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A New Chapter In The History Begins

Issue December 2017

A New Chapter In The History Begins

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


Speaking to the reporters in Chitwan, after voting in his constituency on December 7, 2017, chairman of one of the leaders of the left alliance Prachanda said that one chapter has ended and another chapter in the history of Nepal has started off; no matter which alliance will win the elections, the country will have a stable government. The second-phase elections held in 45 districts have been smooth with some minor incidents. Counting of the votes will be started immediately after closing the polling booths after five o’clock completing the second-phase elections. Then, the political transitional period also ends, as the full implementation of the constitution and federalism comes to be effective.


Surely a new chapter in the history of Nepal has started off, as the completion of the second-phase elections to the federal and provincial Houses of Representatives effectively enforcing the federalism following the constitution of 2015 have been held peacefully and smoothly. The political transitional period ends, and the country don’t need to fight for political and fundamental human rights and the country could launch the fast-track socio-economic development.


After the full implementation of the people’s constitution of 2015, Nepal has certainly entered the new history leaving behind the dark period of the monarchy that lasted in Nepal for over two thousands years including the 240 years of the Shah-Rana dynastic autocratic rule that had robbed the people at maximum the hangover of which continued even today in the form of the status of Nepal as the least developed country in the world. The dark period of the history ended and the new history of prosperity started then.


Surely, no matter which alliance wins the majority in the federal and provincial elections, a majority government will be set in. A new federal government will last at least for two years as the constitution prohibits the federal parliament to set the motion of no-confidence vote against the government for two years from the day of the prime minister taking the oath of office. The constitution also limits the number of cabinet ministers to 25 including the prime minister. No matter who becomes the prime minister s/he would have not more than 24 ministers.


The current cabinet of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has 64 ministers; most of them are without ministerial portfolios after Deuba suspended the Maoist ministers from having the portfolios. The Maoist-Center aligned with the CPN-UML and formed a left alliance to fight the federal and provincial elections together. In a fury, Deuba denied the portfolios to the entire Maoist ministers they had been holding, charging them their party had joined the opposition while in the government. However, Deuba either could not fire those Maoist ministers or did not want to fire them indicating how incompetent Deuba had been for keeping so many ministers without portfolios but paying the huge remuneration. Maoist ministers have justified to staying in the cabinet saying they have been hanging out with the prime minister in the cabinet even without the portfolios for the fear of Deuba postponing the elections having one excuse or another.


Such a sad story would not repeat again, as the people’s constitution has ruled out such things to happen. Future prime ministers would have to stick to the 24 ministers. The tradition had been in the past that anybody wiling to have the job of a minister needed to pay a certain amount to the prime minister. If it was a coalition government the leader of the coalition partner collected the amount from the ministers joining the cabinet. Even to get a ticket to be a candidate for the Houses of Representatives some candidates had to pay a certain amount to the party leaders. The Nepalese media had been the full of news stories about the political parties had given the party tickets for candidates for running the House of Representatives to the rich people including the rich contractors denying the tickets to the sincere party leaders and cadres. This evil practice might go after a number of elections before it is put to the right track, as the democratic practice is the self-correcting unlike the dynastic or autocratic rules that the voters could not correct.


After 15 days of the declaration of the final results of the provincial and federal elections, a new government needs to be formed following the constitution of 2015. So, in the near future one of the leaders of the left or the right alliance will hold the rein of the administration. The parliament will elect a new president and a new vice-president, and a new Speaker.


December 7, 2017 has been the historic day for completing the first elections held for the federal and provincial Houses of Representatives. Voters have shown great enthusiasm for participating in the elections, and electing the most appropriate persons to the federal House of Representatives and provincial Houses of Representatives. Except for minor incidents, no significant incidents had happened to threaten the elections.


The second-phase elections have been for directly electing 128 representatives to the federal House of Representative and 256 to the provincial seven Houses of Representatives. The first elections had been for electing 37 representatives to the federal House of Representatives, and 74 representatives to the Provincial Houses of Representatives. The federal Houses of Representatives have directly elected 155 representatives, and 110 elected following the proportional representation, and the president will appoint 10 representatives thus making altogether 275 representatives in the federal Houses of Representatives.


