The debate over whether the same person should be the Chief Justice as well as the Prime Minister has not yet died down. President and leaders of the Four Parties—Maoists, Madhesi Groups , UML and the Nepali Congress as well as President Ram Baran Yadav —are still keen that Khil Raj Regmi holds both posts until the elections in June, and then comes back to occupy solely the CJ’s post.
But they are supporting this issue for different reasons, mainly their self interest. President Yadav showed no courage and character to play the role of the ‘Guardian’, and instead chose to associate with the ‘deviants four’. Why has it become necessary or the only options to do something that the Interim Constitution prepared under ‘consensus’ of these parties expressly forbids?
Maoist Party and Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai have been successfully imposing their agenda and policy in the manner they want: Their message is ‘it is not important to follow the rules or principles or the provisions of the constitution or the established process. It should happen the way or in the manner we want,” is the message they have given. From the first meeting of the now defunct constituent assembly, or even in the life of revived parliament, they have dictated the agenda. Speaker Subhash Chandra Nembang as well as the leaders of the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) have only acted like compliant in almost all the cases .They have not yet said that ‘we were fooled by the Maoists’ but they have certainly started cribbing about being ‘betrayed by the Maoists’. So far, they have confessed that they were wrong in believing that Maoists were not honest whey they promised that ‘they will transform into a democracy if we gave up monarchy.’
Nationalism, national pride and democracy have now ceased to be the life and death , or even a priority issue for the NC and UML. Rather, they have become vulnerable to any political maneuver, internal or external or both. President Yadav has come into much bigger controversy by his active involvement in politics of power as well as conflicting stance on the CJ-as-PM issue. In his response to the case, he has said three contradictory things: one he has initiated an exercise to appoint successor to Bhattarai as the Prime Minister under article 138(1). Two he still insists that the CJ-as-PM is a hypothetical issue totally concealing his active support to it in Shitalniwas. And Three, and most dangerously, he claims that formation of a cabinet is a political issue implying that should be outside the purview of judicial review. It also implies seeking totally immunity to the political breed including himself on anything they do. In Brief , President has become a collaborator to those wanting to establish a totalitarian rule and demolish the principle of accountability for which death of independent judiciary is necessary. A last minute slip between the cup and lips on the CJ-as-PM issue will possibly prolong the rule of Baburam Bhattarai, and the President will only stand to gain personally out of it because both will continue unethically for some more time, until the organized public fury will declare the collective failure of the President, leadership of the four parties and ridicule CJ Regmi as collaborator in the sins of the first two against democracy.
Undoubtedly, Bhattarai has proved himself a totalitarian –corrupt to the core promoting his family, a threat to the norms of democracy and probity in public life –his inevitable departure from the post, nevertheless , will also mean formal and final death of the agenda that India inspired 12-point agreement and its aftermath, have brought about. Bhattarai, like all the dictators, may want to destroy any institutions, shed any amount or volume of blood in the street, take on any individual—both inside the party and outside—to stay in power. He knows he enjoys the immunity so long as he is in power.
What could be a better example of his being able to expose and humiliate Prachanda who was denied Rs six million from the government coffer –the amount he promised in Chitwan’s Madi district for Badarmude carnage –by the Bhattarai government. A helpless Prachanda finally had to bank on the Maoist Party fund? And what could be the bigger humiliation and insult for Prachanda (by Bhattarai) than the Prime Minister’s decision to release Rs 30 million for a Foundation set up in the name of his father in law Dharma Ratna Yami who loyally served King Tribhuvan and Mahendra and got huge land and a house where Hishila Yami was born and brought up? The insult inflicted to Prachanda will perhaps lead to a bitter personal rivalry with political fallout in the days to come, but Prachanda knows he will be vulnerable to any ‘action’ by the government if he challenges Bhattarai so long as he is in power. In fact, it can be safely presumed that both the President and the CJ also face Prachanda’s predicament in some manner given their obvious involvement in the back-room deals on power centric politics . Individuals become stronger and dictators rise when state becomes weaker. That is what the players of ‘consensus politics’ did post 2006 April when they placed themselves above the institutions and the constitutions with the full backing of international community. Unfortunately, even the international community that blindly supported Bhattarai , is still prescribing a wrong pill—CJ as PM—instead of making a collective and holistic review of their own role. Elections is no doubt, the most crucial process in democracy, but it cannot set right every violation of every process committed deliberately by the four parties.