Saturday, July 16, 2005

Cabinet Expansion: A King Who Will Break, Not Bend

That has been said of Girija Koirala, that he will break, not bend. Looks like the rule applies even more so to the king. Seen from afar, digging heels is seen as a curious, legitimate political posture. It is to be one, long, hard struggle for the democrats. Like the king stands in the way of democracy, the leaders in the democratic camp stand in the way of social progress that prevents them from imagining creative outlets to the insurgency. This vicious triangular stalemate is costing the country dearly.

I just watched Bijay Kumar's DishaNirdesh NTV program's "final" episode. Looks like the royalists have gone after him as well. The slightest scent of dissent, or even independence, is too much for them to stomach. It is not like there is a benevolent king whose minions are creating havoc unbeknownst to him. It is rather the king represents an ideology that makes snuffing out of the middle ground a rather routine matter.

One thing is for sure: this king has been actively thinking. He is active. The Congress ousts Prakash Koirala. Guess where he ends up? In the king's cabinet! The king is busy playing chess.
He seems to think the parties are not out to organize a movement for democracy, or a republic, but rather create pressure on him and make him do things to their limited favor. So he gives himself two options. As long as the parties can not bring large numbers of people into the streets, he will do as he pleases. If they succeed, he will give them a few crumbs of power. That seems to be his gameplan.

Either he is prescient, or he is headed into a ditch.

I guess he is counting on the parties' unity not holding when they finally sit down with him for talks. The first thing he will try to do is to meet them separately. Over a period of weeks. Sow confusion.

Only a Maoist-Democrat alliance could change that. Even in that case, the king thinks the people will not vote the monarchy out. And so he feels like he has little to lose. But he will do all he can to never let such a vote to occur.

I guess there aer no shortcuts for the seven parties. There is no option but to get down to the work of democracy, to clarify their vision for democracy and peace.

