Gachhadar cosies up to Congress on army integration

Kathmandu, October 20:

The issue of army integration has put not only the CPN-Maoist and the major opposition Nepali Congress, but also the ruling coalition partners at loggerheads with a senior leader of the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum (MJF) joining NC stance on the issue.

Physical Planning and Works Minister Bijay Kumar Gachhadar, also the MJF parliamentary party leader, today warned of a dire consequence in case the Maoist army was integrated into the national army. “If the Maoist army is integrated, it can lead to disintegration of the nation. We will not let it happen,” he said while addressing an interaction organised at Reporters’ Club here.

“The CPN-Maoist was silent when the Madhesi parties raised the issue of bulk entry of Madhesis and if they proceeded with the en bloc entry of their own army into the national army, hundreds of Madhesis will take up arms and form their own army to follow the suit of the Maoist army,” Gachhadar said. “If the Maoist army are integrated into national, hundreds of Madhesis will form their own army and will claim to be integrated into national army and that will spell disaster for the country.”

He said the major political parties vaguely framed some phrases of the comprehensive peace agreement and the Maoists were hell bent to exploit the ambiguity of the pact.

“I am opposed to the word —’adjustment’. The exact phrase is the management. Only those Maoist army that qualify on the personal merit should be allowed to join the national army,” Gachhadar said, urging the political parties to resolve the issue based on consensus.

The minister said the nation paid a heavy price for the knowing or unknowing politicisation of bureaucracy and the police force and the integration of Maoist army could also tarnish the Nepal Army’s image. “The Defence Minister keeps changing words, but the standards for army service do not change with the change of guard,” Gachhadar said.

Replying to a query of reporters, he said the tenure of the present coalition government would

largely depend on the ability of the Prime Minister to win confidence of major stakeholders and his readiness to strictly adhere to the peace agreements.

Gachhadar also warned that his party could leave the government if the CPN-Maoist did not abide by the peace agreements and the rule of law. Though the pace was far from satisfactory, the government would accelerate its pace after Tihar, he said.

He said his party would never support People’s Republic as it implied authoritarian rule and was against the people’s mandate.