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Political Gaijatra in Nepal

Political Gaijatra in Nepal

by Siddhi B Ranjitkar
June 10, 2014

Currently, the Nepalese politics has been the carnival (gaijatra) for the common folks. A political leader broke in the office of a political party, took over the office, and declared himself a chairman of the party. Anybody reading this line might laugh at it but it was true, and happened in Kathmandu just a week ago. Other leaders said to one party leader, “You had been in the party leadership for long; you are no more eligible for the party leadership.” The concerned leader in turns said, “The leader you chose is sick; he could not lead the party.” Another party leader wanted to capture the party leadership but how he did not know. He made a fun of himself coming out of the central committee meeting but not having strong mind to either open a new party or to do some things concrete. Some so-called leaders demanded the prime minister of their party to consult the members of the central committee of the party.

Senior leader of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) Lokendra Bahadur Chand with 15 other central committee members of the party went to the party office, broke the padlock, entered the party office, and declared him a party chairman last week. If this were to make Chand the party chairman anybody could go to any party office and break in, and then s/he could declare him/her a party leader.

After the break in the party office, the incumbent chairman of RPP Surya Bahadur Thapa immediately declared what Chand did was a criminal act; the party should take strong actions against Chand. Self-declared chairman Chand did not respond to the words of Chairman Thapa but he said that he was the constitutional chairman of the party.

Chand said that the leaders of the RPP had agreed on the four leaders such as Surya Bahadur Thapa, Lokendra Bahadur Chand, Pashupati Sumsher JBR, and Dr Prakash Chandra Lohani to be the party chairman in rotation last year. Each leader was to be the chairman of the party for a year only.

However, Surya Thapa failed in quitting the party even after a year had passed since he became the chairman of the party, said Chand. So, Chand said that he had no other options but to forcibly open the party office, and take the office of the chairman. Surya Thapa in turns said that nothing was agreed on in written about the transformation of leadership as Chand wanted.

Then, Surya Thapa quit the office of the chairman of the party. His resignation was read out at the central committee meeting. At the meeting, 81 out of 107 central committee members were present. They selected or elected Pashupati Sumsher JBR to the office of the chairman of the RPP.

Chand declared the selection or election of the JBR was unconstitutional. The term of the chairman had expired. So, the meeting called by the chairman whose term was expired was not constitutional. The selection or election of JBR done by such a meeting was also not constitutional. Chand claimed that he was the constitutional chairman after the expiry of the term of Surya Thapa.

Talking to the reporters after the election to the office of the chairman of RPP, newly elected Chairman JBR said that he would take all the party leaders and cadres together. JBR also as the chairman of the party pardoned Chand for whatever he had done to the party office. Thus, JBR made a conciliatory approach to Chand.

However, Chand claimed to be the chairman of RPP. He said that at the general convention of the party, they agreed on holding the office of the party chairman in rotation following the seniority. The senior most Surya Thapa held the office of the chairman of the party, and then it was his turn to hold the office of chairman of the party following the seniority, said Chand. JBR was third on line to inherit the office of the party chairman. Then, the youngest one Dr Prakash Chandra Lohani was to hold the office of the party chairman, according to the understanding of Chand.

So, Chand charged Surya Thapa with unconstitutionally transferring the office of the party chairman to JBR whereas Thapa charged Chand with the criminal act of breaking in the party office. I don’t know who is right or wrong but it has been quite sure that everybody has been bullying one another in the party politics. Consequently currently, the RPP has two chairmen: one Chand and another JBR. Who would come out to be a winner remains to be seen.

Both the chairmen including the former chairman Surya Thapa have been trading charges to each other with being unconstitutional. Who would be constitutional or both would be constitutional remains to be seen. Both would be constitutional when the RPP split in two parties.

Now, the two contenders for the office of the chairman of CPN-UML are in the election campaign. They are the parliamentary party leader of the CPN-UML KP Oli, and senior leader of CPN-UML Madhav Nepal.

Supporters of KP Oli said that Madhav Nepal had been the party chairman for a long period; he also had held the offices of prime minister, and deputy prime minister; he could not be the perpetual leader of the party; he should give way to the new generation leader; so Madhav Nepal should support KP Oli for the chairman of the party.

Madhav Nepal in turns said that these guys had been making a group in the party; it was not the healthy sign of the party unity; they should quit the side of the sick man and support him; the sick man would not be able to run the party, as he would not be able to shoulder the burden of the leadership of the party; a healthy man was necessary to command the party.

However, Madhav Nepal forgot to mention that he had been in the ICU (intensive care unit) of the Bir Hospital for a week recently. Obviously, he was not immune from being the sick. He could fall ill at any moment. However, he felt he was a healthy man to run the party. He claimed that he could take up the burden of the party leadership.

At the party cadres’ meeting held at the hall of the Bhrikuti Mandap in Kathmandu on June 9, 2014, KP Oli told the cadres that some leaders charging him with being sick trying to grab the party office; however, he would fight against the extreme leftists and rightists no matter how sick he would be, and lead the country to prosperity. He also said that he had not only spent a long time in jail for fighting against the despotic monarchy and the panchayat but also the whole life; and he would engage the rest of the life for the country and for the party. (Source: gorkhapatra, June 10, 2014)

His supporter also the deputy prime minister holding the portfolio of home ministry Bamdev Gautam said that Chairman Jhalanath Khanal and senior leader Madhav Nepal had held the highest offices of the country repeatedly; so, both of them should work as the patrons of the party rather than seeking the office of the party leadership again. Gautam also said that if Madhav Nepal were to contest the office of the party chairman; it would be a historical defeat for him.

