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What the Ministers Doing?

Issue 44, November 02, 2008

By Siddhi B. Ranjitkar

Current government is the coalition of six political parties three major parties plus three minor parties; the six political parties are of two non-communist parties and four communist parties. As such, communists have been dominant actors in the government and in the Constituent Assembly (CA), too. However, communists have been rivals if not enemies to each other; certainly they try to destroy each other. In such situation, it is natural that every minister has been doing his or her business, as s/he thinks proper to his or her party. However, the Nepali Congress (NC) could not capitalize the rivalry among the communists.

Prime Minister Prachanda representing the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-Maoist) in the government is an expert in damage controlling. His main task has been repairing the damages done by his colleagues in the past. Currently, he has been responsible to fix any harm done to his government by his cabinet ministers or his party colleagues. Another major task he has been performing is convincing the opposition personalities of agreeing to his policy and programs. The third major task of the Prime Minister has been influencing the members of the international community and bringing them to his favor.

Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bamdev Gautam representing the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist and Leninist (CPN-UML) in the government must have been equally responsible for fixing any damages done to the government. However, his tasks have been more damaging to his government than doing good. He has been doing trifle things such as closing restaurants after 11:00 PM and raiding the casino to see whether Nepalis have been playing, provoking protests from the employees and creating discontent among most of the Nepalis.

He talks about minimizing corruption; however, he has not send his police to raid at the custom offices, land registration offices, passport distribution offices and vehicle-driving license issuing offices where rampant corruption has been prevailing since the previous regime called Panchayat. However, it would not be rational to anticipate him controlling corruption if we believe in the local press that had stated in his previous incarnation as a Deputy Prime Minister, he had unwisely brought in some gold without paying custom duty.

However, he was very smart to make the candidates of his party in the local election winners when he was a Deputy Prime Minister in 1997. Most probably, his party has nominated him to the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minster to repeat similar miracle in the elections to be held after crafting a new constitution.

Deputy Prime Minister Bamdev Gautam does not differ much from the ministers of other political parties in threatening to tear down the government of which he is a member if the government does not do one thing or another s/he thinks is needed to do. For example, he said if the government could not prevent the fighting between the ‘Youth Force’ of his party and ‘Young Communist League’ of Prime Minister Prachanda’s party, the government would collapse. For rationally thinking people, Home Minister was responsible for fixing such things but he was pointing to someone else for doing his duty.

Finance Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai representing the CPN-Maoist in the government set his economic development target of touching the moon by flying as written by the great poet called Laxmi Prasad Devkota in one of his poems. In return to borrowing the saying of the great poet he allocated Rs 2.5 million for celebrating the centenary of the great poet in this year. However, he forgot to allocate any amount for celebrating the anniversary of so many great poets and writers in Nepal.

One surprising thing Finance Minister Dr. Bhattarai is about to do is to shed the word Maoist from his party’s name most probably under the pressure of some members of the international community. He needs a large sum of money for implementing his ambitious budget. So, he is ready to remove the word derived from Mao they had used more than 12 years discrediting Mao. Now, he has set a target of doing something good for the country he wants to forget Mao: his political guru. Could such a man be on target of touching the moon by flying?

Minister for Foreign Affairs Upendra Yadav representing Madheshi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF) in the government was a diehard supporter of Madheshi culture and Hindi language if not the rights of Nepalis in general and Madheshis in particular that had been denied by the 240-year administration of the Shah dynasty. He loved to wear ‘kurta’ and speak ‘Hindi’ at the Constituent Assembly and sometimes to reporters particularly while he was in terai areas. After a recent foreign tour, he has been wearing a suit and a tie, and speaking English rather than ‘Hindi’. Most probably, when he visited India where Hindi is one of the official languages, his counterparts spoke English rather than Hindi, as it was prestigious to demonstrate the fair knowledge of English there. Thereafter, he must have realized that speaking English is more prestigious than speaking Hindi. However, he needs to brush up his English to make other people understand him.

