Tag Archives: election

Debunking Dr. Karan Singh’s Misinformed Comments on #Nepal at Indian Rajya Sabha

– by Nepalforeignaffairs Team

Dr Karan Singh, speaking about Nepal in Indian parliament
Picture: @subhash580‘s twitter feed

Dr. Karan Singh’s statement (click here to watch his full statement) in Indian parliament yesterday is full of factual errors and lies. Perceived as a person who’s knowledgeable about Nepal, Singh’s understanding of Nepal’s complexities and nuances appear to be very insufficient and based on a distorted view on Nepal’s situation, probably fed by a few sources who do not understand Nepal very well. Here is a point-by-point evaluation of his claims versus the facts.

[Related: Pictures show how Nepal is coping with the inhumane blockade by India]

1. The constitution alienates a large section of the population

Fact: The constitution was voted for by almost 90% of all members of Nepal’s Constituent Assembly, the elected body that was drafting the constitution. It has been approved by a large section of the population, including many Madhesis. A large majority of Madhesi elected representatives voted for the constitution.

2. Madhesis are 51% of Nepal’s population

Fact: Madhesis constitute less than 20% of Nepal’s population (see this factcheck article on the widely misreported Madhesi population statistics). Nepal is a diverse country and Nepal’s plain area, called the Terai/Madhes is home to various groups. The total number of people living in the Terai is about 50% of the country’s population, but it includes a large number of non-Madhesi people.

[Related: #Nepal: Madhesi groups have the highest representation in government jobs]

3. If the present constitution is continued, identity of Madhes is going to be destroyed

Fact: The constitution ensures a separate province for Madhesis, thus protecting their identity (although majority of Nepalese expressed in last elections that there are better ways to protect identity than through such ethnicity-based provinces). The constitution has provisions for multiple languages to be used in local bodies. No province has been created for other ethnic groups including Gurung, Magar, Tamang, etc. Madhesis are treated specially by the constitution, which many argue, is against the spirit of equality in democracy.

[Related: Did India deceive or did Madhesi Morcha misunderstand?]

4. The eight-point agreement in 2007 with the government headed by GP Koirala has been jettisoned

Fact: Previous governments have made such agreements with many ethnic groups including Tharus, Limbus, Chure-Bhawar society and so on. Like explained in point 5 below, multiple groups live together and have competing claims. It has been a subject of long political debate in Nepal and so far there has been no consensus. The arrangement proposed in the current constitution is the only one that has received least opposition and was accepted by about 90% members of the Constituent Assembly. The constitution ensures a separate province for Madhesis, while other groups’ demands for similar provinces have not been respected. There are voices within Nepal who think this special treatment to a small section of Madhesi politicians is unfair for the rest of the groups who share these regions.

[Related: A controlled Indian blockade on Nepal (BBC report)]

5. Madhesh has been sliced up in such a way that they are marginalised in all but one province

13016
Geographical distribution of some major ethnic groups in Nepal, from among more than 100 different groups (based on 2001 census data)

Fact: Nepal is a diverse country with more than 100 ethnic groups and languages (see this post for a statistics on some of these groups). The settlements in Nepal are mixed (many ethnic groups live close together) and it is extremely difficult to carve out provinces that is exclusive to each group, while still being fair to others. There are competing claims by different ethnic groups for provinces in the same areas. For example, in the Eastern Terai, Madhesis constitute less than 20% of the population but some Madhesi politicians (most of who have lost elections there) want it to be named as an exclusive Madhesi province. Other ethnic groups like Tharus, Limbus, Rajbamshis, Chure-Bhawar society also demand similar provisions in the same region. For over 8 years, this discussion has been going on in Nepal, including during two elections for the Constituent Assembly, that were dominated by this very debate. Finally, various parties agreed on the current federal solution that has the least amount of opposition. During the election of the Constituent Assembly, the agenda of ethnic-based provinces was defeated by huge margin. Similarly, the previous constituent assembly failed to draft a constitution because the ruling parties of that time wanted ethnicity based provinces while the opposition disagreed.

[Related: India puts Nepal on Ventilator Support by blockading the country’s imports (BBC Report)]]

6. Proportional representation theory has not been accepted

Fact: This is wrong. Please see Article 50 of the current constitution. More details on this can be read in this article about the many factual errors in Indian External Affairs Minister’s speech.

