Murari Sharma: The wrong side must lose this cold war

By moving an impeachment motion against the chief justice before DIG Navaraj Silwal’s second petition was even heard, the government started a cold war with the Supreme Court. The court fired back by staying the motion.  

As a student of law, I view the constitution and due process of law as sacrosanct. Therefore, I have no doubt that the government is on the wrong side. If the wrong side wins this war, you and I will lose our rights and freedoms.  

It is important that we are not misled by the tons of government propaganda out there justifying the motion. If you look at the sequence of events and the constitutional provisions, you would know the truth.     

First, the sequence. The government promoted DIG Jaya Bahadur Chand to the inspector general of police (IGP), and his competitor, Navaraj Silwal, appealed to the Supreme Court. The court gave its verdict in Silwal’s favor, but the government hastily appointed another DIG, Prakash Aryal, to the post.  

Silwal knocked the court’s door with a second petition, and the court accepted it to examine. Angered by this, the ruling coalition filed an impeachment motion in the parliament against Chief Justice Sushila Karki, before the court had heard the case. The motion resulted in Karki’s suspension. 

Essentially, the coalition argued that Karki encroached upon the executive branch’s turf by accepting Silwal’s second petition.

All dictatorships start by trampling the constitution and rule of law and silencing courts and by arrogating unlimited power to themselves. The impeachment of Chief Justice Sushila Karki looks like the first step in that direction.  

Ruling on a case filed by two lawyers, Justice Cholendra Rana stayed the motion and ordered Karki’s reinstatement, citing that the motion based on a sub judice case violated the constitution. Karki returned to work. In response, the government has hinted that it would punish Rana for the breach of the parliament’s privilege to impeach justices. 

Here is what the constitution of Nepal 2015 says:

Article 126: Everyone should abide by the Supreme Court’s decision in any legal case.

Article 128 (2): The Supreme Court will be the final interpreter of Nepal’s constitution and law.

Article 133: The Supreme Court has the exceptional authority to provide legal remedies, only limited by the impeachment motion moved against the justices in the legislative bodies. 

Section (3): The Supreme Court can review its own decision.

Article 101 (2): 1/4 members of parliament can move the motion of impeachment against the chief justice or justice of the Supreme Court if they fail to fulfill his duties because of serious violation of this Constitution and law, incompetence or misconduct or failure and honestly or serious violation of the code of conduct.

Section (6): Once the motion is moved, the chief justice or justice of the Supreme Court would not be able to discharge his duties. 

Article 103 (7) and (8): The legislature has the authority to punish anyone who undermines its privileges. 

Article 105: The legislature cannot discuss anything sub judice case or anything said or done in the course of giving justice unless it is considering an impeachment motion against a judge.

In summary, the court is the final interpreter of law, and it has the obligation to protect citizens’ rights. It is the duty of everyone to abide by the court’s verdict. If someone disagrees with the verdict, they should ask the court for a review. 

The parliament must not discuss any sub judice case or the conduct of a justice therein unless it is discussing the impeachment motion against the justice.  

Evidently, the ruling parties have breached the due process at several levels.

First, they introduced a sub judice case for discussion in the house, which is prohibited by the constitution.

Second, they moved the impeachment motion on speculation that the court would decide against the government, and without exhausting the review remedy. 

It is against natural justice, principles of jurisprudence, practice in other democratic countries, and Nepal’s own constitution to charge anyone of crime before one has been committed.   

Besides, though Karki has not been above reproach — for instance, in the recent appointment of several judges — her faults were not serious enough to meet the threshold set for impeachment under Article 101 (2).

If the same standards were applied to them as to Karki, most of the politicians who moved the impeachment motion would be in jail. They have committed infinitely more horrendous crimes of corruption, incompetence, dishonesty, handing democracy to the palace, and compromising national interest with foreign powers for personal gains than Karki.  

Natural justice and principles of jurisprudence call for proportionate punishment for all crimes. However, the ruling coalition has vengefully applied a disproportionate measure to silence Karki and the judiciary. You do not fire a nuclear bomb to kill an irritating nanny. 

