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Who Is Fit To Be A Next Prime Minister

Issue 31, July 31, 2011

Siddhi B. Ranjitkar

We have a number of political leaders that have claimed the office of a prime minister. Even Bijay Gacchedar has staked out the office of prime minister. Currently, Sher Bahadur Deuba is competing with Dr. Baburam Bhattarai for the office of prime minister. Ram Chandra Poudel has obviously given up his claim on the office of prime minister after his several attempts on winning the elections to a prime minister has turned into a fiasco. Anybody can make a claim on the office of prime minister but nobody is making you a prime minister. So, you have to create an environment conducive to get elected to the office of prime minister. Make sure that you look very good for the position you claim, and don’t create crisis or manage them properly.

NC lawmakers have been taking the House session hostage since July 25, 2011, demanding Prime Minister Jhalanath khanal to resign from the office but Khanal has been telling them to find a consensus candidate for a prime minister for him to resign immediately. Talking to the anchor of the morning program called ‘antar sambad’ of the state-run ‘Radio Nepal’ on July 27, 2011, political analyst Shyam Shrestha has said that the current government headed by Jhalanath Khanal has been as good as a caretaker government because Mr. Khanal has signed off the document that has a point that says he would resign and the House has already endorsed it; now the only thing remains to be done is to find a consensus candidate by the leaders of the UCPN-Maoist, NC and CPN-UML to replace him. The correct path to take for the NC lawmakers would be to submit a vote of no confidence in the prime minister at the House rather than obstructing the House session and inviting another political crisis.

NC lawmakers must have something in the back of their minds for stalling the House session otherwise they could have engaged in finding a consensus candidate for the office of prime minister rather than obstructing the regular business of the House. NC lawmakers obstructing the House session have shown what they are really for. They want to bring down the prime minister and then put the country in a state of no government until the extended term of the Constituent Assembly (CA) comes to an end in a month. The tendency of the NC lawmakers clearly shows that they are preparing for ending the CA rather than completing the peace process and the constitution writing despite their president Sushil Koirala has repeatedly said that his party has been for completing the peace process and the constitution writing rather than capturing the state power.

The media reports have been that the NC leaders are changing their parliamentary party (PP) leader to have an acceptable candidate for the office of prime minister rather than continuing the current PP leader Ram Chandra Poudel. Talking to the anchor of the morning program called ‘antar sambad’ of the ‘Radio Nepal’ on July 26, 2011, youth leader of NC Manmohan Bhattarai has said that Ram Chandra Poudel has failed in winning the election to a prime minister even after several rounds of elections held in the last months of 2010; so he has lost legitimacy to be the next candidate for a prime minister; therefore, the NC needs to make a change in the office of the PP leader.

NC lawmakers would have been well off to engage in changing the PP leader rather than blocking the regular session of the House. Media reports have been that former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has already 70 NC lawmakers in his pocket to vote for him for the office of the PP leader of the NC. The NC leaders are for serving the notice to the current PP leader Ram Chandra Poudel to quit the office of the PP otherwise face the no-confidence vote against him. NC lawmakers have a lot of other works to do rather than using whatever energy they have to block the House session. So, NC lawmakers need to use their energy for the creative and productive work for themselves and for the nation, too.

Now, the decision made by the UCPN-Maoist leaders have shown that they have lost the political logic, as they have passed a resolution at the Central Committee meeting on Monday, July 25, 2011 to send a large number of their cadres to the government at the time when they need to use their energy for completing the peace process and the constitution writing. It does not make sense to reshuffle the current government that has been reached the status of a caretaker government and that has to leave the office any time after the UCPN-Maoist, NC and CPN-UML find a consensus candidate for the office of prime minister.

The action of UCPN-Maoist leaders to give an ultimatum to Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal either to take their cadres to his cabinet or to leave the office by 8:00 AM of July 27, 2011 has been illogical but by then they have adopted the policy of wait and see and have extended time in the morning before the deadline has expired. What the poor Jhalanath could do? His party has decided not to take the UCPN-Maoist cadres to his cabinet. He has been sandwiched between the leaders of the UCPN-Maoist and the leaders of his own party. Poor Jhalanath has been in the office of prime minister for less than six months but he has been led to the most incapable prime minister in the history of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. The UCPN-Maoist leaders would be well off doing well for the country rather than creating a political crisis stating the prime minister would face grave consequences if the prime minister does not induct the 24 members of the UCPN-Maoist into his cabinet. The current political crisis is the creation of your own and you will certainly face the grave consequences of it.

