Money Played A Significant Role In Politics
Siddhi B Ranjitkar
The 324 votes the team of Krishna Prasad Sitaula and Gagan Thapa received in the elections to the NC presidency held in Kathmandu on March 6, 2016 had shown how the money had played in the NC politics. You could be a good politician, and as sincere as Krishna Prasad Sitaula, and you could be as dashing as Gagan Thapa but you could not win the elections if you did not have sufficient money to buy the votes.
The tip of the balance of power had been tilted to the team of Sher Bahadur Deuba and Arjun-narsingh KC enabling the team garner 1564 only short of 11 votes to win the presidency following the NC constitution that has the provision for winning more than 50% votes of the total votes cast in the election to claim the NC presidency.
Ramchandra Poudel and his election mate Shashank Koirala had done drastically poor in the election receiving only 1160 votes that were significantly less than the requirement for winning the NC presidency. So, the Koirala dynasty must have been fading away from the leadership losing the opportunity of the dynastic rule in the NC. In fact, Girija Prasad Koirala not to mention Sushil Koirala had terribly failed in grooming one of the Koirala family members to the leadership of NC. Persons like Shashank and Sujata that did not know what they were speaking in the public certainly could not claim the leadership of the NC and certainly then the national leadership.
According to the election results, one hundred votes had been declared invalid. Who had so wrongly voted we did not know. Those votes could be for any one of the three competing teams. Those voters were actually made their votes invalid rebelling against the elections in other words against all the team contesting in the election or those votes became invalid due to the technical reasons. If the votes became invalid due to the technical reason then the election commission must have been terribly failed in holding the election fairly. If the voters had made the votes deliberately invalid then the NC had been brewing a strong rebellious group in it.
Poor Deuba could have won the election if only eleven of the one hundred invalid votes were to go to his team. So, Deuba must be very serious why so many votes had been invalid. The invalid votes were 3.17% of the total votes. The total number of invalid votes was unacceptably high in view of the political consciousness and the political literacy of the voters. Those voters were not the simple average Nepalese voters but they were elected or nominated by the lower echelons of the NC leaders and politicians to the 13th national convention delegates. So, they knew how to vote properly and how to make votes invalid, too.
The failure of the Krishna Prasad Sitaula team in the election had been concern over the NC politics and then in turn the national politics. The election had clearly indicated that sincere politicians could stop dreaming of taking over the leadership of the NC. Anybody could be of any background of the past corrupt deeds but if s/he could have sufficient money then s/he could win the election, this is the message the election result carried. The NC had lost the values of sincerity in its leadership.
Krishna Prasad Sitaula had performed as the home minister fantastically well to lead Nepal to politically forward, and finally to the secular and republican State but voters had hopelessly rejected him and his team mate that had made efforts on changing the face of the party and surely of the country. The NC voters even though only slightly more than three thousands out of the total member of hundreds of thousands of the NC members, were not for taking the country forward but certainly for putting the country in the reverse gear.
After the election results, Sitaula had tried to bridge the gap between the Deuba and the Poudel teams urging them to reach an understanding of a consensus president rather than going to the run-off election, according to the media reports. In a statement, Sitaula had publicly urged both the parties competing for the NC presidency to come to a common understanding. However, both parties brushed off the proposal of Sitaula. The run-off election was going to be held at 2:00 pm actually started off one hour late on March 7, 2016.
It was natural that both the parties would try to win the election until the last minute. Poudel was not for accepting the defeat in the election whereas Deuba believed that he had won the game. Poudel had the history of running for the office of prime minister seventeen times without success. He must have broken up any record of failure in winning the election. Even knowing all these things, Sitaula tried to be a bridge between Deuba and Poudel without a success.
The Nepalese media reported that the Poudel team had held a meeting at the Yak and Yeti Hotel to formulate a strategy to beat the Deuba team in the run-off election. The strategy must be probably how many of the Deuba voters could be bought. Deuba also was not short of money. Buying his voters might be next to impossible but nothing could be certainly said about the NC voters. They could turn to any direction in a short time.
The results of the election had clearly shown that the Deuba team was posed to take over the NC leadership. The Deuba team had a number of more corrupt and disgraced politicians than the Poudel team. What Khum Bahadur Khadka, Govinda Raj Joshi, Chiranjive Wagle, and Taranath Ranabhatt would do after the Deuba team would win the election could easily be guessed from their past performances. All of them represented the regressive force, and they would surely attempt to reverse all the political, social and economic gains the country had made so far, provoking the forward-looking mass. So, these guys of the Deuba camp would invite another confrontation in Nepal.
