Nepal Today

Sunday, June 16, 2013

HLPM MEETS MONDAYTO CREATE ELECTION ATMOSPHERE Kathmandu, 16 June: The delayed meeting of the high-level political mechanism (HLPM) of the Big Three ad Madeshi Morcha is being held for the first time Monday under chairmanship of Bijaya KumarGachedhar who is also chairman of MJFL Gachedhar takes charge of the rotating chairmanship of the body for Ashad from UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal. The first meeting under Gachedhar was scheduled for Sunday. The leader of the Morcha has rejected demands for the disbandment of the controversial body and has instead invited other parties to join. Creation of an election environment is the main agenda of Monday’s meet by attempting to hold talks with the opposition. All parties in the HLPM have welcomed election announcement. nnnn. CPN MAOIST, ALLIES MEET TO CHALK OUT FURTHER PROTESTS Kathmandu, 17 June: CPN Maoist and allies are holding consultations Monday to chalk out programmes to disrupt the announced 19 November secondconstituent assembly elections. Parties said they will oppose and even disrupe the vote announcedunilaterally without consulting the opposition. The meeting comes one day after a crippling Nepal bandh Sunday. Forty-two parties oppose the vote, Nnnn PARTIES FACE CHALLENSES WITH ELECTION ANNOUNCEMENT Kathmandu, 17 June:With the declaration of second Constituent Assembly elections, parties face a host of challenges within worthy of attention to create a political environment conducive for the poll s, Kamal DevBhattarai, pranabKharel write in The Kathmandu Post.. Some of the challenges include selecting the right election candidates without festering intra-party rifts crippling a large majority of the parties, steering clear of troubles, upholding the past agreements and securing funds, among others. Nepali Congress leaders say the utmost challenge is to effectively sew up the party’s present structure, which is ‘in the doldrums’. The leadership issue is another challenge facing the party. “All three top leaders—Sushil Koirala, Sher Bahadur Deuba and Ram Chandra Poudel—have failed to deliver despite being at the helm for a long time,” said NC leader Puranjan Acharaya, a long time associate of late NC President Girija Prasad Koirala. Acharya maintained that retaining loyal supporters and attracting youths are also the daunting tasks. “If the party wants to fare well in the upcoming poll s, it should have a concrete policy targeting youths.” The NC has to address complaints about favouritism and nepotism. Some Congress leaders still believe that poll candidates are picked considering their loyalties to powerful leaders in the party, but not on the basis of merit. The UCPN (Maoist) is in the same boat. Intra-party disputes remain a thorn in its flesh even after the party’s general convention in February. Various key posts in the party remains unfulfilled owing to factional feuds. The demand of Madhesi and women leaders for ‘respectable positions’ has hampered fresh appointments to the office bearer team. “Managing internal disputes, selecting the candidates and raising funds are the major challenges for us,” said UCPN (M) leader Devendra Poudel. In the party’s Madhes bureau, dissatisfaction prevails following the entry of former CPN-UML leader Ram Chandra Jha. The likes of other Madhesi leaders Prabhu Sah, Ramrijan Yadav, Biso Nath Sah are reportedly unhappy with the importance given to Jha. Leaders argue that if the party fails to rejig its committees before the CA elections, it would cost the party dear. CPN-UML also has internal problems and party leaders say this needs to be addressed urgently. The first challenge, according to leaders, is to strengthen the party’s Janajati and Madhesi constituencies that are weak at the knees after influential leaders left the party. “Of course, the departure of prominent Madhesi and Janajati leaders will affect the party in the elections, but we have attempted to salvage the situation by inducting leaders from the same community recently,” said UML leader Pradeep Gywali. Besides, the regional forces are hankering for a poll tie-up. Amid talks for a possible electoral alliance among Madhes-based parties, leaders say fewer the number, better the result. “If we have more than two alliances, votes will split and non-Madhesi parties are likely to gain advantage,” said Sarbendra Nath Sukla, general secretary of the Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party. Taking the Pahadi population in Madhes into confidence is also one of the major challenges, he said. Leaders also maintain that upholding the past agreements signed with Madhesi parties is another challenge in the upcoming elections. Observers, however, believe that if the Madhes-centric parties fail to live up the the expectation, they cannot fare well in the elections. Nnnn BHATTARAI GOVT. VIOLATED RULES TO DISBURSE FUNDS FOR ROAD PROJECTS Kathmandu, 17 June: The Baburam Bhattarai-led government distributed around Rs 1.75 billion to regional road projects (district road s) in violation of the rules, it has been revealed,, Ramesh Shrestha writes in The Kathmandu Post. . Sources at the Department of Roads said the resources were allocated to over 200 road projects “under political pressure” right before the formation of the current government. As per the existing budget ceiling for regional road s, the road department can provide up to Rs 900,000 per year per project. But, the road department provided Rs 42 million to Dumra-Maharajgunj-Hardauna road project in Kapilvastu; Rs 20 million to Charikot-Kalinchowk Road; and Rs 17.5 million to Rabi-Madhumalla-Urlabari Road in Jhapa. These are only some examples. Road department officials have suspected the resources given to the projects exceeding the ceiling could have been misused. According to the sources, the department allocates Rs 700,000 to district road s connecting business hubs within a district, and Rs 900,000 to road s that link two districts. However, even the road s that were not included in the government’s red book, which incorporates proposed financing to each project, were allocated the budget, they said. Former Finance Minister Barsha Man Pun and former Physical Infrastructure and Transport Minister Hridayesh Tripathi “played a vital role” in releasing the funds to district road s through the road department, one of the sources said. Tripathi admitted that the budget was transferred to regional road projects exceeding the ceiling, but he said the funds were only provided to the projects facing resource crunch. “The money saved from other projects was transferred to the regional road projects,” he said. Regional road s get relatively lower budget as they are second priority (P2) projects. Officials at the Physical Infrastructure Ministry said it is normal to see political leaders pressuring for the allocation of the budget for projects they want. “Allocation of resources based on political pressure has been a normal trend and problem for years no matter what party is in the power,” said a high-level official at the Physical Infrastructure Ministry. “This nepotism affects the government’s plans and priorities as resources are limited.” While regional road s got budget in excess of the ceiling, the Strategic Road Network (SRN) is facing budget crunch for repair and maintenance. SRN covers around 15,000 km highway and feeder road s. Due to the lack of resources, the condition of highways is getting poorer because periodic, specific maintenance and road rehabilitation work that are vital to keep road s smooth does not receive proper government attention. nnnn MEDIA GOOGLE "The country will be in control of some external forces after the coming elections as they will help the parties of their favour win.” (NC leader Devendra Lal Nepali, The Himalayan Times, 17 June) nnnn


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