Nepal: Parliamentary System of Government Under Attack from Communist Parties

>> Monday, September 29, 2008

By Ajay Pradhan | September 29, 2008

The undercurrents of the Constituent Assembly deliberations on the structure of future system of government are rising up to the surface. Two major communist factions currently in power have started questioning the usefulness of the Westminster model of parliamentary system. CPN-Maoist supremo Prachanda has reportedly said that his party has no faith in "parliamentary democracy nor can it establish a communist state immediately." CPN-UML leader Jhalnath Khanal has said parliamentary system in the last decade and a half "has achieved nothing."

The centrist Nepali Congress Party leaders Girija Koirala and Ramchandra Poudel have strongly denounced the rhetorics of the two communist parties and cautioned them against attacking democracy.

Two issues are involved here and they need clarification. First, the political intention of the two ruling coalition partners, the CPN-M and CPN-UML. Second, Constituent Assembly deliberations on the future system of government.

From what Prachanda has said in his various interviews, it becomes clear that the Maoists nurse an ambition to usher in a communist utopia, which, in its pure form, is to vanquish all political opposition and run the country under a communist authoritarian rule. Isn't that essentially what King Mahendra did in 1962 when he established the authoritarian partyless Panchayat system of government after disbanding political parties a year earlier? If Mahendra had been Prachanda, he would have gone a step further and, in the name of eradicating feudalism, triggered a massive redistribution of wealth by using force.

A communist utopia is an ideological dream of hardliner Maoist ideologues. Moderate communists recognize that a communist utopia with dictatorship of the proletariat is impractical to achieve or with which to govern or both. Prachanda should have no doubt in his mind that his intention of taking the country down this path would meet with vigorous political challenge, both in the Constituent Assembly and in the streets across the country. Will he be successful? This is a question about democracy.

What is not essentially a question about democracy is the deliberations on the future system of government. I believe questioning parliamentary system of government is not necessarily anti-democratic. However, merely questioning a system of government is not enough; you have to come up with a legitimate alternative. So, what is the alternative the communists have in mind? If they want to adopt an existing government model around the world, they have to bring it forward. Do they want an American system of government where there is an elected executive president with an unelected cabinet, whose power is under check and balance by that of the elected legislative body, the U.S. Congress? Do they want French and Russian models where there is an elected executive president with a prime minister and a cabinet drawn from the elected parliament?

Nepali Congress, too, has to explain why parliamentary system is the only synonym for democracy. This system started in Britain, where there has been a monarchy that is more or less supported and accepted by the public. Obviously, they could not have conceived a presidential system and deprived the monarch the ceremonial role as a head of state. Why must Nepal have a parliamentary system and could not have a presidential system like in the U.S., whose power is kept in check and balance by a powerful legislature? Are frequent fall of a governments and the political king-making role used as a means of political skulduggery by smaller parties in return for political favors from large parties, and party-swapping for personal gains aberration of democracy in the parliamentary system? Does a clear separation of power between the executive and the legislative branches of the government, which is lacking in the parliamentary system, not have its value? I think these are the questions that the political leaders ought to deliberate on in the coming weeks and months and inform the general public.

The elected Constituent Assembly members have a historically important task ahead of them. This is no time for political demagoguery. People are keeping them under lens.


Nepal's Maoist-led Government Gets a First Dose of Failure

>> Monday, September 22, 2008

By Ajay Pradhan | September 22, 2008

Dogmatic pronouncements on people's faith and culture can hardly stand the test of times. Finance minister Baburam Bhattarai made a decision to cut off funding for the celebration of the age-old Indrajatra festival, apparently without the consent of the cabinet or consultation with his peer, the Minister for Culture.

This issue has demonstrated that Mr. Bhattarai has made mistakes at multiple levels. We know that when a minister, without cabinet approval, starts trespassing on the jurisdiction of other cabinet colleagues, that invites controversy. Mr. Bhattarai either seemed oblivious of this administrative faux pas or simply didn't care. Was it a simple administrative oversight or a proof that the second in command in the CPN-Maoist party has disdain for his own cabinet colleagues?

By cutting off funding for the celebration of Kathmandu's festive icon that Indrajatra is, Bhattarai has proven himself to be a myopic politician burdened with his communist ideological baggage with thinly veiled intention of turning the society into one devoid of faith and culture. Somebody needs to remind him that he ought to quit dreaming of such a day.

As a government minister and most definitely as a finance minister, Bhattarai does have an administrative right and power to make decisions concerning fund allocation. But, his decision to cut funding for a cultural celebration smacked of a hideous intention that can only be interpreted as the first step towards making an attack on people's faith and culture.

