Nepal Today

Thursday, May 23, 2013

NO ALTERNATIVE TO ELECTIONS SAY MAOISTS Kathmandu, 24 May: Spokesperson of the UCPN (Maoist) Agni Sapkota has said that the four-party consensus should not be aberrated as there was no alternative to the Constituent Assembly (CA) election, RSS reports.. At an interaction in the capital today, the UCPN (Maoist) spokesperson said that the CPN-Maoist and Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF)-Nepal should be brought into the High-Level Political Committee (HLPC). He, however, added that the current council of ministers could not be dissolved. Sapkota said that questions were raised whether the CPN-Maoist was against the peace and constitution writing process. Also speaking at the programme, Nepali Congress leader Dip Kumar Upadhyay said the dissenting political parties should be brought into consensus through talks to ensure their participation in the CA election. Leader Upadhyay said the HLPC has failed to bring the dissenting parties into consensus. He added the UCPN (Maoist) should take initiative to bring the CPN-Maoist, MJF-Nepal and other dissenting parties into the consensus. Likewise, CPN (UML) Secretary Shankar Pokhrel said the political consensus should not be distorted repeatedly. Pokhrel said the size of the CA was not needed to be as high as 601, as the new CA is expected to decide only federalism and form of governance. He said the UCPN (Maoist) should bring the dissenting political parties into consensus if it was really in favor of the CA election. Similarly, CPN-Maoist Secretary Dev Gurung ruled out the participation in the CA polls based on the 25-point order. He also termed the current government unconstitutional adding that the constitution would not be drafted only on the four-party monopoly. Gurung was of the view that a roundtable conference should be organized by annulling the 25-point order. Nnnn CHAIRMAN REGMI SAYS GOVT. COMMITTED TO POLLS Kathmandu, 24 May: Chairman of the Interim Election Council, Khilraj Regmi, has reiterated that the government was committed to hold the Constituent Assembly (CA) election within November, RSS reports.. Receiving a memorandum submitted by Reporters' Club here today, he said the government was formed just for the election purpose and it was fully committed for the same. Chairman Regmi said the government has concentrated its all attention for the election for it is our (current government's members) responsibility to address the public desire holding election in the slated time. "We fulfill our duty and urged one and all to support for this," he added. Chairman Regmi said that he wished to hold election in the free, fair, and fearless environment, adding that the current government's responsibility was to give right political direction. He urged all political parties and groups to support the government for the election and said it was all people's responsibility to save citizens' rights and conclude the election process. He said, "Our contribution is necessary to evaluate the past and search the way for the very good future of the nation." He urged one and all not to have any doubts on holding the CA election. nnnn EC FACES DIFFICULTIES IN ANNOUNCING POLL DATES Kathmandu, 24 May: The Election Commission is still undecided on announcing the date to the second Constituent Assembly election, the Rising Nepal reports.. EC spokesperson Bir Bahadur Rai Wednesday said the commission was facing difficulties to announce the poll date due to absence of election act. “We don’t know when the election will be held and how many CA members will be there?" he said. Talking to The Rising Nepal, he said that the EC could not decide on the number of electoral voting machines and ballot papers as the number of constituencies were yet to be fixed. The EC has also faced problem in getting foreign help, purchasing electoral voting machine, designing the ballot paper, managing human resources and starting voter education campaign due to absence of election laws. Till the date election constituency delineation commission has not been formed. According to Rai, the EC formed security committee under coordination of its commissioner Dolakha Bahadur Gurung. It is holding discussion about security management for election. The EC formed election monitoring committee under its commissioner P.B. Thakur. Altogether 39 political parties have been registered at the EC by Thursday. According to EC, Rastriya Sadbhawana Party and Aakhanda Nepal Party registered today. Altogether 54 political parties were registered at the EC during the last CA election. Nnnn FIVE CLIMBERS KILLED ON KANGCHENJNGA Kathmandu, 24 May: Five people including three foreign climbers are feared dead after they slipped in the snow while climbing down Mt Kanchenjunga. However, it is yet to be confirmed officially, Khagendra Adhikari writes in Republica from Taplejung.. According to the Mingma Sherpa, the proprietor of the Seven Summit Trekking Agency, there were two Hungarians, two Koreans and five Nepali climbers in the expedition team. “We are unable to send rescue team to the accident spot due to the bad weather,” Sherpa said. Sherpa said