Nepal Today

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Kathmandu, 26 July: The UCPN (Maoist) on Thursday launched a one-month election campaign in all the 240 electoral constituencies. During the campaign, the party is set to gauge its position at the grassroot level, The Kathmandu, Post writes. .
Leaders sent to the constituencies will also evaluate the position of rival parties--Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML--at the local level. The two parties have already conducted a preliminary evaluation of their positions in the constituencies.
According to UCPN (Maoist) leaders, another target of the campaign is to assess the impact of the party's split--when Mohan Baidya left the party to form the CPN-Maoist.
“Our actual strength after the party's split will be known after the election campaign ,” a leader said.
Leaders say the party has not taken any feedback from cadres and the common people after the Constituent Assembly (CA) elections and the integration and rehabilitation of former Maoist combatants.
“Leaders sent to the constituencies will organise mass meetings and interactions and mobilise cadres,” party spokesperson Agni Sapkota told the Post.
The teams visiting the constituencies will also prepare a 'possible' list of candidates the party would field in the November CA elections.
The Maoist party has directed its leaders to use local radios and newspapers for the campaign.
According to leaders, the party will prepare its election strategy after the leaders file reports on the constituencies.
The recent plenum of the party had decided to prepare for the elections by adopting a single leadership system under party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
The party has already formed a committee led by leader Baburam Bhattarai to prepare the party's election manifesto, while the election mobilisation team is led by Dahal.

