Nepali Times Asian Paints
For whom the bell polls

Nepalis took an inordinate interest in following the results of the US presidential elections this week, and there was great rejoicing over the victory of Barack Obama. The outcome of America's elections didn't really matter to Nepal either way, so could this be our way of showing support for democracy at a time when there are no signs here of elections any time soon?

One picture that went largely unnoticed this week was of Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai testing an indigenously-designed, low-cost electronic voting machine (pictured) which allows ballots to be cast by simply touching the election symbol of the party voters opt for. This photo-op must have been Baluwatar's way of showing that the prime minister is not an obstacle for elections.

But the manner in which Bhattarai and his party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal are saying one thing about President Ram Baran Yadav in private, and goading their comrades and media cronies to attack him in public, reeks of hypocrisy. It also raises strong questions about their seriousness in holding elections and writing a new constitution.

Finance Minister Barsha Man Pun went as far as to accuse President Yadav of planning to stage a coup d'etat. This is a serious allegation and a deliberate effort by the ruling party to muddy the waters and amass an even bigger war chest by prolonging its time in power. It is a time-honoured tradition among the Maoists to shift the blame on a convenient scapegoat whenever intra-party dissent or criticism gets out of hand. Finance Minister Pun, therefore, was just his master's voice.

The Maoists are so insecure that they are now afraid of their own shadow, and ascribe power ambitions on a ceremonial president who has in word and deed, to a fault, stuck to the book. In fact, if any criticism had to be leveled on the president it would be that he has been too timid and not more proactive with the parties for their repeated stalling tactics. Which must be why the Maoists are working themselves up into a frenzy to mask their own failings, and to take attention away from their wholesale plunder of the government treasury. The latest example of this is the highly irregular decision to award Rs 200,000 each to recruits that UNMIN disqualified for being child soldiers. The total bill: Rs 600 million.

Bhattarai and Dahal seem to have cordial talks when they meet the president, but unleash their sidekicks to publicly denounce him for planning coups or sitting on ordinances. Interestingly, Dahal showed undue haste in meeting President Yadav on Tuesday, probably to smoothen presidential feathers that were ruffled by Pun's remarks.

It would behoove Bhattarai and Dahal not to sabre rattle in public, they need the president more than the president needs them. And the same goes for the NC, UML, and the monarchist parties, who seem to be trying their level best to try to provoke the president to make a move to oust Bhattarai. The opposition should know by now that public opinion is strongly against rocking the boat and prolonging the political uncertainty. Nepalis want the parties to stop bickering, pass the budget, and get on with preparations for elections.

The only way out of the current impasse would be to hold fresh elections, and a precursor to that is a consensual government made up of the main political players. Everything else is a delaying tactic. Working backwards from that, the least evil and most workable idea would be a formula to allow Bhattarai to keep his job, let the NC as the second biggest party have its choice of ministry (our guess is they'd pick Home), let the UML take Finance, and give the Madhesis what they want.

This would clear the block, end the paralysing uncertainty, and still meet the Election Commission's deadline to announce local and general elections by May 2013.

Read also:
Writing on the wall

By the people, for the people, ANURAG ACHARYA
The prolonged political deadlock in Kathmandu is trickling down to the grassroots, and undermining community spirit

1. Paul Krugman
The Maoists are the Party of Evil Doings.

The Maoist leaders are war criminals and should be prosecuted.

Stop slamming the other parties. They may be pathetic but they are not evil

The Maoists are evil. Time for them to pay.

2. Sitaram
Those of you who want Baburam Bhattarai to step down should look at the alternative: Prachanda, or worse, Baidya. At least Baburam is keeping the biggest crook and murder of them all, Prachanda, away from power. Be thankful of that. 

3. Poudyal
We are living not in a  country but in an asylum and the mad people have taken over the asylum...............what more can you expect!

4. Sharma
Its almost sinful to continue with the failed policies of Brahmin leaders of Nepal. All have proved to be corrupted and inept, with out any vision of plan to move Nepal forward. Unless a new force emerges to wipe the slate clean, the current leaders will keep on plundering and destroying the future hope and aspirations of millions of Nepalis. NC/UML/Maoist or Madesh, they have all failed miserbaly. They have only supported corrpution with impunity.  Even the senior police and army personel are tainted and have lost moral authority due to corrupted and immoral behaviour. How can any Nepali show respect to a killer like Dahal. It's time to clean the politics of Nepal.  

5. Sidartha Gautam
Empty vessels,  only noise that irritates ! The lies of Mr. Dahal will not drive Nepal forward.  Ph. D -  PM is reluctant to give the Chair. All Nepali PMs are forced out of office, they never leave on their own.  Politics is a curse for the poor Nepalis and a boon for the leaders that get fatter and fatter each day. Nepalis desparately need to find a honest man to lead them. Discredited and men without morals is the wron pathway to a bright future. 

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)