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As politicians bicker, criminals prosper in Nepal

Ecstasy turned into agony for Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) leader Gokarna Bista when he was attacked outside his Kathmandu residence on Monday soon after PM Jhalanath Khanal included him and 11 others in his cabinet.

world Updated: Apr 12, 2011 12:49 IST
Utpal Parashar

Ecstasy turned into agony for Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) leader Gokarna Bista when he was attacked outside his Kathmandu residence on Monday soon after PM Jhalanath Khanal included him and 11 others in his cabinet.

The irony was, Nepal's new energy minister, was attacked under cover of darkness provided by 14 hours of daily power cuts the country is facing. Bista was lucky. He escaped with injuries.

But Anjani Kumar Chachan, a Marwari businessman from Rajasthan who had been residing in Kathmandu for two decades, was not. He was shot dead inside his garment go-down on Sunday evening.

Both incidents are indicative of rising lawlessness in Nepal's capital as well as in other parts where kidnappings for ransom and extortion have become commonplace.

Last month, an Indian criminal fired shots at Yunus Ansari, a Nepali politician-cum-businessman accused of involvement in fake currency racket, inside Kathmandu jail.

"Law and order situation in Nepal is in shambles. People are terrorized and attacks on ministers raise doubts whether a government is in place or not," said Nepali Congress leader Gopal Man Shrestha.

A flustered Khanal announced on Tuesday that those responsible for the attack on Bista would be brought to book soon.

But the PM's inability to appoint a home minister, the one responsible for maintaining law and order, two months after assuming office is partly to be blamed for the current scenario.

Differences with coalition partner Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and opposition from his party, CPN (UML), is the reason for the delay.

In a secret deal for power with Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Khanal had promised to hand over the important ministry to them. But opposition from party colleagues hindered its implementation.

Though three Maoists were made ministers, the party refused to play a more active part till they get the home portfolio.

As part of the deal, CPN (UML) was to get eight ministries, Maoists 11 and three ministries for others willing to join the coalition.

Bickering over the home ministry delayed cabinet expansion and Khanal was left with no option but to include 12 ministers from his own party.

Constitution drafting and peace process, both of which have to be completed within May 28 have also got affected and another extension of the time limit seems imminent.