From the Nepali Press
Rohit Khatiwada in setopai, 8 August
After serving as one of the six Deputy Prime Ministers in the KP Oli government for nine months, Chitra Bahadur KC has returned to his narrow rented room in Ghattekulo. He has been living in this old, congested and somewhat squalid room with his wife ever since being elected as a Member of Parliament from the Baglung-2 constituency in 1999.
KC, a life-long Communist admired for his simplicity and folksy bluntness, always used public transport, and never tried to become a minister. But his Rashtriya Jan Morcha (RJM) joined the Oli coalition for the first time. “We felt the need for national unity at a time when India was determined to foil our Constitution,” he explained.
KC’s experience as a minister was not pleasant. He says it was a nightmare from which he has just woken up. He was the Minister of Poverty Alleviation and Cooperatives, a post the big parties shunned. When he shifted to the ministers’ quarters in Pulchok, hangerson and those who needed favours started thronging to him.
“It was only when I became a minister that I realised ministers are always surrounded by crooks, even bureaucrats just want to serve their personal interests by influencing the ministers they are working with.”
KC knew he was in Singha Darbar only for a brief period, and wanted to use the period to regulate unscrupulous cooperatives, and stop them from swindling the poor. He drafted a law within three months, and sent it to the Cabinet. But the ministers were all opposed to it because they all owned or had interests in cooperatives.
“They ministers were just serving the interests of the crooks, some owned cooperatives, and they did not want this law to come into effect,” KC said. He finally persuaded the Cabinet to forward the draft Cooperative Act to the parliamentary committee, where it is languishing now. He is not hopeful that the Act he drafted will be implemented.
“Those who swindle people through their cooperatives are lawmakers, and they will not pass a law that will hurt their business interests,” he said, adding that MPs with business interests draft laws in health, education, banking and other sectors.
At least five people swindled by cooperatives had visited KC seeking justice. He estimates that cooperatives, mostly run by leaders and lawmakers, have swindled about Rs 15 billion from people so far functioning as commercial banks with exorbitant interests.
“Even the PM was influenced by these businessmen legislators, he did not help me at all,” KC said, “there are only a handful of public servants who want to serve the people. Most just want to get rich quick, and go for kickbacks.”
He says he knew the system was corrupt, but he had no idea how deep-rooted it was. “I saw it with my own eyes – it was shocking for me,” he said. “Now I know Nepal is run by a cartel of crooks and businessmen.”
He says things will not change unless the people wake up. “These crooked politicians are unfortunately elected by the people,” he said as he showed us out of his room, “make sure you note this down: anyone who has money and muscle can win elections in Nepal, it is the people who must stop them from ruining the country and their lives.”
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