Nepal Today

Sunday, April 7, 2013

REGMI, PRESIDENT DISCUSS ELECTION Kathmandu, 8 April: Government chief Khil Raj Regmi with main responsibility to conduct elections, held discussions with President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav Sunday evening/a They discussed participation of parties in the proposed election during a 45-minute discussion amid opposition of 33 parties. Exact date for elections haven’t been announced more than three weeks after the Regmi government was installed. Election commission and government want complete preparation before announcement of official dates. Nnnn MOST WANTED NC STUDENT LEADER ARRESTED Kathmandu, 8 April: Most wanted NC central student leader Surya Rai was arrested Saturday night in Itahari. Rai managed to escape arrest for nearly six years because of political protection. The leader of Nepal Students’ Union made Sunsari base for his criminal activities. nnnn STRONGER NC SOUGHT Kathmandu, 8 April: As they arrive in Tribenidhaam, Nawalparasi to attend the party´s Mahasamiti meeting scheduled to begin on Monday, district and village level leaders of the Nepali Congress (NC) wish to see the party´s national gathering settle not only its positions on various key issues such a federalism and system of governance, but also to strengthen party unity, Kosh Raj Koirala writes in Republica.. The leaders expressed such hope as the party continues to remain sharply divided even five years after the unification between NC and then NC (Democratic) and two-and-a-half years after the party´s 12th general convention held in September, 2010. “Party should stand united for election. Top leaders are yet to settle their difference even as the election is just around the corner,” said NC Achchham District Committee President Pushpa Bahadur Shah. Shah argued the party not only requires a concrete policy on various contentious issues such as federalism, system of governance and other concurrent political issues for victory in election, but also settlement of intra-party disputes in the party. “Party cadres like us would have been more energized and confident had the party´s central leadership settled all internal issues before the Mahasamiti meeting,” added Shah, who was on his way to Nawalparasi when Republica talked to him over telephone. Many leaders were optimistic about party president Sushil Koirala´s recent initiatives toward settling internal differences with senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba. But the leaders are dismayed as the two leaders are attending the Mahasamiti meeting without resolving the disputes. The intra-party rift that continues in NC even after the unification in 2008 had resurfaced in September, 2011 after Koirala “unilaterally” dissolved the working committees of the party´s seven sister organizations, including NSU, Nepal Tarun Dal and Nepal Women´s Association. Though the long-running dispute seemingly came to an end after both the leaders agreed to name the chiefs of the seven sister organizations through consensus on February 5, 2012, the two factions are yet to give full shape to the working committees of the sister organizations and form crucial bodies in the party such as the parliamentary party and the disciplinary committee. As Koirala is also yet to nominate five members in the 85-member CWC and joint general secretary of the party, the differences between the two factions is manifested time and again. “The party leadership should have settled the differences before the Mahasamiti meeting,” said NC Dailekh district committee president Krishna Kumar BC. “The party should settle all the differences before we go for fresh election.” The Mahasamiti meeting, which is mandated to take policy related decisions, is the most powerful body of NC after the party´s general convention. The four-day national gathering of NC Mahasamiti members is expected to bring amendments to the party statute in line with suggestions offered by the 12th general convention and endorse a political paper that would clarify the party´s stand on issues such as federalism, system of governance, issues related to Tarai-Madhes and the future course of the party. Many NC leaders believe that lack of unity was one of the several factors behind the party´s humiliating defeat in the 2008 CA election. They are apprehensive that the party may not be able to win the confidence of the ordinary people to make it big in the upcoming election. Some party leaders, however, deny serious differences within the party. “Since all three top leaders are unanimous on the formation of Chief Justice-led Interim Election Council, it is not fair to say that NC has serious intra-party conflict,” said NC Solukhumbu district committee president Aang Gelu Sherpa. “I see this as a manifestation of the ambitions of individual leaders.” Sherpa argued that the Mahasamiti meeting should be able to give the party a new direction. “The Mahasamiti meeting should be able to prepare the basis for the party´s election manifesto while incorporating the concerns of all groups,” he added. Nnnn SURVEY LICENSES OF 600 HYDRO POWER PROJECTS BEING SCRAPPED KATHMANDU, April 7: The government is preparing to scrap around 600 applications for survey licenses of hydropower projects as the applicants didn´t turn up to deposit the license fees even after the expiry of the government´s 35-day notice. “We have started the process to scrap the applications as the applicants didn´t turn up to pay the license fees,” said Gokarna Raj Pantha, senior divisional engineer at the Department of Electricity Development (DoED). The DoED had issued a notice around one-and-a-half month ago asking all the applicants to pay fees on time. “Only around five applicants paid the license fees on time,” said Pantha. “Similarly, around five applicants have moved the court after the government issued the notice.” According to Pantha, the applications for survey license had been received for all kinds of hydropower projects -- small, medium and large