We have been arguing here against replacing Baburam Bhattarai as prime minister mainly because he seems the least incompetent of the politicians on offer. Pushpa Kamal Dahal has a track record for being super-ambitious and highly unpredictable. The UML and NC may have democratic-minded candidates, but they have been tried and tested, and found wanting.
In the public perception, Bhattarai still has the aura of being someone with intellect and integrity despite the thoroughly kleptocratic coalition he leads. None of the sleaze seems to rub off on the Teflon Man, though. His overnight trips to stay and eat with Dalit families in Jumla and Chepang families in Chitwan are expensive populist stunts, but seem to go down well with the public. His demolition of half of Kathmandu has raised hackles, but also bolstered the perception that he is a do-er, because he has sent bulldozers tearing through even the property of the rich and powerful.
But it now has to be said that by clinging on to power Comrade Bhattarai is becoming a liability to himself, his party, and the country. He was someone we trusted to forge a consensus government to take us into elections, but he is now an obstacle to that goal. In fact, all his past commitments about a government of national unity now seem to have been decoy flares to keep himself in power.
Bhattarai is exhibiting the same traits all his predecessors in Singha Darbar did: behaving as if he is another little party boss, and not a national statesman. By going back on the five-point deal, the Maoist party once more shifted the goalpost to ensure electoral incumbency and destroyed what little trust the other parties had in them. Despite President Ram Baran Yadav's repeated prodding, the latest last Friday, we see the four main political forces unable or unwilling to come to an agreement.
The other more serious reason that we need a new consensus government is because this coalition has broken all past national records for corruption. In fact, calling it corruption is a gross understatement. The country cannot survive such blatant ransacking of the treasury for much longer.
The Maoist-controlled Finance Ministry is throwing Rs 10 million here, Rs 180 million there to party cadres to pay retroactively for roads built during the war. An investigative report last week lists proof that the Local Development Ministry (which for some strange reason is under the control of the Maoist Foreign Minister) has spent Rs 5 billion over the past year on fake development projects: non-existent causeways, phantom irrigational canals, roads from nowhere to nowhere.
There is up to Rs 600 million missing in just six districts in the eastern Tarai alone. The fact that much of this money was foreign aid channelled through the Local Government and Community Development Program (LGCDP) should be setting off alarm bells in donor offices. The evidence points to a complete breakdown of accountability in the absence of elected officials at the local level.
The Commission for the Investigation of the Abuse of Authority (CIAA) which should be probing this mountain of malfeasance is headless, and seems to have been co-opted by the Maoist party. Its secretary (recipient of the government's Rs200,000 Best Civil Servant Award) has refused to act on a petition to probe the misappropriation of Rs4 billion that was supposed to have gone for the upkeep of ex-guerrillas in the cantonments since 2006.
The move to distribute IDs to the poor, the Good Governance Project, the Youth and Small Business Self-Employment Scheme all have such weak oversight that they are barefaced attempts to buy votes at election time by throwing fistfuls of cash at them. By the way, the government seems to be in no hurry to appoint a new Election Commissioner, either.
Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai, PhD, is obviously a genius. But we wish he had used his considerable intellect to control this haemorrhage of the treasury, and invest the funds in cost-effective social welfare. Instead, he is presiding over the plunder of the state.
1. Paul Krugman
Anybody who ever supported the Maoists is partly to blame for what has happened in Nepal. They are the worst thing that has ever happened to the country. It wasn't hard for some of us to see through them but seems to have been very hard for others.
05 OCT 2012 | 4:10 PM NST
We lack highly motivated visionary individulas to lead our country. Baburam however does fits the bill it may just he finds surrounded by Hyenas. We do not have history of our leaders being honest, hard working and visionary. If you go back a few hunderd years frm now, you will find they were all lacking credibility and acoountability.
Please do not blem Bhattarai. It is our tredition to behave as such he is only following our tradition. Give the man a chance , he may just realise what blunder they have done and the mess the country is in now and may just steer the country in right direction.
