Nepal Today

Saturday, March 9, 2013

ANOTHER ROUND OF TALKS BETWEEN FOUR POLITICAL FORCES BEGIN Kathmandu, 9 March: Leaders of the big four political forces driving national politics Saturday began another effort Saturday to end a deadlock to form an election government chaired by Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi. A summit of ruling UCPN Maoist and opposition UML was held before the four-party talks began. Both sides described the talks as positive. Nnnn . REPAIR OF KALIGANDAKI COMPLETE Kathmandu, 9 March: Repair work on the 144MW Kaligandaki initiated last Friday was completed Thursday, officials of Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) said. NEA officials are working to reduce crippling daily load-shedding from 14 to 12 hours following the repairs. Nnnn MINIMUM TEMPERATURE 10 DEGREES CELSIUS Kathmandu, 9 March: Capital’s minimum temperature Saturday hovered around 10 degrees Celsius. Mercury is expected to rise to 21 degrees in the afternoon. nnnn CONSENSUS AGAIN ELUSIVE FOR ELECTION GOVT. FORMATION 1 Kathmandu, 9 March: The much-anticipated meeting of the four major political forces -UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) - on Friday proved to be yet another fiasco, with the results nowhere near consensus on the issues in Contention, Republica reports.. The meeting that lasted till late evening was put off till 11 am Saturday as the UML and other parties remained at odd mainly over the issues surrounding voter registration and citizenship certificates. Likewise, the ruling and opposition parties remained at odd over whether to resolve the constitutional difficulties related to the formation of a chief justice-led election government before the Supreme Court verdict or wait until the apex court verdict. Talking to media persons after the meeting, UML leader Bhim Rawal said the UML maintained categorically that they cannot accept the issuing of voter identity cards with photograph to those who do not have citizenship certificates, bearing in mind the existing laws and the verdict of the Supreme Court concerning these very issues. The parties failed to reach an agreement as the other parties at the meeting stood against the proposal, arguing that they wouldn´t have enough time to do that all. Rawal said there was agreement among all parties on providing citizenship by descent to the children of those acquiring citizenship certificates by birth and on updating the voter registration carried out before the Constituent Assembly election of April, 2008. “But we have maintained that voter identity cards with photos should not be issued to those without citizenship certificates, in view of the existing laws and the supreme court verdict,” he said. Rawal said they have proposed launching a one-month special campaign in the Tarai districts to provide citizenship certificates to those yet to get citizenship. “If we can hold a national census across the country in 10 days, why cannot we provide citizenship certificates to the eligible citizens?” he asked. Leaders participating in the meeting said Maoist, NC and UDMF leaders were in favor of allowing voting rights even to those not obtaining voter identity cards with photographs. Citizenship certificates are a must for getting the voter identity cards with photographs issued by the Election Commission. Though the leaders on Thursday had claimed that they had inched towards final agreement on the issue surrounding the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and rank determination for Maoist combatants choosing integration into the Nepal Army, both these issues remained contentious at Friday´s meeting also. While the Maoists maintained that former Maoist combatants who have joined the NA as part of the integration should be provided the ranks of up to colonel and lieutenant-colonel, the UML argued that they cannot award such high positions through a political decision and against the established norms and standards of the national army. The NC and UML maintained that the issue of rank determination should be determined through the Special Committee in line with the agreements reached among the political parties in the past. In the case of the TRC, the Maoist and non-Maoist parties differed sharply on granting general amnesty to those involved in serious cases of human rights violation during the Maoist conflict. While the Maoists demanded that all cases of human rights violation be granted a general amnesty as proposed in the ordinance already forwarded to the president´s office for endorsement, the UML and NC argued that the proposed TRC should be in line with the established norms and values of human rights and at par with international standards. Talking to media after the meeting, NC Vice-president Ram Chandra Poudel said they will continue discussions on those issues at Saturday´s meeting. "Since the Taskforce could not resolve the issues today, we will sit again on Saturday to reach a consensus," he said. 1 Nnnn NO ACOUNTING OF OFFERINGS TO GODDESS KUMARI Kathmandu, 9 March: A group of curious Japanese tourists huddled in the premises of Kumari Palace in Basantapur to get a glimpse of the living goddess, Niranran Sharma writes in Republica. . An elderly woman emerged from a palace door and asked them to offer Rs 500 to see Kumari. The tourists paid the said amount and were allowed to see the goddess. It is a common sight around the Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square area which is visited by around 400 tourists from India and the other countries every day. The visitors eager to see Kumari are not allowed to do so by the caretakers and the family members until they pay some money. The tradition of worshiping a living goddess as incarnation of goddess Taleju dates back to 1757, during the reign of the Malla King Jay Prakash Malla. However, the Kumaris worshipped after 1918 are known as “Shabik” Kumari, who are prohibited from leaving the palace, also known as Kumari home, during her stay. Even after 95 years of the tradition of worshipping the living goddess, the government and the locals have no clue about who takes all the offerings made by visitors and devotees. Many visitors also put money into the donation box placed at the premises for the welfare of the juvenile goddess. But her caretaker and family take away all the money, say the locals. Some devotees offer gold ornaments to the goddess if their votive pledge gets fulfilled, according to Rajan Maharjan, member of the Jyapu Guthi Society. “It is not Kumari who gets all those offerings. Gyani Devi, the caretaker, and her family are enjoying all the wealth,” he said. According to Uddhav Man Karmacharya, a priest at the Kumari Palace, a Shakya family was appointed to look after Kumari in 1944. Gyani Devi Shakya, now 70, is a descendant of the same family and was appointed as caretaker in 1980 after her mother-in-law expired. “Currently, 