Justice Rana’s stay order prevented the injustice of punishing Karki before she has committed a crime and put the process in its right order. Therefore, it is preposterous for the ruling parties to suggest, as they have done, that Rana should be punished for breaching the parliament’s privilege.

Faced with the strong opposition from the opposition parties, civil society, and the United Nations, the government has put the motion on hold, and the Parliament has postponed its meetings until after the local elections due on 14 May 2017. This is a temporary ceasefire. 

The question arises, why have the leaders become vengeful towards Sushila Karki and the Supreme Court? 

The answer is a no-brainer. Nepali Congress leader Sher Bahadur Deuba and Maoist leader and Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal have been shielding themselves and their close supporters from the music of justice for their crimes. They are angry with Karki because:

          –She instructed the government to arrest within 7 days Balkrishna Dhungel, a Maoist leader sentenced to jail for the murder of Ujjain Shrestha, who is hiding in plain sight under the protection of his party’s senior leaders.  The court can slap the government with the contempt of court for not arresting Dhungel.

          –She handed the court’s verdict on the Sudan procurement scandal and sentenced three former police chiefs to jail.

          –She expedited the corruption cases against the political leaders that were pending for ages in the court.

Deuba should be held to higher standards than Dahal for starting the cold war. Deuba has fought for democracy and been to jail, and the Supreme Court had him released from prison not long ago. But power seems to have blinded him now.

For Dahal, it is only one more opportunity to destroy democracy and its institutions. Just to achieve that goal, he had conducted the Maoist insurgency for 10 years and spilled the blood of 17,000 people.       

Remember, an activist court is much less dangerous than a reckless government with bureaucracy and treasury at its disposal. If we love our democracy and our rights, we must not support the wrong side — government — in this cold war.      

Murari Sharma: Dream come true?

Imagine how you would feel if you waited for something for decades but when it arrived, some of your brothers and sisters did not like it. Excitement and frustration simultaneously.

The Nepali people have been feeling that predicament today. They have waited for 65 years for a constitution written by their elected representatives. Such a charter — Constitution of Nepal 2015 — has been finally promulgated today, on 20 September, by President Ram Baran Yadav. Most people seem happy, but some are clearly agitated.

The demand for a people-written statute has been around since 1950. King Tribhuvan had, at the time of removing Rana oligarchy, promised to call elections for a constituent assembly, but that did not transpire.  Kings gifted the statute on their own — Tribhuvan in 1951, King Mahendra in 1959 and 1962 and King Birendra in 1990.

Although the 1990 document was written by a group of political leaders, who were instrumental in forcing King Birendra to abandon the party-less panchayat system and embrace multiparty democracy, they were not elected by the people at that time.

Only the political change of 2006 opened the door to a constituent assembly afresh. It also immediately led to the suspension of the monarchy, which was abolished by the assembly in 2008. Unfortunately, the first assembly died in 2013 without delivering the law of the land, owing to major disagreements on several issues.

Federalism stood at the heart of such disagreements. Some outfits opted for several ethnic states, while others for a few multi-ethnic states. The dispute failed and destroyed the first assembly. The second assembly, elected in 2013, has been able to sort out the issue providing for seven states, though not everyone likes them.

Five things put pressure on Nepali leaders to deliver the constitution this time around.

First, the Nepali Congress Party and the Communist Party of Nepal (UML), which preferred a few multi-ethnic states, secured nearly two-thirds majority in the assembly and formed a coalition government with smaller parties, enhancing their number and confidence to sail the charter to the finish line.

Second, both Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and UML leader KP Oli were personally men in a hurry. The ailing Koirala wanted to promulgate the statute on his watch. The ailing Oli wanted to become premier before his health compromised his ambition. Therefore, Koirala and Oli promised each other support to realize their respective ambitions.