that they were preparing to send local Sherpas to the site on foot for the rescue operation but later they dropped the idea thinking that it might put rescuers themselves at risk. He also informed that the expedition team was climbing down after ascending the 8586 meter high Mt Kanchenjunga on May 20. They reportedly met with the accident while they were near 4th camp in the mountain. Sherpa suspected that the climbers might have slipped and died in the snow due to the high winds and bad weather at around 7,000 meters. The expedition team had left Kathmandu for the mountain on April 2. “Two expedition teams from my agency had gone to the summit the mountain. All except five have returned safely. They also informed me that they had seen five bodies on the mountain while they were returning,” said Sherpa. Sherpa further informed that only two Nepali climbers have been identified among the five dead. The two Nepali climbers-Dibas Gurung and Fu Dorji Sherpa of Sankhuwasabha-were among the dead. Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Management Council (KCAMC) said that it has received the information about the accident but yet to confirm it independently. Even police said that it was yet to glean full information on the incident. Deputy Superintendent of Police Govinda Prasad Acharya at the District Police Office Taplejung said that they have unconfirmed reports about the incident. The District Police Office said the communication devices were not working due to bad weather so the office has been unable to contact the police station nearest to the accident spot. Nnnn UML DEFECTORS LIKELY TO CREATE PROBLEMS FOR MAOISTS Kathmandu, 24 May:: The recent defection of CPN-UML politburo members to the UCPN (Maoist) has not only sounded alarm bells for the UML but is equally likely to create deeper rifts within the existing factions of the UCPN (Maoist), kIran Pun writes in Republica.. With UML politburo members Ram Chandra Jha and Urmila Aryal joining the UCPN (Maoist), some of the Maoist leaders fear that the entry of UML leaders may have long-term implications for the party itself. As it appears, the Baburam Bhattarai-led faction within the UCPN (Maoist) will be the hardest hit. While Prabhu Sah from the Bhattarai faction holds a strong sway in the Tarai districts, Bhattarai´s wife Hisila Yami is the most prominent woman leader in the party after Pampha Bhusal joined Mohan Baidya´s CPN-Maoist. Maoist leaders said Bhattarai´s trusted lieutenant will be the one to lose the most in Tarai with the entry of Jha while Aryal is likely to overshadow Yami. The entry of Jha and Aryal into the party hence will further deepen the factional rifts between the groups led by party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Baburam Bhattarai and Narayankaji Shrestha. Their entry has especially alarmed the Bhattarai and Shrestha panels as Dahal plans to piggyback them to the top leadership level. Dahal now wants to promote Jha as a key Madhes leader and Aryal as a top woman leader in the party. Dahal´s move has made his rival factions jittery because it was him who had planned the merger with the Shrestha-led CPN (Unity Center-Masal) in a bid to sideline the influential Mohan Baidya-led faction. Their fears came true as Dahal garnered majority in the party with support from Shrestha and Bhattarai-led factions. “The latest move appears to have been taken with the plan to sideline Bhattarai and Shrestha with support from newcomers - a plan Dahal had failed to execute during the Hetauda general convention last January,” said a Maoist leader. However, unlike the past the latest move will only shift the power balance in Dahal´s favor as he has already accepted Bhattarai´s political line. “Dahal welcomed Jha in the party only as an alternative to Prabhu Sah who is close to Bhattarai, and Aryal as alternative to Hisila Yami,” said a Maoist leader. Dahal is relieved now that he would have Jha and Aryal as his trusted lieutenants. What troubles Bhattarai faction? After the defection of Matrika Yadav the party lost the only leader, who was accepted by all within the party. Krishna Singh Dev Danuwar and Mahendra Paswan represented Madhes within the party after Yadav left but they have joined the Baidya led CPN-Maoist. Dahal then tried to groom then party politburo member Bishwanath Sah as a leader of Madhes but other leaders, including those from the Dahal faction, who came through the people´s war did not accept him as the leader. “What troubled Dahal the most was Sah emerged as a dominant figure in Madhes. Unfortunately, Dahal could not get close to Sah,” said a Maoists leader from Madhes arguing that Dahal does not want Bhattarai to hold the mantle. Madhes remains crucial for Dahal because there will be more election constituencies in Madhes if electoral constituencies are delineated on the basis of population. In addition, Dahal has publicly announced that he would file his candidacy from a Madhes constituency. Interestingly, not only the Bhattarai faction, Madhes based leaders from the Shrestha and Dahal factions are also not ready to accept Jha. Some of the Madhes-based leaders have publicly raised