Or is it the Maoists who will actually lead?
By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal
There is a saying in Nepali: thangna ma sutaunu. CPN Maoist has done the same to the CPN UML (United Marxists & Leninists). UML is out in the cold thanks to the cunning politics played by the former rebels. It appears almost certain (though you can never predict political happenings, especially the Nepali) that the Maoist’s candidate for the president of Nepal will be indeed the first president of Nepal. Events are evidences that Maoists are succeeding to guide the Nepali polity by their, and only, their, terms. First they gave the lollypop of president to the UML and got the UML vote in the CA (as legislative parliament) to thwart the Nepali Congress proposal of providing a seat to the leader of the opposition leader in the National Security Council. Maoist continued luring UML with the President lollypop while they strategically sidelined the NC, second largest party in the CA. UML kept dancing while Maoist was having second thought about the lollypop. UML was all high thinking that Maoist would help elect one of their top leaders, namely the poor unfortunate MK Nepal, as the first president of Nepal.
Ram Raja Prasad Singh, the man whose controversial act of letting off bombs in several location of Nepal during the Pachayati regime against the regime, is the man we are talking about. The senior citizen of Nepal, from the Madhes, was portrayed by the Maoists as their candidate for the president from the very beginning. By doing this, Maoist is trying to achieve two objectives: place a politically feeble and relatively unknown face in the presidential palace so that the upcoming Maoist Prime Minister- executive, mind it- would not be overshadowed by the President as it would have been certain if the person was GP Koirala or MK Nepal. Second, yes you get it, the Madhesi card. Maoist will be able to say, proudly, to the Madhesis: look folks who our candidate is!
This election has also shown how important the issue of Madhes is becoming nationally. All major parties have filed a Madhesi as their candidate for the President. NC: Ram Baran Yadav (and Maan Bahadur Bishwakarma for veep), UML: Ram Prit Paswan (Asta Laxmi Shakya for veep), Madhesi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF), while expressing solidarity to the candidacy of RRP Singh, filed the name of Parmananda Jha for the veep. The Maoist’s candidate for the vice president is Shanta Shrestha.
These different names come after political parties failed to reach consensus for the single name for the presidential candidate. It remains to be seen who will be able to muster the required number of votes (single majority) in the CA.
UML not joining Maoist-led govt: Yes, that the shocked and awed UML taking a decision finally! The UML central committee meeting held in Singhadurbar today decided that while also finalizing the names of their candidates accusing the Maoist of ignoring the past agreements (of supporting UML for presidency). Emerging from the meeting today, UML leader Ram Chandra Jha informed that the cooperation with the Maoist has been wrecked. He also said that the party will not be joining the Maoist-led government.
Maoist decision: A meeting of the Maoist parliamentary party held today morning concluded that the party’s earlier decision to elect RRP Singh president was correct and they will move ahead with the same decision. Who knows Maoists might pull RRP Sing in favor or UML’s Paswan who is less known and politically not as grand and strong as MK Nepal!
Meanwhile Prez, VP office bureaucracies get ready:
By Kiran Chapagain in the Kathmandu Post
With the country set to have its first president finally by Saturday, the government has also finalized the size of the bureaucracy for Shital Niwas and Bahadur Bhawan, the offices of the country’s first president and vice president respectively. Highly-placed government sources at the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers told that the cabinet has approved a secretary to lead the bureaucracy at the office of the country’s first president. The sources further said that the name of the secretary is likely to be finalized today after consultations with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and CPN-UML General Secretary Jhala Nath Khanal. Initially, the Ministry of General Administration had proposed a principal secretary, who would be junior to the chief secretary and senior to other government secretaries, to head the bureaucracy at Shital Niwas. But the cabinet rejected the proposal.
According to sources, who sought anonymity, the cabinet has also approved four joint secretaries, six under secretaries and six section officers to work in Shital Niwas. Similarly, the government has also decided on Bahadur Bhawan as the office of the vice president. Currently, the Election Commission (EC) occupies it. Both the EC and the vice president’s office will be located there. The vice president’s office will occupy space once used by the then Raj Parisad Standing Committee, the privy. Besides, the government has also deiced the size of the bureaucracy at Bahadur Bhawan office. A secretary will lead a joint secretary, an under secretary and two section officers.
The number of lower rung staff at both offices will be decided as per the need, another government source said. In the meantime, the government is deploying officials for work at the president’s office from Thursday, sources at the Prime Minister’s Office said. Likewise, the Foreign Ministry is starting to shift its three departments to Narayanhiti Palace premises from Thursday. The ministry is going to use the office building of the Principal Secretariat of the former King.
Search on for temporary residence: As the renovation of Shital Niwas is unlikely to be completed within a short time, the government is searching for a temporary residence for the country’s president. “We are searching for a residence,” said Chief Secretary Dr Bhoj Raj Ghimire. However, bureaucratic sources said it is likely that whoever becomes the president will use his/her own residence as the president’s residence until Shital Niwas becomes ready. Bureaucratic sources said that the vice president is likely to get the Speaker’s Residence at Baluwatar as his official residence. Currently, the Speaker’s Residence remains unoccupied.