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Millennium Post

Trust call or testing feelings

Nepal’s political elite blame India for all their ills thus the recent visit of President Ram Baran Yadav to India in the middle of the constitutional crisis there has set tongues wagging. A stable Nepal is in India’s interest said the foreign minister of India Salman Khurshid. The message from India was very simple. Nepal must find a solution fpr itself and a consensus government was the only answer. India also specifically stated that the country didnot have any political favorites or adversaries.  

Although the average Nepali finds India a lucrative job market India bashing is a favorite sport in Nepal. This is rather ironical considering that India employs a lakh plus Gorkhas in the Army and Paramilitary forces and huge pension remittances plus medical care that India provides.  The political class has created an impression that India is seen as siding with the elite of Nepal.  The cause of this is the 1950 treaty of peace and friendship thus Parachanda and his party have an axe to grind. The democratic process of Nepal is without any institutional foundations. Nepal today lacks a constitution and legislature and has to look within itself rather than blame  India which has very little to do with that process.

 There are a few ills that need introspection by civil society of Nepal besides India bashing. The ‘aam admi’ of Nepal today has great apathy to all politicians because even after repeated attempts they have failed to deliver on their promise and carried on with extensions of the deadline to form a unity government just for personal gains. Nepal citizens has lost trust in the political class and sees them as carpet-baggers. The next issue is that historically Nepal has had very few people controlling the destiny of all and they have been despotic. A small section has garnered  all the money and power with complete lack of sympathy for the masses. The current crop of Marxist leaders have been no exception unlike what is expected of Marxist in the initial stages.

      The political parties in Nepal have been missing the deadline given by the President to form a coalition since 23 November and he has been magnanimous enough to extend the deadline one more time for the sixth till Friday 4 January 2013. With the current message of non interference by New Delhi the onus squarely rests with the political class of Nepal who are deeply distrustful of one another. Though repeateded deadlines have expired the sticking point comes from the intransigent view that Nepal Prime Minister Bhattarai is taking. He wants a package deal wherein the opposition parties should join his government only for a brief period to form a consensus government provided they finalize the agenda of the dissolved Constituent Assembly, announce the day of the election in April- May, and appoint heads of various constitutional bodies, all this has been the main bone of contention in Nepal’s politics.

Though the President did take a proactive role by giving various deadlines but his statement at the airport to wait for a consensus government after a visit to India implies he is not going to take steps in a hurry thus the latest extension. The role that President is taking may lie in posterity but currently he is definitely egging the political class to respond to a unfavorable situation. There are various political parties each with its own ambition and fresh elections are the only answer but under whose stewardship is the moot point.

Nepal’s Constituent Assembly (CA) expired on 12 May after various extensions and was unable to complete the assigned task of writing the constitution. The current prime consideration is to preserve the work done on the constitution and get Nepal on to the path of development. All top leaders are still grappling with the situation and unity is the last thing that they have on their mind. The way ahead must clearly define a few issues, namely, the new election dates, and new election system. Nepal must have free and fair elections which currently seem a far cry as that is what eludes political consensus, as all believe that the party or those in governance will benefit. The communist blamed the king for being corrupt but recent revelations that King Birendra did not have any money in Swiss banks came as a dampener for the Maoist.

The people   have lost faith in the political class and governance. Since 2008 Nepal has seen five Prime Ministers. They have lost faith in the leaders who they say are only interested in power. Nepal has squandered the gains of peace process is a common feeling for the man on the street.

There is a sense of growing alienation amongst a part of the population mainly staying in the Terai region. They hardly have any representation in the service class of Nepal. The unemployment rate is very high nearly 42 % and although the Maoist may threaten to choke the Gorkha recruitment to India, thousands of youth leave Nepal every day in search of jobs, the Middle East is the latest destination. All this and the government is a mute spectator.  There is an urgent need for fresh elections the modality needs to be sorted out which can only come with a consensus solution as free, fair and transparent elections are the only way out.

C S Thappa is a retired brigadier
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