questions over Jha´s past, while others boycotted the function held at the party´s head office in Parisdanda to welcome Jha in the party. “I am the senior-most Madhes leader in the party,” said Ram Kumar Yadav, arguing that Jha should not be given such an important responsibility. “Yes, we have internal rifts. We will have to wait and see how the upcoming central committee meeting settles our differences.” Similarly, the entry of the Aryal had not gone down well within the party. According to leaders from the Dahal and Bhattarai factions, Aryal´s is being viewed as Dahal´s pick to counter Yami. None of the existing women leaders -- Kamala Roka Magar, Onsari Garter Magar are from Dahal faction are same rank while Shashi Shrestha, Anjana Bishankhe and Sabina Aryal -- equal Yami in terms of her sway within the party. “The party should give responsibility on the basis of one´s contribution to the party and not only on the basis of seniority,” said Roka Magar. According to her, the upcoming central committee meeting of the party will divide responsibilities among women leaders. Dahal´s preference for Aryal is also guided by the fact that they were both the chief of the sister wings of the same party in the past. Later, Aryal joined the UML. The leaders from the Bhattarai faction have been expressing dissatisfaction over Aryal´s entry into the party through various news portals close to Bhattarai. At the functions held to welcome Jha and Aryal, Dahal had assured that he would satisfy both of them by awarding them appropriate responsibilities. Jha and Aryal were party politburo members in the UML. “This means the two may be awarded positions in the party standing committee,” said a leader close to Dahal. If the two are appointed as members of the standing committee, Aryal will be the only woman member from Dahal faction in the standing committee, while Yami would be promoted as the standing committee member from the Bhattarai faction. Similarly, Jha will be the senior-most leader from Madhes in the party. Only Bishwanath Sah was a politburo member in past, while Prabhu and Ram Kumar Yadav are party central committee members. “There is enough room for doubts as to how the party would move ahead. Only time will tell how the party divides responsibilities,” said central committee member Dor Prasad Upadhya, who is close to Bhattarai. Nnnn CRACKDOWN ON COACHING CENTERS Kathmandu, 24 May:: The Department of Education (DoE) has directed District Education Offices (DEOs) across the country to shut down all unregistered coaching and tuition centres opened in the name of teaching school Students, The Himalayan Times reports.. The DoE’s order came after it became clear that such centres were cheating students by luring them through fake advertisements and fake assurances. On the DoE’s request, the Ministry of Education had recently decided to shut down all such unregistered coaching centres. Tek Narayan Panday, DoE director, said they will soon send a circular to the DEOs. “It is illegal for an establishment to start its operation without taking approval from the authorised government bodies,” he said, adding, “The DEOs will inspect such centres and take action against those found involved in cheating students.” After receiving the DoE’s letter, the DEOs will monitor the coaching centres in the districts and take action against the illegal ones. According to Panday, the DEOs will ask the illegally-operating coaching centres to register. If they fail to comply, the DEOs will tell them to fold up. Of late, cases of tuition centres collecting exorbitant fees from students have been increasing. The government has decided to act against such centres. It does not have accurate data on such institutions. nnnn STRIKE AGAINST HAQUE MURDER INTENSIFY Kathmandu, 24 May: Home Minister Madhav Prasad Ghimire’s failure to turn up in Saptari today due to adverse weather has fuelled the protest sparked by the murder of Sadrul Miya Haque, The Himalayan Times reports from Rajbioraj. Miffed by Ghimire’s failure to visit the district till evening although he was scheduled to arrive in the afternoon, irate locals today shut the bazaars and disrupted vehicular movement chanting slogans against the minister. Earlier, an agreement had been reached that the matter would be resolved in the presence of the minister at a meeting today. “Security personnel were deployed from early morning and a temporary helipad was built for the visit and all the blockades of the highway were removed. But the minister did not come,” said Eyub Rain, a local. Agitators have staged a sit-in at Bisanpur chowk with Miya’s body. Speaking on the minister’s behalf, Chief District Officer Harikrishna Poudel said his visit was hampered by the adverse weather. “We are urging the agitators to end the road blockade,” he said. The highway blockades that came into effected after Miya’s murder are yet to be lifted. Though police had escorted some vehicles on Wednesday night, the agitators disrupted the road from Thursday morning, leaving dozens of vehicles stranded at Kanchanpur, Mahuli, Rupani, Kathona and other places. The agitators have laid tree logs across the road