Third, the devastating chain of earthquakes and aftershocks in April and May this year — they killed nearly 10,000 people, destroyed nearly 7 billion rupees worth of property and affected one-third of the country’s population — spurred the coalition to switch to a high gear. When the people and country destroyed by the natural calamity were crying for relief and reconstruction, it was in bad taste for the leaders to quibble over the fine prints of the charter.

Fourth, the Maoist leader Prachand cooperated with the coalition to protect himself from being marginalized further, to neutralize his pesky deputy Baburam Bhattarai, and to preserve as many agendas of his party as possible before monarchists, Hiduists, extreme leftists and secessionists hijacked them.

Fifth, external players — countries and organizations — piled pressure to tilt the constitution in favor of their respective clients in Nepal, in a way that threatened the power base of the main leaders. India openly lobbied on behalf of the minority parties from the plains. Christian organizations lobbied against any compromise on secularism.

Consequently, the constitution became a priority for the Big Three parties. These parties made compromises and agreements leading to the approval of the new statute. It would have been unquestionably ideal if all parties had agreed on the document and everyone in Nepal had welcomed it. However, that did not happen. Such lobbying created a situation of ‘now or never.’

Based on the celebrations in most parts of the country, it seems that most people liked the new statute, even though it is far from perfect. But some parties and people, mostly in the plains, found it unacceptable because it, as they argue, does not meet their demands and aspirations.

They have hit the street in protest. Some have abandoned the constituent assembly and joined forces that always opposed the assembly. Others too have joined protests. In the ensuing violence, nearly three dozen people — including eight security officials — have lost their lives.

The plains have been shut for nearly a month now. The army has been mobilized and curfew has been imposed in several places to control violence. People have had terrible difficulty going about their daily business. Schools have been closed. Hospitals have been attacked.

Both the pro-constitution and anti-constitution parties have blamed each other for this situation. The former have contended that the latter have become the instruments of the anti-constitution forces. The latter have accused the former of not listening to their genuine grievances.

Under the surface, the new charter is personally offensive to naturalized citizens of Nepal — such as Rajendra Mahato — for it prevents them from holding certain top posts, something that was allowed in the Interim Constitution.

There is some truth on both sides. The big parties did not wait until the minority parties were exhausted to come to the negotiating table to resolve the differences. The minority parties thought India would intervene on their behalf. New Delhi did by sending the Indian foreign secretary to Nepal, but it was already too late.

Constitution is not a Bible or Quran, written in stone; it is a living document that can be changed, as time and need necessitate. In the days ahead, both sides should show maximum flexibility and find a common ground for peace in Nepal. Neither bullying by the majority nor terrorizing by the minority will bring peace and reconciliation in the country. The discords, including on federalism could be sorted out, in the future.

Nepal has waited for so long for a constitution written by the people’s representatives. Now that it is in our hand, we should find a way to rally around it despite its flaws, which can be removed gradually.

I congratulate the Nepali people for the new constitution.

Where will Nepal go?

Murari Sharma

Confucius says only the wisest and stupidest men never change. Since we all pretend to be one of the wisest, we want others to change. So change becomes difficult.

Leading change is even more problematic. Mahatma Gandhi says, be the change that you want to see in the world. But do we want the inconvenience that change entails in us? Niccolo Machiavelli is right in saying, “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.”

Institutionalizing change is the most challenging of all. It calls for accepting and internalizing new rules, values and institutions and submitting to them. It is difficult everywhere, because everyone wants to do it their way.

For instance, in Britain, Churchill could not accept that India could rule itself. He said, “Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues and freebooters. All Indian leaders will be of low caliber and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. They will fight amongst themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles.”

Only recently, the proposal to change the voting system for fairer representation, called the alternative voting system, failed.

In the United States, slave owners in the south went into civil war with the north to prevent the freedom of their human chattels. Republican lawmakers in the House of Representative have voted desperately to repeal the Affordable Care Act, alias Obamacare, which partially socialized healthcare, more than 50 times.

