Good Luck to Regmi

In the present context, what cannot be undermined is the fact that with sizeable number of former CA members and other leaders in it, CPN Maoist is currently a political force to reckon with and will remain a major disruptive force in the foreseeable

April 14, 2013, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 06 No. -20 Apr.12- 2013 (Chitra 30, 2069)

The eleven-point agreement reached between four major political forces on March 13 was possible basically because NC and UML wanted to see Baburam-led government dislodged at the earliest possible time and UCPN Maoist wanted to stop Sushi Koirala,NC President, from heading the election government, despite its commitment to do so prior to the dissolution of CA. Endorsement of the political document by the cabinet and its recommendation to the President that hurdles of 25 articles of the Interim Constitution be removed by invoking Article158 facilitated Bhattari ‘s ouster and formation of an election government headed by Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi. Although said to be a nonpartisan government, Regmi had to accept as ministers former civil servants and allocate them portfolios as dictated by  leaders of four political parties. The only exception being the two ministers (Ghimire and Neupane) both said to be his relatives, who were picked well before the creation of High Level Political Committee (HLPC) through which  intervention of four political parties  in state affairs commenced in a serious form. The election government has appointed commissioners at the Election Commission (EC) but has not been able to fill other constitutional posts lying vacant since long. Even weeks after the formation of the government, poll dates have not been announced and this has been a matter of wide concern in the country. Despite initiation of some preparatory works, EC does not appear in a mood to recommend poll dates soon. Recently appointed commissioners suggested that the date can be fixed only after two unresolved issues-guarantee of voters roll update completion and promulgation of electoral laws-are settled. They also want the agitating parties to be on board the political process. While EC has forwarded three election-related ordinances to the government, it has instructed election offices across the country to halt the process of collecting and updating voters’ registration with photographs, showing a cautious and balanced approach in handling the problem. It may be worth mentioning that the provision of 1 percent vote as suggested by EC, to get a seat in CA under the proportional representation system, has been bitterly criticized by fringe parties. Note worthy is the point that the instruction by EC to halt activities came in the wake of warning by 33 parties, including CPN Maoist, of dire consequences if the Commission continued with voters’ registration and other activities to hold polls. Kiran’s refusal to sit for talks with the three-member team formed by the government to hold talks with parties opposed to the polls and ample demonstration of ability by his party,CPN Maoist, to disrupt the registration process clearly indicate a near zero chance of holding polls on the four party’s preferred date of June 21.It may be noted that EC and CPN Maoist were seen competing with each other, the Commission in collecting and updating voters’ list and the party in collecting the equipment(laptop,camera,etc)used in the name collection process. Aware of the disruption caused by an alliance of smaller parties led by CPN Maoist, President Ram Baran had urged, prior to the formation of the government team, leaders of the four major forces to help create a situation conducive to holding polls. Kiran, buoyed by the success achieved in disrupting election-related activities, however, decided not to sit for talks with anyone other than President himself. Kiran and Upendra Yadav refused to sit for talks with HLPC. In the backdrop of these burning realities, EC had no choice but to adopt a conciliatory approach. Not many,Regmi included, want to disagree with the general feeling that June election will not be possible but the anxiety commonly shared is whether the current election government will be given time to hold polls on the second preferred time/ date of November. Kiran wants the 11-point deal that led to the vigorous amendment of the Interim Constitution, to be scrapped and a new government led by a partisan candidate be formed. To exert pressure, Maoist cadres have grabbed land belonging to Khil Raj and his relatives in Bardiya district. Hope people across the country do not again fall victim to this revived atrocity. In the present context,  what cannot be undermined is the fact that with sizeable number of former CA members and other leaders in it, CPN Maoist is currently a political force to reckon with and will remain a major disruptive force in the foreseeable future even if it ceases to remain a meaningful political force after the test( polls).Regmi is having a tough time with Prachanda asking him to announce polls in June, many stalwarts of NC and UML demanding that he relinquish the post of Chief Justice and CPN Maoist and other fringe parties wanting him out as head of current government at the earliest. On top of this, he has to regularly face a cross section of disgruntled people representing different vested interest.  Indeed, a man who spent his days offering worships and dispensing justice in a relatively peaceful atmosphere has been exposed to a chaotic and confusing situation in which decision making on sensitive issues becomes very difficult. Like many of us are worried for him, he must be thinking what will happen to his so far untarnished image if he has to leave the current office without accomplishing the task that he has been charged with. In the event of failure or being forced to take a premature exit, should he get back to his old job or retire into a life of fulfledged religious activities? These thoughts must be pricking his mind. If given a chance to continue for few more months, he has just the polls to concentrate on and can very well afford to ignore the long-ailing economy, which is showing disturbing signs of deteriorating balance of payment, acute scarcity of Indian currency, double digit inflation, frustrating level of capital expenditure (Rs. 13 billion thus far) and a disappointing expected growth of around 3.5 percent this year, probably the lowest in 6 years. In the mean while, the government has made public a full budget in the amount of Rs.404.82 billion, adjusting amounts appropriated in the two financial ordinances presented earlier. Top priority has been accorded to not-to-be-held polls to CA, at least not in the current fiscal for which the budget is valid. Good that an unproductive expenditure of Rs. 14 billion would not be expended, which otherwise would further fuel intolerable-looking inflation.

There are problems all over the world such as Euro zone currently experiencing the highest level of unemployment (12 percent) and the about-to-sink economy of Cyprus being rescued by EU and IMF, but the difference between them and us is lack of concrete efforts in our case to put on track the derailed economy. Regmi, however, need not worry about it because even our political leaders have not been held seriously accountable for the economic mess. In fact, even loud talks by Regmi and associates on this front would not be liked by people. Regmi, therefore, has to concentrate basically on the political issue. He should learn to derive inspiration from political legends like late Krishna Prasad Bhattari who not only managed to give the nation a much adored constitution in1990 but organized polls under it in the mandated period of one year. The selfless leader who spent the later part of his life in more or less self- imposed isolation, is very much missed and remembered in this politically turbulent period. Mr. Regmi may also wish to adorn his rooms, both official and residential, with Kishun jee’s portrait so that he could turn to it and derive inspiration/solution whenever caught in insolvable-looking problems. He may even pay respect to him moving around the legend’s portrait few burning incense sticks every morning before starting his daily work. This act of Regmi may help him confront problems wittily and will also contribute little bit towards perpetuating the memory of the great son of Nepal late Kishun jee. May be his blessings and our best wishes will help you take a dignified exit. Good luck, Mr. Regmi. 

Dr. Tilak Rawal

Dr. Tilak Rawal

Dr. Rawal is former governor of NRB.

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