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Sujata Koirala And He Forceful Deeds

Sujata Koirala And He Forceful Deeds

by Siddhi B. Ranjitkar

Had Girija Prasad Koirala managed to survive another five years Nepal would have a woman prime minister as the four South Asian countries such as Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lankan have had. Girija had had to spend most of his time fighting against his opponents in the government and in his own party for his survival. So, he did not have much time left for making his daughter a prime minister after he had remained at the helm of his party and the government. However, he had almost did it grooming his daughter Sujata Koirala to an heir to his political legacy and making her deputy prime minister in the coalition government of Madhav Nepal in his later years but the death had cut his life short and stopped him advancing Sujata in the political arena any further. Then Sujata has been facing the formidable challenges from the leaders her father had made. Sujata’s own fault of heavily leaning to India and her transparent corrupt actions has certainly not helped her in inheriting her father’s legacy in the Nepalese politics in the coming days.

In the second week of October of 2009, Sujata Koirala becomes the Deputy Prime Minister of the Government headed by the unelected Prime Minister Madhav Nepal. Parliamentary Party Leader of NC Ram Chandra Poudel has told Madhav Nepal in public that his party has not made any decision on making Sujata Deputy Prime Minister. Another senior leader of the same party and former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has also opposed Madhav Nepal promoting Sujata to the deputy prime minister. However, Madhav Nepal has to save him from getting ejected from the office. Father Koirala has given Madhav Nepal the option to either stay on in the office promoting Sujata or go out of the office denying her the promotion she has been asking so long.

Sujata has refused to join the team of Prime Minister Madhav Nepal in his first official visit to India as a Prime Minister in the second week of August 2009 because Madhav Nepal has not promoted her, yet. In fact, as Foreign Minister, Sujata has not only to accompany the prime minister but also has needed to lead an advance team to make necessary arrangements for the visit of the prime minister but she has simply ignored everything. Later, in the clarification given to the members of her party why she has not join the prime minister team’ visiting India, Acting President of NC Sushil Koirala has told them, Sujata has been sick, so she could not join Madhav Nepal in visiting India.

On August 19, 2009, members of the central working committee of NC in the meeting have drawn the attention of President of NC Girija Prasad Koirala to the reason for Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala not being on the prime ministerial team to visit India and to her demand for the deputy prime ministerial portfolio without informing the party. However, Acting President Sushil Koirala has said to the members that Sujata could not join the Madhav Nepal’s team for the health reason. Central working committee members have cautioned the party president and acting president that the reason for Sujata not joining the prime minister’s team should not be the reason for tearing down the coalition government; then they have demanded explanations from Sujata for bargaining for the position of the deputy prime minister without the consent of the party. At that time, Girija Prasad Koirala has reached the position of firing Madhav Nepal and forming a new government in coalition of the leaders of UCPN-Maoist but majority of central working committee members have successfully resisted this temptation of Party President Girija Prasad Koirala and have kept alive the Government of unelected Prime Minister Madhav Nepal.

Although Sujata has visited China on September 08, 2009, and has been the witness in signing the Memorandum of Understanding on three projects such as cleaning vehicles and equipment, setting up a border area monitoring center at Tatopani, and study on improving the areas around the Ring-road in Kathmandu by Nepalese Ambassador to China Tanka Karki and Chinese Assistant Minister for Commerce Chong Quang in Beijing on September 10, 2009, she has heavily tilted to the southern neighbor giving Indian Ambassador Rakesh Sood a free access to her office and emboldening him to do many things a diplomat is supposed not to do.

In the first week of June 2009, while the Nepalese media including the state-run media have been airing and publishing the news about the Indian encroachment on the Nepalese territory; after the meeting with the Indian envoy Rakesh Sood, newly appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs Sujata Koirala has said that no Indian encroachment on the Nepalese territory has been, and no displacement of Nepalis from the area emboldening Indian Ambassador Rakesh Sood to say that members of the Nepalese parliament stating the Indian encroachment on the Nepalese territory have made irresponsible remarks on June 5, 2009 provoking strong reactions from the members of parliament. They have demanded the Government of Nepal sending Indian envoy Rakesh Sood back to India for his undiplomatic remarks.

