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Politicking and its domino effect on bureaucracy

Utpal Parashar, KATHMANDU (HT): Like other nations in the region, politics is all pervasive in Nepal too. The country witnessed another example of it this week in connection with appointment of Nepal’s top bureaucrat.

The promotion of Leela Mani Paudel to the post of chief secretary on Sunday by the Maoist-Madhesi government was marked by politicking and has resulted in resignations by five bureaucrats senior to him.
Paudel’s appointment was not smooth as he was eighth in terms of seniority among a dozen bureaucrats vying for the post. Moreover, Madhesi parties wanted it to go to someone from their community or from women and indigenous communities.

As lobbying intensified, it took the cabinet two days to finally agree on Paudel. That too following a secret agreement between Maoists and their Madhesi partners.

Appointments of this nature are the government’s prerogative and no questions are being raised on Paudel’s capability. But the political wheeling-dealing behind it has left a bitter aftertaste.

In two days since his elevation, five of Paudel’s senior colleagues have resigned from their posts, citing inability to work under a junior officer and blaming the government for overlooking seniority.

Some say the resignations are meaningless as most of these secretaries would anyway retire in October after completing their five-year tenures. And since quitting earlier gives them additional benefits, such resignations are not too uncommon.

Senior bureaucrats overlooked for the top post had tendered resignations in 2005 and also in 2009 during appointment of Paudel’s predecessor Madhav Prasad Ghimire.

In coming months more politicking for appointments is likely to be witnessed as the government has to fill up posts in judiciary, Election Commission and other constitutional bodies.

And if things go the same way as in Paudel’s appointment, Nepal could witness the domino effect of resignations more often.

Published Date: Wednesday, August 1st, 2012 | 02:18 PM

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