05 OCT 2012 | 7:16 PM NST
It is easier to swipe money off budgets/treasury as there is no stability & accountability. This is better than taking bribes. There are no checks & balances in the system. We are in a Hobbesian nightmare--survival of the fittest or in our case, well connected.
05 OCT 2012 | 7:37 PM NST
[comment moderated] why is nepali times complaining now? u all were there when the seeds of 'new nepal' were sown. did you really not see this coming? u are, instead of them, are more incompetent.
05 OCT 2012 | 8:54 PM NST
5. K. K. Sharma
The Nepali " intellectuals", who had promoted and supported the Maoists are more guilty of such things and the present malgovernance, than the laymen, who were not in a position to know better.
05 OCT 2012 | 10:16 PM NST
6. who cares
4. SS [comment moderated]
comment moderated, what the hell has begun again after a few days of advocating for freedom of speech by nepalitimes?
or just trying to challenge agent bhatterai, if he can censure, we can too.
05 OCT 2012 | 10:42 PM NST
7. who cares
"In the public perception, Bhattarai still has the aura of being someone with intellect and integrity ...."
that is cause of the propaganda spreader by elements like you, like, Prime Minister Bhattarai may be personally honest, Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai, PhD, is obviously a genius etc.
when this agent bhatterai was finance minister, he increased vdc grant from 5lach (which UML began) to 20/25 lakh - i did not support it cause i believe every paisa should be spent on big projects that would create most needed job and since people of remote villages has to be relocated later so investment in those areas is total waste...- but what could i have done?
but just lately, i have realized that those increased in grant had nothing to do with the development in those villages, this agent crook bhatterai, all just wanted was make wealth available for his dogs to loot. which i realized years later when bhatterai pushed each and every project, keeping in mind, just so that those terror element could steal.
this agent bhatterai is nothing more than a petty over smart thief.
and medias like nepalitimes is helping him by keeping on spreading propagandas like Prime Minister Bhattarai may be personally honest, Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai, PhD, is obviously a genius, he is a good person- only those around him are bad ......
05 OCT 2012 | 10:53 PM NST
So, there is a Prime-Minister who runs the most corrupt govt of Nepal but he is still considered an honest man? Perhaps Baburam's Phd has distracted Nepali press' attention from how he looks alike because of his performance, a FINGERSMITH.
Let me answer the title of the editorial straightforward.
How to ransack the treasury?
Answer: Form a cabinet of ministers a la Baburam.
05 OCT 2012 | 12:55 AM NST
Old Nepalese proverb: "He who is among thieves, but is silent, is also a thief."
06 OCT 2012 | 7:06 AM NST
Why are you always giving Baburam Bhattarai the benefit of doubt? He is the chief ideolog of the Maoist party and has repented for the atrocities he unleshed, still believes in murdering people, and protects war criminals. Even in this Editorial, you claim he is personally honest and that only people around him are corrupt. He has always been evil. He remains evil until he says sorry.
06 OCT 2012 | 7:10 AM NST
11. A Lone Observer
Let's not blame Baburam Bhattarai for bad governance too much. We know he's a good man (ask Nepali Times!) and has done everything he can to keep the country running. Let's give him credit where he deserves. At least armed-militias aren't running around the country, killing innocent people. Listen people, there is a cost for everything we do or want, and if we want peace, there is a cost for it, too. You're worried about depleting treasury? Well, hello, it's the tradeoff… for having a relative calmness that we're enjoying today. OK, so you want someone else to lead us now? Fine! Try naming one leader who you think is a better alternative. Everyone looks crook? Yup, exactly! And they look hungry too, right? Let's feed this guy, Baburam, and make him fat. Really fat! Jokes aside, I can say with all honesty that Baburam is as clever as fox and knows very well that his job is secured, for a really, really long time. For a minute think and ask yourself: Why would he quit premiership now when he knows he fought all his life to get there? It's a common sense, don't you think? Seriously, why would he? Besides, as long as his foreign (Indian) Masters are happy, there is no much anyone can do to him. He also knows he is not there to solve our country's problems, but he's there to prolong his reign. Everything he's been doing right now is a part of "Grand Design" that Girija kept referring to. Remember? He wants to capture the state, like Stalin, Lenin, Mao, Polpot, Castro, Chavez, Kim, etc. He doesn't believe in democracy; it's against his political doctrine! If you don't believe me, ask Mr. Evildoer himself, Mr. Stalin Wannabe, Chhabilal Dahal, AKA "Prachanda," the mastermind of the Grand Design I'm talking about. Finally, my fellow Nepali, believe it or not, the worse is yet to come, and when it does come, it's not going to be pretty. Brace for impact! That's all I'm saying, for now!