The Parliamentary Committee on International Relations and Human Rights Committee have made a decision on Saturday, June 6, 2009 on sending a 11-member parliamentary delegation to the Dang district for a field checking the Indian encroachment on the Nepalese territory. On Sunday, June 7, 2009, the National Interest Preservation Committee (NIPC) of the Constituent Assembly (CA) has also made a decision on sending a team to check the Indian encroachment on the Nepalese territory at the 22-border points from Koilabas of Dang district to Kusuma of Banke district and has sent a team for a five-day trip on Monday, June 8, 2009. Both the teams have found that the Indian encroachment on the Nepalese territory has displaced many Nepalis from the areas they have visited.

On October 12, 2009, Minister for Foreign Affairs Sujata Koirala takes the oath of office of deputy prime minister from Prime Minister Madhav Nepal in presence of President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav at the presidential residence. Not only she has achieved her ambition of becoming deputy prime minister but also met the goal of her father and President of NC Girija Prasad Koirala of promoting her to the office of deputy prime minister just a step away from the office of prime minister. Both the father and the daughter have bullied the opposition of NC Parliamentary Party Ram Chandra Poudel and members of the Central Working Committee of NC to promoting Sujata from minister to deputy prime minister.

Indian Ambassador Rakesh Sood has congratulated Sujata for getting promotion to the deputy prime minister and holding such an important portfolio of the foreign affairs and hoped for the better relationship between India and Nepal. After an exchange of some pleasantries, Sood is about to get up from the sofa to say bye to the newly promoted deputy prime minister, something has struck his mind and he has regained his position on the sofa and said, “Sujata, I understand your ministry is going to print machine-readable passports (MRPs). Why don’t you award the contract for printing MRPs to the Indian-state security printing press, you will benefit and we will, too.”

“We have already international biddings for printing the MRPs, soon my staffs are going to open them and award the job to the lowest bidders. I think, I may not be able to change it. However, your proposal for printing MRPs in India for the benefits of both sides is appreciable. I am sorry; I may not be able to do anything to it. If you have any other proposals, I am happy to consider them not this one. Thank You,” said Sujata.

“There is no such word as ‘impossible’ in the world of politicians. You just cancel the international biddings on one pretext or another and then award the company you like and then take a benefit from it,” said Sood.

The last deadline set by the UN International Civil Aviation Organization for Nepal to issue MRPs is April 01, 2010. Sujata feels the time constraint on getting the MRPs printed well before the April first. She has just a few months before the deadline for issuing MRPs expires. However, the trophy she will win from awarding the contract for the job of printing MRPs to the State-run company is the most attractive one. She does not want to miss it.

Ambassador Rakesh Sood don’t want to miss the opportunity of getting the vital information on the important Nepalese personalities through printing the MRPs in India, as the company can keep a duplicate chip or store the details of every MRPs, and use them in the future whenever the needs arise. So, for Sood, it is a great opportunity of extracting a favor while India-favoring person is at the helm of preparing MRPs. He has thrown such huge bait that Sujata simply cannot dream up.

Sujata is the single daughter of Girija Prasad Koirala: one of the most controversial politicians. When Sujata is still young her mother has died but her father has not married in view of the politician’s life. He does not know when he will land in jail or how long he will need to stay in exile at the time when the despotic rulers have been after the person like him that has been seeking for democracy in Nepal. He has come with his senior brother BP Koirala and the then senior Leader Ganesh Man Singh back to Nepal from self-exile in India in the name of reconciliation with the monarchy rather than surrendering the foreign power in the mid 1970s. The fact is BP Koirala and his colleagues have been campaigning with the then Indian Socialist Leader Jayaprakash Narayan against the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. So, she has removed all sorts of privileges given by the Indian Government to the Nepalese leaders such as BP Koirala, Ganesh Man Singh and Girija Prasad Koirala and so on in exile in India. Virtually, she has forced them to return to Nepal.

Sujata has grown a single child of a single parent. She has enjoyed every possible luxury her fugitive politician father can afford. She has married a German man called Joss, and has a daughter from him. Sujata has enjoyed her early youth in Germany while her father has been going back and forth between Nepal and India.

Her father Girija Prasad Koirala has become the first Prime Minister of Nepal in 1991 after the joint movement of NC and CPN-UML has successfully toppled the aging no-party political system called Panchayat presided over by the then absolute ruler Birendra in 1990. Then, the luck of young Sujata has changed drastically. She has been the daughter of not only the Prime Minster of Nepal but also the President of NC. She wields power in the party and the government.

Many party politicians seeking the favor of Girija but not having a direct access to him have used Sujata as a bridge to reach Girija. Similarly, businesspersons, contractors and others seeking favor from Girija have approached Sujata for negotiations. So, anybody can imagine how much powerful Sujata has been.

