PM waiting for Katawal’s term to end?

KATHMANDU: Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, while addressing the parliament on July 6, had promised to fulfil the demands put forth by the UCPN-Maoist in order to facilitate the business of the House.

The Maoists agreed not to obstruct the parliament and gave the government a month’s deadline to fulfill their demands. Three weeks have already passed but there has been no progress on the implementation of the agreement.

One of the major Maoist demands is civilian supremacy, which is directly linked to the case of the Chief of Army Staff Rookmangud Katawal. The implementation of the agreement is linked to Katawal’s retirement.

The PM seems to be waiting for September 9 when Katawal is scheduled to retire. He thinks it will pave the way for consensus with the Maoists.

The PM has urged Katawal to take leave a month before retirement following the tradition. He believes that if Katawal goes on leave, it will be easy to deal with the Maoists on the issues of civilian supremacy and Katawal, which led them to quit the government.

But taking leave a month before retirement is not mandatory. Earlier, Chief

Justice Biswanath Prasad Upadhyaya refused to take leave a month before retirement and attended the office until the last day.

Katawal’s case is tied with Maoists’ ego. They have been insisting that the President’s move to reinstate Katawal be cancelled. However, once Katawal retires, the issue will no longer remain valid.

According to a source, the PM has been requesting Katawal to go on leave from the first week of August to pave the way for consensus with the Maoists. Until last week Katawal was insisting that he would hold the chain of command “until the last second.”

If Katawal refuses to go on leave, it will have an adverse impact on the politics of consensus. Until Katawal remains CoAS, the Maoists are unlikely to do their bit for the politics of consensus.

However, recent activities of Katawal show he may be in favour of going on leave as desired by the PM.

Recently Katawal visited army camps in several districts, which can be considered farewell visits. Before retirement, every army chief visits visits army camps.

On Monday, Katawal met President Ram Baran Yadav and discussed about his retirement. Katawal informed the President that Chhatra Man Gurnug, second in command, would replace him.

Sources at PMO added that Katawal is after the post of security advisor of the President Ram Baran Yadav immediately after his retirement.

However, it will not pave the way for politics of consensus, as Katawal is a controversial figure and the Maoists are unlikely to accept that decision. Katawal’s natural retirement seems to be the only respectable wayout of the present crisis.