Nepal Today

Friday, August 31, 2012

KESHAR BAHADUR BISTA EXPELLED FROM RJP Kathmandu, 31 Aug.: Keshar Bahadur Bista,a former minister, was expelled from Rastriya Janashakti Party (RJP) for anti-party activities by Chairman Surya Bahadur Thapa Friday. Bista was party general secretary. He joined RJP after Thapa split with RPP. nnnn OPINION IN THAT VERY SPECIAL PLACE Kathmandu, 31 Aug.: With a major section of the Nepali Congress in a tizzy over how leading party luminaries are being singled out for corruption conviction and sent to prison, Maila Baje recalls a remark Shailaja Acharya used to make, Maila Baje writes in NepaliNetbook. As Nepal’s last real brush with democratic politics degenerated into a macabre street show, the Nepali Congress was singled out for wrecking an enterprise that had begun with such hope in early 1990. While most of the other Nepali Congress stalwarts were busy blaming the palace, the CPN-UML and the Maoists for subverting democracy, Shailaja had a different take. The Nepali people had a right to be angry with the Nepali Congress, she said. And no, it was not just because the party had been in power for most of the 1990-2002 period. The public outcry was rooted in the great expectations the people had from the party. Now, Shailaja’s words had an unnerving self-righteous tinge, quite imaginably even to some within her party. But consider the context. The panchas had squandered thirty years trying to prove their democratic credentials, when they could focused more on infrastructure building and promoting Nepal’s international persona. The communists, who boldly called their system a dictatorship of the proletariat, were congenitally brutal. The head-hunters in Jhapa were merely forerunners of the mass murderers unleashing a ‘People’s War’. Sure, the Nepali Congress, too, bombed bridges and tried to kill kings. But when the party claimed it did so in the name of democracy, that sort of ended the story. Countless leaders and supporters had braved incarceration and exile, while many made the ultimate sacrifice for the people. Lack of inner-party democracy did little to obscure the halo of democracy from the party. So when the Nepali Congress in 1990 promised to turn Nepal into another Singapore and Switzerland, the people could do little but take them seriously. No such feeling exists for the party today. Few Nepalis see the Nepali Congress as any different from the bumbling tribe that comprises the political class. Time has been a great equalizer since April 2006, where the Maoists, mainstream parties and the monarchists are on the same plane. If anything, in today’s sovereignty-is-under-siege ambience, Jang Bahadur Rana is remembered for having regained some of the territory Nepal had lost in the Sugauli Treaty. Chandra Shamsher is lauded for his role in securing the British Empire’s unequivocal recognition as a free and independent state as the Great Game waned. Still, Shailaja’s remark carries relevance to our context if you are willing to listen a bit differently. The Nepali Congress, despite its tawdry record in office, continues to assert its specialness. (“We led three democratic revolutions… blah, blah, blah.”) And that puts off a lot of people. So when Chirajibi Wagle, Jaya Prakash Prasad Gupta, Govind Raj Joshi and Khum Bahadur Khadka are packed into prison for old cases of corruption, the people barely yawn. What they stole may seem chump change compared to the scale of the loot people of other parties (and, yes, the Nepali Congress) are perpetrating today. But your average person has no time for that. The moral of the story: If the Nepali Congress wants to be treated like the other parties on matters of vice – or for that matter, virtue -- then maybe it should quit claiming to be so special. nnnn NEW POLARIZATION BUILDING WHIRLPOOL Kathmandu, 31 Aug.: History repeats itself in full circle. The last eight years in the Nepali political landscape have underscored this once more, with some variations here and there for the worse. The major political parties never had the people in general as their primary target for serving. Power and other profits were the sole motives, and they led the country to the sorry state that it is in today so horrendously, Trikal Vastavik writes in People’s Review.. Prompted by his advisers and well-wishers, some of whom make a beeline at the Shital Niwas residence through the normal gate or a wee bit circuitous route to shake off the prying eyes of regular officials and paid advisers, President Ram Baran begins to bare his teeth. The hectic shuttles by opposition activists to Shital Niwas have unsettled Pushpa Kamal Dahal and his party deputy Baburam Bhattarai, limping ignobly as an interim prime minister that nobody but his party boss Pushpa Kamal Dahal wants. Presently three political blocks are operating, heading as they are toward a collision course unless intervened by external forces, namely New Delhi, Beijing and Washington and in that order. A third block is also clearly emerging. Ram Baran Yadav heads the first force consisting of the Nepali Congress and CPN (UML) while the Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s Maoists steer the second block which includes most Madhesi parties and ethnicity-based groups. The third force on the horizon is