Sujata has used her luncheon for meeting with businesses persons or wealthy party persons. She has preferred to have a lunch with them in five-star hotels. Her favorite place to lunch with the businesspersons has been Hotel Himalaya at Pulchok from where she can watch the beautiful scenes of the high mountains.

She gives an audience to any person wishing to see her at the gate of her residence at Maharajgunj in Kathmandu while she is going out. So, anybody seeking her favor waits at the gate of her residence for her to come out. It reminds some senior people the time of Rana regime when people seeking the favor of the ruling Rana family members, have stood at the gate for hours for several weeks just to bow down at the sight of the Rana family members for drawing their attention.

Sujata takes the paper from anybody waiting for her to come out of her residence and quickly reads through such papers and immediately takes the decision on how much a person needs to pay for the favor she is willing to give. Then, she drives on. She does not need to consult with any ministers or high officials in the administration. She simply orders them to do what the favors seekers have wanted them to do. For some people that can pay as much as Sujata demands that has been the fastest route to reach the Nepalese bureaucracy and get the job done at the snap of their fingers. Anybody can guess how much she must have collected from the businesspersons and contractors but she surely does not show off in public the life the wealth has brought her.

Falling in the trap of the bait Indian Ambassador Rakesh Sood has set for her, Deputy Prime Minister Sujata Koirala holding the portfolio of foreign affairs cancels the international bids in January 2010, the first step she has taken to award the contract for printing MRPs to the Indian state-run company. Then, she pushes the Chief Secretary to take the proposal to the cabinet for passing it. Following the bureaucratic process of Nepal, the Chief Secretary to the Cabinet needs to take the proposal for awarding the contract for printing the MRPs to the Cabinet then the Cabinet needs to approve before Sujata can award the job to the Indian State-run company.

On February 27, 2010, speaking at the Reporters’ Club in Kathmandu, Deputy Prime Minister Sujata Koirala has said that she has twice asked the Chief Secretary to the Council of Minister to take the proposal for printing MRPs in India but he has not taken it; she would have fired him if she were the Prime Minister. Obviously, Prime Minister Madhav Nepal does not want to fire the man for getting nothing. Madhav himself has instructed the Chief Secretary not to bring the proposal for the reasons clear to all. Madhav has not had to benefit even a single rupee from this deal. So, why does he need to ratify the proposal?

Sujata has made a strong case of not being able to make available MRPs to meet the international deadline for issuing them on April 01, 2010 if she does not award the job for printing MRPs to India but she is of course shy to tell the public how much she is getting from this deal on MRPs. Everybody guesses that she is getting the benefits of tens of millions of rupees because the deal is for several hundred millions of rupees.

She has also been mad at the members of the Parliamentary Public Account Committee (PAC) for repeatedly serving her subpoena to appear before them and tell them clearly why she has cancelled the international biddings for printing MRPs. The Foreign Ministry has called international biddings for printing MRPs following the Public Procurement Act of 2006. However, she has set aside the Pubic Procurement Act for canceling the international biddings and then for awarding the contract for printing MRPs to the Indian state-run company. However, PAC members want her to make a transparent deal on printing MRPs following the law. Naturally, she will be mad at them for instructing her to do the state business following the law. In other countries where the rule of law strictly prevails such a minister could land in jail for several years but in Nepal even if the country has the laws but ministers usually bully them. So, Nepalis have the unelected man as the prime minister. Anybody can imagine what kind of democracy Nepalis have enjoyed.

After coming to power in 1991, Girija Prasad Koirala has only one dream in his life is to make his only daughter an heir to his political legacy means to hand down the presidency of his party from him to her and the office of Prime minister whenever an opportunity arises. The statute of NC is actually a copy of the statute of the Indian Congress. Once a person is elected to the office of the president of the party, s/he wields an unimaginable power in the party business. The president appoints the vice-president, general secretary and a large number of the central working committee of the party. So, such provisions made in the statute of the NC make the president almost an autocrat. Any autocrat puts his/her family members, friends and sycophants at the powerful positions of the party and the government. This party is called a democratic party in Nepal.

Before the demise of Girija Prasad Koirala on March 20, 2010, he could realize his dream of passing down his legacy to his daughter up to the office of deputy prime minister. Even to do so, Girija has to strongly deal with Madhav Nepal using his every power to force Madhav Nepal to upgrade Sujata from Minister for Foreign Affairs to the Deputy Prime Minister. Madhav would have never promoted Sujata to his deputy if he has not been vulnerable to the favor of Girija to hang on the office of prime minister. He would also have not passed the proposal of Sujata for awarding the contract for printing MRPs to the Indian company on March 23, 2010 giving the entire benefits of such a deal to one person: Sujata, if he has not the pressure from father Koirala.