At the same meeting, General Secretary of CPN-UML Iswore Pokharel said that even though KP Oli might be physically sick but his thoughts were quite healthy. It was not a great thing to be physically sick but it would be fatal if anybody’s thoughts were sick; anybody could be physically sick, said Pokharel. Pokharel also said that to transform the ideology of the party into practice, a strong leader was necessary; KP Oli was the one such a person. (Source: gorkhapatra, June 10, 2014)

Leader without portfolio of UCPN-Maoist Dr Baburam Bhattarai had been the clown in the party. He had been the leader of the dissident group in the party. He skipped the last ceremony of the party convention held in Biratnagar a few weeks ago, and he went straight to Lake Mansarovar in Tibet with his father, spouse and the daughter. It might be the family pilgrimage to one of the holiest shrines to the Hindus. However, he enjoyed the Chinese officials giving him the official treatment of his visit to Tibet.

UCPN-Maoist enlarged the size of the central committee to accommodate the supporters of Dr Bhattarai on the central committee. His supporters quietly accepted the positions on the committee. Previously, one of his supporters went to say that Dr Bhattarai was going to set up a new political party. Obviously, he had no such ability to do so. Leader without portfolio Dr Bhattarai said that he was not for forming a new party but he wanted to take the UCPN-Maoist to the new direction. Some of his supporters said that Dr Bhattarai rejoined the UCPN-Maoist only to save it from merging with the CPN-Maoist. Is it not a funny story?

NC leaders were not immune from being the political clowns, too. Some of the NC leaders failed to receive the ministerial portfolios. Probably, they did not have sufficient cash to pay for getting appointments to the offices of ministers. Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala charged Rs 20 millions for appointing anybody to a minister. Girija also set the prices for the office of ambassador, and other offices at the vital money-making agencies such as tax office, land registration office, custom office, and for promotion to the higher office, and so on.

Leaders of other political parties also emulate Girija. So, the tradition of charging such a huge sum of money for appointment to any offices set in other political parties, too. For example, the RPP-Nepal headed by Kamal Thapa charged Rs 20 millions to anybody willing to be elected to the constituent assembly through the proportional elections.

Concerning the officials paying for promotion, SSP Ramesh Kharel gave one example of paying for promotion. Speaking at the public function held on May 23, 2014 at the Nepal Academy, SSP Ramesh Kharel said, “Some DIGs are rushing with briefcases loaded with money to the backdoors of the ministers and political party leaders seeking promotions.” (Source: Gorkhapatraonline.com, May 28, 2014)

The immediate reaction of the police headquarters was to transfer the metropolitan police chief to another job but the Election Commission refused to give a permission to do so at the time of re-elections going to be held at one constituency in Kathmandu. However, the Election Commission could not stop the police headquarters from sending Kharel to a month-long leave, and preparing for taking disciplinary actions against Kharel. Surely, anybody in the State jobs would need to face the fate of Kharel if s/he were try to be a honest person.

The poor NC leaders not having sufficient money for making payments for the ministerial jobs had plenty of time to talk about the prime minister. NC leaders such as Arjunarshingh KC, and Nabindraraj Joshi publicly complained that the prime minister did not consult with the central committee members for making vital decisions.

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala must have thought why he should respond to these guys that he had appointed to the central committee members; they were nothing but flies disturbing his peace of mind. Certainly, those guys were files. Prime Minister Koirala could drive them off just waving his left hand.

Prime Minister Koirala has been thinking to take Vice-president of NC Ramchandra Poudel to the cabinet as a deputy prime minister to give him the job of prime minister when PM Koirala would be away in the US for medical treatment. This time, PM Koirala has to take a regular medical checkup, and additional checkup of his chest as the Nepalese doctors have detected a small spot in his chest that has been causing him to cough. PM Koirala did not want to trust his job to the deputy Prime Minister Bamdev Gautam the man next to the prime minister in the cabinet hierarchy but outside of his party. Probably, PM Koirala did not want to bypass DPM Gautam, and entrust his prime ministerial job to another deputy Prime Minister Prakashman Singh of his NC party.

CPN-Maoist leaders had a meeting with the leaders of the three parties such as NC, CPN-UML, and UCPN-Maoist at the Baluwatar official residence of the prime minister on June 9, 2014. Speaking to the reporters after the meeting, deputy chairman of CPN-Maoist CP Gajurel said that his party proposed at the meeting to call an ‘All-party National Political Conference’ to discuss the current political issues, and the issues concerning the crafting of a new constitution.

NC, CPN-UML, and UCPN-Maoist had floated an idea of offering the 26 slots to be filled out by the government at the constituent assembly. Prime Minister Koirala did not publicly deny this offer. However, leaders of CPN-Maoist did publicly reject the offer. They said that they would not accept such slots at the constituent assembly without going to elections.

The CPN-Maoist did not participate in the elections to a new constituent assembly that was to craft a new constitution. It had been demanding to dissolve the constituent assembly, and calling a roundtable conference to resolve all political issues and then craft a new constitution. Is it not a political gaijatra (carnival) to demand the dissolution of the elected constituent assembly, and then call a roundtable conference to craft a new constitution? What a great idea?

ENDS

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