In Nepal’s neighborhood, India is still nostalgic about the old Bharatbarsh and China about the old Middle Kingdom when they ruled much of Asia. It is not the geography, it is the people who are nostalgic. No wonder, institutionalizing political change has proved incredibly onerous for the leaders of Nepal.

We had that problem in 1990. The party-less Panchayat system was removed and democracy was restored. Panchayat leaders were sidelined and democratic leaders occupied the central ground. But the new leaders soon proved to be somewhat refined Panchayati leaders in their attitude and behavior.

The problem of institutionalizing change became even more serious after 2006. When the monarchy was first suspended in 2006 and abolished in 2008, political leaders simply transformed themselves into new royalties in their attitude and behavior, only by far worse. Take for example, health tourism and perks.

The royal family obtained treatment for common diseases in Nepal, occasionally went to India for complicated cases and flew seldom to the advanced countries for medical care. Now our democratic leaders travel to wealthy countries at government expense even for minor checkups and minor ailments like gastritis. You know who I am talking about.

During the Panchayat days, only the king and his immediate relatives operated over the law and enjoyed perks from the state — allowances, security compliment, vehicles, fuel, secretariat, maintenance expenses, etc. Now every political leader of some stature has secured these elaborate and generous perks.

Marx says, human quest for progress is constant. That includes better healthcare, perks and opportunities. Therefore, our political leaders are making hay when the sun is shining. But this is what sets them apart from statesmen. Statesmen like Washington, Gandhi, Mandela, Lee, etc. made personal sacrifices for the benefits of their countries, rather than making the hay for themselves.

Although Nepali leaders might be blamed for their own self-centric behavior, we the voters should also partake of some of this phenomenon. We complain about the same leaders all the time but elect them again and again. We can make and break leaders if we looked beyond family, tribal, ideological loyalty in the polling booth and can change the political landscape. That is the beauty of democracy.

We witnessed that in the second election for the Constituent Assembly itself. In the first CA, the Maoists were the largest party and the Madheshis as the fourth force. But the voters did not like their goal and methods. So in the following polls, they reduced the former to the distant third place and voted many Madheshi leaders out.

Consequently, constitution writing is inching closer to the finish line. But significant obstacles remain, mainly related to the number and the demarcation of states.

The number is significant. The more states means higher administrative expenses, higher taxes on the public, lower resources for investment in developmental activities and slower growth. A prudent tradeoff is required between each ethnic group having its own state and ability to deliver growth through increased investment in development.

The Maoists have realized the resources imperative now and came down from their 14 states to six or seven states now, as proposed by the Nepali Congress and UML. But the Madheshi leaders, according to Lalbabu Yadav, the professor of Tribhuvan University, are confused. They first wanted one state for the entire terai, but the plain districts with Tharu and hill people’s majority wanted to be no part of such a state.

Now it is not clear what the Madheshi leaders, other than Bijaya Gachhedar, are demanding and protesting for. Gachhedar, who endorsed the six-state model with two states in the Terai, now wants one more state there. But the problem is the majority in Jhapa, Morang, Kailali and Kanchanpur, which will be affected, do not accept his proposal.

Other Madheshi leaders’ demands, as Professor Yadav claims, are hard to discern. Before the six-state model was floated, they wanted no hill district to be part of Madheshi states. Now that they have won a Madheshi districts-only state in the eastern plains, they want some hill districts to be included in it. But the people of these hill district vehemently oppose this idea.

Protests mainly in the hill districts and partly in the Madheshi districts sank the six-state model, paving the way for the seven-state model, which pacified the agitating districts. However, Gachhedar has stood against this latter model and walked away from the four-party framework that had agreed on the six-state model.

Madheshi leaders have been fomenting unrest in the plains. Since people did not respond to their call for agitation, they have announced 5.0 million compensation from the would-be Madheshi state if someone died in protests, to lure the young people into violence. Three things are notable about this cynical announcement.

