Victim blames ‘godless’ Maoist chief for Nepal flood

August 25th, 2008 - 4:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Aug 25 (IANS)Even as Nepal’s political parties are blaming neighbour India’s “negligence” for the breach in a barrage in the Terai plains that rendered tens of thousands homeless in both countries, one victim is blaming “godless” Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda for the disaster.Sunil Babu Pant, Nepal’s first gay lawmaker, who went to the flood-hit Sunsari district to assess the situation, said in his report Monday that the homeless are irked by the new Maoist-led coalition government which, they say, is not doing enough for their relief and rehabilitation.

An elderly villager put the blame for the disaster squarely on the shoulder of the aethist premier, the report said.

“Because Prachanda did not take his oath (of office and secrecy) in the name of god but in the name of the people while being sworn in as prime minister, god is angry and punished the Nepali people on the same day,” the unnamed man told the lawmaker. “So it’s all Prachanda’s fault.”

The Maoists, who fought a 10-year war to end Nepal’s royal dynasty which was once revered as gods, and turned the world’s only Hindu kingdom into a secular republic, have given rise to mixed feelings, especially over old, beloved cultural traditions.

Prachanda this month took the oath of office in the name of the people instead of in the name of god. Later, he also swore in his eight-member cabinet consisting Maoists and members of the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum party in the name of the people.

Still ruled by superstition and a deep belief in divine power and retribution, a section of the new republic feels there’s a vacuum with the ouster of king Gyanendra.

In the past, the king used to preside over festivals like the parade of Nepal’s living goddess or kumari and other Hindu festivals.

Now the king’s place as head of state has been given to the president, a newly created post in the young republic.

“There is a strong cultural vacuum,” says Babita Basnet, who heads Sancharika Samuha, a forum of women communicators.

“With Nepal becoming secular, we may have a Muslim or Christian president in future. Will they be accepted at a Hindu tradition?”

Some of the spurs supporting the India-built barrage on the Saptakoshi river in Sunsari district gave way under incessant rain on the day Prachanda was sworn in, causing havoc in both Nepal and neighbouring Bihar.

Besides the new premier’s lack of belief in god, his visit to China to attend the closing ceremony of the 29th Olympic Games is also drawing flak, the report said.

“When asked if the government is doing enough (to help the flood-hit), many said no and that the prime minister should have given priority to the flood victims instead of visiting China,” the report said.

Prachanda headed for Beijing less than a week after taking oath of office, putting on hold the formation of a full cabinet.

The Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, a major ally that helped Prachanda win the prime ministerial race, refused to join the Maoist-led government due to a dispute over power-sharing.

The feud and the full expansion of the cabinet has been put on hold till Prachanda returns to Kathmandu Wednesday.

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