Nepal Today

Saturday, March 9, 2013

90 PERCENT BALLOTS CASE IN PRESS CHAUTARI ELECTIONS Kathmandu, 9 March: Ninety percent ballots have been cast so far in elections of office bearers of Press Chautari Saturday in Biratnagar until therein the afternoon. The body of UML journalists has 505 members. Elections are being held for 59 positions. Two persons, including Bishnu Aryal , are contesting the presidency. nnnn. UPDATE SAPTARI VILLAGE FIRE BROUGHT UNDER CONTROL, DAMAGE ESTIMATED AT RS. 9 MILLION Kathmandu, 9 March: Damage in a fire at a village in Saptari is estimated at Rs.8 million. The fire has been brought under control by the help of firefighters from Rajbiraj municipality as well. Forty-five houses were destroyed in the fire nnnn. NEPAL ARMY PLAYS Kathmandu, 9 March: Nepal Army Saturday plays Friends Club in the super league A Division martyrs memorial . The league started at Dashrath Rangashala Friday, nnnn SUPPLY OF POL PRODUCTS TO NORMALIZE FROM WEDNESDAY Kathmandu, 9 March:: Although the petroleum transportation workers withdrew their protest Tuesday, consumers continued to face shortage of petroleum products in the Valley, thanks to the two-day bandh of Wednesday and Thursday, The Rising Nepal reports. The petroleum transportation workers had ended their four-day strike after signing a five-point agreement with the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) on Tuesday. The transportation laborers had resorted to strike when one of their colleagues was abducted and murdered while he was transporting the PoL products from India. According to Shiva Prasad Pudasaini, spokesperson of the Nepal Oil Corporation, smooth supply of petroleum products in the valley was affected by the two-day Nepal bandh. He said, "We could not import fuel on Wednesday and Thursday owing to bandh and the consumers continued to face the shortage of fuel." He, however, said that the corporation was effortful to supply fuel in the Valley even by distributing from its stock. He said that the consumers need to wait until Wednesday for the smooth supply of fuel because of the public holidays. The habit of the consumers to stock additional fuel was also responsible for the shortage of fuel in the country, he said. According to him, the stock of petrol dropped to 900 KL while that of diesel to 2,800 KL as the corporation continued to supply fuel from its stock. He informed that they would try to import fuel even during the holidays considering the shortage of fuel. Lilendra Pradhan, president of Nepal Petroleum Dealers' Association, said supply of petroleum products was very poor. He said that the NOC should have had the stock of fuel enough to meet a week's demand but it failed to supply fuel even when the workers' strike lasted only for four days. He said that smooth supply of fuel could not be ensured until and unless the government guaranteed security and insurance to the transportation workers. He said that the transportation entrepreneurs and workers did not go to Barauni to carry fuel due to lack of security. Talking about the latest price structure received from the Indian Oil Corporation on March 1, 2013, Pudasaini said that the corporation would face a loss of Rs.730 million in a single month of March. He said that the loss of the corporation has been increasing due to increasing prices of fuel in the international market. The corporation will face a loss of Rs.5.43 per litre in diesel, Rs. 513.14 per cylinder of cooking gas. However, the corporation will make a profit Rs. 2.27 per litre in petrol, Rs. 9.16 per litre in kerosene and Rs. 20.24 per litre in Aviation Turbine Fuel. nnnn HOME MINISTRY DELISTS MARTYRS Kathmandu, 9 March:: The Ministry of Home Affairs has delisted the list of martyrs, all of whom have died during and after the People’s Uprising of 2006 and declared as martyr, from its official website on Friday,Subash Gotame writes in The Himalayan Times.. In the first list published on Wednesday on its webpage——the ministry had published 127 names of the declared martyrs but a day after, it delisted the name list. Annapurna Post national daily, on Friday, had published a report depicting the facts that the ministry published the list despite a lack of clear standard or criteria for the declaration of martyrs. “That led the ministry removed the list from its page after the after overwhelming criticism,” a source confirmed. Soon after the news report, top officials at ministry ordered the page administrators to remove the martyr’s list citing it has not been finalised yet. Asking about the removal of the list, spokesperson at the ministry Shankar Koirala maintained that the information officers merely published the list for the purpose of updating. “We’ll make public the list within three days with update,” Koirala said. Nnnn OPINION UPSIDE OF DISTORTED REALITY Kathmandu, 9 March: You have to admire the key national interlocutors for at least attempting to persuade us of the earnestness of the political conversation, Maila Baje write in Nepali Netbook. The major political parties implore the chief justice to head an election government as if they are really acting in ultimate acknowledgement of their responsibility to the nation