Indian Embassy in Kathmandu and Alleged Maoist-‘Chinese’ Phone Conversation

Writing on the front pages of Kantipur and The  Kathmandu Post, the editors of the papers today say that a high-ranking official from a foreign diplomatic mission (Indian mission) in Kathmandu had called them on Friday night to inquire if they were interested in publishing the alleged Mahara conversation with a man with Chinese accent. Kantipur editor writes that they, along with about a dozen other Nepali editors, were having regular informal discussions with the Chinese ambassador in Baluwatar when the call from the diplomat came to the Post editor. “We have a recorded telephone conversation, can you publish it?” said the diplomat.

“What’s that about?”
“You will know once you listen to it,” was the reply to Upadhyay.

Later we learned from other sources that the conversation was between Maoist leader KB Mahara and a man alleged to be Chinese. But it was not clear who that “Chinese” was and the telephone numbers on which the conversation took place. It was also not clear how that was recorded. The caller only wanted to know if we could publish that conversation today. (continue reading Kantipur editor’s account in Nepali below)

By Akhilesh Upadhyay
Editor, The Kathmandu Post (on the front page, today)

Not everyday do newspapers feel the need to explain to their readers why they did what they did. Many of you may have wondered—some have aloud to our ears—why the Kathmandu Post on Saturday did not carry a news item which has otherwise received great prominence in some papers. This demands an explanation. The issues at hand are of utmost gravity. The story in question is about the allegation that China was all set to make a huge cash infusion to the Maoist party to influence the outcome of the sixth round of prime ministerial election slated for Sunday.

According to the news carried in some newspapers and TV networks on Friday night and Saturday morning, China had assured the Maoist leadership of Rs. 500 million. The money, the news suggests, would be enough to garner support of 50 non-Maoist lawmakers whose backing in turn would be enough to elect UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal as the prime minister. The story obviously implicates China in high-stake horse trading. Naturally then, some ran the story with a caveat: Authenticity of the leaked audio tape of the conversation between Maoist leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara and “a Chinese official”, on which the story rests, could not be independently established. Continue reading Indian Embassy in Kathmandu and Alleged Maoist-‘Chinese’ Phone Conversation

India: Congress Election and an Angry Yogi in Tirupati

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

gods and a demi goddess kathmandu post 05.09.10
Kathmandu Post 05.09.10

As it is preparing for its 12th general convention next week, the Nepali Congress is witnessing intense competition among its leaders who want to lead it. Several factions have come up and no one knows who is on which side. Also unclear is who among the three contenders for the post of president commands a majority. Seems like a messy democracy in action in the oldest party of Nepal.

The oldest party of India, on the other side of the border, selected its leader last week without any signs of acrimony. Sonia Gandhi, the incumbent, was reelected president for a record fourth time. No one challenged her. Instead, there was competition among her supporters to propose her name for the post on the last day of filing nominations on Thursday. All in all 55 nomination papers were filed on her behalf.

Rival Bharatiya Janata Party was quick to point out the ‘lack of democracy’ and ‘family domination’ in the Congress organisation. The BJP earlier this year unanimously elected Nitin Gadkari its leader. That election wasn’t without criticism. It was said that the BJP didn’t elect Gadkari but he was imposed upon the party by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a cultural and religious organisation. The RSS is considered the head of a family of Hindu nationalist organisations of which the BJP is a member.

Two of the largest political parties of the largest democracy in the world may not be entirely democratic when it comes to selecting their top leadership. The domination of the Gandhi family and inheritance of leadership from one member of the family to another has been the tradition of the Congress for long.  Similarly the influence of the RSS in the affairs of the BJP is no secret. But vibrant discussions do take place in their organisations and opposing views get enough space to create healthy internal debates. The most impressive part of Indian democracy can be witnessed at the moments of crisis when opposing political parties come together, thrash out differences, and move the nation forward. It is because they have realised that democracy is the biggest asset and weapon that India has to face its grave challenges. For example, in the recently concluded summer session of the parliament the government worked closely with the main opposition party, the BJP, to pass some key bills. Continue reading India: Congress Election and an Angry Yogi in Tirupati