‘The Guardian of Democracy’ Nepali Congress concluded its 13th General Convention. The Convention will be remembered in future for two things: the victory of Sher Bahadur Deuba as the new President of the party and the loss of youth leader Gagan Thapa in the post of General Secretary.
On May 27, 2012, the Constituent Assembly (CA) expired dashing hopes of citizens of Nepal. After four extensions to double the CA’s original tenure of two years, the biggest experiment in Nepali politics proved unsuccessful. The 601-member CA comes to an end as unceremoniously as possible without a word of good-bye or apology from the chair.
The major political parties, the largest Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the ‘democratic’ Nepali Congress, the Communist Party of Nepal – United Marxist-Leninist and the alliance of parties based in southern plains United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) could not reach an agreement on new constitution and with the Supreme Court (SC) verdict that CA term can be no longer extended, the CA has nowhere to go but to hit the bottom.
Nepal Army took the chain of control on Maoist combatants in a important development of Nepal’s peace process. However, the wounds of war will only be healed by truth reconciliation.
For the record, on April 10, 2012, Nepal Army took control of the weapons and the chain of command of the Maoist’s People’s Liberation Army. This officially makes United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) a civilian party without weapons and combatants; and the change marks an important achievement in Nepal’s peace process after the end of Maoist’s 10-year-long People’s War.
For non-Maoist supporters, Dr Baburam Bhattarai is the favorite among Maoist leaders. For urban population, the brilliant academic record of Bhattarai, a PhD, along with his no-nonsense statements made him the hope in Nepali politics at the time when many thought politics is made dirty by the group of leaders who did nothing more than quarrelling for the post.
If any politician garnered affection and praise from non-party supporters, it was Bhattarai.
On January 22, 2011, Maoist party of Nepal formally handed over it’s people’s army and arms to a committee headed by Prime Minister and consisting representatives of other political parties. This is indeed an important step in the ongoing peace process that, when concludes successfully, will transform a nation marred by violent conflict into, hopefully, a democratic peaceful and better country.
The handover was promised long ago, but did not come until United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) left the country ending it’s mandate partially successful. As I wrote earlier, the exit of UNMIN could prove good for the peace process initiated by the parties themselves without foreign facilitation and the parties are capable enough to take it to the successful conclusion setting an example in the world. The handover, that came after seven days of UNMIN’s exit, is a important step towards achieving the peace and it should also end any fear that UN body’s exit will have negative impact on it.
Saturday’s handover ceremony at the Shaktikhor Cantonment, one of seven cantonment where 19,000+ Maoist combatants are temporarily housed. Apart from the emotionally-worded speeches of Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, the ceremony attended by almost all top leaders, diplomats and government officials featured demonstrations from the Maoist army. I liked the show for at least one reason.
The multi-cultural dances and march pass were conducted on the tunes of popular folk songs and national songs. It was a little transformation, for the Maoist army were probably used to those people’s song that normally promotes nationalism with revolutionary Maoist ideologies. Watching those young army marching made me, and many others, emotional. They too are Nepalis, youth with dream in their eyes, playfulness in their behaviors and curiosity about their future. And, I sincerely believe that if they go into the security agencies, almost everyone of them will commit themselves to the nation’s service.
A step is taken in the peace process and there are still a few steps where the Maoist party and other parties will have to make difficult decisions – and I hope that they will make decisions for the nation’s benefit rather than for their party’s benefits. All those youths who have fought with Maoist believed (wrongly or rightly that up to your evaluation) they are fighting for their nation, for the betterment of the people and want to see peaceful and prosperous Nepal.
I hope the integration and rehabilitation process will go as smoothly as the handover process. And, we all should understand not matter what parties we have the membership of or what ideology we believe in, first and foremost we all are Nepalis and proud to be. And, we all surely want to be citizens of a peaceful country.
On Thursday, a 52-year-old Nepali slapped Jhalanath Khanal, the chairman of the third largest party of Nepal which is also the ruling party, in a public program in Itahari, some 500-km from Kathmandu. Khanal went there to welcome around 1,000 new party members and Devi Prasad Regmi, who used to be a UML cadre, lined up with other to reach one of the most likely candidate for next prime ministership, and slapped him right no his face so hard that Khanal’s glasses fell down.
“Politicians ruined the country, it’s better to go mad than be dead,” Regmi said in the police custody.
Although Khanal happened to be the receiver of the slap, it was a slap in the faces of all those political leaders who have a say in their party’s decisions. The unruly event, despite being condemnable, is something that reflects the frustrations of many more Nepalis.
Regmi used to be a UML cadre; he voted for Maoist during the Constituent Assembly (CA) election for he thought ‘Maoists could give something to the country’ and was forced to slap Khanal ‘in anger’ for he could not ‘tolerate the leaders ruining the country’.
How many more Nepalis have been angered, even more than Regmi? How many more Nepalis want to slap leaders in their faces for their false promises? At least a few more, it’s just that they don’t have the courage. I am saying this after reading comments on news in many news sites, reactions in social media and blogs.
