Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Krishna Prasad Sitaula Must Go!

Twenty-eight people were massacred in Gaur last week. A similar number of people have died since the Madhesi agitation began. That puts the total number of dead people at over 50. Extortions are widespread. Beatings, lootings, and abductions are as common as daal, bhaat, tarkari. Yet no one from the government's side has had the guts to take moral responsibility and step down.

What have we come to in this country? Weren't there street protests demanding punishment to the culprits of the April Movement, where 21 people died? Now there are over 50 people dead in little more than a month and everyone is busy deciding which party gets what ministerial portfolio!

I've asked this before and I will ask it again – who is in charge in Nepal? Why hasn't the home minister resigned yet? Now, I understand that if we start asking for resignations every time someone dies or get injured, it will be a mega-chaotic situation. At the same time, however, if those responsible are not held accountable, who knows how many more lives will be lost in the future?

Sitaula must go! There's no two ways about it. This person has failed to maintain law and order, made the government look like an idiotic bunch of Maoist goons, and hasn't accomplished anything. If the government is indeed working on behalf of the "wishes of the Nepali people" as they so loudly claim, the continued presence of the inept Home Minister does nothing to enhance the cabinet's credibility.

It is sad that so many people have lost their lives. It is also unacceptable and unpardonable that so many people have died and so many others have been injured, abducted and coerced during the rule of a government whose sole responsibility, supposedly, is to work as per the wishes of the Nepali people. And if one person cannot take responsibility for his failures, then the intentions of the whole government and its allies can (and should) be strongly questioned.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Questions? The Maobadis Have all the Answers

Describing democracy in a few words is easy: people power, strong institutions, fair.

Describing Nepali politicians in a few words is even easier: irresponsible behavior, loathe to accountability, clueless.

Before I go any further, let me be clear. I am not (yes, I am not) an expert in Democracy and Nepali politics. However, as a firm believer in the power of people and democratic institutions, I can't resist commenting on the ongoing circus in Nepal.

Capable people own up and learn from their mistakes, take appropriate corrective actions and move on. Losers, on the other hand, make excuses for everything, blame others for their failures and are incapable of looking into the future, because the past holds promise for them, not the future.

Take Prachanda's recent tirade against "palace elements" as an example. First he confidently barks that the palace "hatching conspiracies" by assassinating an American official and blaming it on the Maoists. Then, two days later, amidst rebukes from all sides, he proudly asserts that the Maoists are “collecting evidence” to prove his point.

Of course, when the King spoke – irresponsibly, according to SPAM – his statement was made into such a big issue. And now Prachanda comes in and blurts out something that, to me, is no less ridiculous and irresponsible than the king defending his coup-de-tat.

The next day Mr. Mahara made another astonishing statement about the palace spending Rs 600 million to assassinate SPA leaders. The story also talked about a CD being filed at the parliament. Upon closer look, it seems that the only things the CD contains are a bunch of anti-Maoist articles.

We should expect a DVD (perhaps a Bond movie) that proves the alleged palace conspiracies against American officials.

Going a step further on Monday (March 12), Prachanda proudly claimed that the Maoists have technical human resources and weapons outside cantonments with the ability to launch massive simultaneous attacks on many places. Of course, the excuse this time was that the UN did not register them.

A few questions arise from these episodes:

  1. If all the evidence had not been collected, why did Prachanda make such a serious allegation? Or, was he simply blurting out random thoughts?
  2. Do we have a clear double standard in Nepal about who can say what?
  3. If arms are swept by rivers, parliament will bypass the CA election to declare Nepal a republic, and the Maoists can renege on most of the tenets of the peace accord, what kind of democracy are we supposed to expect in Nepal?

And as for democracy in Nepal, regardless of what system we have, will it suffice if the Maoists say that we have democracy?

Friday, March 02, 2007

Democracy in Nepal? Three Questions

The last time I checked, democracy was defined in the dictionary as follows:

government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

Now let's look at the democracy in Nepal. We have a government by the eight parties, on which the supreme power is vested (according to the interim constitution). Half of our parliamentarians are not elected agents and we haven't had free elections in over eight years.

Now one might argue that this is a special case. The people have just wrested power back form an autocratic king and it takes time to build democracy. I agree 100%. But, how long are we going to operate with excuses? When will results exceed excuses. After all, isn't that what we are always left with -- lots of excuses and very little results.

So, on that note, I am just looking for answers to three questions:

  1. What is being done to hold free and fair elections so that we finally get to have elected agents making decisions?

Currently, we have an ad-hoc parliament deciding everything in the name of "the wish of the Nepali people." How do they know what the wish of the Nepali people is? Have they been out talking to their constituents (god knows who has what constituency)? Or have extensive polls been conducted? If people power is supreme and that is all we care about, shouldn't the top priority be to hold elections and see what the people really have to say?

  1. Is the Maoist's threat to unilaterally "declare republic" a sign of their own autocratic attitude, fear of facing the electorate, or simply a ploy to intimidate voters?

If people are the ultimate deciders in a democratic system, why are the Maoists always saying things that utterly disregard the intelligence of the Nepali people? One has to understand that "Nepali people" include far more citizens than the vocal, aggressive and destructive kinds you see on the streets everyday. And, if who you see on the streets are indeed representatives of the Nepali people and their general mood, what is the objection in simply going to the polls?

  1. Who is in charge?

A time of crisis can pass peacefully and productively if it is clear that someone is in charge of the situation. Who is in charge in Nepal? The Prime Minister seems to be saying one thing and his own ministers (apparently representing the wishes of the Nepali people) contradict him without even thinking about how foolish it makes all of them look. By Prachanda's bold statements, it looks as if he is desperately trying to show that he is in charge, but his blabber hardly fits someone who understands what it means to be in charge. The press is always crying foul and the civil society is too busy singing the Maoist song. Half the people are busy protesting and the other half is quietly sitting at home. Who is in charge?

So when will the kids stop fighting so they can come home and do their homeworks?