When his budget decision incited public demonstration in the streets of Kathmandu, he confronted his own senior cabinet colleague, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bamdev Gautam. Bhattarai reportedly threatened Gautam, who is from the governing coalition partner CPN-UML, that if Gautam didn't send the police to take control of the demonstrating masses, he'd send his Maoist YCL members to do it. YCL (or the Young Communist League) is a youth militia of the Maoist party, who engages in vigilantism. That is astounding. A senior minister, who is second in command in his ruling party, threatens to use militia against Nepali people; and he expects the people to remain docile? Mr. Bhattarai needs to wake up from his slumber.

On Sunday, taken aback by the ferocity of demonstration and sensing a political mess he has gotten himself into, Bhattarai relented and issued a press release, effectively withdrawing his previous decision to cut off funding.

The issue is not really about funding, which, I hear, is only a matter of about Rs. 15,000. What's Rs. 15,000? That's only a little over $200. Public outrage surely can't be because of that meagre amount of money. Anybody can raise that much money within a matter of minutes. The issue is about a perceived attack on people's faith and culture, an attack that is steeped with communist social ideology.

This is not the first time the Maoist politicians have displayed their disdain for icons of cultural significance. Not too long ago, a Maoist politician was reported by the media as saying that the the age-old tradition of revering Kumari, the living Goddess, is outdated and must be ended. Such statements bathed in political ideology are sensational and only incite public outrage.

Bhattarai, a communist ideologue, together with his Maoist party, has tasted a first dose of failure on this issue. Too bad for him, he brought it upon himself without anybody helping him. Next time he has an itch for making a unilateral decision on matters of cultural and religious significance, he shall be better off consulting with the stakeholders first.



>> Friday, September 19, 2008

By Ajay Pradhan | September 19, 2008

When he looked
She saw
When he saw
She smiled
When he smiled
She felt
When he felt
She knew
When he knew
She loved
When he loved
It was serendipity


Time to Say Goodbye

>> Monday, September 15, 2008

By Ajay Pradhan | September 15, 2008

I sent you a red rose in a bottle
With a message of love that is true
Not knowing how so very little
It would bear any meaning to you

I sent you my smile with the Sun
And love that is everlasting and deep
Not knowing how you'd spurn
The gift of love I sent wrapped in leaf

I sent you my best wishes with the birds
Wishes for a day and a year full of happiness
But amidst the wishes of many a shepherds
Mine evaporated with some rapidness

I sent you my love every single day
For that's only what I had left to give
But sadly you pushed my love away
It seems you only wanted me to leave

My heart's still for you, full of love and desire
Love and caring's still what I have left to give
But my love is no longer what you seem to require
So, it's now time to say goodbye and leave


चन्द्रमालाई ब्रिहस्पतिको शुभकामना

>> Wednesday, September 10, 2008

अजय प्रधान | सेप्टेम्बर १०, २००८

मध्यरातमा उठी, आकाश तिर हेरी
चन्द्रमालाई सम्बोधन गर्छ त्यो ब्रिहस्पति।

म गायक होइन, नत्र म
आज तिम्रो गीत गाउँथे।

संगीतकार पनि होइन, नत्र म
आज तिमीलाई संगीतको धूनले बोलाउँथे।

प्रक्रिती होइन, नत्र म
आज तिमीलाई फूलले सिँगार्थे।

कलाकार पनि होइन, नत्र म
आज तिम्रो चित्र कोर्थे।

न त हुँ म देवता नै, नत्र म
आज तिमीलाई यो संसार नै दिन्थे।

म त सिर्फ तिम्रो उपासक हुँ
चन्द्रमाको सामुन्ने जाबो एउटा तारा हुँ।

म खास हुँ नै के र
तिम्रो लागि केही गर्न सकुँ?

म सँग छ नै के र
तिमीलाई दिन सकुँ?

सिवाय मुटुभरिको माया
अनी मन भरिको शुभकामना।

अनी आजको तिम्रो बिशेष उत्सबमा
मेरो पनि सहभागिता।

I believe this photo was taken from MystyIsles of St. George Island, Alaska. The photo shows the luminous moon and a tiny-looking Jupiter (ब्रिहस्पति) to the lower left of the Moon. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Photographer: Unknown
Photo source:


When a Kiss was More than Just a Kiss

>> Friday, September 5, 2008

By Ajay Pradhan | Sept. 5, 2008

He returned
She looked

He paused
She waited

He smiled
She sighed

He held her
She held her breath

He kissed her
And she swooned and melted

Someone clicked
And the world saw

This is probably the most famous picture in history of a man kissing a woman. The man was a sailor, the woman a nurse, the place was the Times Square in New York City, and the day was the V-J Day on August 14, 1945. The day was the celebration of Japan's surrender in the World War II. The man and the woman did not know each other. The identity of the kissers have been speculated but still remains a mystery. Besides the crowd cheering the exuberant sailer and the surprised nurse, there was a third person in that scene that day. That person was Alfred Eisenstaedt, a Life magazine's photographer who shot this iconic picture of celebration, exhileration, relief, joy and victory.


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Humanature Journal blog is maintained by A.S. Pradhan.


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