Straight Shooting by Dr Giri on Nepal’s National Political Situation

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In an nearly hour-long tour de force on Nepal’s national political situation on Tuesday, Vice-Chairman Dr Tulsi Giri, did what he is well known for: shooting straight and hard, armed with facts and laced with irrefutable logic.

Indeed, addressing a press conference in the capital, Dr Giri not only clarified the stance of His Majesty’s Government on a number of burning political issues of the day. He also did so with characteristic panache, clearly not afraid to take the bull of prejudice and disinformation by its horns.

Panache

As much was reflected, for instance, in his timely reminder to his audience that their repeated references to His Majesty’s February 1 Move as a “coup d’etat” and allied terms such as “autocracy” and the need for a “restoration of democracy” were completely off target. A coup, very rightly, is an unconstitutional revolt against legitimate authority, usually accompanied by movement of the military. That, very certainly, is not what took place on February 1, as Dr Giri reminded one and all.

Besides, as he also put it, a step that has been taken with the authority granted the King under Article 127 of the Constitution is hardly illegal. Furthermore, as was made even clearer, the partisan media and dissenting politicians conveniently overlook that recourse had been made to that very provision of the Constitution three times in the past prior to February 1, 2005.

The agitating political parties never termed such recourse to Article 127 as “unconstitutional” but have done so when invoked by His Majesty in the larger national interest.

He also performed a public service in making it transparent that His Majesty’s Government would not hold talks with the Maoists. However, he did not rule out a dialogue with the agitating parties, now joined at the hip with the rebels via their 12-point understanding of November 22.

As the political veteran explained, it was completely unrealistic to expect that Government, committed to the 1990 Constitution, to hold talks with a group that has been creating terror and wishes to abolish the Monarchy, a historic Nepali institution that is held in great esteem in that very document.

As far as holding talks with the seven-party alliance, on the basis of their pact with the Maoists, as Dr Giri phrased it: “As they have joined hands with the rebels to destroy the establish institution of the Monarchy, this will never be accepted by the Government.”

The senior Vice-chairman, however, did not rule out a dialogue with the dissenting parties if they were desirous of a sincere reconciliation with the Monarch, accepting the principle of negotiations within the parameters of the 1990 Constitution.

Progress

Dr Giri put things into proper perspective when he claimed that significant progress had been made since February 1 on the three key milestones in the royal roadmap outlined in the proclamation: checking corruption, combating terrorism and holding elections. Most fair-minded people will readily acknowledge that there has been significant advance in curbing corruption since February 1, although, as the senior political leader freely admitted, this did not mean that the malady has been completely eliminated.

Likewise, though the Maoist insurgency has not been crushed, events on the ground speak for themselves: as claimed, their strike capacity has, since, been severely crippled. And as far as the King’s commitment to elections go, it is well-known that the country is presently gearing up for the February 8 municipal polls, to be followed sometime thereafter with elections for a new parliament.

In such circumstances, it is nonsense to assert that there is a need to “restore” democracy, as often claimed by the dissenting politicos and their foreign supporters who, of course, have their own, usually hidden agendas, for doing so. Indeed, as Dr Giri reminded members of the Fourth Estate present on the occasion, what is needed is to re-energise democracy.

The appropriate way to do so would be for the political parties that say they will boycott the polls to reverse gears and participate in an exercise that will lead, eventually, to the establishment of a new parliament. Such a body is the appropriate national forum to discuss and debate national issues and take needed action armed with a fresh mandate of the people.

M. R. Josse is a writer on Nepal and the author of Nepal: Politics of Statemate, Confusion and Uncertainty and Nepali Politics 2002-03: Gotterdammerung, The Twilight of the Gods.