Time has not ran out yet! There are still a time that the leaders could save people from getting frustrated and angry – and if the leaders continue to search for consensus with inconclusive meetings and rigid stances, I am sorry to say, but many, many Nepalis will have an untold consensual agreement to follow Regmi’s path.
At January 15 midnight, United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) concludes its four-year long stay as monitor of the Maoists combatants and arms. Although, it’s exit didn’t coincide with the conclusion of peace process – the official end of the Maoist’s People’s Liberation Army that fought hard and violent for more than 10 years, UNMIN’s role in bringing the peace process to this spot is laudable.
Former crown prince of Nepal Paras Shah was ‘taken under control’ by police on charges of firing with an illegal bullet at a resort inside a national park late night and threatening a Bangladeshi of life. No matter what will the court decide, the series of incidents has a greater impact in Nepal’s political scenario as it symbolically indicates the ‘real’ end of the monarchic power and is also a step towards the no-tolerance towards criminal activities under political hood.
I believe that it was wrong for Paras Shah, 38, to threaten anyone with a pistol and fire a round in air regardless of the degree of provocation injected by the person on the other side. It was a crime for a commoner (Paras Shah declared himself similar to a commoner) to carry an unlicensed weapon, to carry weapon inside a national park and to threaten someone of life firing on air.
Friday night continues to be pivotal in Nepal.
November 19, 2010 will go into history books as a shameful day for Nepal’s parliament and will continue to embarrass the nation for years to come. The representatives of the people involved in such a scuffle that ended with manhandling of ministers and ‘abduction of the budget speech’ by the Maoist lawmakers.
Into the records, Maoist lawmakers disrupted the House session and resorted to vandalism and manhandling soon after Speaker Subas Nembang permitted Finance Minister Surendra Pandey to table the budget. They manhandled Pandey and snatched the briefcase containing the budget booklet. Other Maoist lawmakers also manhandled some ministers and lawmakers belonging to the ruling party.
Budget is a dire need of the country for rescues it from plunging into the financial crisis. The people were told (by the leaders) that the main three political parties including the Maoist agreed for the budget through a constitutional amendment and use of special rights by the President. Maoist then backtracked and said allowing President to use the special rights might set a wrong precedent – and government was adamant to go with the budget presentation resulting in the ugly scene.
Shame on Maoists
After watching the incident live on television, there is nothing else to say to the Maoist. Through protest at parliament is allowed, their behavior was immature, beyond tolerance and unacceptable. Time and again, Maoist proved themselves to be immature in politics and their thinking/action had remained that of the rebels – not that of the democratic political party.
The UCPN (Maoist) should apologize with people for the incident.
Shame on Government
The government knew something is coming for the Maoists have said they won’t allow the budget presentation. Despite that they went ahead inviting Maoist for confrontation. They should have tried for a middle-path with understanding from the Maoist.
Just before Tihar – the festival of lights – it looked like the long-standing political deadlock of Nepal is finally being dismantled as the top leaders of three main political parties agreed to go for a meeting at a resort. The meeting was dubbed the ‘secret meeting’ for it was not accessible to media and assistants to the leaders. Not many knew the venue before it began.
Nepali politics is standstill – for no new Prime Minister has been elected (despite 16 rounds of election in the parliament) to replace the caretaker government that is facing crisis in lack of annual budget. And, there is the whole issues relating to peace process and constitution writing stalled (or progressing very slow) due to lack of understanding (read power-sharing agreement) between top parties.
In such scenario, the secret meeting – attended by 15 top leaders where the leaders agreed to spend uninterrupted days was surely a positive move and the nation hoped a good news as a Tihar gift. But there was none and at least for now the meeting was a failure. The joint statement that the parties managed to come up with after the end of two-day meeting was nothing new – just reiteration of what they were saying in new words undersigned jointly.
They said they seriously reviewed/discussed the implementation of agreements (as if they were doing in as a joke earlier or they were not doing this). They also said they realized the need to work on consensus (good but we all thought they realized this much earlier). They then reiterated commitment for peace, democracy et all (were they not committed earlier?). The only new thing that I saw in the statement is ‘November 10’ meeting – which I didn’t know earlier and they haven’t said earlier.
And, the media were kept out of the meeting. I do support the idea that most of the times it’s worthless to give access to media during the meeting for a photo or a video or a quote. And, it becomes even worse when there are so many television stations which need news every hour. There was no access and it was expected that TVs will be make a little cry over it.
But then I do also believe that mass media are a bridge between politicians and citizens and they have every right to seek information; and its duty of the politicians especially at the time when they hold a meeting of national interest to inform the media (thus the citizens) something about the meeting. They did a good thing organizing a press conference after the end of the meeting but I still believe they should also have issued at least a preliminary release at the end of Day 1 (even if there were nothing substantial information, even quotes like we were talking would have worked).
Media wants information desperately – but it doesn’t mean that they want for their profit alone. Media functions in such a way that it becomes a medium of democratic practice and tool to fulfill citizens’ right to information.
Let’s hope that the leaders meeting on November 10 will be fruitful – and media are duly informed about the outcome (or progress).