Siddhi B. Ranjitkar: Champion or Naught
Champion or Naught
By Siddhi B. Ranjitkar
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Some political scholars think that Nepalis want to make current Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala a hero but he always tends to be a zero following the unethical policy of ‘deceive and rule’. If we take a look at the history of how he has ruled the country from 1991 to until now we find that he has done nothing but deceived his colleagues, party cadres and ultimately the Nepalis in general rewarding the high level security personnel involved in suppressing the people’s movement for democracy.
Prime Minister Koirala deceived his colleague Krishna Prasad Bhattarai not once but twice: once when Bhattarai was a Prime Minister of interim government in 1990 defeating him in the general elections and again when Bhattarai was a Prime Minister second time taking power from him unscrupulously in 2000.
Same thing Prime Minister Koirala did to former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba too twice: First in 1997 letting slip power from Mr. Deuba to Former Prime Minister and leader of Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), Lokendra Bahadur Chanda and his coalition partner the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist and Leninist (CPN-UML) but the second time in 2002 when he played a trick on Mr. Deuba to remove him from power, Sher Bahadur Deuba was so strong he took away a half of the members of the parliament of his party and formed a new political party called Nepali Congress-Democratic (NC-D). Currently, Prime Minister Koirala is trying to pull him and his party NC-D back to the parent party tricking them again.
If we take a look at the recent past activities of Prime Minister Koirala we find even more deceits in his dealing with party cadres, and colleagues in the seven-party alliance (SPA), and with the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-Maoist). It seems that he is sincere in dealing with the king and his regressive force only.
Since April 24, 2006, the day the king gave up his dictatorial power, and turned it over to the SPA; there has been a turn of events. Immediately after the April revolution in 2006, Nepalis anticipated that the SPA along with the CPN-Maoist will make drastic changes in the Nepalese politics, and would work for a lasting peace, and lead the country to a prosperous democratic country without a threat to democracy from the regressive forces such as the king and the army. Major political parties including the CPN-Maoist also expected the same thing. However, Prime Minister Koirala has been pulling the country back to in the hands of regressive forces taking on administrative action after another in their favor.
Prime Minister Koirala gradually pushed himself away from the SPA going closer and closer to the king who had deceived not only the Prime Ministers he had appointed one after another but also the entire international community and the Nepalese people for killing the fledgling democracy. Prime Minister Koirala makes time available for meeting such a democracy-killing king every Thursday but he does not have time for having a meeting with the SPA colleagues for making a lasting peace a reality, and putting democracy on track.
Prime Minister Koirala lifted the suspension of the Chief of Nepal Police and the Chief of Armed Police Force from their duty appointing them to the positions of advisors at the Ministry of Home recently. On the recommendation of the High Level Probe Commission on investigating the atrocities perpetrated by the security during the people’s movement against the despotic king in April 2006, both of them were suspended from their duty for allegedly involved in indiscriminately killing the protesters during the people’s movement.
Despite the public pressure on Prime Minister Koirala for suspending former Chief of Army Staff General Pyar Jung Thapa for killing protestors and suppressing the protest rallies against the king, Prime Minister Koirala not only let General Thapa complete his term of office but also appointed another loyalist General Rukmangad Katuwal to the position of the Chief of Army Staff after the retirement of General Thapa. General Katuwal was heavily criticized in the Nepalese press for his loyalty to the king and for suppressing the people’s movement against the king in April 2006. General Katuwal had publicly stated that he was loyal to the king while talking to the reporters on the premises of the High Level Probe Commission when he was called for questioning about his involvement in killing of innocent people during the April-2006 movement. On Monday, October 02, 2006, General Katuwal went to the palace and received the blessing from the king on the occasion of the most important festival called Dashain.
Prime Minister Koirala and his cabinet members did not go to the palace for receiving the blessing from the king breaking off the age-old tradition of receiving an annual blessing. However, he continues his attempt to bring some members of the break-away party NC-D opting for a ceremonial king to his fold to strengthen his position on keeping the king’s status as a ceremonial. The world has seen what the ceremonial and the most revered king could do as shown by the Thai monarch on September 19, 2006 supporting the army to kill democracy and suspend not only the constitution but also the basic human rights to freedom of speech, freedom of political gatherings and so on.
Immediately after the army coup in Thailand, Prime Minister Koirala told the media people that Nepal would not have a similar coup. How could he be so sure of not possibility of an army coup in Nepal if he would not have a secret deal with the king and the army? What about the possibility of such a coup in the future after Prime Minister Koirala would be no more around? He must have developed so much confident in the army and the king as he has shelved the report submitted by the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (UNOHCHR) for taking actions against the perpetrators of human rights violence in Nepal. They included the army, police and other members of the security. Thus, he must have earned the loyalty of the army personnel.
Is Prime Minister Koirala going to leave behind the burden of a ceremonial king and the army royal to the king on the Nepalis? His activities so far clearly indicated that he was gong to do so. His attempts for retaining the monarchy have been continued despite the popular people’s uproar against it when he first said in public that he was for a ceremonial king.
His Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula was supposed to visit India for signing off the extradition treaty with India recently. However, the India trip of the Home Minister was either cancelled or postponed for some time due to the opposition of the CPN-Maoist as stated in the media.
