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Sushil-led Government-54: Wacko Ministers and Inept Prime Minister

Issue March 2015

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


Prime Minister Sushil Koirala had been inept not being decisive to craft a new constitution. His ministers had been wacky not knowing what to say in the public. Home Minister said that he would turn over the job of the immigration office to a private company. Finance Minister said that the government could not manage the large infrastructure projects. Minister for General Administration had been after the civil officials to track down the holders of permanent residence visa for foreign countries instead of improving the administration, and enforcing the rule of law. Minister for industry said that he had spent one hundred million rupees (10 crores) on getting his boss KP Oli elected to the chairman of CPN-UML.


Prime Minister Sushil Koirala had received two-thirds majority of mandate from the voters to craft a new inclusive constitution but he had been lingering over crafting a new constitution. He had shown his inability to lead his partners in governance to make sure that a new inclusive constitution would be in place as he had promised to the voters. Chairman of CPN-UML had been the tail that wagged the dog in Baluwatar. Prime Minister Koirala became helpless when chairman of CPN-UML KP Oli spoke, according to senior leader of UCPN-Maoist Dr Baburam Bhattarai. Chairman Oli wanted to promulgate his own kind of an exclusive constitution.


Prime Minister Koirala had been sandwiched between his partner KP Oli and the opposition front of 30 political parties. Chairman Oli wanted an exclusive constitution. He had publicly stated so many times. He was not giving in for the inclusive constitution the opposition front had demanded. Oli had been a man of eight-grade education. Obviously, he could not grasp the consequences of the constitution he wanted in the twenty first century. The opposition front wanted an inclusive constitution that would be a common document of all Nepalese people.


Prime Minister Koirala called on the opposition to have talks about on reaching an agreement on a new constitution but his partner KP Oli ignored the meetings. The opposition front had been for going to the people to remedy the plague of the two-thirds majority Mr. Koirala and his partner Oli had been suffering from. Apparently, Mr. Koirala had been trapped into the two-thirds majority that had been bane than a boon.


Currently, the political game had been at a draw. The partners in the governance wanted to replay the game with their two-thirds majority in the constituent assembly. They were for forgetting the past agreements with the different political parties the government had reached. In this game they could determine the future course of actions, as they wanted. It would be almost dictatorial manner. The opposition front of the thirty parties was for playing the political game within the context of the past agreements the political parties had reached with the government.  They called it settling everything in consensus. If that were not to happen the front was for playing the political game on the streets. The ruling and the opposition parties need to play the game in the constituent assembly rather than in two different grounds. Prime Minister Koirala needed to demonstrate his political skill in doing so.


Prime Minister Koirala had shown his ability to do something else. He took a dozen of ministers and other Hindu activists on seven helicopters to attend a Hindu function in the western Nepal in February 2015. It might be a showdown at the cost of the State. Mr. Koirala wanted to show off his tilt to the Hindu State rather than a secular for all. It might be for showing the empathy to the Indian Hindu leaders that had made a noisy demand for making Nepal a Hindu State. If it were so then it had backfired on him. Shameless interferences of the Indian Hindu party called Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Nepalese affairs had not deterred Mr. Koirala and Mr. Bamdev Gautam. They had shown their empathy to the Hindu zealots.


However, the high command of the BJP felt it shocking to find their second-rank leaders going to Nepal and talking about the Hindu State. The BJP leaders put a ban on any BJP leaders going to Nepal without the approval of the high command, and prohibited them talking anything about Nepal, according to the news on the on March 17, 2015. Thus, the second-rank BJP leaders received lashes from the leaders for being indiscipline in their behavior, and ordered them not to talk any nonsense from now on. Mr. Koirala also took some lashes given to the Indian Hindu zealots.


Home Minister Bamdev Gautam wanted to turn over the immigration administration for online visa to the private company. Mr. Gautam must have two distinct intentions: first it must be for a handsome commission or bribe he would receive from the private company for running the immigration office for issuing online visa, second he must be incompetent very much to run the immigration office. Mr. Gautam must have both of these two. He received severe negative feedback from the general public and the lawmakers, too. His own colleague turned to the opponent Madhav Nepal had chided Mr. Gautam for even talking about such a senseless thing. The common folks have felt that Mr. Gautam’s intentions of privatizing the immigration service have been the most disgusting.


Home Minister Bamdev Gautam sent his police to arrest the leaders and the cadres of the CPN-Maoist-Biplav that went to the residence of chief executive of Investment Board Radhesh Panta to protest peacefully against turning over the Upper Karnali Hydropower project to the Indian State company with the maximum possible benefits to India causing tremendous loss to Nepal, according to the experts in hydropower. Mr. Gautam wanted to charge the leaders and cadres of the CPN-Maoist-Biplav with the public offences. He kept them at the Hanumandhoka police office for three days. The police officers had shown great respect for the comrades, and provided them with the officials’ meals and so on. After three days, Mr. Gautam changed his mind and released all comrades stating the police had no sufficient evidences to prosecute the comrades.


The government had awarded a license in other words signed off a project development agreement (PDA) on September 19, 2014 to develop the Upper Karnali River for harnessing 900 MW hydropower. The experts in the hydropower argued that it was only the fraction of its potential of 4,180 MW to generate. The civil society leaders submitted a joint petition to the Indian and Nepalese prime ministers to reconsider the PDA and make it for 4,180 MW that would benefit both Nepal and India in a larger scale than the PDA already signed off. The petition was published on the on November 24, 2014 the link of which is as follow.