The Deuba group of the NC is surely after the office of prime minister. Sher Bahadur Deuba believes that he could be a consensus candidate for the office of prime minister. He believes that he has a soft corner for the Maoists. So, they would support him. He could not take the office of prime minister without the support of the Maoists; that is for sure because the NC has lost the support of the Madheshi People’s Rights Forum-Democratic led by Bijay Gacchedar. Mr. Gacchedar has publicly stated that his party is not going along with the NC. The coalition of the NC, CPN-UML and the Madheshi leaders seem to be most unlikely even though we never know what happens in the Nepalese politics, as many impossible things have been happening in Nepal.

Current PP leader of NC Ram Chandra Poudel has been deadly against the Maoists in the past and even now, too. He has no chance of getting the support of the Maoists for candidacy for the office of prime minister. At the same time, he could not mobilize the support of the partners such as CPN-UML and the Madheshi parties. How could such a politician put a claim on the office of prime minister? He would be well off voluntarily leaving the office of the NC PP leader, and pave the way for Deuba to be the next prime minister. That is what the supporters of Deuba have been telling him and his colleagues.

Is really Deuba a good candidate for the office of prime minister? He is a good for thing if we take the stock of his past performances. He has been the prime minister for the first time in the mid 1990s because of the mistakes of the then NC leader Girija Prasad Koirala and the greed of the CPN-UML leaders for staying on in power by calling mid-term elections. The second time Deuba has become the prime minister again because the then Prime Minster Girija Prasad Koirala could not cope with the palace massacre on June 01, 2001, and turned over the rein to Deuba.

The then Prime Minister Manmohan Adhikari dissolved the parliament and called for mid term election even though his government was a minority government, as the then CPN-UML had no majority in the parliament. It was only the largest party in the parliament. Consequently, the Supreme Court of Nepal reversed the decision of Prime Minister Adhikari and restored the parliament. Then, Deuba forge a collation with the previously untouchable Pancha politicians and formed a government. In fact, that was the beginning of the faulty political game in Nepal.

The second time Deuba became prime minister was after the resignation of Girija Prasad Koirala, as Mr. Koirala could not manage the problem of the palace massacre, he gave in to the demand of his colleagues to quit the office and turn over the rein to Mr. Deuba: the second-generation leader of his party. At that time, some NC leaders had even questioned Mr. Koirala how he would be able to protect the common folks if he could not save the lives of the so many palace people. Consequently, Mr. Koirala had quietly turned over the rein to Mr. Deuba.

Mr. Deuba became the tool of the then regressive force and dissolved the parliament and set the time for holding general elections without consulting the leaders of his own party. The then NC President Girija Prasad Koirala became furious with Deuba at his dissolving the parliament and calling for general elections without consulting him and other leaders of his party. So, Mr. Koirala fired Deuba from the party but Deuba stayed on in the office as a caretaker prime minister. Then, Mr. Deuba formed a breakaway Nepali Congress-Democratic party to legitimize his leadership in his party and in the government.

The then regressive force fired Mr. Deuba in October 2002. Mr. Deuba went to the palace recommending the then king to postpone the general elections scheduled for November. The king took the recommendations of Mr. Deuba with smile only to charge Deuba with incompetence and fired him and took the power in his own hands. Thus, Deuba had assisted the regressive force in taking the country back to the dictatorial monarchical rule. The questions are whether such a person would not repeat the history and whether such a person is fit to be in the office of prime minister again.

Now, let us talk about Vice-chairman of UCPN-Maoist Dr. Baburam Bhattarai whether he could be a next prime minister. Dr. Bhattarai has been a regressive force in the UCPN-Maoist. Recently, speaking at the public function in his home district Gorkha, Dr. Bhattarai told the audience that they should not forget the contribution of the founding father of the Shah dynasty, Prithvi Narayan Shah. Appreciating the contribution of Prithvi Narayan, Dr. Bhattarai has completely neglected the Kirtipurians that had been the victims of the Prithvi Narayan’s cruelty. Prithvi Narayan had cut the noses and ears of the brave Kirtipurians that had defeated him eight times and stopped him from taking the Kirtipur. Dr. Bhattarai has already hinted that he is for appreciating the contribution of the Shah dynasty that has been the symbol of cruelty, exploitation and of the poverty of Nepalis in general. Could such a person be a good prime minister? The UCPN-Maoist leaders that have decided to put up Dr. Bhattarai as a candidate for the next prime minister have to answer. Certainly, Dr. Bhattarai has rights to say so and to hold on such a view but Nepalis that have the sense of justice will reject him to be a prime minister.

