By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan
Riding on a popular wave of nationalism and anti -ndianism, the UML led by K. P. Oli appears to be calling the shots. They have the numbers and no amendment to the Constitution is possible without their support.
The Madhesi groups who cannot go back to their constituencies without some concessions from the three major parties are in a bind, as they need the support of the UML for redrawing of the provincial boundaries in east and west.
In their “behind the door” approaches to India, the Madhesis have realised that there are limitations to Indian support for their cause.
Amidst all these, the UML outwitted the coalition government by teaming up with the ruling Maoists to register an impeachment motion against the controversial Chief of the CIAA (Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority) on the evening of 23rd October.
The ruling Coalition partner the Nepali Congress was taken by surprise though it is said that its chairman Sher Bahadur Deuba had given a tacit approval earlier in one of his conversations!
If the motion is not supported by the Nepali Congress the impeachment proceedings will fail and the coalition of the Nepali Congress and the Maoists will also fail. A new alliance will inevitably be formed with UML’s help by the Maoists leaving the Nepali Congress in the cold.
Some in the Nepali Congress already see a conspiracy between the Maoists and the UML to oust them from power and more importantly, the Chairman of the NC, Sher Bahadur Deuba will not get a chance to be the Prime Minister once again after a few months.
The appointment of Lok Man Singh Karki in 2013 was itself a mystery. The file relating to his appointment is said to be missing after the “earthquake.” He did not have the required qualifications and his appointment was opposed by all the three main political parties. Yet he was appointed by the then President Ram Bharan Yadav on the recommendation of the then apolitical Prime Minister Khil Raj Regmi.
Karki was also indicted in the Raymajhi Commission for the undue enthusiasm he had shown in the suppressing the Jana Andolan (II). Why was he appointed in the first instance? No body knows. In the parliament proceedings, the Young Turk, Gagan Singh Thapa of the Nepali Congress asked which invisible power was behind the appointment? (He meant India of course!)
Karki had also not endeared himself with the political parties with his rough and belligerent behaviour threatening the smaller ones but giving ample indication that the bigger ones will be taken care of soon.
The latest scandal involves the Maoists who were said to have made money in three ways- first by siphoning off from the salaries being paid by for the fighters in the Cantonments to the tune of 1.14 billion NC. The second was the salary received from the absentee combatants coming to 1.34 billion NC and the third from the inflated amounts charged for the rations to the combatants to anther 600 million NC. Any investigation started would certainly involve its chairman, the present Prime Minister and the coalition government will certainly fall.
There are very many cases pending against UML leaders and the Nepali Congress is not too far behind. Therefore it suits everybody to get rid of the CIAA Chairman, Karki. Gagan Thapa likened Karki to the famous (notorious?) FBI Chief Edgar Hoover who continued to stay in his position just because he had the embarrassing files of most of the then leaders and any leak would have endangered their career. He stayed on by blackmailing everyone else.
Gagan is right, as there will hardly be any politician in Nepal who has nothing to hide! Karki has to be prevented from blackmailing the politicians! The only way is to impeach him, but his elders in the party are unwilling!
The other problem is that there is a case pending in the Supreme Court against the appointment of Karki as he did not have the qualifications. The case may take a long time as the file is missing. Karki is also too smart and even for the Court it took over a month to paste the summons on his house. It is likely to drag on and will certainly outlast the present Chief Justice who is to retire in a few months’ time.
The Nepali Congress has a difficult choice even to survive in the present coalition. They can either go along with the impeachment motion and see the back of Karki for a while. Or they can take a stand that the Supreme Court should decide the case first before the impeachment motion and thus relieve Karki of any immediate possibility of his removal. The latter action is shameful but who cares when “public memory” is short?
What is surprising is that many in Kathmandu Valley think that India is behind these developments. They gloat that India has been served “right” by the Maoist Chief Prachanda teaming up with UML to topple the present government supposed to have been formed with India’s blessings.
One could still sense the “blockade effect” and even long time friends of India are unhappy. One indication of this is the present visit of President of India from today. The Nepal Government had declared a holiday of the visit and this has come in for severe criticism from all quarters. A sample poll organised by a well respected national daily showed that over 90 percent were against the declaration of a holiday in honour of Indian President’s visit!
In this confused situation, others are also getting in. King Gyanendra who has been watching but not getting actively involved said in a speech at the convention of World Hindu Federation on 21t October- and I quote- “The ongoing state of helplessness (in Nepal) has caused everyone to seriously ponder over the country’s state of affairs.” Another sober personality said in the media- I quote again – “There is a ground swell of support for greater engagement with China. There is a common understanding on the need to diversify with China and away from India to protect our national interest.