Bam Dev Gautam
Senior Vice Chairman, UML Party, Nepal
TGQ1: The major parties appear to have been engaged either defending or in protesting the incumbent government. If so then when and how the country will get rid of the prevailing political stalemate? But isn’t it that you should provide an alternative first to this caretaker government? Mr. Gautam please!
Gautam: Frankly speaking, the country is undergoing through a grave political and constitutional crisis at the moment. Nobody had pushed the nation at this momentous point in the past at one single stretch but the Babu Ram Government brought the nation to this state on May 27, 2012. The country entered into a deep crisis when the declaration of a new election was made without writing the constitution for the country. Speaking on political terms, they have committed a severe transgression. Such criminal acts were not committed by any Prime Minister(s) of the country who had steered the nation in the past. That is why we have centered our main agenda on releasing this government from power authority which has pushed the nation into such a critical predicament.
Needleless to say, a section here are hell bent on saving this government tooth and nail. They don’t have any space to cover their shameful acts that they have been engaged with. Babu Ram Bhattarai is already handling a caretaker government. A caretaker Prime Minister has no place either in the constitution or outside. He is just there because he is there.
Indeed, compulsion has made him the caretaker Prime Minister. Indeed he has pushed the constitution in such a tight spot from where the constitution can’t exercise its constitutional rights. Now all what is left is the office of the Nepal Presidency speaking on constitutional terms. The President has made it known to Babu Ram that he has been dismissed from the current post yet he is just a caretaker Prime Minister as per the constitution and nothing more than that which he said when PM Babu Ram Bhattarai was claiming that he was an elected Prime Minister and that he possess all the rights of an executive Prime Minister still.
In response, Babu Ram should have told the President that he was ready to quit the post for the facilitation of the formation of a new government. Had he done so, this would have made the environment favorable for the new government formation. The roads for a new government would have been paved. But Babu Ram is just watching keenly as to how a new government takes a formal shape. And he is still clinging onto the Prime Ministerial Chair.
TGQ2: How could then PM Babu Ram pave the way for the formation of a new government? Now that Prime Minister is not ready to quit from the Chair, can’t a new government be formed under such circumstances? What say you?
Gautam: If Bhattarai is duty-bound and is also responsible towards the nation then the primary desired initiatives should come from his side first. He should declare that “I am vacating the Chair and so the Nepal President should now initiate his efforts for the formation of a new government”. The Prime Minister should summon the Cabinet and recommend and concurrently inform the President to take actions for the formation of a new government as per the clause 43 of the constitution. He should take measures to bring in the politics which now remains outside the periphery of the constitution by taking the help of the clause 158, the clause that unknots the political hurdles, and ask the President to form a national unity government under clause 38-1 and if this clause doesn’t work for the formation of a national unity government then he should officially write a formal letter to the President to go in for 38-2 clause for the formation of a majority government.
As regards your associated question, in such a complex situation, we are left with only two viable options: The President takes himself the initiative as protector of the constitution and make a straight call for the formation of a new government which he can do when the incumbent PM denies quitting the Chair. And then the President can summon all the leaders of the political parties which had their representation in the dead CA body and tell them all to provide him with an all party-consensus PM candidate. If this doesn’t work then he can ask from the present political parties/leaders to provide him with an all convincing name that the majority approves for the new PM of Nepal and go in for oath taking ceremony that the majority forwards. The President can do this much in the absence of elected body, and when the PM has already been in a caretaker status and there is no other option left for the selection of a new PM remains at hand. Yet this all depends upon the will of the President. He has told that he will not take any actions that sans consensus. In such a complex situation, the single available option remains that waging of a fresh movement against PM Bhattarai. This is also the last alternative as far as I see to it. We should make the government to collapse through a fierce movement. And mind it; the situation is leading us all towards a movement. Though Comrade Prachanda on July 25 said in the UML Head Quarters at a three party meet that “let’s forge consensus within a week or so”. He pushed an offer which stated that the November election now has become a distant proposal and thus declare a fresh date for the same election for next Year April. We said that the November election is an unconstitutional one and thus we can’t provide our positive nod for the continuation of the same unconstitutional practices. Then he said that let’s then go in search for yet another suitable alternative.
