By P. Kharel
Madan Bhandari recalled
May 17 marks the day when the then CPN (UML) general-secretary Madan Bhandari was killed in a motor accident under highly questionable circumstances. Foul play was widely suspected and all sorts of rumours circulated, especially after Bhandari’s own party asked or high level investigation. UML leaders never tired of raising the issue. Twenty-eight years later, the mystery has only deepened, and no serious investigation gets ordered.
Commentators began wondering who all found their political stars rise and shine thereafter. Presently carrying a new banner under Nepal Communist Party (NCP) partnering the former Maoists of Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Prime Minister KP Oli is not prepared to respond to the issue. Is investigation totally uncalled for? Was the tragic incident really an accident?
There have been UML-faction’s communist governments led by Man Mohan Adhikary, Madhav Kumar Nepal, Jhala Nath Khanal and twice by Prime Minister KP Oli. Dahal also held the prime ministerial chair twice just as the one-time Maoist Dr. Baburam Bhattarai donned the premiership once. Yet, the controversial case continues to go unaddressed. No logical and convincing conclusion has arrived. And the UML faction in NCP is mum over it.
All that the late Bhandari gets annually is ritualistic commendation by UML comrades but the all-important issue will predictably be furiously ignored this time too. At least, Bhandari’s widow President Bidya Devi Bhandari could nudge the government to clear the mystery.
One person one post
Predictably, the issue of one person holding only post has surfaced in the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) too. BP Koirala was the one who first brought this question in 1952 when Nepali Congress President and BP’s step brother Matrika Prasad Koirala was the prime minister. King Tribhuvan appointed Matrika to head the government by virtue of the elder Koirala being also the perceived largest party chief who was the commander of the 1950-51 democratic movement.
But BP felt slighted at being sidelined in the scheme of the prevailing political spectrum. Matrika rejected the suggestion to vacate one of the two posts he held, arguing that parliamentary democracy allowed a party to leader to concurrently head the government, as in Britain, India and other democracies. BP asked his loyalists to pull out of the government, and thus initiated the process of party split.
Following the 1959 parliamentary general elections, however, BP chose to forget the lofty question he had raised against Matrika. He continued as party boss and also the prime minister, underscoring the blatant expediency with which politcians define, interpret and spin democratic principles.
Once the principle of an elected president of a party was not sought to be discounted by a senior leader like BP, the palace was at a loss as to who to appoint prime minister. At least, it clung to the basic idea of ensuring that a prime minister heads a political party, as there had never been any general election previously.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Under Prithvi’s gaze
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Krishna Bahadur Mahara, after a visit to the Gorkha Palace premises recently, spoke of the need to develop the site as a tourism destination. Mahara’s comrades were the ones that destroyed Prithvi’s statue in Gorkha, irrespective of the rich legacy of the Great Man who laid down a solid foundation of Nepal’s unification drive. Nepalese are grateful to King Prithvi Narayan Shah for being the citizens of one of the oldest independent countries in existence today.
Fortunately, Prkithvi Nararayan’s statue was unveiled not long ago, with the perpetrators among Maoists remaining quit over the issue, given the nationwide reference with which the Great King is held.
By the way, former Maoist-now-divorced from communism Dr. Bhattarai gets elected from a Gorkha district but maintains silence over Prithvi’s name. This is because of embarrassment. He does not have the courage to summon to admit publicly that what Maoists did against Prithvi’s statue was wrong. Nor does he have the confidence to say that Prithvi deserved what his armed insurgents did.
Race for dreams
In a country where declaring a dream is enough to consider oneself a “visionary”, the race for political leaders vying for announcing their dream plans has turned to be a big joke. Followers of leaders harp on the dream their source of reverence had mentioned. Hence we have dreamers and dream-supporters but no one with the vision or the programme to translate the dreams into reality.
One would like to make a modest suggestion that more political leaders come up with as many dreams as possible in the hope that, even if they cannot fulfil them in any way, they can at least claim to have dreamt of events and environment that future goverments headed by any party.
Non-delivery of promises in action has unmasked all prime ministers since the revival of parliamentary democracy in 1990 and the so-called “epoch-making” changes after the 2005-6 movement that is responsible for the muck and mess registered with such impunity.
Front page main news in The Himalayan Times: “The Constituency Infrastructure Special Programme has faced criticism in the past as it is largely geared towards giving the elected lawmakers an edge during the elections and purchase votes with patronage.”