that of the breakaway group of the Maoists, headed by Mohan Baidya. Pro-constitutional monarchist Kamal Thapa’s RPP-Nepal and other “nationalist and patriotic forces” are emerging as the third force. In the first block, Dahal and Prime Minister Bhattarai, who presents a pathetic sight defending his failures by trying to pass the buck on others and resorting to antics that unmasked his pretensions as a great intellectual, are worried that the next elections could see their party would get a crushing drubbing in the next elections. Their ex-combatants who were promised integration into the Nepal Army and with it regular service, regular pay and pensions without having to undergo any probing procedures and fitness tests have sent a massively disenchanting message to their erstwhile supporters. The daily public tirade, directed at Dahal and Co., by Baidya’s team and virtually all other political forces across the board outside the unpopular ruling alliance, has been debilitating to the ruling side. Dahal to his supporters is no longer venerable but most vulnerable in the face of Baidya, Ram Bahadur Badal and C.P.Gajurel. The huge deficit in Bhattarai’s public credibility has also engulfed Dahal, while their other comrades still clinging to the “mother party” are hardly visible or voluble. Stung by Dahal having waylaid them so often and so successfully, the Nepali Congress and the UML rank and file are passionate about the “trickery and undemocratic” practices Dahal resorts. Their wrath against Dahal emanates from frustrations fuelled by their outright failure to sideline the man whose political agenda they so impotently agreed to: federalism, secularism and removal of monarchy. As a party that boasts of having led all the successful major political revolutions in the country, Nepali Congress is completely at a loss as to how to stop Dahal from setting the key national agendas. In sheer desperation, it is tottering without direction, with its drab and lackluster president Sushil Koirala issuing warnings to Dahal’s Party day in and day out that “Anyone who thinks of sideling Nepali Congress will itself be finished off.” No one is inspired or shaken by the dull rhetoric. The late Girija Prasad Koirala had ruled NC with an iron fist, leaving no stone unturned to sideline those who disagreed with him or posed a threat to the leadership, and turned blind eyes on those who expressed servitude in words and action apart from being on the alert against anyone or group that did not brook Koirala’s act and action within and outside the party. They were known as “Kalo Congressi.” UML, banking on Sushil Koirala’s coattails after his octogenarian boss died, is neither here nor there. Like the NC, it rues that its heydays in power-sharing are over with the introduction of proportionate system of elections in the mix of the first-past-the-post. Two of its leaders, Madhav Kumar Nepal and party president Khala Nath Khanal, became prime ministers but leaving behind nothing of substance to their credit. Maoists’ gains have been UML’s losses. UML’s struggle is one of not being spaced out. As an emerging third force in the Nepali political firmament, the Baidya group has attracted the cadres frustrated by the Dahal-Bhattarai-Hisila Yami style of functioning and deviating from the thoughts and principles they were indoctrinated with during the decade-long war that the trio directed from Delhi for the latter eight and a half years of the war. Baidya’s group is widely perceived as being led by comrades far cleaner images in contrast those of the leaders in the Dahal camp. Its move to join hands on the basis of the common grounds of agreement shared with “nationalist and patriotic forces” is beginning to make a stir, sending shivers in their former colleagues led by Dahal. The emerging “nationalist and patriotic force” might draw Kamal Thapa’s RPP-N most of whose agendas are in agreement with those of other smaller parties like that of Chitra Bahadur’s Narayan Man Bijukchhe’s communist groups. In fact, the general consensus is that the issues brought forth by Thapa, particularly the call for a national referendum on federalism and secularism, has drawn considerably serious public attention. Monarchy is the issue that Thapa and others are yet to reach an agreement on. But they all in accord that the Dahal-Bhattarai charade should be exposed to the hilt. Dahal and Bhattarai have gone for free for all public tussles, declaring unconstitutional the manner in which the president dismissed the ordinances submitted by the interim cabinet for approval in connection with the elections and other purposes. If private comments by Yadav’s staffs and advisers are any indication, the president is hopping mad against Dahal and Bhattarai. Baidya is encouraged by the responses he is getting from different quarters. Defense analysts of high order term the Maoist-led block “dangerous to the vitality of the nation”. Desperate that the “gains” made in the aftermath of the 2005-6 movement planned in and directed from Delhi. Vertical and horizontal polarization among the individual parties has thrown up new conditions of distrust and uncertainty. The whirlpool of political crisis roars clearly, loudly and dangerously. nnnn


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