First, the leaders who made the call would not send their own children to protest in the hope of receiving 5 million rupees. Would they? Second, this announcement is unlawful incitement to terrorism. In a  developed democratic country, these leaders would have been hauled to jail right away. Third, western democracies do not compensate for the death of protesters unless the court finds the state responsible for using excessive and unwarranted force.

But in Nepal, everything goes.

Where will Nepal go now? Hard to predict. If the protests continue and violence spreads, there will likely be no new constitution; the country will face civil war and even potential disintegration.

I hope this is not the direction Nepal will travel in the days ahead. But the situation in the country makes one thing absolutely clear: Our leaders are failing in leading and institutionalizing change. Only time will tell who earns the most blame.

Tharus need a better deal

Murari Sharma

Tharus have received a rough deal in the draft constitution of Nepal with respect to federalism, and it must be remedied.

But first the background. Nepali political leaders, prodded by the April and May 2015 earthquakes and motivated by the impatience to change government, have finally come close to promulgating a new constitution. Though still far from certain, the statute now seems within the striking distance, after seven years.

Compared to some other countries, Nepal has taken longer to frame the new constitution. The Constitutional Assembly has been battling with the matter since 2008. Many other countries could write their constitution in a comparably short period.

For instance, the US constitution was drafted in less than 100 working days. The Indian constitution was written in less than three years. In South Africa, it took a little more than two years for drafting and adopting the document.

Why has Nepal taken so long? There are several reasons, but four of them tower prominently over others.

First, political transition is always difficult. Change is desirable but inconvenient. The system may change quickly, but people’s mentality and attitude do not. That was evident in Nepal. The powerful groups tried their level best to protect their existing privileges.

Besides, transition from monarchy and unitary state to republic and federalism was a gargantuan challenge. Federalism was very much needed to empower the marginalized and disadvantaged people, promote competitive growth and bring the best out of every region and people in the country.But the demand for ethnic states came in the way of federalism.

The Maoists and Madheshi parties rooted for ethnic federalism with 14 states. It would have satisfied a few ethnic groups while rubbing the others the wrong way in a country where there are 25 ethnic groups for 28 million people. In addition, that many states would have become economically unviable in a poor country like Nepal and a constant source of friction.

Second, change becomes particularly cumbersome to institutionalize when there is no clear political winner. The Maoists fought for proletariat dictatorship; the monarchy and democratic political parties sought to preserve the status quo of bourgeois, liberal democracy. Neither side was a clear winner. The civil war ended in a compromise. So the process of writing a new constitution was stuck in a tug of war in the opposite directions.

Third, the Maoists, who were the largest party in the first constituent assembly, squandered much time to sabotage the infant democratic values and institution rather than focusing on the constitution. Other parties should also share part of the blame, but the Maoists were at the steering wheel.

Fourth, even though the principal objective of the CA was to write a new constitution, political parties focused their energy more on changing government rather than on drafting the statute. There were five prime ministers in five years between 2008 and 2013.

The hope for a new constitution rose considerably after the elections for the second CA. Voters gave the Nepali Congress the largest number of seats, followed by the UML. Together the two parties secured the two-thirds majority needed to approve the constitution. They, which supported multi-ethnic and fewer but economically viable states, formed a coalition government.

Two things hastened the process of drafting the statute in the second CA. One was the motivation of the UML to head the government as quickly as possible. At the time of forming the coalition government, Nepali Congress leader Sushil Koirala had pledged to quit as prime minister when the constitution was promulgated. UML leader KP Oli is in a hurry to replace him, in coalition with either the NC or the UCPN (Maoist).

Oli had to check his ambition because the NC with its 205 seats in the 601-member assembly could block the constitution from being approved.

The other thing is the desire of the parties outside power to join the government for the country’s reconstruction, after the devastating earthquakes. Political parties expect considerable financial and political bonanza from the reconstruction activities.

Development partners have pledged more than 3.5 billion dollars for the reconstruction. The UCPN (Maoist) and Madheshi parties are now outside the government. They do not want the incumbent parties to get away with all of the benefits of rebuilding. So they were quick to give up their previous entrenched positions this time.