In The News
  • Comrades In Arms CK Lal Nepali Times ..... the traditionally open dasgaja strip too is now under close security watch ..... there is talk here of introducing identity cards and barbed-wire fences to regulate crossborder movement. Still, the India-Nepal frontier is probably the most relaxed international border in the world...... On the Nepal side, every shopkeeper is up to date on the latest Maoist exploits...... (in Bihar) there is a surprising lack of concern about Maoist activity along the border .... Bidrohi thinks state governments in Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar routinely exaggerate the threat of Naxalite activity to get more funds from New Delhi for their police forces..... the attacks could have been criminal rather than ideological in nature...... if the Naxalites were to be as reckless as Nepali Maoists they would be decimated in Bihar ..... Bihari Naxals have simultaneously fought on two fronts for decades—the police and the private armies of landlords..... Indian Naxalites are expecting the ruling coalition in New Delhi to launch a massive coordinated offensive against Naxalite groups all over India...... the possibility of Nepal’s mainstream political parties working with the Maoists are now higher than a unity between two fraternal Maoist parties on either side of the border.
  • Protests That Go Nowhere Nepali Times Forget about the people, the movement has not even been able to attract the parties' own activists....... After Prachanda called on the political parties on Sunday to set up a negotiating team, the parties are learnt to be deep in discussions about how to respond. But the Maoists themselves haven't set up any such negotiating team of their own........ If Koirala and Madhab Nepal are on the team, it is likely that Prachanda will also be on the team from the Maoist side..... It is not clear how the government will react to future talks but there are rumours of an imminent reshuffle in the council of ministers.... the army sent commandos to Kabhre and Sindhuli after getting intelligence reports that Prachanda was in the area. Although the units looked for the Maoist leader everywhere, he appears to have slipped away after Maoists got wind of increased military activity....... One of the units that was returning to the capital after the operation was ambushed..... Security forces dragged Rama of Jhapa out from inside her house and shot her dead in front of her family members....... the government forcing students to march on the streets on various anniversaries and ceremonies. Often, the children have to march under the scorching sun or in the rain and there have been cases of children fainting from dehydration........ “It will be disastrous if this regime stays for a moment longer.” ..... The euphoria of the royal takeover has now evaporated.... This regime is submerged in economic mismanagement and steeped in self-glorification ..... The king doesn't have people around him who want the parties on board...... The people around the king want to push His Majesty towards authoritarianism.
  • Helpless And Hopeless Nepali Times For those living in Kathmandu Valley the rest of the country may as well be on another planet. All they care about is that things are ok inside the Ring Road since February First...... There may be an indefinite banda in Doti, all schools may be closed in Kailali, healthposts in Bajura may be without medicine, there may be a food shortage in Humla. But who cares? ...... “The Maoists wanted me to join their militia. I refused and fled here but they beat up my pregnant wife and she suffered a miscarriage. She is still in shock. I can’t even go to meet her and she’s too weak to walk here.” ..... We had given them food when they asked for it. But when they wanted our children, we couldn’t stand it anymore.......
  • Our 3 Ms CK Lal Nepali Times .... a struggle between “the forces of modernity and the forces of feudalism”. ..... King Gyanendra’s pronouncements on contemporary politics have a ring of practiced felicity. He uses all the right words: good governance, fight against corruption, war on terror, globalisation, privatisation, liberalisation and even meaningful democracy. In comparison, the leaders of the seven-party alliance sound antiquated as they restrict themselves to talk of restoration of parliament........ an understanding between the Maoists and mainstream parties may be what we need but is extremely unlikely....... In their competing descriptions of modernity, the seven-party alliance is the haziest......
  • Cabinet expansion: No room for reconciliation? NepalNews Gyanendra has effectively shut down door for national reconciliation .... time-tested Badri Prasad Mandal, former communist Salim Miya Ansari, former Congressman Prakash Koirala and a staunch royalist Niranjan Thapa...... Son of veteran Nepali Congress leader and first popularly elected Prime Minister B P Koirala, Prakash Koirala was expelled by Nepali Congress recently from the ordinary membership of the party “for supporting the Feb. 1 royal takeover.”.... Assistant Minister Jagat Gauchan .. was convicted for assassination attempt of journalist Padam Thakurathi during the Panchayat era.... a lieutenant of Sharad Chandra Shaha—a hardliner...... Senate Shrestha .... Assistant Minister Niksha Shumsher JB Rana is believed to have been rewarded for carrying out rallies in the capital in support of the monarchy..... “This cabinet will become a liability to the King, rather than an asset,” a staunch royalist told Nepalnews
