Barely two week since splitting from the parent party and emerging as a new political force, the CPN-Maoist is back in the news for all the wrong reasons. According to reports coming from the districts, cadres of the newly formed party have been demanding hefty sums of money from the business community in Morang, Sunsari and Jhapa. And, in Banke and Bardiya districts farmers are already fearing the worst after CPN-Maoist cadres warned that they would not return land and property seized during the armed insurgency. As if that was not enough, the radical cadres have reportedly warned that they would capture more land and property belonging to the people whose sources of wealth are unaccounted for. The business community is also feeling the heat in Kathmandu. Knowledgeable sources maintain that some business houses in the capital city have already been approached and asked to cough up donation. According to the party activists, they need the donation plainly because they need to keep the party up and running. The CPN-Maoist appears to be handling the donation campaign smartly: Mobilising the trade unions that have the art and proven set of skills that it takes to arm-twisting.
The politics of intimidation has caused the business houses to panic and many have started approaching the business associations to negotiate on their behalf, for they are fully aware of the ensuing risks if they do not oblige to the call for donation leading to complete chaos in the factories and industries. Plainly, if they do not to respond to such calls for “voluntary donations” they will be facing losses in huge proportions, both in direct and indirect terms. Of course, the political parties need funds to meet the party expenses, but there are and should be better ways to generate funds. Yes, they need funds, but they cannot – rather they must not – just go for the short-cuts and easy way out. The politics of intimidation and extortion cannot be acceptable to any civilized society, all the more so in the case of societies that are passing through transition and beginning to take shape, to evolve. Political parties are supposed to defend the interests and concerns of the people, including that of the business community. But just the opposite is happening in the case of CPN-Maoist. Also, parties need to understand that the cost of doing business is already very high in Nepal, and the country has long ceased to attract investment – domestic or foreign direct investment. Nepal doesn’t have an investment friendly climate, due mainly to the umpteenth number of politically-motivated labour and trade unions that work to advance interests of the party they are affiliated with rather than that of the constituent employees and the companies.
The political parties in Nepal have become a key source of corruption, and these so-called sister organizations are very handy tools in this regard. These practices are unfortunate and the leadership across the political spectrum is only expected to give due attention to such ills before it is too late. Such aberrations may be corrected through reforms in the modus operandi of the political parties in the longer term. In the shorter term, however, civil society and professional organizations should walk the extra mile to bring such issues to public attention, and the government cannot stay indifferent to the SOS call from the business community.
Hardly a day passes by without reports of accidents involving vehicles on the roads and highways of the country. The tragedy is that most of the accidents could have been avoided had the necessary precautions, which most people are aware of, been taken. Countless lives could be saved were the precautions adhered to also preventing hundreds from getting hurt or maimed.
Tuesday morning 11 people were killed and six injured when a microbus met with a tragic accident along the Bhim Dutt Highway. The cause of the accident according to reports can be attributed to speeding and overloading. Although it is common knowledge that speeding and overloading are illegal, yet we find that these and other provisions to ensure that travelling is safe are not being adhered to, which is the cause of many accidents.