7. In marriage, discrimination regarding citizens as far as citizens marrying Indians

Fact: This is also wrong. Please see Part 2, Article 10-15 of the current constitution. More details on this can be read in this article about the many factual errors in Indian External Affairs Minister’s speech.

8. Madhesis have been looked down in that country for many centuries

Fact: Madhesis have been treated specially in Nepal’s history. They used to be part of the Royal court in Kathmandu. Today, several Madhesi groups (like Dalits) are among the most backward and disadvantaged in Nepal. At the same time, several other Madhesi groups (like Madhesi Brahmins, Kayasthas, Rajputs) are ahead of all other ethnic groups in Nepal in terms of Human Development Index (HDI), education, wealth, access to government services and opportunities. Madhesi is not a single homogeneous population group.

9. The current constitution goes back on the provisions made in the interim constitution

Fact: The current constitution is drafted by an elected Constituent Assembly that was sovereign. The Assembly was elected to replace the interim constitution based on the popular will expressed through elections. Current constitution ensures more progressive provisions including for language, women and minorities. It includes affirmative action provisions for additional groups like disabled and poor, which the interim constitution lacked. The current constitution ensures federalism, and a separate province for Madhesis. which the interim constitution did not have

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Privileged Maoist Kids and the Unfortunate Lot Who Were Forced Out of Schools by Maoists

Pen and book for your own daughter while gun for the daughters of poor ethnic people.
Pen and books for your own daughter while guns for the daughters of poor ethnic people.

A Facebook page named “CPN UML Youth Campaign” posted a combo photo (above) recently with touchy captions: “Pen and books for your own daughter. Gun for daughter of ethnic people.” [See details about the first photo below.]

Madhav Nepal Offering Daam to King Gyanendra on Coronation Day
Madhav Nepal Offering Daam to King Gyanendra on Coronation Day

The context: Election season has started (voting is slated for 19the November). Remember the ‘famous’ Madhav Nepal photo (right)– in which the UML leader is seen offering daam to King Gyanenndra on the latter’s Coronation Day- that the Maoists circulated massively during the 2008 CA elections?

But this is not merely an election gimmick of a rival political party. The fact that a UML campaign circulated these pictures doesn’t mean it undermines the credibility of the poignant message that these photos convey.

The truth is Baburam Bhattarai actually sent his daughter to the safety and quality education of schools in India (and, most recently, to China to learn the Chinese language!) while he forced many young people out of schools in Nepali villages arguing that they should reject the bourgeois education and join the revolution. Baburam’s boss, Pushpa Kamal Dahal kept his son with himself as personal assistant while he sent many sons and daughters of poor Nepalis to front lines to be killed or injured. Baburam Bhattarai himself attended the same bourgeois education system and excelled at it. He attended a missionary high school in his home district Gorkha, went to college in Kathmandu and attended an Indian university (for which he seems to be very proud of). He should be. He should also have let thousands of poor Nepali youths to be proud of their education. But he and his party deprived a whole generation of Nepali youth of education. Ironically, most people who the Maoist party forced out of schools are from the same communities Prachanda and Baburam promised to emancipate from poverty and backwardness. Continue reading Privileged Maoist Kids and the Unfortunate Lot Who Were Forced Out of Schools by Maoists

Elections 2013: Challenges Ahead for Nepal

The government has finally announced dates for the CA polls (19 November). This has raised hopes of Nepal getting a new elected body. Not yet time to celebrate hoping that Nepal will have a government that is accountable to people and its acts transparent. Similarly, there will not be a competition among political parties based on issues and ideologies in the upcoming CA polls. The only reason to be happy about this announcement si that this election, if it happens, may remove the current government of bureaucrats.

Siromani Dhungana
UWB

2013 elections are going to be held in the same circumstances in which 2008 CA elections were held.  Almost same faces, mainly same political parties and more or less same agendas. Some politicians have changed their parties but the ideological division that existed in 2008 remains unchanged.

