Maoist Campaigns and Elections Security Situation

Just because eight districts are having problems doesn’t mean rest of the 67 districts is deprived of the much needed democratic process. …if outfits that are terrorizing some parts of Terai don’t respond positively to the repeated calls for talks by the government the option of crushing them militarily should not be ruled out.

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

[Update on Birgunj Blast: CDO among 30 injured in blasts near SPA assembly, MMT claims responsibility. details]

While passing through Minbhawan today, I saw a few wall paintings apparently sponsored by the Maoist party as part of their campaign for the elections of the Constituent Assembly. The publicity slogans asked the viewer to caste their votes for the Maoist party’s election symbol (hammer and sickle inside a circle). The graffiti also urged the people to push the party into victory so that Prachanda, the Chairman of the party, could be made the first president of Nepal. That made me happy. The Maoists, who threatened to disrupt the elections and were until recently fighting for the communist dictatorship, are now throwing themselves into the electoral democracy! This is a great change (probably the kind of change that Barrack Obama is advocating for in the US!) Here is another surprise: the Maoists are on the forefront of the electoral activities (last time it was the CPN UML) as they already finalized some of the candidates for the elections that also includes top leaders like Prachanda. (Prachanda will contest from Kathmandu and Rolpa and Dr. Baburam Bhattarai from Gorkha). If he contests from Kathmandu-1, then I will be one of his possible voters. Continue reading Maoist Campaigns and Elections Security Situation redirects here

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Nepal: A Troubled State (Analyzing the Latest Turmoil)

Update: The government has taken back the decision to hike the fuel prices this afternoon. As soon as government decision reached the streets, the protests started to subside.

Empirical study method is used to prepare the following article, which tries to diagnose the current incidences, leading to public unrest and strike, of the past two days.

Contributed by: Bishnu Pathak, PhD and Chitra Niraula

The Interim Government (IG) hiked the price of petroleum products the third time, on January 21 implement with the effect of midnight, within six months. Kerosene price was raised from Nepali Rupees 51 to 61/liter, diesel from 56 to 61.30/liter and LPG from 1,100 to 1,250/14.2 kg cylinder. Petrol price was raised a couple of weeks back. The private petrol pumps procure (deposit the amount for) the petrol products and this sudden price raise has earned huge profit which is shared as the commission to concerned senior officials. The Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has stated that there is a debit of NRs. 10 billion due to subsidy for the petroleum products. However, petroleum products are not easily available in the market; common people had to stand in queue for many hours to get a meager amount whereas the elites got through embezzlement. The LPG was available in general in black market. Continue reading Nepal: A Troubled State (Analyzing the Latest Turmoil)

CA Poll for Nationalism and Republic, That's Maoist Slogan for the Elections

Yes, Maoists have finalized their slogan for the CA polls, reports Ghanashyan Ojha in the Kathmandu Post

With just 71 days remaining for the Constituent Assembly (CA) poll, the CPN-Maoist has picked a poll slogan and decided to muster all its strength for the success of the poll. At the end of a three-day conference of party cadres, the Maoists selected “CA poll for nationalism and republic” and “CA poll for self-governing and people-oriented Nepal” as their main slogans for the election. Addressing the concluding session of the conference, Maoist Chairman Prachanda asked the party cadres to take the CA poll as another battle for the party. “Maoists have to take the responsibility of the country. We must secure a majority to transform the country into a new Nepal,” Prachanda told his party cadres. Maoist central leader Barsa Man Pun ‘Ananta’ said Prachanda also asked the cadres to focus on pro-people activities. “Your activities and behavior should win the hearts and minds of the people. Your organizations should be focused on the election,” Ananta quoted Prachanda as telling party cadres. Prachanda also asked the cadres not to engage in any activity that tarnishes the image of the party. “He (Prachanda) instructed them to sincerely honor the 23-point agreement,” Ananta said. Prachanda also asked the cadres to establish a working alliance with nationalist and republican forces at the local level. “Alliance with nationalist and republican forces is essential for the New Nepal,” Ananta quoted Prachanda as saying. Prachanda asked the party cadres to launch their election campaign across the country.

