Monthly Archives: February 2008

My faith in NC leadership is dwindling

By Puskar Magar
Bharatpur, Chitwan
Currently in United Arab Emirate

The selection of Nepali Congress (NC) candidates for CA election has been completed. My nightmare turned out to be true. Most of the corrupt leaders such as Govinda Raj Joshi, Khum Bahadur Khadka etc. were awarded with the ticket. NC supporters like me are stunned by this decision.

This is a vivid example that NC leadership doest not recognize people’s voices. All sister organizations from Joshi’s and Wagle constituencies had written to NC leadership and requested not give ticket to these leaders. These corrupt leaders have not been to district for years if not months. Mr. Joshi tried to go to his district Tanahun twice but was turned away because of his misdeed. Khadka’s popularity has plummeted in Dang. Chiranjeeve has not been to his district Gorkha for at least two years. These leaders are not popular and there is rare chance for their victory in this election. Then, the question remains why these leaders were awarded tickets?

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37 parties submit closed list:Some 4,000 candidates in fray

Report BY BISHNU BUDHATHOKI, The Kathmandu Post ( Feb21,2008 edition)

Out of the 74 parties registered at the Election Commission (EC), 37 parties including those in the ruling seven-party alliance submitted closed lists of their candidates at the EC Wednesday for contesting 335 Constituent Assembly seats under the proportional electoral system.

After submission of his party’s closed list, Maoist Chairman Prachanda, flanked by senior party leader Ram Bahadur Thapa ‘Badal’ and Maoist ministers, told journalists at the EC premises that the CPN-Maoist list has several inclusive features.

“We have allotted around 51 percent of the seats for women, 37.8 percent for ethnic communities including minorities like the Chepangs, 90 seats for Madhesis, 15 percent seats for dalits, 12 seats for candidates from backward regions, and 87 for others, apart from several seats for independent personalities,” he said. However, the Maoists have not met the legal criteria in the case of Madhesi seats which should have numbered at least 104.

Besides the Maoists, major constituents in the coalition government the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, and other parties in the interim parliament Rastriya Prajatantra Party and pro-monarch Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal submitted candidacies for all 335 seats.

Talking to journalists, UML General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal said his party has submitted a very balanced list in accordance with the electoral law.

He also reiterated that the election should take place on the slated date. When asked about the non-presence of agitating Madhesi parties at the EC for submitting their lists, Nepal said the ongoing dialogue with the Madhesi leaders is heading in a positive direction and hoped they would also take part in the election.

Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Ram Chandra Poudel said that if any political party wanted to ensure the people’s rights, it should take part in the election. “If anybody does not want to take part in the election, it is his/her right, but we want to integrate all and take part in the election together,” he added.

Similarly, the ruling CPN (Marxist-Leninist) party led by CP Mainali, Nepal Sadbhavana Party-Anandidevi led by Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Shyam Shundar Gupta, Nepal Workers Peasants Party and People’s Front Nepal submitted the names of 100, 64 and 53
candidates respectively for election under the proportional system.

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Govt, UDMF talks inconclusive; Terai enters into 8th day of strike as Kathmandu continues facing acute fuel shortage

Source: Ekantipur

The meeting between the ruling Seven-Party alliance (SPA) and the agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) held on Tuesday concluded without making any headway to end the crisis gripping the Terai region.

During the meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Official residence in Baluwatar, the UDMF leaders put forward their demands which included:
the release of those arrested during the ongoing agitation in the Terai, withdrawal of the “false cases” filed against UDMF activists,
proper treatment for the injured and
an end to the repressive measures used against the agitation.

Emerging from the meeting, UDMF leader Anil Kumar Jha said that he was hopeful about the meeting and the front would resume talks with the government if the government created the proper environment.

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The Despondent Citizens of Democratic Celebrations

The Editorial of The Kantipur National Daily as published on Feb 19,2008 ( Falgun 7,2064 B.S). Can be assessed in Nepali here

Today, Nepal celebrates its fifty-eighth Democracy Day. The Nepalese, ironically show no trace of happiness or enthusiasm for the occasion. And it is not because the people are against the democratic system. Rather the lack of concern and thoughtful action on the part of the democratic government is what has caused the most pain. The government itself has defamed democracy disrespecting The People’s Movement in 2062/63 B.S.

The Nepalese have been protesting for democracy before 2007 B.S (1950). But the people’s expectation of a dependable democratic (Loktantrik) ruling system could never be fulfilled. The Democratic Government celebrates fifty-eighth Democracy Day today. It suggests fifty-years of the establishment of democracy. The government, thereby, has included thirty years of Panchayati Rule and the rule by kings in between according to their whims and fancies as a continuation of democratic ruling system as well.