Obviously, the Nepalese Cabinet can make decisions on any things disregarding the rule of law, as the Cabinet has awarded the contract for printing MRPs to the Indian state-run company going against the Public Procurement Act. Even the Parliamentary Public Account Committee cannot do anything. Before forwarding the proposal for printing MRPs to the Cabinet, the Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has consulted the Attorney General. Clearly, the Secretary has received the positive answer for bullying the Public Procurement Act from the Attorney General. So, it is no wonder that the killers of innocent Nepalis get promoted to the highest office of the Nepal Army and the unelected man becomes the Prime Minister.

Sujata has awarded the contract for printing MRPs to the Indian state-run company at US$ 4 per piece of printing whereas the lowest bid for printing the same has been less than two US dollars. So, anybody can imagine how much money Sujata is making at the cost of the state treasury.

Speaking at a press meet held by the Press Union of the Morang District at the Koirala Residence in Biratnagar before returning to the capital on April 10, 2010, Deputy Prime Minister holding the portfolio of Foreign Affairs Sujata Koirala has said that the MRP-printing issue should not taint the image of Nepal and should not hurt the friendly relations between the two countries. She has also said that the government will honor the ruling of the Supreme Court of Nepal on printing MRPs.

On Friday, April 10, 2010, again the PAC has issued directives to the government of Prime Minister Madhav Nepal for following the Public Procurement Act of 2006 for awarding the contract for printing MRPs. The PAC has repeatedly instructed the Madhav government to follow the rule of law for printing MRPs on time. However, Prime Minister Madhav Nepal has failed to listen to the PAC.

Replying to the questions of the members of the PAC on April 05, 2010, Prime Minister Madhav Nepal has said that his government has negotiated with India and decided to print MRPs at the Indian government-owned company due to the short time available for meeting the deadline for issuing MRPs; in addition, India has committed to provide the Government of Nepal with additional support for running the MRPs in Nepal. Members of the PAC has been asking the Prime Minister why his government has defied the PAC’s directives to award the contract for printing MRPs following the Public Procurement Act of 2006 and awarded the contract for printing MRPs to the Indian government–run government without following the Public Procurement Act of 2006.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has made the provision for all developing countries to issue MRPs starting on April 01, 2010. Any other passports issued from that date onwards would not be valid for the international travel. As the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would not be able to issue MRPs on that date, it has issued a public notice to all Nepalese citizens for rushing to receive passports by March 31, 2010 stating such passports will be valid for the international travel until November 24, 2014. The Ministry has worked days and nights including the off days to issue passports.

Deputy Prime Minister Bijya Gacchedar has said on April 07, 2010 that the government has made the decision on printing MRPs in India based on consensus of all ministers on this matter; the government has to award the contract for printing MRPs to the Indian company because the officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have delayed the processing of bids for awarding the contract for printing MRPs. However, he has acknowledged that the government has done the worst thing disregarding the directives of the PAC on following the rules and regulations for printing MRPs.

After the intense pressure of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and other political leaders, the Cabinet took a decision on Sunday, April 11, 2010 on annulling its previous decision taken on March 23, 2010 on awarding the contract for printing MRPs to the Indian government-run company at US$ 4 per piece of printing. The UCPN-Maoist has held street demonstrations and a massive rally in Kathmandu to protest the printing of MRPs in India saying that the Indian security printing company can keep the secrets of all Nepalese MRPs holders. Similarly, leaders of other political parties have also openly come out against the printing of MRPs in India. The government of Madhav Nepal has cancelled the international bids for printing MRPs paving the way for awarding a contract for the same to the Indian government–owned company despite the price benefit from awarding the contract to the lowest international bidder.

Referring to the instructions of the PAC for following the Public Procurement Act of 2006 for awarding the contract for printing MRPs, Sujata has questioned what rights the PAC has to instruct the government to do things; the government has executive power and will do whatever it wants to do. She has also said that the PAC is made up of a bunch of corrupt people. Certainly, she does not think her a corrupt deputy prime minister otherwise she would have surely followed the rules and regulations rather than use a backdoor means to award the contract for printing MRPs to the Indian state-run printing press.