Political leaders’ greed for power and for reconstruction resources has cut the throat of procrastination on the constitution. Sometimes something good comes out from ill-intentioned actions. The statute appears within grasp now.

But it will solve some problems and unleash others. It will fill the constitutional vacuüm and lay the future course for Nepal.

New troubles have begun even before the constitution has been promulgated. Protests have started all over the country with diametrically opposite demands. Some for Hindu state, others against it; some for breaking the regions and districts to create states and others keeping them intact.

Madheshi and Hill minority leaders have declared that they do not agree with the six states that have been agreed on by the major political parties.

Some Madheshi leaders have demanded that there must be only one state for the entire plains. Other Madheshi leaders, particularly from the Tharu community, have called for more states in the plains.

While Hill minority leaders have been muted in renewing their old demand for ethnic states in the hills, they have found a common cause with the majority groups against breaking the districts and development regions to create states. Three districts and all regions have been broken to adjust them into six states. The unrest has emerged mainly in several districts in the western hills, including Baglung and Rukum.

The Madheshi, Hill minority and Hill majority people have their own reasons and logics for their opposition to the six-state structure or state demarcation. There is no way that everyone could be pleased. But some reasons appear more serious and logical than others.

Here are my thoughts on the six-state structure. One, six states are too many to sustain financially for a poor country like Nepal. Most of the resources will go to maintaining the government rather than investing in development. States lacking investment and growth will be a perennial source of trouble.

Two, denying a separate state for the people living in the plains from Daunne to Bardia is patently unjust. It is injustice against the Tharus, one of the most disadvantaged communities in Nepal; more so in view of the fact that the Madheshi in the east — from Saptari to Parsa — have been given a separate state.

Three, if demographic, communication and other objective imperatives exist for breaking the existing districts and development regions, they should be broken; otherwise not. In this light, in some cases, the demands for restructuring the country and preventing the breakup of any district or region are mutually contradictory.

Four, the six-state structure in which two states were envisaged for the plains was much better than the latest structure. The only thing that was necessary to change in the previous proposal was to give the state comprising Dhawalagiri, Gandaki and hilly districts of Lumbini land access to India by adding Nawalpur to it.

Let me emphasize once again, give Tharus a state from Daunne to Bardia.

Nepal’s inconseqential leaders

Murari Sharma

Presidential historians have suggested that Barack Obama has already become one of the most consequential American presidents. He introduced the Affordable Healthcare Act (aka Obama care) Democrat presidents had tried for 40 years, ended the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, concluded a nuclear treaty with Iran, and reestablished diplomatic relations with Cuba, abandoning decades long American sanctions that had no international approval.

Obama is not one of the most successful American presidents. Yet he has shown how much a leader can accomplish in less than eight years.

Do the leaders of Nepal ever think of going down in history as someone of consequence? Maybe, they do at times of quiet contemplation. Some have left their footprints. Prithvi Narayan Shah unified Nepal. Bahadur Shah expanded it. Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah put his crown at stake to throw the Ranas out. BP Koirala brought multiparty democracy in Nepali hills and plains. Mahendra and Birendra Shah introduced and advanced economic development. Ganesh Man Singh and Girija Koirala led the people’s movements to restore the democratic rights of the Nepali people.

In the current crop of leaders also, there are many people who made great sacrifices as young men and women to remove the old political system and introduce a new one. Sushil Koirala devoted his life to democracy. KP Oli spent years in jail for his political belief. Pushpa Kamal Dahal waged an armed insurgency to introduce Maoist communism in the country. Yet why is it that the Nepali people feel that they have no leader?

The problem is, as it seems, there are only leaders of political parties in Nepal. There are no leaders of the Nepali people. Political leaders may start as a leader of the party or a ruling junta. Some graduate into being the leaders of their people; others remain leaders of their political parties only. Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru started as the Indian Congress leaders but transformed themselves into national leaders. Lee Kwan-Yew and Mahathir Mohammad began their political career as leaders of their parties and became national leaders consequently.

