Not-so-gentlemanly agreements!

- ROSHAN SEDHAI, Kathmandu

Jun 7, 2016-

As two key allies of the left coalition make contradicting claims over the so-called “gentleman’s agreement” on changing the government, many have started questioning whether such unwritten “code of honour” indeed works in a country like Nepal where political promises are broken at the drop of a hat and betrayals have become the norm.

Political parties have since the start of the peace process reportedly reached a number such deals which they call “gentleman’s agreement”. But it is often unclear what purpose such deals serve and why they are reached in the first place?

Political commentator Krishna Khanal says parties and leaders usually resort to such agreements and “shady deals” when their political legitimacy is weak. 

“It was exactly what happened after the first Constituent Assembly elections. UML led the government twice despite suffering stinging defeats,” says Khanal. 

Political commentators say changing political realignments and priorities might have made such deals more frequent. 

Personal ambitions of senior leaders, external influences and changing priorities too play some sort of role when leaders reach such kind of understanding, which is often vague, they say.

 “It also shows how our domestic politics is gradually going beyond the reach of common people. A handful of people who are devoid of basic ethics, values, principles and norms are deciding our future behind closed doors,” says Khanal. “It is the worst that can happen in multi-party democracy,” adds Khanal.

Some say such opaque deals have helped “external forces” to influence internal decisions. “Reports of such deals and subsequent disagreements pose serious question on minimum political decency of our top leaders,” says Hari Roka, a left-leaning political commentator. “It is normal to see power struggle and political realignment in multi-party democracy like ours where we often have a hung parliament,” he adds. “It’s also normal to see parties thinking about short-term and long-term benefits. But promises, subsequent betrayals; and promises again--one after another--by our leaders only reinforce the fact that there is no ethics left in them.”

“Gentleman’s agreement” that became a leitmotif after 2006 has once again dominated Nepali politics of late, with Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and CPN (Maoist Centre) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and their parties bickering over the so-called deal. 

Oli and Dahal reportedly had reached a “gentleman’s agreement” on May 5, as per which Oli was supposed to hand over government leadership to Dahal after the tabling of the budget. 

The government tabled the budget for fiscal year 2016-17 on May 28 and since then the coalition partners are wrangling over whether a “gentleman’s agreement” was reached between Oli and Dahal. Some Maoist Centre leaders claim that PM Oli “had agreed” to pave way for Dahal to lead the government. Though Oli has denied that such any deal was reached, some UML leaders, including Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal, have acknowledged the existence of such agreement.

Interestingly, some senior Maoist leaders, including Narayankaji Shrestha and Top Bahadur Rayamajhi have denied that any such deal was reached. 

Whether a “gentleman’s agreement” was reached remains a mystery, but political commentators say Nepali politicians have been involved in some short of shenanigans in the guise of “gentleman’s agreement” and have ultimately undermined its spirit. 

No deal reached to change govt: Oli

KAVRE: Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli reiterated on Monday that no agreement has been reached regarding changing the government. “The government will definitely be changed. Governments do not last forever. But no date has been fixed for changhing this government. The fate of the incumbent government will be decided after the election of the Federal Parliament to be held in 2018,” said Oli in Kavre at the 72nd senate meeting of the Kathmandu University. (PR)

Implementation of pact soon: Dahal

POKHARA: CPN (Maoist Centre) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal said on Monday that a “gentleman’s agreement” reached between his party and the CPN-UML “will be implemented soon after the House endorses the budget”. “Gentleman’s agreement is about trust and understanding between the two sides,” Dahal told reporters. “I hope Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is committed to the agreement. Everything cannot be made public now,” he added. (PR)

Published: 07-06-2016 08:16

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