, voters had been the mere muted spectators of the obnoxious political dancing of the majority-winner political parties and the advocates of the Hindu State to the tune of the foreign pipers.


Some of these guys had been very smart to raise the alarm when the British Ambassador said that a new constitution should include the rights to religious conversion. Prime Minister Koirala himself took the issue and asked the British Embassy in Kathmandu for explanation of the statement of the ambassador. These Nepalese politicians having the lopsided vision of the human rights could not tolerate even the provision for the people’s rights to the freedom of adopting the religion of their choice. However, they tolerated the Hindu fanatics that had said that they would cut the hands of those people that would oppose the Hinduism. The Nepalese State did not permit the rights of the non-Hindus to eat the beef, as the killing of cows was equated with the murder of humans by the law.


All the senior leaders seemed to have lost their political sanity. Prime Minster Sushil Koirala publicly said that he did not know Nepal had been declared a secular nation. Ramchandra Poudel of NC and KP Oli of CPN-UML losing the sanity attended the political meeting at the Indian embassy. Home Minister Bamdev Gautam did not know what he was talking about when he said that former king did not listen to him. Former prime minister also senior leader of UCPN-Maoist Dr Baburam Bhattarai had considerably weakened his party. He had retreated from his political ideology and probably would join in NC if he were to get a senor position. Mohan Vaidhya of CPN-Maoist had been almost like Matrika Yadav. Jhalanath Khanal and Madhav Nepal had no principles of their own. They could do anything if they were to get any high positions in the government. Madheshi leaders had gone back to their regular squabbling over power. Kamal Thapa had shown his political madness taking an east-west Hindu-chariot journey at the tremendous cost. Even his fellow colleagues in his party opposed him putting himself shoulder to shoulder with Lord Krishna and his disciple Arjun on the painting of the chariot that cost more than one million rupees. Kamal Thapa of RPP-Nepal tried to remain in politics advocating for the Hindu state. He was the notorious home minister responsible for attempting to repress the people’s movement in 2006. He needed to be brought to justice for killing so many people during the movement. Similarly, politically dead Khum Bahadur Khadka of NC had been trying to come back engaging in the Hindu revival.


Only the new generations politicians taking over the party leadership could save the political parties, and lead the country to the right path of politics and economic development. NC leader Gagan Thapa needed to take over the party leadership to save the NC from corruption and then possible extinction. I did not see any such a leader that could lead CPN-UML to the right path. Netra Bikran Chand ‘Biplav’ had seized the CPN-Maoist. He might revive the CPN-Maoist causing the UCPN-Maoist and other CPN-Maoists irrelevant. Dr CK Raut had already emerged as an influential Madheshi leader. He might overshadow other Madheshi leaders. What he said to the Madheshi people at the mass rally about the colonization of the Madheshi people was true to the colonization of all ethnic people including the Nevah, Chhetri and Brahman people during the 240-year-tyrannical rule of the Rana-Shah despots. Only a tiny group of Nevahs, Chhetris and Brahmans took the benefits of that repressive rulers being part of them.


December 28, 2014


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