14 members of Gyani Devi´s family are living in the palace and vigorously oppose any attempt to enquire about the income.” Jay Ram Regmi, executive chief of Kathmandu Guthi Office, the Guthi has been coordinating with its central office and the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation. Regmi added that the Guthi bears all cost of Kumari during her stay, including her lodging, food and the expenses that goes into daily worship and festivals. "The Guthi has not received a penny from the Kumari Palace to date. In fact, it provides Rs 10,000 for monthly expenditure," Regmi mentioned. The Kathmandu Metropolitan City also provides Rs 15,000 for Kumari and Rs 25,000 for the caretaker per month. The tradition of worshipping living goddess There is a belief that the kings of Malla dynasty in Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur were blessed with the power to meet goddess Taleju and take her advice on how to rule the country. However, the goddess was not to be seen by a female in which case she would depart from Katmandu forever. Once, when King Trailokya Malla was playing dice with the goddess, his daughter entered into the room. The moment the little girl saw the goddess, the relationship between the king and the goddess ended. Thought the goddess vanished at the time, she later appeared in the king´s dream. She asked the king to select a virgin girl of a Shakya family and worship the girl as her incarnation. Thus the tradition of selecting the living goddess was established. Giving continuity to the tradition, all the later day rulers, the kings of Shah dynasty, also followed the ritual and worshipped the goddess. There has been a tradition of offering golden coins to the goddess on the occasion of Indra Jatra. President Ram Baran Yadav has also been following the tradition after the country became Republic. Ganesh, Bhairav left in lurch Many people are still unaware that there is also a tradition of selecting two juveniles as a living incarnation of lord Ganesh and Bhairav in Basantapur. The members of Jyapu Society around Basantapur feel that there is a discrimination in the way the three living deities are worshipped. The Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) provides Rs 15000 to Kumari and Rs 25000 every month to her caretaker, known as Chitaidar. Contrary to this, the Ganesh and Bhairav receive only Rs 1500 each on monthly basis. "The Ganesh and Bhairav also have a great importance as the chariot pulling ceremony of the Indra Jatra can´t begin without worshipping the two living gods," said Maharjan, adding, "But the government has ignored them completely." Kumari is replaced generally at the age of 12 or 13 before her menstrual period begins, but the living Ganesh and Bhairav are worshipped until they wish to leave the honor. ---- INTERVIEW We are quiet as we don´t want to mire the living goddess in controversy Uddhav Man Karmacharya Priest of Kumari Home and Chief Tantric of Taleju Temple When did you first realize that there was no accounting of the offerings made at Kumari Temple? It´s been a long time since the locals of Basantapur have asked the officials of Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) and the Guthi to make public the offerings the visitors make to Kumari. We know that hundreds of people visit Basantapur Durbar Square area every day. Among them, so many foreigners wait for hours for a glimpse of the living goddess. The visitors offer money and golden ornaments to the goddess with a great belief. But the Chitaidar (caretaker) of Kumari takes away all the offerings. We are also aware how the caretakers´ family has prospered over the years. How can the transparency be brought to the whole process? We have several times talked with the government authorities, about the free competition in appointment of caretakers in the Kumari palace. Around 14 members of the Gyani Devi´s family are living in the palace which has increased their monopoly. But the government authorities have said that the governments need to amend the Guthi Act to change the system. We have been requesting with the government for investigation but never made it public before to avoid controversy with the goddess. Nnnn INFLUENTIAL NC LEADER OPPOSES NEW GOVT. BEFORE COURT VERDICT Kathmandu, 9 Govt.: Nepali Congress central committee leader Shekhar Koirala today said the present efforts of the four political forces to form an election government under sitting Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi was completely against the principle of sub judice, as the case is still pending in the Supreme Court, The Himalayan Times reports.. Addressing a programme of the Democratic Lawyers Association (DLA), prior to the Kathmandu District Court Bar Association election to be held tomorrow, Koirala said, “Though I am not a legal expert but as a doctor, I am sure the appointment of chief justice to the post of prime minister is against the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances.” He went on to say, that though the parties have made up their mind to make the chief justice prime minister, Koirala said, “I can’t be able to stop my party from taking such a decision.” According to him, it would be against the democratic norms because this would grossly violate the rule of law as ensured by the Interim Constitution. Accusing the party leaders of trying to bypass the apex court’s verdict as they want to form a government even without waiting the verdict, Koirala said the democratic culture in the country is weakening with every passing day. “Even though the case is sub judice in the apex court, still the leaders have been discussing the matter without any fear,” he said, adding, “Since the parliament itself does not have right to discuss on any matter in sub judice, leaders have been discussing the matter to undermining the Supreme Court.” The NC leader also urged lawyers to be united under the DLA to vote its official candidates and forget those who have been contesting the elections challenging the organisation’s decision. “In real democracy you have to respect the decision of the organisation,” he added. He also expressed concern about dividing the DLA in three different panels to fight for the elections. Democratic Lawyers Association has been fighting with its official panel of Hari Prasad Paudel, but separate panels of Pramila Khatiwoda and Shreeram Dawadi have also been contesting the election when the progressive panel under Yubak Gautam is also in the fray. A total of 2,111 advocates will cast their votes tomorrow to elect a leadership. DLA central chairman Yadunath Khanal expressed concern about the efforts being made to break the organisation by some persons, while the Kathmandu District Chairman Krishna Prasad Paneru warned of taking action against those who have been violating the organisation’s rule. nnnn


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