Nepal Today

Thursday, April 25, 2013

BIRD FLU SPREADS TO BHAIRAHAWA Kathmandu, 26 April: Bird flu has spread of Bhairajawa as well. Traces of the disease were found at a farm in Pokhatvindi VDC in the south west district Thursday. Traces of the virus that causes the disease have been found from districts from east to the east and central region simultaneously. Officials are silent of how the latest epidemic broke out and spread. nnnn MADESH LEADERS MULL NEW BLOC Kathmandu, 26 April: In view of the planned new Constituent Assembly ( CA ) elections, a group of Madhesi leaders representing various Madhes-based parties are mulling over a new “democratic alliance” in the Tarai, where major parties are competing to strengthen their positions, Kamal Dev Bhattarai/pRanab Kharel write in The Kathmandu Post.. According to leaders, the main purpose of such an alliance is to have an alternative to the Samyukta Loktantrak Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) and the Federal Democratic Front led by Upendra Yadav. They said Madhesis are slowly losing interest in the UCPN (Maoist)-SLMM bloc and other fringe Madhesi alliances and that a new alliance would address the agendas of the Madhes. Coordinator of the Tarai Madhes National Campaign, Jaya Prakash Gupta, who served a one-year jail term on corruption charges and Sarva Dev Ojha, who resigned from the Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party, are actively working to form such an alliance. Gupta and Yadav plan to hold talks with Nepali Congress leader Khum Bahadur Khadka, who is in jail on corruption charges, to form the alliance. Khadka had pledged help for such an alliance earlier, leaders said. During their stay in jail, both Gupta and Khadka, who have a strong hold over their parties’ organisational structure, had shared views on the formation of such an alliance to counter the increasing Maoist and SLMM influence in the Madhes. The two leaders also plan to hold talks with other leaders of the NC, CPN-UML and SLMM, urging them to join the new force. The leaders said militant forces in the Madhes, currently holding talks with the government, are not in a mood to continue with an armed movement, and talks are under way with them to have them in the alliance. “If armed militant groups give up separatist views and the agenda of violence, we can induct them in the alliance,” Gupta told the Post.Gupta and Ojha are also holding talks with Sarat Singh Bhandari, who left the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (Loktantrik) in 2012 over differences with party Chairman Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar and formed the National Madhes Socialist Party, which he now leads as party chairman. “Bhandariji is positive about the formation of a new democratic alliance in the Madhes as a new force is required to address the aspirations of the Madhesi people,” Ojha said. However, according to analysts and observers, entering into an alliance with NC leader Khadka will not be a cakewalk for Gupta. They say that as Gupta cannot agree on Khadka’s position on the Madhes, their alliance will not work. However, an NC leader close to Khadka said alliances can be possible on the democratic agenda as Gupta is also known to be a democratic leader. “We can make a strategic alliance with Gupta to weaken the Maoists’ position,” the leader told the Post. After 1990, Gupta was a popular NC leader, who worked closely with the late NC leader Girija Prasad Koirala. Khadka will be released from prison next month. However, it is still not clear whether the Madhesi people will accept a new alliance as the ‘tainted’ Gupta and Khadka have a bad public reputation after corruption charges were slapped on them, leaders said. nnnn MEDIA GOOGLE “Nepali Congress (NC) General Secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula has claimed that democracy will come to an end if the Constituent Assembly (CA) elections are not held within November. Stating that holding the CA polls within November is the last chance for political parties to save the democratic system, the former home minister said failure to elect the new CA by November will also erode people’s faith on political parties, the chief justice and the Election Commission.”. )Report in The Kathmandu Post, 26 April) Nnnn INTERVIEW CA WON’T PROMULGATE A PRO-PEOPLE CONSTITUTION SAYS MOHAN BAIDHAYA The CPN-Maoist, led by Chairman Mohan Baidya, split from the UCPN (Maoist) party in June last year. In recent days, the party has stood against the Chief Justice-led government holding fresh elections to the Constituent Assembly (CA). Given the CPN-Maoist’s continued disruption of voter roll registration, there is growing uncertainty over how the party will eventually respond to the CA polls. The Post’s Gyanu Adhikari and Dewan Rai spoke to Chairman Baidya about his stance on the election government and the CA polls. Why are you opposed to elections? It is not that we are against elections. We want to correct the wrong political moves made so far. Let’s say that we don’t want to participate in the election in the current situation. What are your conditions then to participate in elections? We have already said everything in black and white. The agreement between the three parties and Madhesi front has alienated many other political forces. The 11-point agreement regarding the formation of the government led by the sitting Chief Justice and the 25 amendments to the constitution in the name of removing constitutional difficulties are both wrong moves. Both of them should first be scrapped. Then, all parties should sit for a discussion on how to move ahead. A prime minister must be elected from among the political parties to hold fresh elections for the Constituent Assembly. We blame the other political parties for the current mess. Some of the opposing parties have said that they will take part in elections if the Chairman of the Interim Election Government resigns as Chief Justice. Yes, they have said so. But our party stance is that a prime minister should be selected from among the political parties themselves. Our reading of the situation is that the political parties, along with the parliament they had formed, failed to end the protracted political transition, for which they are solely responsible. They never tire of harping on about separation of powers, the independence of the judiciary and competitive multiparty system as solutions to the problem. But they don’t practice what they preach. Do you think the same political parties that could not even form a government together can hold new elections to write the constitution? Isn’t this an opportunity for you to step in, contest elections and bring the people to your side? We have to look at the relation between the means and the ends. The questions we have raised are about the process. This process has not been normal. The President could have called for an all-party meet to hold consultation on the political stalemate, which would probably have led to an outlet. But such a measure was never even considered. So many political parties have been sidelined; they were never consulted. Initially, the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML were skeptical about forming a technocratic government. But eventually, even they agreed. Clearly, this shows that the idea came from ‘outside.’ We should have resolved the crisis among ourselves. We should not be wary of one another while discussing outlets of the crisis. Even if the President calls on all parties, the same debate about an independent candidate to lead the government could arise. It is not the question of ruling out the possibility of a non-political figure. We are talking about a reasonable, constitutional candidate. [NC President] Sushilji was offered the premiership and we too rooted for him but there was barely any discussion on the issue. The formation of this government took place all in haste. Even going by parliamentary norms, the President, who is the custodian of the constitution, did not perform his role. What we need is that all political parties should sit together and sort things out. Sadly, the major parties are negating the other parties. We are saying that the whole process is wrong. If we seek to achieve our goals through the wrong process, it will either result in wrong achievements or will have no achievement at all. What will be your response if the government fixes the date, completes all preparations and goes for elections anyway? First, I don’t think that elections will be held at all given the state of preparations by the government and the parties. If they do hold elections, the CA will not be able to write a new constitution. We saw what happened to the old CA. It was all in someone else’s hands. In other words, a pro-people constitution will not be written through the CA. This is the reality. But I want to make it clear that we are not against elections, just that we cannot go to elections in the present situation. What alternatives do you propose? We are asking for a course correction. We have been demanding for a roundtable discussion and that a political person lead the government, which the political parties have not paid any heed to. You worked for very long with the UCPN (Maoist). Why did the party sideline you in the whole process? It’s not just us who have been sidelined. So many other parties were never consulted. We approached the NC and UML to convey this message; we told them that they cannot move ahead with just the support of the Maoists. It is natural that we have differences with Prachandaji and it’s understandable for him to not want us on board. But the NC and UML did not show enough sensitivity. On top of that, this is a special election we are talking about; we are not competing to win seats. This is an election for the constitution-writing body. We said this to the President too. We had never imagined he would take this step [endorse a CJ-led government]. That’s why we are questioning the constitutionality and legality of the government. And it is not just us who are opposing the move. The Nepal Bar Association, who know the law inside out, also objected to this government. I don’t understand how these parties can move ahead by turning a deaf ear to dissenting voices. Are you planning to use violent means to oppose elections? We will protest against the elections and the government to full extent of our party’s capability but the protests will be peaceful. But a section of your party claims to prefer armed means to peaceful protests. When a system fails, communists tend to think that an armed revolution is the ultimate means of protest. We are in a different context. Every party has resorted to violence in the past. We have no plan whatsoever to go back to violence while protesting, for now. What is your solution to the current situation? Either we should all sit together and reach consensus or go ahead with a movement to bring change. People have struggled for a long time. Now the question is whether their concerns should be addressed or not. Forget what you want or don’t want to do, the issues are always important. We have three issues—nationalism, socialism and livelihood—and we demand that these issues be addressed. The agenda of a roundtable conference was floated in the past, why did it never materialise? I think our comrades made a mistake. After signing the 12-point agreement, there should have been a roundtable to form the next government to hold CA elections. Instead, the dissolved parliament was reinstated, which was unfortunate, and this averted a roundtable conference. The movement was against a constitutional monarchy then. The then CPN-Maoist pushed the agenda of a roundtable conference while the NC and the other forces advocated for the reinstatement of the parliament. The NC and UML never wanted the CA. They were happy with the changes of 1990. Unfortunately, our leadership drifted away from our agendas and joined them instead. Do you have any feelings of revenge towards your former comrades who abandoned your agenda half-way? There are no feelings of revenge in politics. There is opposition but no revenge. Many of the people in the Maoist parties have moved up the class ladder. Your comments? Indeed, there are some who have moved up. The party’s sources are donations and levies. I am not in a position to say how they earned their money and where their investments are. I don’t know any better than the public. What are your fundamental differences with the UCPN (Maoist)? We want a people’s federal republic. But they abandoned the issue and adopted a democratic republic. The party left new communism (naya janabad). On national sovereignty, they surrendered to Indian imperialism. We have always wanted a good relationship with India and do not want to antagonise them. But we want to review old unequal treaties and agreements. In fact, that would benefit both countries. Instead, the UCPN (Maoist) signed the BIPPA [Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement], tried to hand over the ground handling of the Tribhuvan International Airport to Indian management, the Koshi high dam and the Pancheswor project. We would not have done that. nnnn


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