Need for keeping People Vigilant in Nepal
Need for keeping People Vigilant in Nepal
By Siddhi B. Ranjitkar
Saturday, April 29, 2006
The people's movement in April 2006 succeeded to remove the dictatorial regime and bring back to life the House of Representatives dissolved on May 22, 2002. However, there is still a chance for the king to stage a comeback. The corrupt members of parliament and the government elected by them had nourished the king to be powerful in the past; the same people are taking the same seats in the House of Representatives, and they would elect a government of the same people, and the Royal Nepal Army is still the army of the king.
On April 28, 2006, Deputy Speaker Chitra Lekha Yadav read out the message of the Prime Minister in-waiting Girija Prasad Koirala to the first session of the newly revived House of Representatives, as he could not attend the session due to the poor health. He made a proposal for elections for a Constituent Assembly for crafting a new constitution but he failed to talk about the Royal Nepal Army although he has the people's mandate to bring the army under civilian control immediately. If the people could restore the House of Representatives, why could not the Prime Minster bring the army under the civilian control immediately?
Nepalis watched the same members of parliament (MPs) taking seats in the House of Representatives on the TV channels on April 28, 2006. Nepalis used to call them Pajero MPs, as all of them except for one or two imported highly luxurious and expensive Japanese car called Pajero not paying millions of worth taxes to the government, after the then government proposed the exemption of taxes on the cars in the House, and the MPs passed it unanimously.
Nepalis deserved a better and a cleaner person than former four-term Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to head the new people's government and run a clean administration. Unfortunately, Nepalis have to accept the same four-term Prime Minister Koirala despite the fact that he had already proved his incompetence for the job, not completing any one of the four terms. In addition, he needs to present himself before the Commission for Investigation into Abuse of Authority (CIAA) for questioning, as the Supreme Court of Nepal gave verdict on his petition filed claiming the CIAA's subpoena served to him for questioning was illegal, was pursuant to the existing law. So, first thing, Prime Minister designate Koirala needs to do is to submit himself to the CIAA and clear off the charges on him.
On April 28, 2006, Television cameras focused on Former Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa taking a seat in the new House, and later reporters put him several questions on camera. To have such a figure back on the House is also quite unfortunate and shameful to the people. He was a Prime Minister at the time when former King Birendra ordered to hold a referendum between the improved Panchayat system and the multi-party democracy in 1980 after the students' uprising against the Panchayat system in 1979. He was responsible for rigging the referendum, and bringing the results in favor of the Panchayat at the expense of huge forest resources. Later, in 1990, Nepalis tore down the Panchayat system and reintroduced the multi-part democracy lost to former King Mahendra in 1960.
Television viewers saw the glowing face of General Secretary of the CPN-UML, Madhav Kumar Nepal in the first session of the new House. He was the Deputy Prime Minister of the minority Government of the CPN-UML in 1994. At that time his colleague and Minister for Agriculture, C.P. Mainali openly charged him for asking a few millions of rupees from him. Minister of Finance, Bharat Mohan Adhikari of his cabinet distorted the national statistics and attempted to paint a rosy economic picture of the country. Do Nepalis want to see them again in the House and on the incoming new Cabinet?
Television cameras also focused on Former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba taking a seat in the new House. He was the Prime Minister in the coalition government of NC and RPP in 1996. He sent some of his cabinet ministers to Bangkok in Thailand on the pretext of health checks when he faced the no-confidence motion moved by the opposition in the House. Vacationing in Bangkok on the pretext of health check-ups, those RPP partner ministers in the coalition government did not need to vote against the Prime Minister Deuba even though they were ordered by the party command to do so. Thus, Former Prime Minister Deuba won the confidence of the House but at the high cost of ethics. In addition, his party NC-D elected Former Minister Chiranjivi Wagle to the member of its Central Working Committee in the party convention held in early 2006, and has been sheltering him from getting into behind bars. The Special Court convicted Former Minister Chiranjivi Wagle of amassing state money for his personal enrichment on July 22, 2004, and gave him a two-and-half-year jail term, and ordered him to return Rs 27.5 million to the government treasury. Any of the previous governments including the king's government did not bother to put him behind bars.
Similarly, the NC has been sheltering Former Minister Khum Bahadur Khadka and Former Minister Govind Raj Joshi from the CIAA questioning them. Former Minister Khadka had presented himself before the CIAA for questioning once but Former Minster Joshi had never appeared before the CIAA. Both of them are still the members of the Central Working Committee of the NC headed by no other than Prime Minister designate Girija Prasad Koirala
Bam Dev Gautam of the CPN-UML was the Deputy Prime Minister of the coalition government of the CPN-UML and the RPP in 1997. Deputy Prime Minister Gautam went to the airport and picked up the suitcase filled with gold. Spokesman for the CPN-UML, Pradeep Nepal had once charged former Deputy Prime Minister Gautam with corruption at the meeting held at the open theatre called Khula-manch in Kathmandu.
The people's movement has achieved nothing if there would be no drastic changes in governance if the same old MPs and the government elected by them with the previous mind-set are going to govern. Elections for a Constituent Assembly have been a talk of Nepal. It was in 1950s too but Nepalis forgot it and the people in power did not hold elections rather held onto power and continued the suppression of democracy and fundamental human rights on one pretext or another. This time too Nepalis are jubilant for elections for a Constituent Assembly. The dictatorial regime has gone but its relics still remains posing a threat to democracy as long as it commands the Royal Nepal Army. Nepalis should be vigilant not to let the dormant dictatorial regime raise its head again, and let the incoming government hold elections and craft a new constitution.
The staffs of the secretariat of the Council of Ministers did right things not letting Chief Secretary Lok Man Singh Karki from entering into his office. The unconstitutional government promoted him and ultimately appointed him to the position of the Chief Secretary for his loyalty to the king and the dictatorial regime. Similarly, political cadres and Nepalis in general should stop those MPs convicted and are in the process of questioning at the CIAA from entering the House until the CIAA or the Special Court cleared off the charge on them.
The employees of Nepal Telecom Company are determined to bring the person responsible for ordering to snap the cellular phones again and again, and the person responsible for implementing the order to justice. Similarly, the employees of RNAC, NEA, NOC and other government agencies responsible for delivering services to the people should set up a vigilant group in their respective office and watch the management, and bring any irregularities in the management to the public notice immediately. If such things could not happen in those state-run enterprises, Nepalis would be back to square one again.
The incoming government should put all the members of the unconstitutional government under house arrest immediately and put them on trial after a high-level commission to be set up by the incoming government investigates them and prepares a report on it. The people should not allow any of them to assume the position of a MP. Unfortunately, Former Ministers of the unconstitutional government, Buddhi Man Tamang, Prem Bahadur Singh and Mrigendra Singh Yadav, and Zonal Administrator Brajesh Gupta had attended the House session on April 28, 2006. The people's government should annul their membership and stop them from entering the House again. The people's government had right to do so, as the people's power had reinstated the House not by any court or power.
The people need to be vigilant for not letting slip away the power from their hands. They could not trust the MPs reinstated by the people's power in view of their past performances. The political leaders have promised to the people again and again not to repeat their past mistakes but any of them had not taken any trouble to mention the need for putting Former Minister Chiranjivi Wagle convicted by the Special Court of corruption behind bars, and others sending to the CIAA for questioning.