and burnt tyres to obstruct the highway, and the bazaars on the highway have also remained shut to protest the murder. A struggle committee led by Haji Dabul has also been formed to intensify the agitation, with demands like martyr’s status for Miya, guarantee of security for the Muslim community, and arrest of the murderers at the earliest, and the presence of the Home Minister for Miya’s last rites. Almost half of Sunsari district remained shut today to protest the murder, as members of the Muslim community held demonstrations at different places of the district demanding that the government be serious regarding security for the community. Vehicular movement was disrupted and bazaars were shut in places with Muslim majority such as Bhantabari, Kosi Barrage, Laukahi, Bhokraha, Pakali, Jhumka, Duhabi, Khanar, leaving passengers in the lurch. Passengers heading to Pokhara, Kathmandu and other places have been stranded in Itahari for the past two days. Nnnn POLITICKING HEATS UP IN TERAI Kathmandu, 24 May: As political parties deliberate on holding new Constituent Assembly (CA) elections, a whole lot of political churning is taking place in Madhesi politics. While efforts are under way from some quarters to form a single party or at least an electoral alliance, some Madhesi leaders are resorting to 'pressure tactics' in order to establish themselves as a credible force in the polls, Pranab Kharel writes in The Kathmandu Post. There are also fears of widespread election violence. This fear, observers claim, has come to the fore following the murder of former lawmaker Sadrul Miya Haque in Sarlahi, which some see as the beginning of election violence. Haq, who contested the 2008 CA elections as an independent is said to be a popular leader in his community. He was reportedly joining the UCPN (Maoist). Almost a month ago, the son of a prominent leader of the Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party (TMLP) in Mahottarai, Shyam Singh, was killed. This incident is also being interpreted as the result of political animosity. Five years after the Madhes became a national constituency in the CA elections in 2008, it now features even more prominently as a political constituency, and in the deliberations, all top parties seem to only too aware of it. "Madhes has emerged as the centre of national politics and it keeps every party interested," TMLP General Secretary Sarvendra Nath Shukla says. Interestingly, this has also led Madhes-centric parties to worry about safeguarding their newfound strength. On Saturday, the TMLP is hosting a high-tea reception with a view to bringing all Madhesi parties together. The importance accorded to Madhes can be gauged from the fact that major political parties, such as the Nepali Congress and the UCPN (Maoist), have given high priority to this constituency (reflected in their speech and documents), though they are still to come up with a clear roadmap to attract Madhesi voters. While Madhes figured prominently in the NC Mahasamiti meeting last month in Nawalparasi, Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has already announced that he would be contesting elections from a Madhesi constituency. Dahal, in fact, made the announcement in Janakpur, which, observers believe, is a calculated move, given the town's centrality in the Mithila culture and its prominence in Madhesi politics. According to the 2011 census, more than 50 percent of the population lives in the 20 Tarai districts of the country. It is not just the traditional 'national parties' that will look to lure the Madhes vote, Madhes-based parties have a task cut out themselves to consolidate their base. Leaders of Madhesi parties say three kinds of polarisations are likely in the Tarai. One, Upendra Yadav will lead the combination of the Yadav caste group and those from the left. Two, a group led by Mahanta Thakur will include right-of-the-centre/centrist high caste groups. Three, another group led by Bijaya Gachhadar will comprise mainly of Tharus who are spread right across the Tarai, though some districts like Kailali, Kanchanpur, Bardiya, Dang, Rupandehi and Kapilvastu in the west, Chitwan in the central region and Sunsari, Morang, Saptari and Siraha in the east have a high density of the Tharu population. According to the 2011 census, the Tharus account for 6.6 percent of the country's total population. According to Coordinator of the Tarai Madhes National Campaign Jaya Prakash Gupta, while efforts are under way to unite the Madhesi parties, forming a loose alliance of "like-minded" parties would be more realistic. Still, many believe that Madhesi parties are under tremendous pressure from their constituencies to coalesce around common causes so as to form a bulwark against "status quoits parties." "The emotional attachment of the Madhesi people with the leadership that existed following the Madhes movement has waned, giving way to disillusionment," says Deependra Jha, a human rights lawyer and columnist, who keeps a close tab on Madhesi issues. He believes "this will compel parties to come together." However, Gupta casts doubts over "such a wishful scenario. This [to bring all