The historic elections have effectively ended the centralization of the administration. Local governments have been dramatically empowered. Most of the service delivery, the local bodies would do. As they are closer to the common folks they would face both the appreciation for their good deeds and curses for the bad things they do. Local bodies are elected for five years, and they would stay for five years. The constitution has no provision for dissolving the local governments and calling for the fresh polls. So, the local government will be the foundations of the federalism, and the roots of democracy.


Now, let us see what the leaders of both alliances of left and right have made claims before the elections.


After the first phase elections to the federal House of Representatives, and provincial Houses of Representatives held on November 26, 2017, Prachanda said that two-thirds of voters had voted for the candidates of the left alliance. He also had been saying at the election rally that the left alliance would win the two-thirds majority and then the left alliance would amend the constitution for making the provision for directly electing the chief executive.


Prime Minister Deuba led the democratic alliance effectively the right alliance, and he had claimed that the current elections would be the last ones if the left alliance were to win the elections. He said that the left alliance would impose the totalitarian rule ending the democratic rule. He claimed that only the democratic alliance could save the democracy. He did not have anything to say about what he would do if his alliance were to win the majority implying the business as usual.


Deuba also has claimed that the left alliance had hit hard the constitution saying that the left alliance would amend the constitution making the provision for directly electing the chief executive. Deuba knew that only the two-thirds majority of the federal lawmakers could do so. Why Deuba had to be so nervous about it if he were not to see the possibility of the left alliance winning the two-thirds majority.


Except for NC leader Ramchandra Poudel, and NC General Secretary Sashank Koirala, other NC leaders did not engage in such negative election campaign.


Deuba also claimed that the astrologers have predicted him to be the prime minister for seven terms. He is going to complete the fourth term after the current election results. He has three more terms to go according to his astrologers. However, he did not say whether the astrologers had prophesied that his party would win the elections. Wining the majority in the federal parliament is the precondition for Deuba to be the fifth term prime minister in the coming two weeks.


As the prime minister of the government that has no support of the parliament after the parliament got dissolved paving the way for the federal and provincial elections, Deuba has done a number of things any such prime minister is supposed not to do.


For example, Deuba rescinded the agreement the previous government had reached with the Chinese company to build the Budhigandaki Hydropower project with the capacity of generating power 1,200 MW. The Chinese company said that both parties could revoke the project following the agreement giving a 30-day advance notice but Deuba obviously failed to do so unilaterally terminating the project.


Deuba approved the road project in Hetauda obviously for his partner Chairman of Rastriya Prajatantra Party Kamal Thapa to have the advantage in the elections held on December 7, 2017. He knew that it went against the election code of conduct but he had the mindset of bullying others. So, he could do such things easily without shame. The election commissioners were so busy with holding the elections impartially and without any troubles. Consequently, they did not have much time to go into the details of what Deuba had been doing.


Prime Minister Deuba presiding over the cabinet meeting decided to celebrate the anniversary of the one of the robber kings Prithvi Narayan Shah on January 11, 2018 to draw the votes of the monarchists and please his coalition partner Kamal Thapa grossly violating the election code of conduct, and going against the aspirations of majority of the common folks for getting rid of any remnants of the monarchy that had been notoriously a menace to the welfare of the common folks. Prithvi had set the dynastic rule that had been the rule of kings and prime ministers that had robbed the common folks for the luxurious lives of their families, relatives and sycophants over 240 years.


Except for KP Oli, none of the leaders of the left alliance did aggressively reacted to the claim that Deuba had made the left alliance would impose the totalitarian rule. They have simply said that Deuba has been nervous about the left alliance winning the two-thirds majority; so, Deuba has been engaged in the negative campaign. Political experts believed that the Deuba’s negative campaign might backfire him and his party, too. However, Deuba did not stop the negative campaign up until the end of the election campaign period.


Oli has said many things to make fun of Deuba. One of them is NC has cut down all the trees to make plows. Green tree is the election symbol of NC. So, the election symbol of NC has disappeared according to Oli. Plow is the election symbol of Rastriya Prajatantra Party-democratic Pashupati Shumsher leads. Oli sarcastically has said that NC has helped the party of the former Panchayat people rather than helping his own party.