First thing what they do would be to split the current coalition of all political parties except the NC and the UDMF luring some of the non-visionary political leaders to the power and prestige. Disintegration of the current political coalition would lead NC as the majority party in the parliament to claim the rights to a new government. They would set aside the provision made in the constitution for not introducing a no-confidence vote against the prime minister for two years, and then tear down the current government to form a new government under the leadership of Deuba.
The first victim of the Deuba team in the NC election would be the constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. The team had a large number of politicians that did not want the federalism, secular state and other progressive provisions made in the constitution. They tried to drag the constitution to the reverse direction if they could not then they would stand as the barriers to enforcing the constitution.
Some of the Deuba team had already publicly declared that the country was still in the political transitional period indicating they could do whatever they would like. They could create confusion in enforcing the constitution. In the name of the transitional period, they could totally stop the use of the constitution, and introduce the corrupt rein ignoring the rule of law as the NC leaders did in the past whenever they came to power in 1950s, and then in 1990s, and now in 2016.
The Deuba triumph in the election would indicate that the NC leadership would go to the hidden corrupt politicians that had probably used the unscrupulously amassed and stashed resources somewhere clandestinely for the election. The very money unethically amassed would be used for purchasing the voters. What anybody could anticipate from such politicians that had earned and amassed the assets unethically not to mention illegally nothing but more corruption and more lawlessness and the rule of thumb than any other things.
In the 1990s when the NC came to power after the reinstatement of democracy, the NC government gave birth to the open corruption. In the name of the economic liberalization, the NC government gave birth to the most corrupt businesspeople, industrialists, contractors, transporters and so on sidelining the honest businesspeople, industrialists and so on. The government also filled up the State bureaucracy with one and all having phony credentials firing the experienced and sincere bureaucrats. The NC gave birth to the corrupt legal practitioners. The NC itself became the symbol of the corruption and misrule. During the rule of Sushil Koirala in 2015, Nepal gained ten points in the higher corruption scale made by the Transparency International. The NC had planted the idea in the minds of the Nepalese that if they had to make money they had to be corrupt and follow the path shown by the NC leadership.
The NC leadership could not set the country in the correct political path due to the corrupt mindset of the NC leaders and gave way to the fraudulent King Mahendra only to introduce the shady political system called a non-party panchayat system in the early 1960s. Nepalese had lost the opportunity of forward development for the thirty years of the panchayat from 1960 to 1990. It had set the corrupt practice of getting elected a few representatives from the districts to the center and then from them get elected to the apex body of the system. The NC had almost the same system of electing the party leadership as of the panchayat. That was easier to get elected from 3,000 delegates than from the 300,000 members of the NC party when they needed to buy the votes.
After the fall of the despotic Rana family rule in 1951, Nepal had the ten years of nice democratic practice. Every person had the liberty to practice any profession of s/he chose. Debating and discussion had been the practice in every organization. Libraries and reading rooms had cropped up spontaneously without the support of the government or any other donor agencies. People had the feeling that they had been free from the authoritarian rulers and they did not need to live under any threat and fear of the rulers that their parents and grandparents had lived and experienced hardship in their lifetime during the Shah-Rana dynastic rule.
After the disastrously corrupt King Mahendra taking over from the NC government on December 15, 1960, all the political, social, economical and educational gains the Nepalese had made during the short period of ten years was lost to Mahendra that closed all the libraries, reading rooms, private organizations other than the ones approved by him and his sycophants, and took over the private schools, and even the commercial businesses leading the country to the dark period of the history of the unimaginably totalitarian Rana rule.
The NC and its leadership had been responsible for all the retardation of the progressive development of the Nepalese people in every sector of their lives. NC still claims that it is a democratic party. Its rule means democratic rule. It does not recognize any other party as a democratic party. Fine, anybody can claim so but it has to follow what it says. In practice the NC has always deviated from the universally accepted democratic norm. Its rule had been not less dictatorial than Mahendra’s not to mention the historical Rana rule.
The rise of Deuba party in the NC is the looming political catastrophe. If the Deuba team were to win the second round of the election, what the Nepalese could anticipate is the political instability. If we were to take a look at the political history of Deuba then he had been responsible for transferring the power to the then highly unscrupulous King Gyanendra. Deuba had been responsible for giving the birth to the civil war that took about 19,000 beautiful lives of Nepalese from 1996 to 2006.
In fact Deuba had won the NC presidency in the run-off election. He received 1,822 votes against Poudel receiving 1,296. It was a decisive victory of Deuba over Poudel. Deuba declared that the NC would not have any groups or subgroups from then on but he did not say how he would manage a cadre of his party that had fought against a cadre of Poudel at the Pradarshni Marga while the voting was going on in the city Hall. Cadres had been firmly loyal to their respective leader; that had been in the past, that is today, and that will be tomorrow, too.