scale. “We had received applications for survey licenses of big projects such as the 660 megawatts Kali Gandaki to small hydropower projects with less than 1 megawatt capacity,” said Pantha. DoED had issued the notice after the government increased application fees for all kinds of hydropower projects in October 2012. The government had increased the survey license fees aiming to check the practice among developers of holding survey licenses without working on the projects. Survey licenses for hydropower projects have been divided into six different categories. The new rates for survey licenses are: Rs 1 million for hydropower projects with 1 to 5 megawatts capacity, Rs 2 million for projects with 5 to 10 megawatts capacity, Rs 3 million for 10 to 25 megawatts projects, Rs 4 million for 25 to 100 megawatts projects, Rs 5 million for 100 to 500 megawatts projects and Rs 6 million for projects above 500 megawatts. However, Pantha clarified that the 600 applications may not belong to different projects. “There may be several applications for the same project,” he said. “There was a negative tendency among applicants of holding licenses as the fee was very nominal,” Pantha added. “The government has now taken a strong measure to discourage license holders with ulterior motives,” Pantha said. Nnnn FRESH TENDER FOR MELAMCHI Kathmandu, 9 Apri: L A fresh tender process for completion of Melamchi Drinking Water Project has started and if everything goes as planned it will take minimum two years to complete the project. The Himalayan Times reports.. Expressing dissatisfaction with the work of the Chinese contractor company, the government decided to scrap the tender and invite fresh tender. Though 19 companies bid for the project, only four were selected for first phase study. The companies are Kuwaik China Overseas Engineering Corporation, Sinohydro China, China Water and Electric Corporation and Italy-based CMC Company. Deputy-director of Melamchi Drinking Development Committee Ghanashyam Bhattarai said the four proposals have been forwarded to the lead donor Asian Development Bank for technical evaluation. The China Railway company was awarded construction of the 28-km tunnel from Helambu to Sundarijal, but work was snail-paced, so the government cancelled the agreement with the company. In more than three years, the company had only constructed 6-km tunnel. Nnnn WILL UCPN MAOIST ACHIEVE MADESH BREAKTHROUGH? Kathmandu, 8 April: Since the last Constituent Assembly election the Madhesi parties have disintegrated, putting a question mark on their performance in the next poll. But will their poor performance in the post-2008 period reduce their strength in Madhes? If it does, will their loss be a gain for the UCPN-M?, Ram Kumar Kamat asks in The Himalayan Times. Madhesi parties rode on Madhes uprising in the last Constituent Assembly elections but creating a similar wave might not be easy for them this time. They can make federalism a major plank but they won’t be the only force to cash in on this issue. Like the Madhesi parties, the Unified CPN-Maoist will also paint the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML as anti-federalist forces. The ex-rebels have one more issue — the class issue — on which they think they could compete with the Madhesi parties. “I don’t think NC and UML could compete with us in Madhes except in some northern belts,” said UCPN-M leader Haribol Gajurel. He said his party could form electoral alliance with the Madhesi parties but that would largely depend on the latter. Of the 116 constituencies in Madhes, three Madhesi parties – the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Nepal, the Tarai Madhes Democratic Party and the Sadbhawana Party — won 43 seats under the first-past-the-post system and more than 21 per cent votes under the proportional representation system in last CA elections. The UCPN-M, the NC and the UML won 42, 16 and 11 seats, respectively, under first-past-the-post system and 23.92, 19.69 and 17.43 per cent, respectively, under PR system. MJF-Nepal Chairman Upendra Yadav, however, said Madhesi voters were more aware now and would choose alternative forces from among themselves. Coordinator of Tarai Madhes National Campaign Jay Prakash Prasad Gupta, who is touring Madhes districts, said if Madhesi forces failed to create a wave in their favour, the ex-rebels could gain votes in Madhes. TMDP Spokesperson Sarvendra Nath Shukla, however, said this gain would be limited for UCPN-M in the northern belts of the region and the southern belts continue to be Madhesi parties’ strongholds. The UCPN-M’s support to either the 10 or 14 Pradesh-model could gain some sympathy in Madhes where federalism remains a major concern. The UCPN-M Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has already announced that he would contest election from Madhes in the next election. Dahal believes that the entry of UML’s influential leader Ram Chandra Jha into his party’s fold will be an additional advantage for the party. The Madhesi parties have an opportunity to retain or expand their vote banks provided they present a united fight against their opponents. “The chance of creating a unified Madhesi party is almost nil now. What we can do is forge an electoral alliance among ourselves so that one Madhesi party is not defeated by another Madhesi party,” said Shukla. Gupta said the UCPN-M’s ability to keep intact its organisational base in the region and its efforts to negotiate with the marginalised communities could gain some more votes. Analysts say if PR threshold was removed from the new election law, there are chances that Madhesi parties could contest elections under the banner of three different Madhesi fronts. NC leader Bimalendra Nidhi said his party could gain in Madhes if it did not repeat the mistakes of 2008 in the distribution of tickets. “Differing views on the number of pradeshes does not mean that we are against federalism,” he added. nnnn


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