and people. A divided legal fraternity looks askance. One group tells the president that he should desist from what they call an utterly unconstitutional move, notwithstanding the grudging political consent it may have mustered. Other individuals turn to the Supreme Court for relief. The rival school insists on the political validity of the controversial proposal in view of the exigencies of the moment, unabashedly allying themselves with a section of the political class. Passions run so high that Bam Dev Gautam, of the CPN-UML, challenges Nepal Bar Association office-bearers to run the government if they were so adamantly opposed to the chief justice doing so. The president, for his part, pledges he will not go out of the bounds of constitutionality. Foreign ambassadors counsel elections as the only outlet that would allow Nepalis to determine their fate themselves. Somehow we are supposed to forget that many of these same governments did their best to foil elections when Nepalis had a real chance of resolving their problems internally in 2005-2006. Or that the interim constitution, hollowed out by ceaseless political conveniences, makes the Panchayati Constitution look like a model of jurisprudential sturdiness. It’s fun to watch all these conversers struggling to wear a straight face. Yet, Maila Baje feels, there is some virtue in their ever-widening reality-distortion field. The external architects of change, more than the political parties per se, ran out of options once it became clear that the concept of ‘new Nepal’ was a mere camouflage for geo-strategic realignments. The elevation of Dr. Baburam Bhattarai to the premiership gave them the final cover. His reputation and persona – more designed than deserved, alas – were expected to buy time for the external protagonists to reconcile their wider contradictions. Once the Bhattarai magic wore off, another façade had to be put up. The real job was nowhere near completion. Each external actor in Nepal today wants not only sufficient space to stand on but also enough energy to checkmate present and potential rivals. A world in transition with constantly moving targets, after all, has to tend to all angles. The U.S. pivot to Asia propels the Europeans here, too. India’s Look East policy results in the Chinese looking south-west with a grander gaze. Yet global issues such as climate change and free trade – where the West has the upper hand – impels the Chinese and Indians to act together. Nepal cannot escape the impact of these unresolved contradictions. Federalism, pushed by foreign quarters largely to denigrate the monarchy and the traditional order, now has to be delivered in ornamental doses, if at all. Local advocates, who campaigned in sincerity, cannot be appeased. Issues like secularism and homosexuality, too, were tools to thwart tradition. By allowing non-governmental entities to push the agenda, foreign governments got to exercise plausible deniability. Yet when social engineering and the grievance industry overtook the political process, our immediate neighbors could not tolerate the spillover effects. An exclusive Sino-Indian grand bargain to stabilize and shelter Nepal cannot be expected to go unchallenged, given the heavy investments countries and organizations farther afield already have made here. All this is bound to leave our heads spinning. Yet we must also acknowledge how fortunate we really are. We may not be allowed to swim free out of these turbulent waters. But we also know that those around us cannot afford to let us sink. So let’s keep ourselves wet, scooping and kicking the water, even if we’re going nowhere. Around us, sooner or later, something’s gotta give. Nnnn OF RIGGED SYSTEM Kathmandu, 9 March: CPN (UML) leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, who is yet to recover from the pain he underwent when he resigned to be replaced by his own party president Jhala Nath Khanal three years ago, has a penchant for preaching others without any desire to look at his own records, Trikal Vastavik writes in People’s Review. Only the other day, he advised: “Live and let live.” Till sometime ago, he used to cry hoarse for “reconciliation” and “consensus.” He is not alone in making such appeals that no longer hold any appeal to Nepalis. Maoist leaders Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Bauram Bhyattarai, Nepali Congress’ Sushil Koirala and Sher Bahadur, too, have engaged in similar exhortations that have exhausted the patience of the people. For the vitriolic attacks they direct on anyone differing with their ideas are vile and hence empty of democratic norms and values. Their organizations manage to hold strength in vote politics because the people are not organized in a country where the organized minuscule unleashes monopoly decisions against the vast majority, with neither accountability nor widely held values in vogue in democracies internationally recognized as successful. Chameleons For two years, the Maoists, the UML and the NC used every opportunity to lambast “regressive” and “anti-democratic” forces. Appearing like vengeful victors in a war of attrition, they ostracized others who did not join or praise them in subservience