Deuba also declared that he would topple the current coalition of so many political parties and would form a collation government of his party NC, Madheshi parties and the UCPN-Maoist. Deuba had totally ignored the call of Chairman of UCPN-Maoist Prachanda and Prime minister Oli for forming a consensus government that would help to enforce the constitution. Clearly, Deuba was not concern with the implementation of the constitution but was interested very much in grabbing the power. Deuba had ignored his own words of offering the position of prime minister to Poudel if Poudel were to support him for the position of the president of NC.
Prachanda had been telling the public that he was for a consensus government of all political parties including the NC and the Madheshi parties. So, he urged the NC leadership to join the current government headed by Oli to smoothly implement the constitution. Prime Minister Oli also had been saying that his government would not be dissolved rather it would be expanded. Deuba had clearly ignored both the calls of Prachanda and Oli to come and join the current government.
What Deuba would do as the president of NC, we did not need to guess or imagine but his historical background was sufficient, and also he had made it clear that he would play a dirty political game luring the Madheshi and the UCPN-Maoist to form a new government under his leadership. If we were to believe the gossip market then India was strongly behind Deuba.
India must be favoring Deuba to be the next prime minister. In this case, Prachanda deadly against the foreign interferences in the Nepalese politics would support Deuba or not remains to be seen. The current coalition partners were surely against India doing anything in the politics of Nepal. None of the political parties in the current coalition government was in favor of India. So, Modi must be looking out to find a next prime minister that would be favorable to India.
India’s main concern had been over the political stability, as the political instability would cause the conflict in Nepal making India to be concerned with the border security, according to the Indian version of its concern over politics in Nepal. India had surrounded Nepal on all three sides leaving only one to Tibet, China.
Both China and India had relaxed the tension between them but they had not gone out of the suspicion that one of them would have more influence than another in Nepal. So, they competed with each other to pull the head of Nepalese government to its side as much as possible.
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had seen Nepal as a buffer state in 1960s. I did not know what Modi had thought about Nepal whether it was a buffer State or his backyard. Modi had tried to improve the bilateral relations with China visiting China and having commercial agreements setting aside the border dispute. Nehru also tried to improve the relations with China saying ‘China and India are brothers’ but he faced the Chinese invasion in 1962. So, Nepal might remain as an important ally for both neighbors today as had been in the past.
Oli even could not straighten the misunderstanding he had with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi even after his visit to India. The failure in making the joint statement of Modi and Oli at the end of Oli’s visit to India was the clear indication that Modi had not been fully satisfied with what Oli said that he had met the demands of Madheshis in totality amending the constitution. Modi had not totally accepted the version of Oli that he had met the demands of the Madheshis in his speech, too.
Prime Minister Oli would be visiting China starting on March 20, 2016, according to the Nepalese media. He had a RRP foreign minister, and Maoist supplies minister in his cabinet. Foreign minister Kamal Thapa claimed that he was a staunch nationalist in other words he was not for bowing to the foreign interferences in the Nepalese politics. The supplies minister wanted Prime Minister Oli while in China to sign off an agreement with China on the petroleum supply to Nepal so that Nepal would not entirely dependent on India for the petroleum supplies.
Such activities of the Maoist minister, and the nationalistic feelings of other ministers in the Oli cabinet surely must have made Modi nervous. India did not want the opening of the northern border entry points, as the Chinese influence in Nepal would enhance considerably. Nepal would not be totally backyard of India for dumping anything cheap or low quality goods and services when China could provide Nepal with its cheap industrial goods. So, Modi might strongly support Deuba for taking the office of prime minister in a few weeks to come.
China’s main concern had been over the activities of Tibetan exiles in Nepal that had been home for more than 20,000 Tibetan exiles since 1958 when Dalai Lama left Tibet after the botch uprising against the Chinese rule in Tibet. Nepal had been the passage for the Tibetans visiting Dalai Lama at Dharmashala in India. China wanted to strictly control the border posts to stop any Tibetan sneaking into Nepal and then going to India and coming back to Tibet with the blessing of Dalai Lama that had been labeled as the secessionist by China.
So, India could support anybody in the current case Deuba for grabbing the power in Nepal. Surely, if Deuba were to win the office of prime minister standing on the shoulder of Modi breaking up the current coalition of political parties, it would be disaster for all the proud Nepalese that had been living with the nationalistic feelings and that had tolerated the hardship of Indian blockade for five months challenging the Modi’s repulsive interference in the Nepalese business, and building a new Nepal would be in the doldrums for several years to come.
Nepalese in general and all political leaders in particular that want to lead the country forward need to be ready to stop Deuba and his team from taking Nepal backward. To this end, the current coalition government needed to keep intact for years to come for enforcing the constitution even without the participation of NC in the governance. Meeting the demands of the Madheshis should be another serious issue for the current government to take up immediately to lead the country to correct path of political economical and social development of all the people.
March 8, 2016