By P. Kharel
Is anyone indispensable in Nepali politics? Well, Nepal Communist Party (NCP) seems to think so of its leaders. Bam Dev Gautam lost last year’s elections in which his organisation won an impressive majority. To nurse his desperate search for being aboard the parliament, he is craving for someone else’s seat sighted to be the safest one for an NCP candidate. Dhana Bahadur Budha is reported to be stepping down to catapult his “senior” party leader Gautam to contest the vacated slot and make his way to the popular house and perhaps also obtain a ministerial berth at some point not too far.
For his sacrifice, Budha will be craned onto the National Assembly next year, when one-third of the members retire and the new ones would serve for a term of six years. Would a grateful Gautam pull in Budha as a minister of state if he were to be roped in for a cabinet position in the not too distant future?
Budha’s leader Madhav Kumar Nepal set the practice a decade ago when his party comrade in the Constituent Assembly agreed to resign in exchange for an ambassadorial appointment to Sri Lanka. Madhav Kumar Nepal was treated as “essential” for drafting the new constitution by heading the related committee. However, he soon ended up becoming prime minister. Wonder if the “indispensable” comrade ever thought privately that if he had led the constitution drafting committee, he might have helped formulate the constitution that could not see the light of promulgation despite shabby extension of the Constituent Assembly, which led to an un precedented and much-criticised electing of Constitution Assembly II?
Old ‘Youth’ Leaders
They are in their 50s, and yet they are hailed as their parties’ “youth leaders”! Be it in the NCP or the Nepali Congress, this is the strange case of a misnomer carrying currency with the parties concerned.
Recall that Sher Bahadur Deuba, Ram Chandra Poudel, Arjun Narsingh K.C., Ram Sharan Mahat and their ilk were termed “youth leaders” as long as their Nepali Congress chief Girija Prasad Koirala was around. After Koirala breathed his last nine years ago, the same lot lost their positions as “youth leaders”.
The force of a commission in Nepal rests on the government that appoints it. Kedar Bhakta Mathema was a Nepali Congress appointee to the vice-chancellorship of the Nepal’s oldest and biggest academic institution, Tribhuvan University which was the idea initiated into action by the two queens of King Tribhuvan. King Tribhuvan’s queens made financial contributions as seed money and the rest was geared ahead by governments.
Commissions constituted to address specific issues for specific period are notorious for conforming to the appointing dispensation’s wishes. In the aftermath of the 2006 political changes, a witch hunt was launched by democratic, progressive and revolutionary forces represented by Nepali Congress under Girija Prasad Koirala, CPN (UML) headed by Madhav Kumar Nepal and Maoists bossed by Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
Immediately after Girijia Prasad Koirala was appointed premier by King Gyanendra, a number of recent ministers, including Home Minister Kamal Thapa and Information and Communications Minister Shrish S. Rana, were detained in the Police Barrack adjoining to the Police Hospital at Maharajgunj for weeks, ostensibly as a preventive measure lest violence get triggered. A probe commission was formed with faces that also included lack of credentials. The lack of follow-up indicated that there was no case against them worth moving the court of law. In fact, Rana was perhaps the only one who pursued the legal course set in motion by a vengeful government and emerged innocent.
On Republic Day May 29, 2018, Bal Krishna Dhungel, serving jail sentence in connection with the murder of a civilian during the Maoists’ insurgency decade, was released despite public protests by human rights groups and those affected by violence. Presidernt Bidya Devi Bhandari signed the Oli government’s move, though there was this case of her predecessor at Shital Niwas, Ram Baran Yadav, having overruled Pushpa Kamal Dahal when the latter issued an order sacking the then Chief of the Army Staff.
State pardon has become misused to serve the pockets or the interests of the ruling constituents as well as bigwigs in the opposition.
Bhandari had hosted at least a couple of dinner meetings to lobby with the reliable Oli and the tentative Dahal for her extension of her job at Shital Niwas, though she did not retain some of her high profile advisors who served for only two years.
Love for U-turn
An interesting observation make to the national Grapevine concerning the K.P. Oli government’s penchant for announcing a measure and turning the back-gear soon after. The government, which boasts of two-thirds majority, is seen taking sharp U-turns in pledging to end the motor-vehicle syndicate in public transport sector, backtracking in the decision on capital gain and withdrawing internet tax. The age bar for leadership positions has also taken its fall flat.
Former Information and Communications Minister Shrish S. Rana, in www.nawachetana.com: “Now let the new kings run the nation’s affairs.”