to the new power equation. They unleashed the very tactics they had accused the previous regimes of directing against dissent. One thing led to another and we are under calamitous conditions putting in peril the basic national interests of an independent, sovereign state. The present precarious situation does not have comparison any time in the past 60 years. UML leaders have been pointing out to this repeatedly. But, who created the situation? Regressive elements and status quo-ists, as the Maoists would like people to believe? Or, is it the Maoists themselves, as the NC and UML have been accusing the ex-rebels who the two parties for nearly a decade declared as terrorists until the latter abruptly made a u-turn to join hands and minds at the behest of “friendly country India” in New Delhi announcing the 12-point agreement that is hailed only by the signatories. The India drafted 12-point accord laid the foundations for the mess we are in today. The signatories talked of removing of “monarchical dictatorship.” They never said they would not practice party dictatorship. In this regard, they are cruelly honest. And the dictatorship of the seven parties and the Maoists who prided in putting their thumb prints on the agreement in the Indian capital The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has declared that the safety and security of human rights defenders and Nepali journalists has deteriorated and warned that the existing situation could drive the country into anarchy. While the commission’s concern is to be noted, it must also be added that the commission, filled with members nominated on the basis of agreement among the “major parties.” When such a body comes out to express concern, the gravity of the situation is all the more glaring. The parties in power have exhibited themselves as narrow and parochial in outlook. Going through their decisions and “consensus,” they do not seek competence and fear competitors. They revile any group or individual that does not pay obeisance to their mode of operations. On the other hand, they spawn loyalists and blind followers without reservations as if the latter are pets that bark against opponents and purr with pleasure when the leaders throw a few mercies at them. Individuals being investigated in connection with corruption scandals use their power and connections in the media and civil society to ease the pressure on them. Never in history since 1951 has the Nepali Congress suffered such low as it has since 2008. When banned during the panchayat decades, it made news in print or through the grapevine, generating a kind of halo for its role in opposing the powerful partyless rulers. In 1990 and after, it was the lead player, mostly from the seat of power. Not any longer. Its prestige and credibility has shrunk severely. If this continues for a year or two, it could suffer a belittling effect rendering it to being nowhere near its former reputation. In the 2008 elections, it was a distant second to the Maoists. The first four prime ministers have all been communists, two each from the Maoists and the UML, the latter being only the third largest party in the gargantuan Constituent Assembly. A senior advocate close to then NC was overheard lamenting that the Nepal Bar Association and the Nepal Journalists Federation were supposed to be the NC bastions. The latest elections in these organizations, which had been at the forefront of the 2005-6 Jana Andolan, have communist candidates at the top of the echelons. UML has employed simultaneously sweet talk and meat chopping knife. It runs with the NC against the Maoists for power grab and hunts with the Maoists against the NC at NBA and NFJ elections. In 1991, UML emerged as the No. 2 party and became the largest party three years later to form South Asia’s first elected communist government. In the third general elections under the 1990 constitution, it again emerged as the main opposition more or less maintaining its 1991 position. The 2008 elections pushed it to a far-behind third party, after the Maoists and the NC. Correct the course Habits die hard. Intentions get exposed sooner or later. Incompetence derails one’s wishes. As commented by former Matrika Yadav, who parted company with Dahal and his faction three years ago, Dahal and Baburam Bhattarai are found to have not transformed themselves ideologically; “they had only suppressed the authoritarian, capitalist and exploitative urges in them during the people’s revolution. This has now gotten exposed in full public view the moment they got the opportunity to have their sway.” Identifying the causes and effects of the prevailing morass of political paralysis is the challenge of Nepal today, which will aggravate the pace of deterioration. The need is for confession by the political leaders in public as to where they went wrong, and they should undertake an honest and appropriate course. The task is to define the country’s own path for the aspirations of Nepalis by the Nepalis. Not doing so means that they will be the target of future generations’ curse for all times to come. (The writer can be reached at: trikalvastavik[at] nnnn


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