People Power Supreme, Sujata Resign
History has shown time and again that Nepali people, not their leaders or the kings in old days, are the best protector and guardian of their country and national interest. One leader may come up once in a while with a price tag of Nepali nationality and pride and try to sell that to foreign powers but people of Nepal united in such occasion to unmask such ‘leader’ and torn him/her apart. With the decision of cabinet today evening to cancel the controversial and anti-national Machine Readable Passport printing deal with India it has proved once again that the people power in Nepal is supreme.
The Cabinet meeting that took place in the official residence of Prime Minister Mahdav Kumar Nepal decided to select a supplier through a competitive bidding process as directed by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the parliament. It is also victory of rule of law and democracy and freedom in Nepal. It is a severe blow to the likes of Sujata Koirala who put the national interest at stake to appease her Indian masters. It is also a punch on the face of MK Nepal who bowed to Sujata’s and India’s pressure to give the MRP printing deal to Indian government agency.
It is the second instance of the failure of foreign power in Nepal- the first being in 2006 when India openly advocated for a form of monarchy in Nepal. The Nepali people kicked that Indian design and continued with their historic protests that ultimately declared Nepal a republic.
The Indian intervention and some Nepali leaders’ surrendering was so stunning in this MRP scandal that even pro-Indian establishment newspapers like Times of India are writing that Indians did what they should have never done.
It also shows up India’s Nepal policy in a poor light yet again. The passport contract was discussed by External Affairs Minister S M Krishna himself and the ministerial involvement, when it was common knowledge that a tender process was already in place, shows the Indian establishment’s chronic tendency to become dubiously involved in deals.
The Nepal government had floated a global tender and shortlisted four foreign companies to prin machine-readable passports. However, the tender process was stopped on the insistence of the Foreign Minister and given to the Indian state undertaking despite it quoting a higher rate and despite the Public Accounts Committee of parliament asking the government to follow the tender procedure.
The issue is now in court as well after two individuals filed public interest litigation applications separately. The Supreme Court will begin hearing them from Monday when it has asked the prime minister and foreign minister to appear before it.
Let Sujata Koirala carry Indian passport. We have no objection. Let her go to India and apply for the job of Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna’s private secretary, we have no objection. But the woman of suspicious character can’t sell our country to India. For failing to protect the national interest and working against the very oath that she took while assuming the post of Nepal’s Foreign Minister, Sujata Koirala must resign now. If not, she should be sacked. Prime Minister MK Nepal should publicly apologize to the nation for putting the Nepali people through such demeaning and demoralizing situation. We have so many other things that we procure from India. But for God’s sake, we don’t want to travel the world carrying a passport that is printed in India. And that too, by brazenly disregarding the legal competitive process of tender. We don’t.
Another good news of the evening is that the UCPN (Maoist) has called off its nationwide general strike scheduled for Monday (tomorrow) against the MRP deal with India. “We called off the general strike as the objective behind it has been addressed,” said Maoist senior vice chairman Mohan Baidya, according to Republica. He said that the scrapping of the MRP deal with India proved that the government was wrong. “We have expected that the government would be dissolved on moral grounds.” Baidya said.
Here’s the Times of India report on the Cabinet’s scrapping of MRP printing deal with India
KATHMANDU: After the 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty that Nepal wants to scrap and the Integrated Mahakali Treaty for river-water sharing that Nepal’s parties say are against national interests, Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal met his “Passport Gate” on Sunday, being forced to convene a late-night cabinet meeting and cancel a controversial new deal with India to print new Nepali passports.
Information and communications minister Shankar Pokhrel, who is also the spokesman of the coalition government, told waiting journalists at the end of the emergency meeting that the contract to Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India would be cancelled and the government would call for new bids following the advice of a parliamentary committee.
The passport debacle marks a blow against Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala, who is accused of “illegally” halting an earlier tender process to force the government into handing over the contract for printing 3 million Nepali passports to the Indian company. Koirala’s chances to assume her father Grija Prasad Koirala’s mantle as the leader of the Nepali Congress party will receive a serious setback with the passport climbdown.
The Maoists too have grabbed the opportunity to embarrass the prime minister and called a Nepal bandh Monday to protest against the deal with India. It was not known immediately whether they would still go ahead with the protest. The former guerrillas are also demanding the ouster of Nepal over the debacle.
1. Nepal, India exchange letters on MRP
2. ‘MoFA has no right to cancel bidding process’
3. PAC again directs govt to re-tender MRP deal
4. Indian team here to discuss MRP aid
5. Authority abuse in MRP deal: PAC