4-10 August 2017 #870

Manufacturing ministers

Rameshwar Bohara in Himal Khabarpatrika, 30 July-5 August

After sending nine cabinet ministers and four state ministers to join the Sher Bahadur Deuba government, the CPN (Maoist-Centre) is now selecting five more state ministers.

For a distant third party in Parliament, having 18 ministerial berths is an impressive achievement. But this pales in comparison to what the erstwhile revolutionary party has achieved after joining parliamentary politics – a bourgeois democracy they fought a bloody war to overthrow. In the 10 years after joining the peace process in November 2006, as many as 72 Maoist leaders have become ministers, 44 in cabinet and 28 as state ministers.

Some Maoist leaders have become ministers multiple times: Krishna Bahadur Mahara is a six-time minister. After being deputy prime minister and finance minister, even in the Deuba government he has a top post, as foreign minister. Giriraj Mani Pokharel is now a four-time minister, having been named health minister when Deuba expanded his cabinet last week. Janardan Sharma, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and Prabhu Shah have become ministers three times each. Nine other Maoist leaders have become ministers twice and 30 leaders once.

There have been 10 governments in the last 10 years, and the Maoists have been left out only three times. Except when Madhav Kumar Nepal, Khila Raj Regmi and Sushil Koirala were Prime Ministers, the Maoists have always been in government – they led three governments and were part of four other ruling coalitions.

Political analyst Shyam Shrestha says: “Maoists have now become part of the very bourgeois system that they condemned. Their attitude and aspirations are not different from those of the old parliamentary parties.”

Comrades from the UML, whom the Maoists during the war denounced as lackeys, would often proclaim that they are not into politics to be ascetics, implying that their real aim is to grab power and earn money. Now that has become a favourite one-liner among Maoist leaders. Politics is a lucrative business. Shrestha, who is also a Maoist MP, says: “Maoist leaders are vying with each other for greed.”

Analyst Mumaram Khanal, who quit the Maoists and is now a Central Committee member of the newly-unified Bibeksheel Sajha Party, says Maoist leaders no longer debate political agendas, and are just concerned about grabbing plum ministerial posts. The Maoists have split not because of ideology but because the party command could not fulfill every leader’s aspirations, he adds. “For example, Mohan Baidya would not have split at all if his lieutenant, Dev Gurung, was made finance minister.”

Narendra Jung Pitar, an analyst still affiliated with the CPN (Maoist-Centre), says: “In our party, there is an ongoing marathon to enter Singha Darbar. But except for one or two, no Maoist minister has done anything to be proud of.”

A Maoist leader sarcastically says: “In the Hetauda convention, our party decided to form a manufacturing brigade. And sure enough, our party is now manufacturing ministers.”

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