Girija Prasad Koirala became a hero when the SPA members and he rejected the request of the group of members of the international community in Kathmandu came to his residence at Maharagunj in Kathmandu for accepting the offer of the king appointing someone selected by the SPA to the position of the Prime Minister made on April 23, 2006 before the king conceded the power to the SPA. Girija Prasad Koirala became an instant hero of Nepalis at that time. Similarly, he instantly became a zero when he said he was for a ceremonial king. He repeated it again, and continued his efforts to retain the monarchy.
Some members of the SPA particularly the CPN-UML think that they are betrayed by Prime Minister Koirala. A few weeks ago, General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal came out strongly against the Koirala government stating his party would need to pull out of the SPA if the government did not correct its style of working. Another senior leader of the CPN-UML, Jhalanath Khanal had told the audience in the program called ‘Jana Adalat’ that Prime Minister Koirala had promised the CPN-UML the portfolio of one of the two ministries such as Ministry of Defense, and Ministry of Home, however, Prime Minister Koirala kept both the ministries for his party NC. He even claimed that if his party had received the portfolio of Defense, the Chief of Army staff would have been suspended as recommended by the High Level Probe Commission set up for investigating the people involved in suppressing the people’s uprising in April 2006.
A number of times, leaders of the Nepal Workers’ and Peasants’ Party complained that some decisions taken by the Prime Minister did not reach them even though they were the part of the SPA. Their party voluntarily did not participate in the current SPA government. However, they anticipated that the SPA government would at least inform them about the decisions made by it if not consulted them. This has not been happening.
In an interview posted on ekantipur.com on October 07, 2006, Chairman of the CPN-Maoist, Prachand said, “Last time also, I had flatly told him "Girijababu, our role has come to a very critical point. You are in such an important place. If you still side with the repressive elements of the royal army, it will be a really bad thing in history. If you move forward as directed by the 12-point and eight-point understandings, you will become the main character in history.”
Chairman Prachand has hinted to Prime Minister Koirala that Koirala will be a hero if he strictly follows the 12-point understanding and the eight-point agreement reached between the SPA and the CPN-Maoist otherwise he will be a zero. He also charged the Prime minister of taking the side of the repressive elements remained in the Nepal Army.
If we take a look at the 12-point Understanding reached between the SPA and the CPN-Maoist they agreed to reinstate the House of Representatives, and then dissolve it for creating a new legislative body with the representation of all stakeholders, set up an interim government and hold elections for a Constituent Assembly that will formulate a new people’s constitution.
The House of Representatives was reinstated; the SPA government has been around for more than five months but there are no signs of following other articles of the 12-point understanding. The SPA and the CPN-Maoist came out with another understanding called an eight-point agreement on June 16, 2006 mostly elaborating the 12-point understanding and making commitments to creating a new legislative body, set up an interim government and hold elections for a Constituent Assembly. However, even after more than three months of the eight-point agreement, the SPA government was not in a mood to follow the agreement.
Rather the Prime Minister and other SPA members went on insisting the arms management that meant one thing to the SPA another to the CPN-Maoist. The Maoists want to merge their militia with the Nepal Army if not they want to keep the arms with them until the end of elections for a Constituent Assembly whereas the SPA wants the Maoists to lay down the arms. The Prime Minister wrote a latter to the UN requesting for an arms management without consulting the main stakeholder for the arms management – the CPN-Maoist. Then, Chairman of the CPN-Maoist, Prachand wrote another letter to the UN for an arms management disclaiming the Prime Minister’s letter.
In his previous interviews, Chairman Prachand held the view of Prime Minister Koirala kept his words. However, his recent interview posted on ekantipur.com indicated he no more trusted Prime Minister Koirala. He even doubted that the summit talks scheduled for October 08 would be held.
Prime Minister Koirala has mastered the policy of ‘deceive and rule’. He found loopholes in the 12-point understanding to polish his skills in deceit. This has happened because the 12-point Understanding reached between the SPA and the CPN-Maoist contained the wishes of both parties not clearly mentioning the responsible person or persons or parties to meet the wishes. So, both the parties thought that other party would follow the agreement. Both the parties are so smart neither of them could outwit another thus giving Prime Minister Koirala an opportunity of outsmarting both the parties and coming out as a winner. If Prime Minister Koirala became a winner in the political game he has been so unethically playing then the losers would certainly be the Nepalis.
The SPA thought that the CPN-Maoist would come to their fold and become an eighth party of the alliance; the CPN-Maoist thought that the SPA would dissolve the reinstated House creating a new powerful body to deal with the political situation, and would form an interim government including the representatives of the CPN-Maoist. Nothing has been happening thank to the 12-point understanding attempting to meet the needs of both the parties rather than attempting to save democracy from the dictators and totalitarians.
Maoists have been ready to launch another people’s uprising. Chairman of the CPN-Maoist, Prachand in his interview posted on ekantipur.com on October 07, 2006 said, “It's our assertion that if the SPA government goes against the spirit of the April movement that created a new history then the same people who took part in the April movement will stand up for the new uprising.”
Prime Minister Koirala would be a hero or a zero depending upon his future course of actions. So far, he has been a hero but he has been tending to a zero.