  • Brahimi urges all forces to jointly work for return to constitutional order NepalNews ... a return to constitutional order and multiparty democracy, an end to hostilities and an inclusive national dialogue were needed to solve the current crisis
  • Security forces foil Maoist attack at Bhojpur NepalNews .... Maoist insurgents had attacked at the district police office and barrack of the Royal Nepalese Army from a distance and that exchange of fire continued for a couple of hours.
  • RPP leaders granted audience NepalNews .... Pashupati Shumshere JBR... Lokendra Bahadur Chand... Padma Sundar Lawati and Kamal Thapa. The leaders reportedly participated at a luncheon organized by the royal palace.
  • Student groups warn further stir NepalNews ....
  • Student leaders arrested from protests NepalNews .... Half a dozen student leaders were arrested for opposing the Rastrabadi Shikchha (Nationalist education) .... Pradip Poudel, Saroj Thapa, Narayan Bharati, BP Regmi, Pushpa Shahi and Thakur Gaire ......
  • Maoists establish corridor across Nepal, India: West Bengal CM NepalNews .....
  • Nepal king expands ministry, unmoved by opposition Reuters AlertNet ..... a move that analysts said could widen the rift between the monarch and the political parties..... shows he is only keen to continue his direct rule ignoring the call from the national and international community to restore democracy..... Gyanendra's latest move came as U.N. top envoy Lakhdar Brahimi was ending a visit .... the king seems unmoved by global criticism of his decision to assume power......
  • Nepal king’s new Cabinet draws flak Deccan Herald, India hiring hawks, renegades and people with dubious records ...... Assistant Finance Minister Dr Rup Jyoti .... Jyoti’s father Mani Harsha Jyoti, along with two of the king’s brothers-in-law, Dipak Jang Bahadur Singh and Khadga Bikram Shah, owned a company in central Nepal that owes two Nepalese banks over NRS 1.06 crore....... Mandal went on record as saying his fragmented Nepal Sadbhavana Party would take part in the municipal elections to be held by the present government and boycotted by the main Opposition parties..... rewarding those who had urged him in public to seize power
  • UN not to administer Nepal World Peace Herald, DC ..... India's NewsInsight reported earlier the United Nations would govern Nepal for a year, but principals Friday denied any such plan existed. ...... U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezaa Rice had presented the proposal to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
  • Rhinos fall prey to Nepal turmoil IANS 10 of the endangered animals being killed in a national park over the past three months..... In 2000, there were 544 animals in the park..... Rhino Count 2005, the population in the park had dwindled to 347. While 37 rhinos were taken to other national parks and 66 died of natural causes, 94 were killed by poachers for their horns.
  • Nepal king appoints bank defaulter's son as minister IANS, India
  • Nepal king appoints bank defaulter's son as minister:- Webindia123
  • Koirala Meets Nepal For Breakfast Himalayan Times, Nepal Nepal also said that the 7 parties alliance will soon meet and decide on the strategy in view of Maoists' offer for talks.
  • Nepal: Gyanendra expands cabinet, includes convict Indian Express, India
  • Nepal's Govt-Owned Enterprises Suffer Rs 6 bn Loss in 2004/05 Himalayan Times, Nepal
  • ‘India's response to Nepal crisis unsatisfactory’ Kathmandu Post, Nepal India cannot pretend that it can't do anything .... We have an ocean of documents, ideas, proposals and studies, but we have hardly implemented them.... SAARC may soon become NATO: No Action Talk Only
  • Nepal’s drift away from democracy Khaleej Times, United Arab Emirates he has strengthened doubts about his real intentions behind dismissing the Sher Bahadur Deuba government in February last and taking power in his own hands.....Gyanendra, if anything, was sceptical about the former monarch’s pro-democracy stand. He apparently remains sceptical even today......Gyanendra had dismissed the Deuba government in Februray on two grounds: that it failed in holding parliamentary elections and controlling the Maoist insurgency. At both levels, the monarch cannot claim any forward momentum in the past five months. Rather, the scenario has worsened in both respects. Third expansion of the ministry with the inclusion of more of his henchmen, is widely seen a slap on democracy in the kingdom. It reinforces the popular view that he has no immediate plans to hold parliamentary elections, install a popular government, and then stand aside as he should have done in the normal course. And, the rebels are more on the prowl now..... Gyanendra, with his weak defence forces, might not be able to stall an aggravation of the crisis that appears to be in the making there.....delay on his part would only bring the opposition and the Maoists closer.... he must be courting cooperation, not confrontation.
  • Self-reliance top army priority
  • CPI-M wants joint anti-Maoist initiative by Centre, states Outlook (subscription)
  • New post-paid mobiles from today Kantipur Online, Nepal