Kathmandu, 26 July: Confronting the surprise resignation of vice-chairman Baburam Bhattarai, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) seems to have resolved to go the way of its two leading peers, Maila Baje writes in Nepali Netbook. 
Whether party chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s offer of the position of ‘senior leader’ would do much to appease Dr. Bhattrarai or ameliorate the UCPN-Maoist’s underlying identity crisis remains to be seen. But the senior leader’s position does represent a remedy that has worked reasonably well with the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML).
Former prime ministers Sher Bahadur Deuba and Madhav Kumar Nepal are ordained as senior leaders in their respective parties. By proffering such structured obeisance, Maila Baje feels the parties have tamed internal dissidence to a tolerable level, allowing both the Nepali Congress and UML to negotiate their wider and ostensibly interminable churning processes.
Neither man needs to investigate or invoke his organizational strength at any given moment or on any given issue in order to maintain his preeminence in the political discourse of the day. Through due deference, the official leaders feel they have done enough to contain any threat to their own positions.
The UCPN-Maoist’s position is more analogous to that of the UML than to the Nepali Congress. Each of the two major communist parties is today led by a former prime minister who, in turn, has to accommodate the pride and predilections of another ex-premier.
But there is also a key difference. While UML senior leader Nepal has already led his party, Dr. Bhattarai has never had such exclusive organizational dominance. For his part, Deuba, a three-time premier, has the good fortune of working among men who have never held the top job.
Narayan Kaji Shrestha, the other vice-chairman of the UCPN-Maoist, is not too happy with the prospect of Dr. Bhattarai’s elevation. His own ambitions – and the back-story of his rapid rise in the party – are too strong to overcome.
Then there is that possibility of reunification of the Maoist factions. Cutting through momentary alliances of convenience, it is pretty clear that Dr. Bhattarai is by far more polarizing to the breakaway group than anyone else.
What really compound the UCPN-Maoist’s challenge, though, are the persona, temperament and attitude of Dr. Bhattarai. He still has a penchant for taking almost exclusive credit for Nepal having become a republic, despite the fact that he was the last man to speak of a cultural monarchy so late in the day.
Rarely, if ever, has the persona of a politician taken such a precipitous plunge before and after his stint in Singh Darbar. Yet Dr. Bhattarai doesn’t believe he can be held responsible for his government’s failures. As all true leftists asserts, he feels his motives and intentions should count the most.
In search of the greatness that he seems convinced fate has thrust upon him, Dr. Bhattarai’s iconoclasm has taken startling forms. The other day, he became the only ex-premier to urge the government take responsibility for the medical treatment of former prime minister Marich Man Singh Shrestha, who is battling lung cancer in a New Delhi hospital.
When reports emerged recently that Dr. Bhattarai might be joining the Nepali Congress, they sparked guttural gasps of incredulity. Yet they were immediately succeeded by an acknowledgement that there might be some method to such madness, precisely given the man so afflicted.
Hey, it’s even tempting to believe that the elevation of Dr. Bhattarai may have something uplifting for all of us.
Kathmandu, 26 July: Speculations increasingly get rife in the press and public with doubts whether the Constituent Assembly elections will be held in November or not. But the major political parties, for all exterior purposes, have begun raising the pitch of their voices to cacophonous decibels in preparations of an exercise that has twice missed the schedule by the UCPN (Maoist) and its partners in the widely condemned four-party syndicate. Trikal Vastavik writes in People’s Review..
Among the syndicate members, the UCPN (Maoist) wants its exclusive majority in the next CA, if and when its elections are held. The Nepali Congress and CPN (UML) voice for similar verdicts in favor of their own organizations. Each warns voters that, if it were not given the majority of seats, the nation would plunge into deeper crisis. The message is that without the majority for the individual party, the “gains” of the 2005-6 movement would be lost forever and there would be no new Constitution.
The Madhesi Morcha does not at all talk of majority seats. This is not because it is being realistic that no single group will win majority. It is aware that the existing loktantrik constitutional arrangement has virtually erased such prospect for any constituent of the infamous syndicate. Keen to assert its presence in the chaos-ridden political firmament, the Morcha leaders and their Medhesi rivals split into many camps, warn tirelessly of dire consequences if the “aspirations and just demands” of the Madhesi community were ignored by forces that had suppressed them for ages.
NC and UML claim that, if the Maoists win, the nation will be driven to chaos and invite authoritarian rule. They admit that the former rebels had waylaid them on too many occasions in the past to trust them. In reply, the Pushpa Kamal Dahal faction of Maoists sounds the coming of gloom and doom if the NC and UML had their way, accusing the two also of being sacred of facing voters.
None of the three of the syndicate members make any charges against the Madhesi groups which have split so often that their number has trebled in five years. The Madhesi groups normally do not make specific charges to other individual parties except for lumping them all as conspiring to work against the interests of the Madhesi community.
Cutting through the claims and arguments of the four-party diktat, the Mohan Baidya group of Maoists, which split from Dahal’s group last year, lumps the syndicate constituents as one and the same to describe them as anti-people and bent on only accumulating wealth through illegal means. The syndicate is accused of working under the dictates and agendas of foreign forces. The Baidya group feels that the current developments are driving the country toward grave risks that put vital interests at serious danger.
The fact is that if both the Maoist groups content the next elections, they would be placed fourth and fifth parties in the CA. If the Baidya group boycotted the polls quietly, the Dahal faction would emerge as a major force. However, if the Baidya group actively boycotted the polls, the Dahal group would be reduced to a fringe party. If the two Maoist factions by any chance united, the NC and UML could be reduced to the status of pygmies.
The 2008 elections were defective because of open bias against the parties of the former panchayat, who were not allowed to even campaign freely and fearlessly because of the Maoist-NC-UML cadres intimidating people to stay away from the former’s programs. The administration was also used against the former rulers.
The so-called international poll observers, including former US President Jimmy Carter, gave the conduct of the 2008 elections a clean cheat when elections were only mid-way through. Ironically, the NC and UML soon began raising voices of protest, charging the Maoists of vote-rigging. NC President Sushil Koirala the other week publicly accused the Maoists of having won many seats through malpractice.
Koirala let loose his tongue as if senility had taken over his memory. It was his cousin Girija Prasad Koirala, the then NC president, who was the prime minister at the time of the 2008 elections. Neither of the cousins had raised the issue of ballot-stuffing and voter intimidation at that time. It was only the former panchas who remain consistent in their story.
Now that election talks have preoccupied the main agenda of all parties for real or pretence, the efforts on the part of leaders, whose parties were part of the previous four communist-led governments formed prior to the current partyless team of bureaucrats, are at raising election funds by any means and from any source.
Reliable sources at Rastra Bank brief this author that quite a few political leaders have been found in dealing with high stake financial transactions of extremely dubious concerns. At least six of them are known to be involved directly or through proxies in amassing billions of rupees. Other individual leaders not heading their parties are also working overtime in collecting funds.
Many potential candidates are learnt to have already estimated that they would need at least Rs. 10 million each as election expenses, an amount far exceeding the prescribed ceilings.  Since there has been no effective case of any candidate having spent more than the stipulated expenses ceiling, the ones now planning to spend millions of rupees during the election campaign appear confident of not being booked for action.
Muscle power is also given special priority, which calls for hiring toughies geared to project the candidate in question as someone powerful with wide following and someone who can spend and nurse his constituency of supporters come what may. Intimidation is also used to persuade and dissuade voters.  This all needs money, which is being sought and obtained from any quarter and acknowledging ready obligation the generous donor in any which way.
Dahal’s group is believed to be far ahead of the rest in possessing vast funds. Its breakaway group headed by Baidya stands second. Both the groups possess money and muscle in far excess to what the NC and UML can hope to have in their kitty and side.  Other parties and their candidates are facing a losing battle in competing for funds. They may find mustering muscle easier than collecting funds at a time when crores of rupees are spent in student campus elections.


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