Now the question comes to our mind is that why Prachanda came to us with such proposals? What we have so far understood of Prachanda is that he is expert in duping others and exploits the emerging situation for his personal political benefits. He may have come to us with the harmony proposal in order to make the most for his personal benefits. We have been closely monitoring Prachanda’s behaviors. So what we have decided is to wait for a week or so then we are confident with the fact that we can make PM to resign through the strength of the would be agitation. Beginning of the movement may take some time though. At best we will take up to the course of movement after the fall of the monsoon. This is what we have decided as of now.
TGQ3: The Prime Minister and the Maoists have said that let’s forge a consensus, we will quit the government? Why you people don’t trust them? Or do you feel that the government and the Maoists are heading towards the capture of the State? What you say?
Gautam: The Maoists and the Madhesi alliance want to forge consensus with us all on having the federal order among the crowd of the many issues wherein disputes remain from the time of the CA body when it was alive. But on that very particular issue, we can’t agree. We can’t give our consent on that very question. Now either the Maoists or the Madhesi alliance should yield to our stance or we surrender to their demands? What we say is that let’s decide this issue through the conduct of a referendum. We want that a people’s representative system be developed (he is perhaps talking of having parliamentary polls?) which could be allowed to act much in the same manner as that of a CA body and settle all the unsettled disputes. If so then there could be a consensus. We should forge consensus on the process and the procedures. When we differ is on the very ideologies and philosophy then it takes time for having a consensus. The fact is that Babu Ram doesn’t want to leave his firm stand on having the existence of single identity based federalism.
As regards to your tagged question, he is moving carrying the ruling alliance of the Madhesi partners. In the process, he is luring the Indian regime and not allowing the country to remain in a stable position and he is also crying that the country has no alternative to Babu Ram. He has already declared that in the end, he will conduct the polls and bag two thirds majority. Then he wants to capture the state through legitimate means. If not successful in this mission then the idea is to dump all the charges onto the heads of the opponents and embrace for a fresh revolt. Prachanda has already said in the seventh plenum that if the constitution is not of their liking then through the strength of both the street and the government, the party will accomplish a revolution which will complete the cycle of People’s Revolution.
TGQ4: How you take the fresh split of the Maoists?
Gautam: I take it in a very natural manner. Because much ahead of the Maoists Palungtar plenum, the party had kept two legs in two separate boats. One was given the name of peace and constitution and the other was “revolt”. Is it possible to claim that you can manage the North and the South Pole to go together? Is it possible? The Maoists acquired a policy whose completion was simply impossible which resulted in that Mohan Baidya was forced to quit the party registering protest. It was a situation which compelled Baidya to split the party.
TGQ5: How you take the interference of India in Nepali affairs. Is it confined only in keeping this government intact or elsewhere too is the interference?
Gautam: Indian interests in Nepal one could observe in various sectors. There are scores of Indian lobbies currently actively operating in Nepal in order to get their interests served. There is one interest that Nepal should not become the venue for weakening their security systems. The second interest of Indian in Nepal could be that after making Tibet and independent nation they wish to install Dalai Lama back in Tibetan politics. They may have been thinking on these lines also. If that does happen then Indian could be thinking of competing China in an easy manner. This is how the Indians have been thinking, as I understand. Third, Indian thinking is that Nepal’s entire water resources and bio-diversity could and should be used for only the Indian interests. This is what they presume. The other thing that I also see is that India wants that Nepali markets should remain confined to the Indian goods for Nepali consumption. Yet we must at the political level remain serious about Indian genuine interests. We must assure the Indian side. The fact is also that we have to have good relations with India and then can only we expand our relations with other friendly countries. The open border and various attachments with India forces us to have intimate ties with India. But the manner Babu Ram closed his eyes this time ignoring Nepal’s genuine interests will time permitting not be even in the interests of Indian regime. Thus we must take into account all the issues, for example, Kalapani, Susta land encroachment, the dams constructed by India along the border and also take in to proper attention to the Nepal-India trade and commerce relations and take further steps but without damaging our friendly relations.
Text courtesy: The Drishti Weekly dated July 31, 2012: Thanks Dristi: Chief Ed.