Confrontation (reality) vs Consensus (Illusion)

The problem is politicians are divided not on the basis of ideology or philosophy rather on the basis of their personal interest and benefit. There is wide rift between communists and non-communist forces. The division, a the moment, is in its worst level. There is division within communist forces and also within non-communist forces too. This deep division, almost to the level of hatred, may create obstacles in the election process. It will certainly be a stumbling block in the constitution writing process as it was before. Continue reading Elections 2013: Challenges Ahead for Nepal

Who is Serious About Holding Elections?

Prospects of election continue to dominate the national discourse in Nepal but the key question is: are political parties serious about facing ballot boxes?

By Siromani Dhungana
UWB

The political arena hasn’t changed since May last year when the then Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and his party UCPN Maoist and their power-hungry Madhesi collaborators let the Constituent Assembly die without drafting a constitution. No political party has changed their stands on several important issues and their tones and (dual) stances remain same. Essentially, all parties have lost their credibility and it seems they are not really interested to go for a fresh mandate. In this backdrop, it is very difficult to believe that election, let alone a genuine, free and fair one, can be held anytime soon.

Chairman of the interim electoral council of ministers, Khil Raj Regmi, might have realized by now that ruling the country is entirely way more challenging than issuing the court rulings that he is used to doing. On the one hand, the government has not yet to fixed the date of CA polls. On the other, Mohan Baidya-led CPN-Maoist cadres have continued to disrupt the work of updating voter rolls in various districts forcing the Election Commission to suspend the work altogether. The problem here is that this non-elected apolitical government can do nothing against the organized political forces like the CPN-Maoist. In an interview with the website setopati.com, Chief Election Commissioner Nilkantha Upreti has clearly hinted that the poll dates may be pushed to later this year. Continue reading Who is Serious About Holding Elections?

To Hold Democratic Elections, Supreme Court Chief Justice Becomes Prime Minister in Nepal

WHAT- Nepal got a new Prime Minister today. President Ram Baran Yadav appointed Supreme Court Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi as the Chairman of the Interim Electoral Council of Ministers (basically the Prime Minister) of Nepal. Dr. Yadav also administered the oath of office and secrecy to Regmi this morning. Regmi became the PM because Nepal’s top political parties, at war with each other and unwilling to accept leadership of the party other than their own, finally agreed on CJ Regmi’s name for the leader of the electoral government to hold elections of the Constituent Assembly. It is believed that Nepali leaders, generally considered corrupt and incompetent, did so at the behest of foreign forces especially our southern neighbor.

GOOD? BAD? Both.

First, why it is good:

1) Regmi replaced Dr. Baburam Bhattarai as the PM. This is good. I had big hopes from Bhattarai when he became pm 18 months ago. But he turned out to be a utter disappointment. Just another corrupt man who promoted nepotism and favoritism and, through his wife, misused resources of state in a naked manner. So Bhattarai’s exit is a relief. The Maoists were milking the state resource. I am not sure if that will be stopped entirely because the militant party in Nepal has the capability to extort and intimidate general public, business and government machinery even when they are not in power. Moreover, they have put in place many of their men and women in many plum and crucial positions in Nepali government machinery and administration that it will childish to say that their illegal flow of income from the state coffer will stop.

BAD

Now, why it’s bad?

1) If you believe in democracy, its principles, constitutionalism and fairness in politics, you will be very sad with the way Regmi’s name was proposed and appointed to lead the government. When he was appointed the prime minister, he was the serving Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Stunningly, he still is the CJ. He hasn’t resigned. Now, where has that basic principle of a constitutional democracy called separation of power gone? And look at what happend at the Supreme Court today? It was supposed to hear on the writ filed against the appointment of the CJ as PM. But the hearing was differed because CJ was appointed PM merely an hour before the hearing  was scheduled to begin. The whole concept of independent judiciary has received a big blow.

NOW WHAT?

Those who are support the CJ’s appointment as the PM argue that it was done to hold elections and provide an outlet to nearly 10-month long political deadlock. Okay, I get the point. But will an election which itself is an outcome of undemocratic exercise be able to provide solutions? It will be a step towards right direction if Regmi resigned from his post of the CJ.