Now, how the elections have contributed to heat up the economy. Election campaign has fueled the demand for flower, fuel, liquor, eggs and meat. Every candidate needs to wear flower garlands. Either well-wishers offer such garlands or some candidates themselves buy flower garlands and wear to show how popular they are among the common folks. Fuel is for motor vehicles for travel of the cadres and candidates. Obviously, a number of vehicles have increased during the election campaign causing the higher demand for the fossil fuel. Naturally, liquor, eggs and meat are for the cadres and candidates too for enjoying the evening drink and dance party after a long day campaign.


The demand for papers also has spiked because of the need for printing ballot papers, and other election materials such as teaching materials for voters. Political parties also printed their election symbols, their manifestoes, and candidates’ appeals and other ad materials.


Billions of rupees from the State treasury, from the pockets of candidates and from the political parties’ treasury have gone to the market. Some money has landed in the pockets of the State employees such as civil staffers, police, armed police force, and the military, and in the pockets of temporary police hired for the elections. Poultry farmers have harvested the higher prices of eggs and chicken. Florists have the good business. Moonshine liquor makers have good days. Teashops turned to the local bar in the evening must have made a lot of money, too.


Prices of all those items except for the fossil fuel went up, as Prime Minister Deuba stopped the Nepal Oil Corporation from adjusting the prices of petroleum products on a par with the prices of those products in the Indian market stating the increase in the prices of petroleum products goes against the election code of conduct. How sincere Deuba had been to follow the election code of conduct in good faith. However, the main reason for not allowing NOC to increase the prices of petroleum products might be to take the advantage of the high prices of these products in the Indian market for selling the Nepal-bound fuel in India and get the difference as the profits causing the tremendous loss to the NOC. Another reason for Deuba capping the prices of petroleum products might be to keep the voters not paying higher prices for fuels at the time of elections.


NOC has been selling the petroleum products at the previous rates causing the loss of NPR 540 million in November, and it has projected its loss to be more than a billion by December, according to the news in “The Rising Nepal” of December 6, 2017. NOC is a state-owned-and-run company. So, the loss to the NOC means the loss to the nation. Thanks to Prime Minister Deuba for not violating the election code of conduct has made NOC to make such a huge loss. Deuba could let NOC adjust the prices of petroleum products immediately after the elections on December 7, 2017 but Deuba has not done anything to this end, as keeping the prices of petroleum products low is beneficial to him.


Another main economic benefits the elections have brought the creation of temporary jobs of security personnel.  Thousands of temporary jobs of police have been for three months to hold the elections safely. Thousands of youths have a good chance of joining the temporary police force. Some of them are thinking to build a house with the money they earn during the temporary jobs of police.


Hundreds of thousands of regular police, armed police force, and army are sent to guard the political leaders and to avoid any violence at the political rally and so on paying them allowances in addition to the regular salaries. Thousands of State employees have been posted to the polling booths. They also received the allowances. So, billions of rupees have been in hands of State employees.


Netra Bikram Chand ‘Biplav’ fled to India and CK Raut arrested, according to the local Nepalese media.


Biplav is one of the dissidents, and split away from the mainstream Maoist party to launch his own kind of revolution terrorizing the people. Most of the improvised bombs exploded without doing much harm to the people and property are attributed to the cadres of Biplav. The police have arrested some of his cadres responsible for throwing bombs or planting bombs or setting them off, and the police have been looking for Biplav. The police said that Biplav fled to India to dodge the arrest.


Raut has been another character in the Madheshi politics. Reportedly, he has set up an Alliance for Independent Madhesh (AIM). Is he a real Nepalese Madheshi or planted by someone in the Madhesh to create some nuisance particularly during the elections? His cadres have been in the campaign to boycott the elections, and to intimidate the voters in Madheshi. The police have taken Raut in control to keep the elections going.


Some political analysts believed that the incidents of bombs going off without causing any serious injuries to the life and damages to the property, have been the deeds of the folks in power so that they would have an excuse that the elections have not been done impartially and peacefully and as a result not valid if the left alliance were to win the majority in the elections.


Former mayor of Kathmandu Metropolitan city Keshav Sthapit in a video posted on the facebook said that a bomb hurting Gagan Thapa: NC youth leader and also the candidate for federal House of Representative at the Kathmandu constituency number four is the self-inflicted injury to earn the sympathy votes. While in the election campaign some people hurled bombs at Gagan Thapa and his campaigners injuring Thapa and some others. The police have arrested six people allegedly of Biplav’s cadres for causing this incident.


December 8, 2017

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