By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle’s Web Log
Those who missed the power of protest in April saw the same yesterday when the government formed after the April Revolution buckled down in front of the public wrath and revoked its earlier decision to hike the price of petroleum products. A colleague this afternoon asked, “What does this protest symbolizes?” I answered: “Anyone trying to save the monarchy in future will face the same kind of wrath and that force will be demolished by the people.” People are waiting, looking and analyzing the decisions made by the government. They are not protesting before decisions are made. They waited for the government to hike the price of fuel and they hit did what was necessary.
In exactly the same manner, they are just listening to the nonsense speeches of Girija Prasad Koirala on saving or giving space to monarchy and analyzing them. Now, they are just listening but if his party Nepali Congress decides to go for monarchy, they will give the verdict. Nepali Congress or any force that comes in defense of the monarchy will be thrown into the history. There are some intelligent people in both Nepali Congresses who understand this situation. One of them is Pradeep Giri, central leader of Nepali Congress (Democratic) who, in his article published in Kantipur daily yesterday, has said that the unification between two parties shouldn’t happen to save monarchy in Nepal. Arguing that another ‘revolution’ [to throw monarchy] is imminent, Giri has stressed that both parties should be unified to lead that movement. He also says that parties should be united for lasting social, economic and political changes.
After his infamous speech about giving space in monarchy, Koirala yesterday expressed negativism about Interim Constitution. He said that the formation of Interim Constitution was unnecessary as the current constitution was sufficient to solve the problem. “That is height of foolishness,” said Laxman Prasad Aryal, the coordinator of Interim Constitution Draft Committed, in an interview of Kantipur TV today commenting on Koirala remarks. “To say that interim constitution unnecessary at this time is like throwing out the food. Do you know what will come if you vomit the food? Not anything good for sure.” Exactly. Nevertheless, today’s informal talks between the government and the Maoists have decided to receive the draft of interim constitution prepared by the Aryal led committed.
Here comes the contradiction on Koirala’s part. “I am not alone to defend monarchy,” he says. “The whole parliament approved that by clapping.” That might be true but that doesn’t mean people can’t change that decision. While saying that, Koirala easily forgets to mention that he was there in the summit meeting with Maoists to announce need of forming an interim constitution and he signed on the agreement to form an Interim Constitution Draft Committee.
Peace Process Update: Govt-Maoist Informal Talks and ICDC Flays PM’s Remarks
KATHMANDU, Aug 21 – An informal meeting was held between the government and Maoist negotiating teams to discuss the possible consensus between the two sides on reaching a common agreement on certain key issues in the interim constitution. Despite the repeated appeals by the Interim Constitution Draft Committee (ICDC) headed by former justice of the Supreme Court Laxman Prasad Aryal, the seven-party alliance government and the Maoist rebels have failed to reach a common agreement on the interim legislature, constituent assembly process, arms management and other political issues, resulting in the delay of the submission deadline of the temporary constitution.
The ICDC has been saying that it wants to submit the “unfinished” interim constitution leaving the issues to be resolved by the talks teams themselves. According to sources, the meeting, held at the residence of the coordinator of the government’s talks team and Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula this evening, also discussed the necessary homework on arms management of both the state and rebels before going for constituent assembly elections.
Home Minister Sitaula, and two other members of the government talks team Pradip Gyawali and Ramesh Lekhak and head of the rebel talks team Krishna Bahadur Mahara and member Dev Gurung were present in the meeting.
ICDC dissatisfaction over PM’s remarks
Head of the ICDC Laxman Prasad Aryal today expressed his “strong” dissatisfaction over Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s remarks that stated that the issue of drafting an interim constitution was of less importance than settling the arms issue at the present juncture. Terming the PM’s remarks as “unfortunate”, Aryal said that the ICDC would come up with a quick decision on the submission of the interim constitution after consulting with the other members of the committee.
Dubbing the interim constitution as a minor issue, PM Koirala told journalists in Biratnagar on Sunday that the seven-party government had committed a mistake by taking up the interim constitution issue.
PM Koirala emphasised that at this juncture arms management was the most prominent issue for him. “All the problems are hooked on this (arms management) and added once it is taken care of, the rest of the problems would spontaneously vanish.”
Talking to Kantipur Television this evening, ICDC chief Aryal said the premier’s statement was “the height of insincerity.” “It’s unfortunate as the remarks (prime minister’s) come at a time when we are waiting for the day to submit the interim constitution,” Aryal said. (source)
There seems to be one misconception about abolishing monarchy in Nepal. I have met and talked to those people who said that abolishing monarchy for them was destroying the royal palace and killing the inhabitant. “No,” I tried to explain. “That’s wrong. Abolishing monarchy means making Gyanendra a Nepali citizen. He is not a Nepali citizen as of now. He will be empowered with voting rights and he will be able to live, pursue a career, do the business and even play golf in Gokarna. His son will still be able to go to disco and dance with girls in the tune of DJs. But yes, if he fires upon any other dancers, he will not be given police escorting. Instead, he will be tried at court.” Plus, continuity of monarchy in any form wasn’t the demand of popular April uprising. No one demanded that monarchy be kept. Everyone chanted antimonarchy and pro-democratic republicanism slogans in the protest programs.
Girija Prasad Koirala is the visible face of those elements that are active in saving monarchy. Those invisible elements were active in the recent protests. They infiltrated into the protests by students and tried to play foul. The barbaric act of protestors in Gwarko area is one example of such infiltration. The whole area was shocked when mad mob dragged two girls out of a local restaurant and forced them to take off their clothes before nearly raping them. No one has taken responsibility of that act so far. Locals say police were unable to control the mob and police say their man in charge of the area was injured in the clash with the mob.
Here I reproduce an interesting comment by Blogged that I saw on this site today.
“Yes, King is no more in power just like Taliban are no more in power in Afghanistan and Saddam and other insurgents no more in power in Iraq. You don’t have to be in power to exploit the transitional stage and destablize the society. Royalists are doing exactly the same be that in the name of religion or other excuses.”
So true. There are such elements that are looking to fish in the dirty pound. They were active in the days of democracy, and they are active now. They will, as the commentator states, try to exploit any situation that goes against democracy. That is exactly why it is important we abolish monarchy from Nepal for the lasting political and economic stability.
On Ram Sharan Mahat
Before ending this article, let me mention one man who was instrumental for the fuel price hike. He is Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat who represents the royal interests in the cabinet in the form of finance minister. Ram Sharan Mahat is the same person who allocated Rs. 10 million to the palace for no reason and took back that decision after protests from parliamentarians. And he recently refused to cut the tax that his ministry imposes on every drop of fuel imported by arguing that he can’t suffer the loss of Rs. 30 million daily because of that. One thing that Dr. Mahat doesn’t seem to have understood is that state exchequer is not the property of his respectable father. It belongs to Nepali people and if people decide not to hike price, he should obey that and reduce the tax on fuel import.