For Indian Ambassador Rakesh Sood, securing the contract for printing MRPs for the Indian company is a great financial gain for India and a political gain for him, too for building a political career. However, he has never realized that he has gone too far advising Sujata to cancel the international bids for printing MRPs in India and then awarding the contracts for the same to the Indian State-run Company that also at the higher price than the price of the lowest international bidder. Both the father Koirala as the president of NC and the daughter Koirala as the deputy prime minister holding the portfolio of foreign affairs have to exert a heavy pressure on the then government of Madhav Nepal to cancel the international bids for printing MRPs and then secure the contract for the same for the Indian company.

Daughter Sujata has set fire to the funereal pyre of the deceased Girija Prasad Koirala at Aryaghat in Kathmandu at 8:45 PM on March 21, 2010 with it probably she has set the fire on the possibility of being the president of NC and subsequently the prime minister of Nepal. The Nepal Army played a national anthem and gave fifteen-gun salute to Koirala at the time when Ms. Koirala took a torch and went around the funeral pyre three times before setting fire on father Koirala. As the former Acting Head Of State, Koirala received the honor of the state funeral and got the honor of getting the funeral site reserved for the Head Of State. He had been the Acting Head Of State-cum-Interim Prime Minister from 2006 to 2008.

Sujata has shown that daughters are not different from the sons for setting the fire on the dead body of parents following the Hindu funeral rites. However, she seems not much worried about her daughter not being able to get the Nepalese citizenship certificate because her father is German whereas children of Nepalese men marrying foreign women have no problems of getting Nepalese citizenships at all. Nepalese laws have not given the equal rights to the Nepalese women wedding foreigners. However, both the father and daughter Koiralas have not had worked very hard for making men and women equal in the eyes of every laws.

After the death of father Koirala, Sujata has not many troubles with staying on in the office of deputy prime minister; however, she has burned the opportunity of being the party president along with burning the funeral pyre of her father. She has even the problem of getting any significant office of her party not to mention the office of president as the political scenes unfold. In the 12th convention of NC held in Kathmandu starting on September 17, 2010 with a huge rally held at Tundikhel, Kathmandu if father Koirala had been alive Sujata would have been standing next to her father at the time of opening the convention but two senior leaders such as Sushil Koirala and Sher Bahadur Deuba claiming for the office of the president of NC have jointly opened the 12th Convention. Later, in this convention, Sushil Koirala has defeated Sher Bahadur Deuba in the election held to the office of the party president.

On November 28, 2010, Officiating Deputy Prime Minister Sujata Koirala has immediately rejected the nominations of Ram Chandra Poudel and Krishna Prasad Sitaula for the vice-president and general secretary of NC respectively made by President Sushil Koirala. As the president of the party, Sushil Koirala has the authority to nominate the vice-president and general secretary from among the elected central members subject to the ratification by the central working committee of NC, and also to nominate 21 members of the central working committee of the party. Sujata has claimed that the party leadership means three leaders such as Acting President Sushil Koirala, Senior Leader Sher Bahadur Deuba and NC Parliamentary Leader Ram Chandra Poudel jointly has assured her of the office of the vice-president of the party asking her to pull out her candidacy from the election during the general convention.

In the past, Sujata has shown her unstable political mind saying weird political things. She has been for keeping the monarchy for the fear of the Maoists. On November 17, 2007, speaking at the Reporters’ Club in Kathmandu, she has said that she is for resuscitating the Constitution of Nepal of 1990 that has made the parliamentary democracy and the constitutional monarchy as the provisions cannot be amended. In January 2010, Sujata has said that she is for holding a referendum on federalism provoking fiery criticisms from most of the legislators particularly the Madheshi political parties belonging to the coalition government of which she is the deputy prime minister, and the opposition Maoist party. In the third week of January 2010, Sujata has said that she is for forming an alternative to the then government making her own boss Prime Minister Madhav Nepal nervous and again drawing strong criticism from him. Speaking at a press conference held by the Reporters´ Club in Kathmandu on October 31, 2010, Officiating Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala has said that NC needs to stop Ram Chandra Poudel from running the race for the office of prime minister for reaching an agreement with the UCPN-Maoist. She may be right but she has infuriated Poudel. Obviously, she has simply followed the footprints of her father.

