The affairs of politics in Nepal
TBecause of the prolonged political paralysis in Nepal is cronyism, and the only way to root it out is to attack its source: vote-buying and corporate-sponsored campaigns.
The criminalization of politics and the politicization of crime make it increasingly difficult to separate business and politics. None of the parties is immune to this cronyism which fuels corruption and political affairs.
Persons under investigation or convicted by courts and criminals on the wanted list enter and leave the Prime Minister’s residence freely. Offenders become lawmakers. The gangsters become ministers.
After 1990, there have been many ways to get into politics: student union leaders and dropouts become full-time workers, retired bureaucrats try their second round by joining parties, and the smartest take the shortcut to becoming lawmakers and ministers without even running for office. They buy their way to the top.
Idealism has become a fairy tale. Politics without principle is possible, but politics without money is unimaginable. Political integrity has become an oxymoron. No matter how popular or honest politicians are, they cannot win elections without financial support. And the money comes from companies looking for a good return on their investment.
There are two ways to look for the return on your policy investment. First, by offering a simple gift (a bribe in polite parlance) to a politician running for office and demanding a pound of flesh later. The second is to offer an even greater “campaign contribution” to directly becoming a designated Member of Parliament for that party without ever contesting an election.
The constitutional provision to ensure proportional representation for marginalized communities has become the back door for tycoons to enter the chambers of the House.
Education entrepreneur Umesh Shrestha became a Member of Parliament by proportional representation and is now Minister of State for Health.
This was one of Sher Bahadur Deuba’s first ministerial appointments after taking office two weeks ago, and one he made without consulting members of his party or coalition, and it naturally went attracted a lot of criticism.
Shrestha is a self-taught but wealthy man, and has announced that he will not receive a salary as a minister. Unlike politicians, he may be less tempted by small gains. However, appointing someone who sets up a chain of private hospitals in the Ministry of Health is akin to putting a fox in charge of the chicken coop. The conflict of interest sent a clear message to the public: anything goes in Nepalese crony capitalism.
Deuba previously appointed Shrestha as a reserve quota deputy of the Nepalese Congress after the second Constituent Assembly election in 2013, and the private school operator sat on the education committee of the legislature.
The Prime Minister was unable to give a clear rationale for the appointment of Shrestha, and after much criticism of the decision, he said rather ambiguously: “This will not happen again”. It is clear that Shrestha is being rewarded for being a major donor to the party.
This week, the health ministry of the new businessman-turned-minister of state announced that the private sector can import Covid-19 vaccines. How does that make sense when there are G2G deals, doses of COVAX are in the works, and private importers will be competing with the government for vaccines from the same global supply chain?
We can give Shrestha the benefit of the doubt and say that the boy who came from Bhojpur to Kathmandu in his flip-flops to build a business empire, can handle the delivery of health care better than the clueless and corrupt politicians who served as ministers before. .
In fact, if anyone is to blame anyone, it should be an expensive system that allows greedy political actors to elevate their buddies to high positions in government.
Who’s next, Binod Chaudhary, the richest man in Nepal, who is also a donor and CN MP?
This is nothing new, of course. Prime Minister KP Oli also promoted his favorite acolytes and appointed industrialist Moti Dugad minister. Cronyism was also in the spotlight in the Gandaki province drama last month: Dobate Biswakarma was set to become the only Dalit minister in the provincial government, but he was suddenly supplanted by Bindu Thapa, an award-winning Deuba loyalist for his generous contributions to the party. .
When Nepal’s development is driven by sand mining tycoons, quarry tycoons and infrastructure entrepreneurs, it is no surprise that politics is also outsourced. This is why for politicians “prosperity” is measured by highways, bridges, contracts with observation towers, not by quality schools, accessible health care and attractive jobs for young people. Nepalese.
A survey carried out in this document after the 2017 elections showed that up to 40% of elected local authorities were entrepreneurs who now rent their own excavators and dump trucks to themselves. This explains the recent wave of destructive road building and unregulated exploitation of natural resources.
The way to fight this rot is to stop allowing Nepal’s wealthiest businessmen to use the indigenous and ethnic minority quota to become unelected ministers. The ballot box is not a case, and for the equitable progress of Nepal, the next election must stop the votes bought with tickets.
Transliteration of Shekhar Kharel original editorial in Himal Khabar by Aryan Sitaula.