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Constituent Assembly Preparations and Maoist Celebrations

Amidst the preparations of the Constituent Assembly elections two months away, the Maoists celebrate their Thirteenth Anniversary in the valley today. The streets have been decorated with graffiti through which YCL (Young Communist League) offer their “Red Salute” to “Prachanda, the Future President” of the Nepal. The “Future” is yet to be seen as the elections are still two months away. And given the political climate of Nepal, anything can happen even in the eleventh hour. Keeping those possibilities aside, the Elections Commission has asked all the political parties to erase all graffiti by Feb 20. The Election Code which such comes into effect from the very date bans graffiti writing, painting on walls and putting up of posters and banners by parties and candidates at public and private sites in the course of electioneering. Feb 20, doesn’t seem to be a date in near future for our political parties as they are still continuing with their graffiti. The Constituent Assembly Elections has been for April 20,2008 after postponing it twice in April 2007 and then Nov22,2007. Thirteen may not after all be an unlucky number for the Maoists ( and the country) if the polls take place as planned.

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Reading Palpasa Café in English

By James Sharrock

Palpasa CafeThe English language translation of the best-selling Nepali novel Palpasa Café by Narayan Wagle is out now. Palpasa Café is the story of an artist, Drishya, who falls in love with a Nepali American returnee, Palpasa and also, via a college friend, sees the effects of Nepal’s conflict in the hills.

Wagle’s book stands out primarily as an alternative account of the war in Nepal and an embodiment of what the central character, Drishya, calls ‘the stand…of the people who resisted the war-mongers on both sides.’ In broad brushstrokes, like the artist Drishya, Wagle too uses the novel to protest ‘against both warring sides…., my colours showing my support for the third camp.’

Wagle best features are in the broader canvas he paints – firstly in the disappearances and general tension of post-royal massacre Kathmandu and then, of the conflict in the hills. Wagle’s descriptions of schools being blown up, emptying villages, indiscriminate bombs, Maoist attacks on district HQs and mourning Nepali families are extremely hard-hitting and powerful. Novels in this form have a resonance than goes beyond anything produced from Wagle’s journalistic day job. Palpasa Café, almost incidentally, also neatly observes the individual stories in many other aspects of Nepal e.g. diaspora Nepalis, Gurkhas, Nepali-foreigner relationships and internal migration for school and work.

There are faults and things perhaps lost in translation. The descriptions and dialogues between Drishya and Palpasa seem, at times, highly stilted. Their awkwardness is intentional but maybe loses something in English. At their first meeting in Goa the repetitive description of Palpasa’s eyes as ‘fresh, juicy’ like ‘slices of pineapple’ sounds downright corny. The vocabulary improves later though. For example Drishya writes a beautiful letter to Palpasa via her Grandmother:

Your hopes are pinned on the gods, the farmers’ on the mountains and mine on you. I made you dance and you were happy.
The day I saw you dance was the happiest day of my life. It was as though the snow on the mountains was melting in the sun and a magnificent rainbow had appeared on the horizon.

Later too the Maoist underground figure Siddhartha and Drishya argue engagingly around the age-old debates of art and politics and whether it is ‘possible to create without destroying’.

Siddhartha, the old college friend and confirmed Maoist, sums up the difference between him and Drishya saying ‘You give too much weight to the importance of the individual.’ Drishya believes ‘in the supremacy of the free individual’ and cannot accept violence and deaths in the name of a supposedly greater communal good. Wagle too runs with this thread and privileges the individual victims’ stories above all other narratives.

There are times when the story comes apart. The description around the killing of Siddhartha, who is alone at the end, appears more much vivid than the bombed bus episode later. We are also asked to believe that Drishya is spectacularly unlucky in terms of being affected by the war. The individual tragedies and conflict inside the main protagonists is not always well connected with the outer violent conflict in Nepal. In general the Maoist figures and security forces have no real role in this novel and are intentionally shadowy, almost non-human ideologues. However, Wagle himself, in his final cameo appearance within the pages, acknowledges with a wink that he might not have done his characters justice and that ‘all written works are incomplete. Something’s always missing. There’s always more to add.’

Wagle’s message throughout the novel seems summed up by a simple boatman who rows Drishya away from death:

The boatman strained against the current. ‘It’s so sad to see war in our country,’ he said. It’s terrible to see our own people die. Don’t you think so, bhai?’

The Constituent Assembly Elections: hindrances and hope

The Constituent Assembly Polls around the corner, YCL cadres are being dragged into more than one controversy,with condemnations of trying to disrupt the elections.National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday condemned the Maoist attack against NC activists including Badu two days ago in Darchula district. The human rights watch dog has also slammed Maoists for reviving the United Revolu-tionary People’s Council. More Here The Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML, the two major factions of the ruling seven-party alliance Thursday flayed the Maoist decision to revive its United Revolutionary People’s Council (URPC). More here Though Senior Maoist leader Dr Baburam Bhattarai has claimed that the United Revolutionary People’s Council(URPC) is not a “parallel government”.