NC, CPN-UML and Madheshi lawmakers have been responsible for making the man called Madhav Nepal not only not elected but also defeated in two constituencies the prime minister in 2009 after Prachanda quit the office protesting against the unconstitutional action of President Ram Baran Yadav. Instead of correcting the president for his unconstitutional actions, these shameless lawmakers have made Madhav Nepal the prime minister of Nepal causing the black spot in the history of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal and making the mockery of democratic norms and values of which the NC leaders used to claim to be the guardians.

Thus, NC, CPN-UML and Madheshi lawmakers have put the political clock back taking the country to the political uncertainty and causing massive corruption in administration, in economy and even in the market. First thing Madhav Nepal did was to increase the prices of the basic essentials such as sugar, and potatoes letting the unscrupulous traders make money. Then, he reintroduced the subsidy on agriculture. His finance minister put Rs 2 billion for the subsidy on agriculture. It was really taking the country back to the regressive path, as the donor community had spent almost twenty years on making the government of the past regime stop the subsidy, as the subsidy had been draining the state coffer and the money had mostly gone for the minister to play with. Then, the current finance minister increased the subsidy on agriculture to Rs 3 billion in the budget for the FY 2011. Thus, one government after another has been going back to the most corrupt path.

Judging from their public speeches, the CPN-UML has no other leaders that can lead the country. Most of the so-called leaders of the CPN-UML look more like mafia leaders than the political leaders. They have their own groups that include criminals and hooligans. One of the group members protected by KP Oli, had launched a deadly assault on reporter Khilanath Dhakal in Biratnagar in June 2011, the police could not arrest the mafia leader because he had been under the protection of the leader of Youth Association Nepal (YAN) affiliated to the CPN-UML. Upon return from India, KP Oli appreciated the actions of the YAN leader for protecting the criminal and even awarded him the title of the true cadre of CPN-UML. Thus, KP Oli has demonstrated his actions more of the mafia leader than of a political leader.

The CPN-UML has lost its identity, as half of its leaders identify with the NC and another half with the UCPN-Maoist. Senior leaders such as Madhav Nepal and KP Oli of the CPN-UML have publicly charged other leaders such as Jhalanath Khanal and Bamdev Gautam of the same party that they behave more like the Maoists than the CPN-UML; and even ask them why they don’t join the UCPN-Maoist if they love the party so much. In return, Jhalanath Khanal also publicly has told that these guys Madhav Nepal and KP Oli have been just like NC members. So, the question is whether such a party could produce a competent person to take the office of prime minister. However, the fact is the most incompetent persons such as Madhav Nepal and Jhalanath Khanal have been in the office of prime minister by freak.

None of the Madheshi leaders has demonstrated the competence to be a prime minister. None of them except for Bijay Gacchedar has claimed the office of prime minister so far. Their tendency of disintegrating the political parties has been the big news story of the day. The author of this article has even lost count of the number of Madheshi political parties. These Madheshi leaders have been the experts in splitting political parties and creating as many parties as possible. Despite the fact that we have both the president and vice-president of the Madheshi origin, probably we are not going to have one of the Madheshis as a prime minister in the near future.

Then, the question is whether Nepal is lacking the persons with the competence to be a prime minister. Perhaps not, but the environment conducive to anybody to work sincerely has not been created so far. This might be a half-truth. The truth is political parties have been putting up one person after another in the office of prime minister to serve their interest rather than to serve the interest of the nation. So, they just ignored the legitimacy and the competence of a person to be a prime minister before putting up him/her as a prime minister. For example, Madhav Nepal was not legitimate at all to be a prime minister but the NC, CPN-UML and the Madheshi political parties made him the prime minister to counter the almost unstoppable power of the UCPN-Maoist. So, political parties need to be sincere to the people in other words to the nation to elect a most competent and legitimate person to the office of prime minister. They need to stand in front of mirrors and find out how good they look like for the country, and then think what they can do for the country not creating any crisis but managing any crisis on the way. To this end, Nepalis might need to wait for some time.

July 28, 2011.

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