So This is Nepal: Protests Against Fuel Price Hike Continue

So this is the state of affairs in Kathmandu and rest of urban Nepal: Normal life in the capital and different parts of the country have been crippled on the second consecutive day (today) due the demonstrations staged by students, trade unionists affiliated to the ruling parties and even commoners to press the government to withdraw its Monday’s decision to hike the price of diesel, Kerosene and cooking gas. The vehicular movement in the capital and the Prithvi highway, main life line to the capital, was badly affected after the irate students and hooligans took out protest rallies and burnt tyres even at side roads since early morning. All the educational institutions of the valley remained closed. Likewise, different stretches of the East-West highway has been obstructed. The demonstrators have obstructed roads at Durbarmarg, Tinkune, Gausala, Naxal, Mitrapark, Lainchaur, Sitapaila, Banasthali, New Baneshwar, Bagbazar, Sallaghari in Bhaktapur and Patandhokha in Lalitpur and other thoroughfares in the Kathmandu Valley burning tires and putting hurdles of different kinds. Tri-Chandra Campus, Amrti Science Campus and many other colleges also saw similar kind of protests in this morning, said the police. Thousands of students and office goers were hit hard by the sudden strike.

Here is a report about yesterday’s protests: Protesting Fuel Price Hike: Mobs on the Streets

Kagbeni: Watching a Digital Nepali Film

Kagbeni undoubtedly will be marked as the trend-setting Nepali film but it could have been much better if the culture, tradition and lives of Nepalese of Kagbeni and surrounding were depicted too. [Ironically, I also found most teenagers attracted to ‘Kagbeni’ only because of the rumored love scene between the two lead actors.]

Samyam WagleBy Samyam Waglé

Eye on Kollywood:
Kagbeni undoubtedly will be marked as the trend-setting Nepali film. Bored with the usual taste of traditional styled Kollywood, this movie gives unique taste. Dialogues are easy-informal type, setting is where none other Nepali films have been shot- in the lap of Dhaulagiri, windy and cold Kagbeni, Marpha and Shyang. The film is revolutionary in every sense- first digitalized film in Kollywood, first film of director Bhusan Dahal and first for actors too. Based on the English thriller “The Monkey’s Paw” of WW Jacobs, the moral hits the hardest “Be Careful on what you wish for”. Continue reading Kagbeni: Watching a Digital Nepali Film

Protesting Fuel Price Hike: Mobs on the Streets

Nepalis are the experienced lot when it comes to organizing the protest programs (which includes, in almost all cases, burning tires and halting traffic on the streets). As they say, if you want to do something well, you should enjoy the work. Nepalis enjoy while protesting. Take, for example, today’s protest against the government’s decision yesterday to hike the price of the fuel (diesel and cooking gas that is also used by some vehicles). The anarchy has ruled the street as I am typing these lines. Uncontrolled mobs are burning tires in the middle of the streets and, and, having fun! It’s cold out there because it’s winter and the sky is cloudy. The tire-fire is working as campfire for them. People are enjoying the heat, smiling and occasionally booing as some helpless cars or motorbikes come by. The traffic is at complete halt but few taxis and bikes, carrying sick people and disabled, could be seen. These vehicles immediately come under the scrutiny of the crowd (enjoying the fire) and windows of some get smashed while driver tries to convince the crowd why he was there.

While coming from Koteshwor to Tinkine (about 300 meters distance), I saw about 10 spots where tires were burning and, at least in three places, thick smokes were coming.