The assurance of the Maoist leader aside, Young Communist League(YCL) Ganesh Man Pun claimed that they are capable of capturing the entire Kathmandu in just five minutes.He was speaking at a protest function in Ratnapark to protest against police action at YCL offices Wednesday. More here

protest of YCL

The YCL Protest against the Police raid in Ratnapark on Wednesday. Pic by DK

The unrest in Terai, added to the list of hindrances to hold the Constituent Elections successfully Ameet Dhakal writes in The Kathmandu Post on why the elections are unstoppable now.

Election: Unstoppable now
Five reasons why election will happen

By AMEET DHAKAL

Will there be an election? Will the Madhesi parties come on board for the election? Is the election possible without them? We face a barrage of questions about the election these days. Everyone seems to be anxious about the polls, and it includes people from both ends of the spectrum: The ones who want it and the ones who want to scuttle it at any cost. On the surface, the closer we move to election day, the more uncertain it seems to become. But that’s just what appears on the surface; scratch beneath it, and the polls appear unstoppable. Here are five reasons why.

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Economics of YCL upkeep :Rs 1 b a year needed

By Ghanashyam Ojha
( Published in the Kathmandu Post Feb 5, 2008) Can also be accessed at Ekantipur

KATHMANDU, Feb 5 – Much has been said and written about extortion, intimidation and abductions by the Young Communist League (YCL) and its occasional dabbling in social work. But hardly anything has been written on the financing of this most sophisticated and perhaps most ruthless political machine with 40,000 full-time paid cadres across the country.

The Post approached a number of YCL leaders in Kathmandu Valley and asked where they got the money to keep their organization going? The answer was almost unanimous: “It’s the generous contribution of the people.” But there is more to it than that.

Consider room and board first: YCL provides Rs 500 monthly allowance and food and accommodation to its full-time cadres. At a merge Rs 60 per day for two meals, YCL needs to spend Rs 18,00 for each cadre.

For 40,000 cadres, the monthly budget (including allowance and meals) is Rs 92 million, which means one billion rupees in annual terms. On top of this, YCL needs to find accommodation for the cadres, who are ready to ‘act’ any time the party orders.

YCL dance

Maoist YCL workers perform a dance at a property at Kapan belonging to Nepal Bank Limited.

Photo by GHANASHYAM OJHA

Surprisingly, each of the YCL units is ‘self-sufficient’. The party doesn’t provide any financial support and has asked each of them to generate its own revenue. There are over 10,000 full-time YCL members, in 41 units, in Kathmandu Valley alone.

When asked how YCL manages its finances, Chandra Bahadur Thapa aka Sagar, YCL-in-charge for the Valley, said, “People provide it voluntarily.”

He offered a further explanation: People know that a parallel Maoist administration exists in the country and they cooperate, providing us financial assistance.

He proudly elaborated how his 300-member YCL unit, based in Balaju, has constructed new buildings for the unit with the help of ‘generous’ support from local people. “Generous people provided us bricks, cement and other items. So we were encouraged to build new houses for our comrades,” he said pointing to a construction in progress.

Pratap Gurung aka Mausam, YCL-in-charge of Kapan, also says he has been running his 100-member YCL unit smoothly with ‘generous aid’ from people in different walks of life.

“Shoe factories provide us shoes and various other industrialists provide food and other items. Even some hoteliers here willingly give us a monthly levy ranging from Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000. So we have not faced any financial problems so far” says Gurung, former company commander of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Third Division in Chitwan.

He also claimed that since the YCL punishes any criminals operating in the area, many business entrepreneurs and hoteliers are happy to provide them a monthly donation as ‘levy’.

Mausam’s team has occupied a garment factory, which is essentially the property of Nepal Bank Limited. The bank seized the factory after owners Laxmi Acharya and Sher Bahadur Thapa failed to repay debts.

But that’s bank property, how can you take it under your control? “Our party (Maoist) will soon talk to Nepal Bank and request it to sell it to us us at a reasonable price,” he said.

The locals in Kapan refuse to talk to the press about what they think of YCL activities in their vicinity. “I don’t want to speak about it,” a local hotelier told the Post, refusing to reveal his identity.
Forget the locals, even Kathmandu police refuse to comment about the YCL on record. A senior police official, preferring to remain unnamed, said, “The people are forced to provide money to the YCL.”

He also said the YCL has taken the law into their own hands in the name of maintaining security in various places.

“It’s an open secret that the YCL has been operating as a parallel administration in the country. Although we document their crimes, the government dissuades us from taking action against any YCL person. So we just ignore any crime in which the YCL is involved,” he said.

Police records, obtained by the Post, show that the YCL has set up offices in 23 locations in Kathmandu Valley alone.

When asked about the future of the YCL, Sagar, former brigadier commander of the PLA Dinesh-Ramji Battalion, said, “Once we form our government, it will be dismissed.” Till then, the ‘generous aid’- euphemism for soft extortion – will continue.