06 OCT 2012 | 9:30 AM NST
My #10 message should have read: Why are you always giving Baburam Bhattarai the benefit of doubt? He is the chief ideolog of the Maoist party and has NEVER repented for the atrocities he unleashed, still believes in murdering people, and protects war criminals. Even in this Editorial, you claim he is personally honest and that only people around him are corrupt. He has always been evil. He remains evil until he says sorry.
06 OCT 2012 | 9:55 AM NST
13. Nirmala Tamang
Shame on you NT, for supporting a murderer like Baburam Bhattarai. The Maoist Party of Nepal is party of criminals that has looted and killed, they have no accountability, no pressure to perform and yet Nepali Times is in favor and supports it leader. The UML and NC have done the same thing, otherwise how did beggar Netas become millionaires or billionaires. Go figure that ! Maybe the editors at Nepali Times are getting senile. Or did Dahal pay them a big sum of money and buy their integrity and influence. If not, NT is challenged to prove otherwise.
06 OCT 2012 | 11:54 PM NST
#12 and 13 are proof that people don't the articles on this site before commenting on them. I re-read this editorial and as far as I can see nowhere does the writer support the prime minister. In fact, the editor admits he made a mistake by giving him the benefit of doubt, and his loot and plunder has become unbearable and he should step down.
07 OCT 2012 | 1:40 PM NST
15. Anand Mohan
The editorial depicts the loot being undertaken under the present regime in Nepal. It seems that there is no system of checks and balances in this nation. If what has been written is true, it signifies that in the name of social welfare schemes the wealth of the nation is being plundered by politicians.
There may be some remedy, perhaps, if public interest litigation is filed in Supreme Court by association of right minded people which after hearing the govt side may pass necessary directions for carrying out full scale investigation in the matter. That investigation team may directly report to Supreme Court and after that directions for filing of criminal cases against the political persons and their cronies who have indulged in such loot may be passed by the supreme court.
Nepal is on the threshold of history. We must not allow this nation state to fail this time.
10 OCT 2012 | 10:39 PM NST
Pushak Dahal, Baburam Bhattarai and Mohan Baidya led a civil conflict for their ideology wherein more than +10000 lives were wasted. How can you consider any of them honest human creature? All that PushpaK Dahal and B Bhattarai want to do is brahmaloot on national treasury and they are happily busy.
12 OCT 2012 | 2:03 PM NST
17. Prafulla Mahato
It is interesting to ready the comments by the various readers of NT. One blames the citizens for having elected the Maoists, not that many had much choice. Another blames NT for its inability to accurately forecast how the Maoists would govern or what fruits the seeds of New Nepal would bear. Some even think that PhD degree holders are basically honest, can do no wrong and hence should have the right to lead - how amusing and what an enlightening rationale. Just one simple thought from my side. Nobody can predict the future and nobody can enter anybody's brain to see how it is wired. But one thing is clear. We are now being ruled by a gang of thugs. The sooner we get rid of them, the better it will be for Nepal!
14 OCT 2012 | 4:41 PM NST
18. Bidur Bdr
Baburam is a crook - lets jail him. He leads his corruption through his wife, who has an office in Anamnagar to take bribes. LETS OUST THEM NOW AND JAIL ALL THE MAOISTS FOR MURDER OF 20,000 NEPALIS AND CORRUPTION!!!