Sujata must be very naive to hope any significant office of her party from the joint leadership of three leaders such as Acting President Sushil Koirala, Senior Leader Sher Bahadur Deuba, and NC Parliamentary Party Leader Ram Chandra Poudel, as they have been against even making her the minister in the coalition government not to mention promoting her to the deputy prime minister even when her powerful father has been still alive. Acting NC President Sushil Koirala has once said that he will resigned from the office of Acting President of his party if Sujata Koirala is made a minister in the coalition government led by Madhav Nepal. However, neither Mr. Koirala has resigned from the office nor he could stop Sujata from becoming a minister then getting promotion to a deputy prime minister. On October 17, 2009, Senor NC Leader Sher Bahadur Deuba has reacted sharply to the promotion of Sujata to the deputy prime minister. He has said that the decision of Prime Minister Madhav Nepal made without consulting his party on elevating Sujata to deputy prime minister is unfortunate, and has hurt its democratic values. Ram Chandra Poudel has been neither for making Sujata a minister nor for a deputy prime minister. All those three leaders that have been leaders due to the favor of her father have been for giving Sujata neither any significant party office nor the government office for the fear of Sujata inheriting the authority from her father Girija Prasad Koirala.

On April 11, 2010, the Ministry of foreign Affairs has taken the decision on calling fresh bids for printing MRPs under the intense pressure of the PAC members and the leaders of the UCPN-Maoist that have even called for the shutdown of Nepal in protest against the contract for printing MRPs given to the Indian government–run company without following the instructions of the PAC that has asked the Madhav government for following the Public Procurement Act of 2006 for awarding the contract. The UCPN-Maoist has called off the shutdown of Nepal after the government’s decision on annulling the previous decision on awarding the contract for printing MRPs in India.

Then, comes the resignation of Madhav Nepal from the office of prime minister on June 30, 2010 under the pressure of his own party leaders and leaders of the coalition partner such as NC rather than the pressure of the opposition party UCPN-Maoist because Madhav has not performed in any sectors of the national issues to their satisfaction. Madhav has claimed that he has the majority support for his government in the parliament but he has resigned to pave the way for the consensus politics. The president has asked Madhav to officiate the government to run the administration

On July 01, 2010, immediately after the fall of the Madhav government on June 30, 2010, Chief Secretary Madhav Ghimire has sent a circular to his colleagues in the government stating not to work under the pressure of officiating Prime Minister Madhav Nepal and his ministers because his colleagues in the administration will be accountable to whatever decisions they make rather than the officiating prime minister and his ministers. So, high-ranking officials of the Foreign Ministry might not entertain the instructions of Minister Sujata Koirala.

Minister For Foreign Affairs Sujata Koirala has asked Secretary to the Foreign Ministry Madan Kumar Bhattarai and Chief of Protocol Mukti Nath Bhatta for the details about the decision made on awarding the contract for printing MRPs on July 07, 2010. The Foreign Ministry has made a decision on awarding the contract for printing MRPs to the French company Oberthur Technologies at US $ 3.59 per piece on July 06, 2010 according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal. Other three companies such as British De La Rue, Indonesian Perum Peruru and Singaporean Three M Technology have also bided for the job of printing MRPs

Officiating Deputy Prime Minister holding portfolio of foreign Affairs Sujata Koirala has refused to sign off on the document awarding a contract for printing machine-readable passports (MRPs) to a French company: the lowest bidder among the four bidders for the job August 13, 2010. Obviously, Sujata is not happy with the contract awarding to the lowest bidder.

However, on August 27, 2010, one of the concerned officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has signed the deal with the French security printing company called Oberthur Technologies for MRPs bypassing officiating Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala on the condition that the Foreign Ministry will receive the first lot of MRPs after 70 days from the date of awarding the contract.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is preparing to issue MRPs starting on December 26, 2010 and is opening its counter to receive applications from Nepalese citizens for MRPs on December 19, the state–run newspaper ‘The Rising Nepal’ of December 13, 2010 has reported.

After the cancellation of the contract for printing MRPs, the state-run security printing company has sent a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal for the refund of US$48,000 it has spent on various things in preparation for printing the MRPs after it has received the contract for the job.

Sujata has lost many things after the death of her father. The first one is the cancellation of the job of the printing of MRPs she has given to the state-run Indian security company; with the cancellation she has lost the commission she is supposed to receive from the contract. With the resignation of Prime Minister Madhav Nepal, she has also lost the job of the deputy prime minister. Then, she has very hard time to fighting for the office of vice-president of her party. Whether she will be able to keep her afloat in the high tides of the current Nepalese politics in absence of her father remains to be seen.

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Siddhi Ranjitkar's email address is siddhiranjit@gmail.com

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