Madhes parties under an umbrella] is an ambitious agenda, though, I am all for it," he says, pointing out that a broad-based Madhesi constituency in the new elections will help complete the 'progressive work' that began in the 2007-2008 period and continued through the CA's demise. Though opinions are sharply polarised, there is unanimity that the rise of Madhesi nationalism has played an important role in establishing federalism and identity in the Interim Constitution and a cornerstone of transitional politics. Following the CA elections, Madhesi parties, under the umbrella of Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha, pitched for two autonomous provinces in the Madhes. Their numerical strength in the parliament (83) gave them leverage against the larger parties. The Madhesi parties have also advocated for a federal set-up and ensuring identity at the core of Nepali politics. This brought them closer to the Maoists and two forces--Maoists and Madhes--kept the Maoist Vice-chairman, Baburam Bhattarai, in Singha Durbar, the seat of Nepali state power, for close to two years. "This further established Madhes as a strong constituency in national politics, much to the chagrin of Pahadi leaders, especially from the NC and the UML," observes columnist Chandrakishor, who writes a Madhes-specific column "Dateline Tarai" in Kantipur daily. But constant splits in all major Madhes-based parties--Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Nepal, TMLP, and Sadhbhawana--has raised doubts about their credibility as a political party, he adds. This week, Sadhbhawana Party chairman and former minister Rajendra Mahato started a 'fast-onto-death,' demanding declaration of poll dates. Observers see this as a move to draw people's attention to elections. Chandrakishor maintains that Mahato is trying to gain sympathy in the Madhes. As long as he is seen as fighting for a "just cause" against Kathmandu, it will do his image no harm in Madhes. Mahato has put forth a 10-point charter of demands, mostly election-related. He can claim to be carrying the legacy of Gajendra Narayan Singh, the founding leader of the party who advocated for federalism and linguistic rights way back in the 90s as the chairman of the Nepal Sadbhawan Party in the first parliament after the restoration of democracy in 1990. nnnn SUSPECTED MURDERERS, INCLUDING NIRMAL NIWAS GUARD, OF CAPITAL WOMEN ARRESTED Kathmandu, 24 May: The frenzied sexual affair of a 42-year-old married woman with two men of almost half her age has led to her gruesome murder . Suntali Maya Lama, a temporary resident of Sankhu, was found dead on Tuesday morning,ANkit Adhikari writes in The Kathmandu Post.. Krishna Bahadur Baram, 25, and his brother Purna Bahadur Baram, 26, from Gorkha, who had simultaneously been in sexual relationship with the deceased for the past couple of months, stoned her to death, police said. The deceased hails from Sarlahi district. Krishna Bahadur is an Armed Police Force guard at Sheetal Niwas, Maharajgunj. Purna Bahadur is a labourer at a Budhanilkantha-based leather factory. According to the police, Purna Bahadur had first established the relationship with Lama, some five to six months ago through phone calls. After three months, Purna Bahadur shared his partner’s phone number with Krishna Bahadur who had an affair with her too. However, last week, Lama started blackmailing Krishna Bahadur, saying that she was expecting his baby, and pressed him for a marriage. Krishna Bahadur then masterminded the murder along with Purna Bahadur. Since Purna Bahadur was yet to pay the deceased Rs 20,000 he had borrowed, he agreed. As part of the conspiracy, Krishna Bahadur finally set the date of elopement with Lama for Monday, and met her at Budhanilkantha at around 3pm. They stayed there until 6 pm, when Purna Bahadur, back from work, joined them. The plan was to be executed in Purna Bahadur’s rented room. Since it did not materialise as he had guests, the brothers took her to the nearby Chiseni jungle. They made love for one last time there, after which the two brothers brutally stoned the woman to death at 8 pm. They duo the city the same night. Her body was recovered the next morning with a damaged face. The murder ers were tracked down through call details obtained from the woman’s mobile phone found in her handbag, which also contained a phone diary and her clothes. The deceased had been married four months ago to Lal Bahadur Tamang, a 61-year-old guard at TU Teaching Hospital, Maharajgunj. This was her second marriage. Lama had six sons and two daughters with her first husband, who currently lives in India. Tamang has two sons and two daughters from his first wife. On Monday, she had left her Sankhu-based house, saying that she was going to a friend’s house in Thali for three days. “Through call details, we first arrested Krishna Bahadur from Gorkha on Wednesday,” said SSP Bijay Lal Kayastha, chief of the Metropolitan Police Crime Investigation Division. “Based on the information provided by him, we got Purna Bahadur as well.” Investigations are under way, he said. nnnn


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