Also, there really wasn’t any constitutional way to appoint a new pm because political parties who were to work in conensious were not willing to accept each other’s leadership. The only other option would have been to continue with BRB, whose legality was already in question, at the helm. Nepal’s current flawed interim constitution provides only ways for a prime ministerial appointment: one, the person has to win a majority of votes in the CA which is no more. Two, the person has to garner the support of major political parties, namely the NC, UML and UCPN Maoist (called national consensus).

I am all for elections. My hands are etching to caste a vote (two votes actually). Yes it will be very hard for me to choose the candidate (or a party) because all of the partie that are likely to contest in the elections have been tried and tested and they have all disappointed us. I just hope that some good candidates show up in the elections and some really good leaders emerge out of the democratic process.

Some say they doubt elections can happen under this government. Some say, there are high chances for elections to happen (in November, not in July though) because parties do want to rule and the only way for them to go back to power is to content elections and win the votes of the people.

Now the danger is that we can fully trust this government either. It is because these bureaucrats (two former secretaries were appointed ministers today and eight more will be included in the cabinet) are accountable to none today. And people can not punish (or award) them in elections either. They may turn out to be even more corrupt. Bigger danger is that they may get unduly influenced to sign anti-national treaties and other provisions.

Sushil Koirala at the Helm of Nepali Congres: The Road Ahead

What does the strong showing of Sushil Koirala panel mean for the Nepali Congress and the broader national politics?

By Akhilesh Upadhyay

sushil koirala of nepali congress
At least in short term, Sushil Koirala’s election is less likely to have a more telling impact on national politics of Nepal than that of the three-time Prime Minister Deuba’s would have had.

The much delayed Nepali Congress General Convention is finally done with. For now, the battle for succession is over. It is another Koirala. Acting President Sushil Koirala, 71, has consolidated his hold on the Grand Old Party as the elected chief for the next three years. Also, the Koirala panel holds a majority in the party’s central committee. Prakash Man Singh beat the much fancied Bimalendra Nidhi in the crucial race for the General Secretary.

What does all this mean for the NC and the national politics at large?

But first let’s gloat on the success of Gagan Thapa, 34, who got the highest votes at the GC. Gagan made his mark in the party—indeed the national politics—as a fiery orator, a student leader, taking squarely on the NC establishment in the early 2000s. He rode high on reformist agenda but, unlike so many other leaders, both young and seasoned, he had the gift to communicate his ideas effortlessly in large public rallies and the fast mushrooming political TV talk shows. The royal takeover in 2005 only gave him a broader stage to exercise his oratorical skills and expand his national reach. Gagan’s mass appeal does not just come from his youth, which is obviously a huge asset. He has also been quick to move beyond his party veterans (and many young leaders) who speak a very convoluted political jargon—narrow-minded, partisan, and mostly suited for closed-door intra-party debates—uninspiring to the political centre, and indeed the apolitical class. Continue reading Sushil Koirala at the Helm of Nepali Congres: The Road Ahead

Gagan Thapa: Most Favoured in Nepali Congress

By Kamal Raj Sigdel

gagan thapa nepali congress leader
With 2,061 votes in his kitty, Gagan Thapa, 34, stands out as the most favoured among the 25 new Nepali Congress Central Working Committee members elected from the open competition.

Gagan Thapa means business. At a gathering of party colleagues and friends before the Nepali Congress General Assembly last week, the young Turk said he was confident of victory in the party’s central working committee (CWC), “The challenge for me is to garner the highest number of votes.”

The votes were all counted on Monday (27 Sept). And true to his words, he was the No. 1. With 2,061 votes in his kitty, he stands out as the most favoured among the 25 new CWC members elected from the open competition.

However, this was not a surprise for many inside and outside the party. For, it was discernible before the election that the young man had managed to shore up support from a multiple sections of the party’s constituencies, including the youth, the establishment faction and obviously from his father-in-law, Arjun Narsingh KC, who stood only second after him.