The CPN-Maoist-Biplav had announced the nation wide protest against the arrest of its leaders and cadres. However, after the release of the leaders and the cadres, the party called off the protest. Mr. Gautam must have a nice sleep thereafter. The arrestees became heroes. They have triumphed over Home Minister Gautam. However, the Nepalese Upper Karnali hydropower project that could illuminate the whole UP and Bihar States of India had gone to the Indian State Company for the benefits of a few billion rupees to Nepal thanks to the CPN-UML energy minister Radha Gyawali that acted on the order of her party boss KP Oli.


Another Minister for General Administration Lalbabu Pandit had been mad at the civil officials for holding permanent residence visas for the foreign countries. He had been taking order from CPN-UML senior leader Madhav Nepal. By the definition of the Ministry of General Administration, Mr. Pandit was responsible for making the civil service efficient for timely delivering services to the people. However, Mr. Pandit did not mind the civil officials being lethargic and the custom officials, tax officials, and the land registration officials minting money on duty but against those that held visas for foreign countries.


Why the minister for general administration was so concern about some civil staffers holding the visa for foreign countries? The minister had been shy to say something concrete about it. Mr. Pandit had never been in any foreign country. He had neither a chance of serving a foreign agency in Nepal as Finance Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat had nor he could acquire a permanent residence visa for a foreign country. Naturally, Dr Mahat had been against a crusade of Mr. Pandit against the civil servants holding visa for foreign countries. Does it make any difference to the administration as long as the officials delivered the services promptly fairly and without seeking any rents from the customers for that? Certainly, it does not. One thing was clear that Mr. Pandit would have gone to the foreign services had he acquired a visa for a foreign country. It must be his inferiority complex that led poor minister Pandit to go against his staffers holding foreign visas.


Minister for Industry Mahesh Basnet had been another character that had boasted that he had spent as much as one hundred million rupees (10 crores) on getting his boss KP Oli elected to the chairman of CPN-UML; so he needed to make money to get the return on his investment. Mr. Basnet became the minister for industry on the order of Chairman KP Oli. If Mr. Basnet were to be sincere and his figures were correct then every vote went for electing Oli cost fifty thousand rupees not less. So, the Nepalese politics had been so expensive that in turn had caused tremendous daylight robbery of the State treasury. Currently, Nepalese politicians had been talking not even in millions but in billions of kickbacks. Their single signature cost billions of rupees to the Nepalese taxpayers and to the national revenue.


Now, having no respect for the State employees, Finance Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat publicly said that the government could not run major infrastructure projects; only the private companies could do it. Fine, he might be correct saying so but he knew that the government had been an obstacle to the private company attempting to build a fast-track highway between Kathmandu and Hetauda. As an economist, Dr Mahat also knew that the tremendous economic benefit of this highway but the government did give a fig for it. Where is the sincerity of the minister and the government?


Dr Mahat had served as a program officer at the local UNDP, and then he managed to climb the ladder of the UN administration. When he became a minister in the Nepalese cabinet for the first time, he had said that he had a few thousand dollars in a foreign bank for the education of his kids. He did not care about gross violation of the Nepalese law provision for ‘having a bank account in a foreign country is a criminal act.’ The remedy of the violation of laws lies with the government but the government becomes helpless when a minister violates a law. Did finance minister Dr Mahat saying only private companies able to take up large infrastructure projects reflect his integrity?


The most recent interesting news had been that the Nepal police arrested President of the Federation of Nepal Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), Pradeep Jung Pandey on Tuesday, March 17, 2015 convicted of a corruption case about 30 years ago. He had served a few years jail term but he was acquitted. He had managed to make a fortune from his private business. He even became the president of the prestigious FNCCI. The police had admitted him to a cardio hospital in Kathmandu.


The question was why the government let him go free and then the government arrested him again after so many years. Who had been violating the law, the ministry of home Mr. Bamdev Gautam had been running or the corrupt man in question? The government had been acting as if it had authority anything to do at any time. If the man were culprit why he had been free so many years. He even got elected to the FNCCI. How he could escape from the police for so long. Even the Supreme Court of Nepal could not save the poor chap from the indiscriminate use of law for harassing the common folk.


President of Federation of Nepal Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), Pradeep Jung Pandey arrested on Tuesday, March 17, 2015 on corruption charges, was admitted to the Bansbari-based Sahid Gangalal National Heart Center hospital after a health problem, ‘The Rising Nepal’ reported on March 18, 2015. The police arrested him after a writ petition demanding the Supreme Court scrapped an interim order against possible arrest of Pandey concerning an old corruption charge. The arrest was made as part of a campaign to enforce the court rulings launched by the Court Order Implementation Directorate General. The court found Mr. Pandey guilty on corruption he had been involved in while serving at the Drinking Water and Sewerage Management Office 30 years ago.


It was fine that the Court Order Implementation Directorate General has taken an initiative to enforce the court decisions but the question was which agency had been responsible for enforcing the constitution and the laws crafted under it. One vivid example of non-enforcement of law had been the caste discrimination law. It had been almost a half-century since the law against caste discrimination was enacted but the news of caste discrimination had been flooding in the Nepalese media. Did you heard about it, Home minister Bamdev Gautam? Are you playing with the rules or with your whims, Mr. Home Minister?


Another problem of the law enforcement had been the fast-unto-death Dr Govinda KC had launched six days ago. He had been fasting for the government to meet his ten demands including not opening any medical college any more. Surely, such a national question was the concern of all people but a single person like Dr Govinda KC could dictate the government what to do by his fasting. If yes, why not to meet KC’s demand immediately? If not, why did Home Minister Bamdev Gautam immediately declare the fasting of Dr KC illegal, and sent the police to break up his fasting and save his life?


March 27, 2015


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