In other to keep in touch with the aspiration of some Madheshis for so-called equal rights and inclusive-State employments, foreign Minister Upendra Yadav at times makes a statement threatening to quit the government if the government does not implement the ‘Eight-point Agreement” the United Democratic Madheshi Front (UDMF) had reached with the previous government headed by former Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala. He repeats the demand for ‘one Madhesh one province’ even though he knows that it is not practicable. However, he must not forget that Madheshis have got more than what they have been seeking for. For example, the President, Vice-president and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nepal are all Madheshis. We have more Madheshis in the current government than in any government in the past. So, it is the duty of Foreign Minister Yadav and other high-ranking Madheshis to meet the demands of the Madheshis; so, they should not shift their responsibility to someone else.

Defense Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa ‘Badal’ representing the CPN-Maoist in the government has been in China to learn secretes of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) there. He must have learned from the Chinese military gurus how to merge the Nepalese PLA with the Nepal Army (NA). So, he is about to send two Nepal Army officers and two PLA commanders for military training in China. However, the Defense Minister publicly told that he had no knowledge of sending someone from the PLA to China for training. This might be the first step of integrating PLA with the NA. Chief of UNMIN Ian Martin said that as long as the two armies were in place, the peace process would not be complete. In other words they needed to be merged. For this statement, the senior Koirala, Girija Prasad and Junior Koirala, Sushil criticized Ian Martin for being bias in favor of the Maoists. However, the question is whether a war between the two armies is possible when both the PLA and the NA is under one Defense Minister Badal.

One revealing thing is Minister for Law Dev Gurung representing the CPN-Maoist in the government wants to merge the People’s Court with the regular law courts as told by former Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to the reporters in his home town called Biratnagar on October 24, 2008. If we correctly understand, the so-called people’s courts are more like ‘Kangaroo Court’ than anything else. The question is if the Minister wants to merge the people’s courts with the regular courts why not Finance Minister merges the people’s money collected by Maoists with the regular budget. Then, he might be able to double the current budget amount.

Minister for Information and Communication Krishna Bahadur Mahara representing the CPN-Maoist in the government told the reporters on Friday, October 24, 2008 that the government decided to recognize the Nepal Sambat as the national calendar. He cautioned not to understand otherwise, as the government continues to use the Vikram calendar for the domestic business and the Christian calendar for the international business. All Nepalis must be proud of it, as we have our own calendar. We have been using it for celebrating our cultural, social and religious events. However, we have been using Vikram calendar for the domestic business and Christian calendar for dealing with the international community causing a great inconvenience to Nepalis and sometimes confusing, as Nepalis most often than not tend to write both the Vikram and Christian calendars to mention different time and years in their write-ups or articles leaving the readers to understand the difference between the Vikram and Christian calendar. The question is whether the times has come or not for using a single Christian calendar for all purposes, as we are in the 21st century and the period of globalization.

Minister for Supplies Rajendra Mahato representing Nepal Sadbhavana Party in the government has been so happy to see the State-run Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) making profits at the cost of the poor Nepalis. The government has set the highest possible price for the petrol at $1.28 (Rs 100) per liter when the price of crude reached the peak of about $ 150 per barrel. Currently, the price of crude oil has dropped to slightly more than $ 60 per barrel. He reduced the price of petrol by 6.42 cents (Rs 5 at the current exchange rate of Nepalese rupee against dollar) per liter but he had increased the price of petrol by 51.28 cents (Rs 40) per liter. He should have reduced the price of petrol by 51.28 cents (Rs 40) per liter at least if not by 64.10 cents (Rs 50) per liter following the price reduction of crude oil in the international market. So, the Minister continues to rob the poor Nepalis reducing the price of petrol symbolically only.

Minister for Education Ms. Renu Yadav representing Madheshi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF) in the government threatened to tear down the government of which she is the Minister if the government does not implement the Eight-point Agreement the previous government has reached with UDMF. In doing so, she is also shifting her responsibility to someone else. How could such a person do the duty of a minister?

Our supreme Hindu God called Shiva has six faces: four facing to four different directions and one to the sky and another to the ground with a single body; so, he is supreme and performs divine tasks. The current government also has six faces but not of a single body but of several bodies of different political parties. So, each face turns to his/her party first then only to the government before doing anything. Will such a government perform properly for the benefits of the Nepalis?

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