EDITORIAL: Awful remarks

Home Minister Thapa’s statement terming the main opposition ‘reactionary’ is absurd, untenable and preposterous

The ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), which came into being after the unification between then CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre on May 17, six months after the general election last year, has now termed the main opposition Nepali Congress a “reactionary force” which it says is “trying to topple the government”. NCP has also blamed the NC and other forces outside the mainstream politics for “jeopardising the achievements of federalism, republican order, inclusive democracy and secularism”. The KP Oli-led government is the strongest one in the last more than two and a half decades as it commands almost a two-thirds majority in Parliament. Making public the decisions of the NCP’s secretariat meeting that concluded on Tuesday, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa termed the main opposition a “reactionary force which is devising a strategy to topple the government”. Thapa has identified the NC, Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal and a separatist group led by CK Raut as “reactionary forces”. Thapa, also member of the NCP secretariat, is the only leader who has labelled the NC the reactionary force.

It is politically inappropriate to label the NC, which has fought for democracy for decades, as a reactionary force. Thapa has failed to offer any proof to support his claim? How can the main opposition play a role in reshuffling the Cabinet and, ultimately change the government which commands two-thirds majority in Parliament? On what ground the home minister came to a conclusion that the NC is the cause for what all has gone wrong with the government? The NCP leadership must clarify its position on Thapa’s statement—whether it is his personal opinion or it bears the party’s stamp. If his statement is purely personal it is even more dangerous. He has no right to term a political party a “reactionary force” whose political credential is indisputable. It seems Thapa is suffering from a fear psychosis of being sacked as questions have been raised from different quarters—and from within his own party—for his mishandling of the ministry, be it the probing of infamous 33-kg gold smuggling, tackling the separatist and extremist activities or botched up investigation into the rape and murder of Nirmala Panta. This government’s popularity has gone to the lowest ebbs, the Home Ministry, which has failed on almost all the fronts, is one of the reasons.

This is not the first time that Thapa’s performance as a home minister has been questioned. Then PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led majority government had to step down in 2009 after Thapa, then defence minister, coerced Dahal into sacking then army chief Rookmangud Katwal. On the other hand, his failure to draft a bill to transform Nepal Police on federal line has resulted in a rift between the federal government and the provinces. Province-2 has already enacted a provincial Police Act clearing the decks for forming its own force while the Parliament has yet to amend the Nepal Police Act. Had the Home Ministry drafted a bill to this effect and forwarded it to Parliament on time the provinces would not have to overstep the constitutional provisions. In this case, the Home Minister must be held accountable for creating rifts between the federal government and the provinces.

Toxic farming

Pesticides are poisonous. They are meant for controlling pests, but they can harm humans as well. Since they are toxic, exposure to pesticides can cause a number of health effects. In view of serious effects they can cause to humans, the government has banned some types of pesticides. But despite this, farmers in Dhankuta have been found to be using these banned chemicals in their farms. Farmers say they are left with no option than to use the banned pesticides after the ones they were using proved ineffective in controlling pests.

Using banned pesticides is not only an illegal practice; this can have serious consequences. While pesticides pose serious health threats to humans, pesticide self-poisoning is the second most common method of suicide in Nepal. That’s why easy availability of toxic pesticides must be checked. It looks like banned pesticides are easily available in the market. The government should put strong mechanisms to monitor these shops. While awareness among farmers about pesticide use is a must, the government should introduce strong regulations—and implement them—to curb use of banned pesticides.