Odd Allies

Chief justice Khil Raj Regmi’s rejection to lead the interim government has something more than that meets the eye

Feb. 23, 2013, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 06 No. -17 Feb 22- 2013 (Falgun 11, 2069)

RPP-Nepal’s president Kamal Thapa was the first to support the agenda proposed by UCPN-Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal to make chief justice Khil Raj Regmi a caretaker prime minister. The closeness of Thapa, a staunch monarchist and Dahal, a staunch republican, might not come as usual.

The reason behind the changing of sides by Home Minister and deputy prime minister Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar and Minister for Physical Planning and Transport Hridayesh Tripathy,  who opposed the appointment of the chief justice  as a caretaker prime minister, is not just their personal like or dislike.

Former King Gyanendra’s month long holiday and visit to Parsa, Bara, Rautahat, Sarlahi, Siraha, Dhanusha, Mahottari and Saptari may be more than a mere coincidence.

Nepali Congress leaders Dr. Shekhar Koirala, Narahari Acharya, Gagan Thapa, and CPN-UML’s leaders Madhav Kumar Nepal, who reportedly proposed the idea for neutral government,  Pradip Nepal, Pradip Gyawali, Shanker Pokharel, have shown a vehement opposition against chief justice Regmi’s nomination by party, and this may not be simply their individual choices.

The support given by dissenters of two main parties CPN-UML and Nepali Congress to the 12-hour long general strike, called by fringe, radical communist parties under the leadership of CPN-Maoist on 19th February, was not without mission. The strike was announced a month ago by CPN-Maoist party opposing the arrest of its cadres in Dailekh in connection with journalist Dekendra Thapa’s killing. The case was registered against them with the pressure from leaders of Nepali Congress and CPN-UML.

Despite sharing two different fronts, Thapa and Dahal were in the same boat.  Tripathy and Gachchhadar in their reverse modes had the reasons to do so. The political risk taken by Nepali Congress and CPN-UML leaders in their opposition against leadership should not be looked at casually.

Although all these events seem unusual, these are the real reflections of the nature of ongoing political reality of Nepal where everything will be possible and everything will be impossible in just a matter of seconds.  Whether in the making or breaking of alliances between parties or between individuals in the political parties, ideology is not a guide to what will happen.

This much of Nepal’s current political reality is easy to understand. But the relations involved are complex to analyze as the alliances are neither based on any ideological pursuits nor on any other fraternities. The alliances are made and broken on some other basis. Although major political parties opposed Maoist chair Dahal’s proposal, they have endorsed it after a certain hiccup. Dahal’s UCPN-Maoist party’s alliance with Madheshi and other ethnic, cast based small parties with whom it has no ideological fraternity is not just motivated by power sharing. Likewise, Nepali Congress’s alliance with CPN-UML, radical communist Masal and two rightists, RPP and Rastriya Jansakti Party, too have political reasons.  Upredra Yadav’s Madheshi Janadhikar Forum Nepal has a joint front with other ethnic parties including the recently constituted party of former CPN-UML leader Ashok Rai.

Projected as a hard core radical communist, Mohan Vaidya’s CPN-Maoist is leading a front with other four radical and revolutionary communists, which had one or the other time broken away from UCPN-Maoist.

Although all these alliances seem to emerge as unusual fronts, these fronts have their own utilities in the course of prolonged political crisis in Nepal. As there are tons of issues of dissentions ranging from federalism to ethnic rights, gender and other agenda of inclusion, these fronts have come out from time to time like what Vaidya’s party proved by showing its strength in paralyzing the normal life in the nationwide bandha.      

What Next?

Although Regmi’s name was reportedly floated by president Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, after getting his consent, UCPN-Maoist hijacked it by announcing this proposal in the Party’s General Convention. Finally, it was political parties which put conditions after conditions in their agreement making the president’s third move futile.

With the decision of Chief Justice Regmi, the month-long political exercise has crumbled. However, some see this could be a blessing in disguise. As political parties agree on several options, it will help them to think about the elections and form the neutral government.

If plan A does not work, the president needs to go for plan B or appoint a former chief justice or a member of civil society or a former speaker of the legislature. In the last ten months, this is his third political exercise, which has ended in futility. President Dr. Yadav took the first futile exercise just after the dissolution of CA to allow the caretaker prime minister to continue.  The second initiation of the president taken after November 22 came to an end following the failure of political parties to nominate a consensus candidate.

President Dr. Yadav’s third exercise to bring the chief justice as a caretaker prime minister finally came to an end. “The president must have felt relieved from tireless exercises, but the untiring efforts of the president is really praiseworthy. He should encourage political parties to go for plan B,” said a senior Nepali Congress leader.  





Political Options

Given the present political situation, President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav has a very limited list of options if the political parties failed to submit the modalities and recommendations for removing the constitutional difficulties.  After rejection by sitting chief justice Regmi to lead the government, it is likely that the new election government will be formed now under an independent person, whether from judiciary or civil society.

 The current checker played by the leaders of various political parties making and breaking strange alliance and taking puzzling moves are not merely a political nonsense as they represent political reality of Nepal. No one can predict their actions. Congress leader Sushil Koirala is facing stiff challenges from his close relatives Dr. Shekhar Koirala and Sujata Koirala. However, K.P. Oli, a diehard opponent of Jhalntah, is taking his side. They are not persons with unpredictable behavior, but the situation compelled them to act like that.

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