Just when one thought that our battered political parties could do without another round of unsavoury episodes, we have had more last week and the one before that. These come after the arrest of lawmakers from MPRF and Nepali Janata Dal on allegedly tampering and selling their diplomatic passports, the trial of a UML parliamentarian for taking bribe, the nabbing of an NC Constituent Assembly member in a gambling den and the cheating by a Maoist lawmaker at the SLC exam by making her daughter write answers on her behalf. Enough eroding the credibility of the parties of all hues.
Of all the goings-on, two of the most glaring stand out. One is the politicking at the Bharatpur Cancer Hospital in Chitwan and the other unethical conduct of now recalled ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Hamid Ansari.
All services at the Bharatpur Cancer Hospital have been shut down for nearly a week now because the doctors close to the Maoists and the NC are jostling for control of the hospital, leaving patients in the lurch. There have been at least four deaths in recent days due to lack of treatment and attention. This is not just irresponsible, it is criminal misconduct.
The dispute at the hospital is about who should be the next executive director of and have access to its resources (read: cash). Doctors came to Kathmandu to lobby for their appointment. The previous executive director, Bhakta Man Shrestha and the temporary incumbent Laxmi Narayan Singh are seeking, and getting, the blessings of their respective political backers- patients be damned. Both Shrestha and Singh should be removed.
Ambassador Ansari, a UML cadre, was already involved in allegedly cheating money from the widow of migrant worker Ramesh Subedi of Jhapa district who had died in Saudi Arabia. The insurance company there paid the compensation but the ambassador, instead of forwarding it to Subedi's widow, kept it himself. The ambassador escaped any punishment from his party bosses, but now he has done it again. This time he allegedly kept a Rs 2 million compensation paid to the family of Reg Bahadur Budhamagar from Rolpa who too had died in the Gulf.
Former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal (UML) and former Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala (NC) during whose watch the first swindle occurred did nothing. Current UML Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal has done nothing over the second one. Foreign Secretary Madan Bhattarai who hasn't done much more than pay lip service. Shocking, but unfortunately not surprising, when culture of impunity and lack of accountability is so high.
You want to hear more? Maoist CA member Indramati Yadav was caught stealing electricity to power her water pump by making an illegal hookup to powerlines. She was let off after made to pay fine. Bijaya Gachchhadar, chairman of Madhesi People's Rights Forum (Democratic), has been sheltering notorious underworld don, Ganesh Lama. Some UML mid-ranking leaders and cadre are putting pressure on police to release the arrested criminal and notorious don, Dinesh Adhikari 'Chari'.
CA members Bishwendra Paswan, Rukmani Chaudhari, Buddha Ratna Manandhar and Sadrul Miya Haq have not only obstructed the meetings of the Constitutional Committee called to settle disputes on some of the fiercely-contested contents of the constitution, they have now held parliament's plenary itself hostage.
In addition to the failures on the constitution-drafting and peace fronts, the political parties are piling on the misery of the people and some of the recent events demonstrate these are not some accidental situations or something over which the parties have no control. On the contrary, these are full, on-your-face "we don't care" attitude and actions.
Delayed constitution better than flawed constitution, EDITORIAL
Lost to the land, ANURAG ACHARYA