  • Nepal: displacement crisis worsens in wake of royal coup ReliefWeb (press release), Switzerland
  • Refugee voices: Nepalese displaced by violence ReliefWeb (press release)
  • Police intervene in student rally, dozens arrested Kathmandu Post
  • Nepal’s India House gets Rs 125-cr lift Indian Express, India
  • Nepal Government Rejects UN Mediation SouthAsia Network, Asia
  • LTTE not training Nepal's Maoists in India: Police Hindustan Times, India
  • Four killed in Maoist attacks in eastern Nepal Times of India, India rebels also robbed a bank of about Rs 600,000 at Dhankuta ... security forces recovered a Chinese pistol, bullets and some explosives from the rebels
  • Nepal’s political rainy season Open Democracy, UK
  • Mediating peace Kathmandu Post flatly rejected any mediating role for the United Nations. He also hastened to reject any such role for India. The refusal is neither in the interest of the country nor is it going to burnish the image of the royal regime .... the Maoists have stepped down their initial demand for UN's mediation. Taking into account the regional geo-political context, they are now calling for the involvement of the United Nations or any international organization acceptable to them. This, in a way, provides a window into their readiness—if not desperation— for talks......opportunity to present themselves as the ones willing for peace and vilify the state as a warmonger
  • Former senate majority leader Daschle to visit Nepal Kathmandu Post, Nepal National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), a US-based NGO, is co-coordinating the visit. The Kathmandu office of the NDI, confirmed Daschle's July 21-27 visit......Daschle is here to study the situation first-hand and also come up with suggestions on political party reforms.
  • Former US senate Daschel to visit Nepal Kantipur Online
  • Nepal’s envoy to US Shrestha warns NDYC president Kantipur Online, Nepal Ananda Bista, the president of Nepalese Democratic Youth Council, the NDYC in the USA, for condemning the royal move of February 1.
  • Nepal’s political rainy season .... the People’s Movement, which brought Nepal democracy in spring 1990, gathered pace in the winter. Since then, the most effective street demonstrations and rallies by opposition parties – and also the armed Maoist insurgents’ bloodiest attacks – have been waged in the winter as well..... Rajendra Mahato is a former parliamentarian and the general-secretary of the Nepal Sadbhawana Party, one of the eight political groups that have jointly called for the restoration of democracy in Nepal. He explained to a largely unaffiliated audience that the political parties fully intend to press for the restoration of democracy. “Of course, during the monsoon”, he added, “it is hard to make people come out onto the streets. We will keep up the pressure now. But the movement will intensify only after the rains.”...... His colleague Hridesh Tripathi said much the same in passing when I met him by chance a few days later: “The movement looks slack because it’s the season for farm work. But it will gain momentum when the rains end.” ...... they have met Maoist leaders in India, seeking their support for a non-violent means to a new urban elite, professionals whose lives are not dictated by the seasons....... Cheap-hire hooligans are easily available in the murky (and expanding) underworld, and the Maoists are conveniently blamed for all wrongdoings. Recently, the bank documents on willful defaulters have disappeared. And the owners and editors of Kantipur have received a slew of anonymous threats...... The debates on these sites are bracing, sometimes aggressive and even nasty. But their ethos – of preserving the space for free expression – shines optimistically through. The king’s regime, naturally, is vexed with these sites...... What makes a movement move? .... professors’ unions, teachers’ unions, associations of doctors and engineers – are following the lawyers and the journalists ...... “The forces with real heft are lacking clarity, and the forces that are clear have no real heft.” .... a debate that is going on right now within each party. “They are all in ferment, addressing these issues.” The internal pressure for more visionary leadership is strong.... This is what all democracy-minded Nepalis are now waiting for. They will extend themselves to the parties as soon as the parties throw up new leaders and an uncompromised vision.....
  • How Peace Can Be Attained Kalyan Dev Bhattarai INSN It is only after 18th Ashoj 2059, when the Political Parties were kicked out from Power by King, Political Parties have shown little bit of seriousness to have discussion with Maoist and developed some relationship and in process are demanding some pre-working condition like leaving the violent activities, from Maoist side and showing their readiness to accept the main demand of Maoist the election for constitutional assembly....... Monarchy, always took the Maoist problem as an opportunity to grab the power again ...To-day it is known to every Nepali that the whole effort of the government is to safe guard the few VVIPS of the country and provide the required security within the Kathmandu valley leaving the rest of the country in the mercy of the Maoist’s cadres....... the local political Mafia .....
  • Janadesh The Maoist Mouthpiece

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