Thapa himself, however, believes that his success is the reward for his loyalty to the party. “I remained disciplined at testing times,” said Thapa, whose request for a ticket to fight for the 2008 Constituent Assembly (CA) polls was turned down by then party president Girija Prasad Koirala. He was later nominated as a CA member from the proportional representation quota. Continue reading Gagan Thapa: Most Favoured in Nepali Congress

Nepali Congress General Convention Message: Unity Essential

By Anil Giri
[List of winning candidates]
For the record: With the final election results of the Nepali Congress on Monday (27 Sept) giving a verdict for a mixed composition of its 61-member new Central Working Committee (CWC) for a four-year term, maintaining ‘unity’ and working in tandem on national issues will be a serious challenge to both the Sushil Koirala and Sher Bahadur Deuba camps. The neck-to-neck competition and sizeable representation of the Deuba camp (29 CWC members) in the CWC may serve as a strong opposition to the Koirala camp (32 CWC members) in the party.

As the elected president, Koirala has the authority to nominate another 21 CWC members, subject to the approval of CWC. Many party insiders are hoping that the president uses his prerogative to heal the party after a divisive election.

One interesting feature of the election is that a majority of the new faces in CWC from the open and zonal seats are of the Deuba faction. Shanker Bhandari, Manmohan Bhattarai, Surendra Pandey, Jeevan Bahadur Shahi and Kishor Singh Rathor are the pro-Deuba new faces in the CWC.

The Koirala camp has secured 14 seats in the open category, 9 in zonal seats, 10 in reserved seats while the Deuba camp bagged 11 in the open category, 5 in zonal seats and 12 in reserved seats. There is speculation that some elected CWC members who contested the election from the Koirala camp but had been close to the Deuba camp, could return to the Deuba faction. Continue reading Nepali Congress General Convention Message: Unity Essential

Nepali Congress: New Leadership, Old Challenges

sushil koirala
sushil koirala

The 12th General Convention of the Nepali Congress on Tuesday (21 Sept) elected Acting President Sushil Koirala the party’s new president. Sushil secured 1,652 votes in contrast to his contenders Sher Bahadur Deuba 1,317 and Bhim Bahadur Tamang 78. Fifteen votes were declared invalid.

As per the party’s statute, a winning candidate must secure at least 50 percent plus one vote from the total turnout, which was 3,062 in Tuesday’s election. According to the Central Election Committee of the party, 20 representatives, including founder member Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, who was critically ill, remained absent due to various reasons. Bhattarai had written a letter to the Acting President a few days ago expressing his inability to attend the convention as, he said, the NC had drifted away from its original ideology of constitutional monarchy.

nepali congress flag
nepali congress flag

The election committee had prepared nine different ballot papers to simplify the election process. The papers were prepared to separate the posts of different categories, including the president, office bearers, and CWC members from the open and reservation quotas.

Unlike the election committee’s estimation that it would take 12 minutes in an average for a person to complete voting on the given nine ballot papers, the actual average time spent by a voter was 25 to 30 minutes. To speed up the election process, booth arrangements were made to enable over 40 voters to cast their ballot simultaneously.

Singh new NC gen secy; Yadav treasurer

prakash man singh and chitralekha yadav
Reaching out to one another:Newly elected Nepali Congress General Secretary Prakash Man Singh and Treasurer Chitra Lekha Yadav exchange congratulations in the Nepali Congress party office at Sanepa, Lalitpur, on Wednesday (22 Sept).

Continue reading Nepali Congress: New Leadership, Old Challenges

Looking for a Prime Minister: Seventh Failed Attempt

For the record: Even the seventh round of the prime ministerial election in the House today failed to elect a chief executive, thanks to the CPN-UML‘s and Madhes-based parties’ neutral stance. Now, the country will have to wait for nearly three weeks to see another round of the drama of the prime ministerial election. The eighth round poll in the House has been scheduled for September 26.

Yet, it is not sure that the eighth round of election also can elect a new prime minister as the parties are sticking to their old respective positions. The election has been postponed by three weeks due to the General Convention of the Nepali Congress (NC), a contestant in the PM election.

In Tuesday’s seventh round of election, UCPN (Maoist) Candidate Pushpa Kamal Dahal and NC candidate Ram Chandra Poudel both failed to garner a majority vote.

Among the 521 lawmakers present during the voting, 252 voted for Dahal, and 110 voted against while 159 remained neutral in the proposal to elect Dahal as the new prime minister. Likewise, 119 votes were cast in favour of Poudel, and 245 votes against, while 151 remained neutral. Continue reading Looking for a Prime Minister: Seventh Failed Attempt