Do not any of our political leaders want ever to become a national leader? I am sure they all want to be. But what is preventing them? Actually, a lot of factors.

In an article published in Harvard Business Review of 15 December 2014, Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman have identified 10 traits of a successful leader: Strategic vision, customer (people) focus, fearless loyalty to the goal, culture of upward communication, persuasion, goal stretching, speed, candor, and ability to inspire and motivate through action.

In a Pew Research Center Survey, 84 percent respondents thought honesty was the most essential quality of a successful leader.

Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of America, has said, “If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing.”

Now I leave it to our leaders to self-assess themselves as to what traits, given above, they have and what they do not.

We all know a sudden rush of enlightenment and impetus dawned on the Big Four to expedite the constitution writing process in the wake the massive, devastating earthquakes in April and May this year. The quake took nearly 10,000 lives, damaged nearly 7 billion dollars’ worth of private and public properties, and affected one-fourth of the 28 million Nepali people in one way or another.

But why the hurry now?

Let me start with the Big Four’s explanation. They have said the people expect the constitution completed soon and it is their obligation to bury their hatchet and get the work done quickly. No doubt, this is a compelling narrative, except that it is not true. Hit by the loss of their relatives and their homes, people expected help for recovery and relief, not a new constitution, which could wait for another couple of months.

Burying the hatchet, which had been pulled out for the last seven years, is indeed a commendable step. But this, few will believe, happened because the leaders were suddenly stricken by a sense of duty, which they seldom have been; it actually happened because the Maoists and other political parties wanted to join the government to have their hand in the huge reconstruction pie the development partners have promised in the donors conference.

In other words, the driving force behind the 16 point agreement among the major political parties is anything but political or constitution. Otherwise, why would they commit the fantastic forgery of fraudulent fiction that the draft constitution is within a matter of week or so after the tremor?

OK, I admit finding consensus on the contradictory worldviews on the constitution of different players was difficult. Kamal Thapa and his ilk want a Hindu state. Chitra Bahadur KC and his type have nothing to do with federalism. Mahant Thakur and Upendra Yadav want ethnic states. Even large chunks of the Nepali Congress and the UML do not agree with this fraud.

The sham of collecting public opinion on the draft and Pushpa Kamal Dahl’s pilgrimage to Delhi have brought new fissures or revived the old ones that were assumed covered. The idea of executive president has been revived again, because it is convenient to some parties and groups, but the support for Hindu state and fewer provinces which the majority wanted have been conveniently ignored. The guaranteed rights for food, education, treatment, employment, unemployment benefits, and pension and so on are fantasies that even the rich Scandinavian countries have not promised have found place in the draft constitution of one of the poorest countries in the world. This is what makes the draft a flagrant fraud.

If Nepal’s growth and prosperity were to be measured in terms of our leaders’ wealth and prosperity, our country would be one of the richest. Our leaders have obtained unprecedented prosperity since 1990.  If our leaders’ promise is the measure of our progress, we should be a rich country. Our leaders have promised the sky, not just now but for many decades in the past if not centuries. If they had delivered a tiny fraction of what they have promised, we would have been a middle-income country at least.

But what is happening really is this: The more our leaders are promising to make us rich and prosperous, the more they themselves are getting rich and prosperous and the people are getting poorer.

When he was seeking election for the first time, US President Barack Obama promised hope, an empty word, but delivered so many things to make American people better off in his less than 8 years in the White House, so far. Our leaders promised growth, food, health care, education, jobs, roads and drinking water for decades, but now they are promising empty hope in the new constitution.

Our leaders might have reasons to believe that the Nepali people grow in words, eat words, drink words, treat their ailment with words, work words, drive on words. What could be the reason to make them think so? Is it that Netra Chand was in Dubai when his supporters were torching vehicles in Kathmandu to enforce the strike called by him? Nepal is a paradise to be a leader.