The situation in the country at this time is very fluid. The ruling alliance of the seven parties have started the election campaign last week that saw a bomb blasted near the mass meeting venue in Kathmandu. Royalists are sure to sabotage any weak showing by the government while some groups in the southern plains (Terai or Madhes) are threatening to against the national integrity. Perhaps under the indirect guidance of the foreign force, they are slowing coming on the same forum to work against the government and, if we are to believe a leader of the group, against the national integrity.

Will CA Elections be Held or Postponed for the Third Time?

Contributed by: Bishnu Pathak, PhD and Chitra Niraula

The concern of people of all strata in Nepal is whether the election of Constituent Assembly (CA) will be held on April or postponed again. There is a huge political dispute and debate going on among the political parties. The international community is also unsure of the condition and has taken the stand of ‘wait and see’. The civil society too is clinging to the thin thread of CA polls. The PM Girija Prasad Koirala was saying that he would resign if CA is not held and his basis to work would be finished 56 days prior to the first CA schedule (mid-June 2007). However, the Election Commission (EC) issued a statement that the polls would require 110 days for preparation and could not meet the deadline, which led to postponement for the first time. People believe that the statement was put forward through the EC because to save the image of NC (particularly the PM). The second date fixed was Nov 22, 2007, which was postponed because of the debates instigated by two issues raised by Maoists: declaration of republic and full proportionate electorate system. Continue reading Will CA Elections be Held or Postponed for the Third Time?

Palpasa Cafe in English

Saturday blog:

Three years after it was first published in Nepali and created history in the Nepali literary world by selling more than 5 thousand copies in the first few months, Narayan Wagle’s debut novel Palpasa Cafe came in English this past week (15 January). The book was translated by Bikash Sangraula. Since its release the book has been part of many merits including the highly prestigious literary award in Nepal– the Madan Puraskar. The book has also been credited to making young Nepali readers interested in Nepali literature. According to publication nepa~laya, the publishers, sales of Palpasa Café in Nepali has crossed 16,000 (out of printed 20,000) and has been amongst the most talked about book in contemporary Nepali literature of recent times. “I am glad my work will now reach a broader mass. I thank all those who made this book happen first in Nepali and then now in English.” says Narayan Wagle, the author of the book. The book comes in a freshly adapted cover, which still carries the original Palpasa Café image within. Palpasa Café in English is published by publication nepa~laya who are also the publishers of the original book.

Related blogs:

1. Palpasa Cafe and Nepali Book Reading Habit
2. Narayan Wagle Wins Madan Puraskar
2. Harry Potter and Reading Culture in Nepal

The Great Integration Controversy (Maoists into National Army?)

Today’s Kathmandu Post has an interesting analysis of the controversy surrounding the possible “integration” of Maoist PLAs into National army.

By Damakant Jayshi

Of late, the integration of Maoist combatants (into Nepal Army) seems to be snow-balling into a major controversy and if not nipped in the bud, may develop into a major crisis. What has not helped matters is political party leaders – including very senior ones – joining the debate through public forums in various parts of the country. The latest round started when Chief of Army Staff Rookmangud Katawal said (on Jan 5) that the army should be kept free from any isms, ideology and political motivation.

Various agreements between the then seven-party alliance/government with the CPN (Maoist) right since the 12-point agreement in New Delhi in November 2005 are conspicuously silent whether Maoist combatants should be integrated into the army.

As per the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) and the Interim Constitution of April last year, a high-level special committee (comprising four ministers) has to supervise, integrate and rehabilitate Maoist forces. As for Nepal Army, the government – in consultation with political parties and the Legislature-Parliament – is to formulate a plan to democratize Nepal Army, determine its right number and make it inclusive.

“The spirit of our agreements with the then SPA and later the government is that there should be restructuring of state security forces, which will lead to formation of a national army,” Dr Baburam Bhattarai of CPN (Maoist) who had been involved in discussion and signing of all documents, told the Kathmandu Post. He added that now the Maoists have agreed that the issue should not be raised before constituent assembly elections are held. Continue reading The Great Integration Controversy (Maoists into National Army?)