C.P. Mainali, still a leader of one of the minor communist parties made news nearly three decades ago when he chose to speak over a Radio Nepal interview that king Mahendra was a nationalist leader of Nepal. This was news at that time since he was part of the newly emergent CPN/UML which, together with the Nepali Congress were, flush with the victory over the Panchayat System, were demonizing king Mahendra for having launched his royal coup, abrogated the democratic constitution, imprisoned elected leaders and introduced the Panchayat System that banned political parties and promulgated ‘partylessness’ perpetuated ruthlessly for over three decades in the country. After almost the same period of the multi-party system, the country is now increasingly aware that politics has gone awry and is compromising at every step the essentials of a nation state painstakingly built over the years by none less than king Mahendra. Having squandered independent policy options and sacrificed it to the officially encouraged Indian micro-management, a population seeking the way out of the perpetual fumbling of transitional politics is finding Mahendra’s decisive years a haven to look back to and questioning where they went wrong. Indeed, the past decades since the restoration in 1990 have seen no major development project completed but instead saw the gradual cannibalization of essential industrial and educational institutions and the past one decade has seen the calculated displacement of political and administrative institutions at costs the lay populace have begun feeling at hearth and home. Promises, first, that the multi-party system was in its inception phase were soon to be replaced by assurances that our new republic is in a transitional phase. The people are only now beginning to realize that Mahendra’s Panchayat System had begun delivering already in the first decade of its introduction. All this happened, as the people now realize, despite the geo-political and domestic limitations which were more pressing in yester years.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, fresh from his domestically widely publicized ‘state’ visit down south now faces the brunt for his agreements there as a capitulation unforeseen in Nepali history in recent times. Leader of the opposition, K. P. Oli is now being attempting to cash in on a nationalistic wave as some one who resisted the pressures from down South to keep Nepali foreign policy options open. But the people are aware that both have depleted national capabilities and have squandered their resources for partisan benefits much removed from the overall health of the country. The largest party in government, the Nepali Congress, is being accused of using Prachanda’s thirst for power to do India’s bidding and, having led both the multi-party and republican movements, acting surrogates to the events that have compromised the hard won gains of king Mahendra. As a result, the people are being asked to unfold the actualities of Nepali politics in the emerging years of the Fifties and Sixties. In actual fact the past three decades had excluded the actual experience of Nepali politics then and the younger generations who were mobilized to contribute to the democratic struggle were virtually ignorant of the political behavior of their leaders that led to the coup in 1960. The young were mobilized to be only surprised by the behavior of their leaders in the 1990s by which time the sacrifice of the young left them little option other than emulating their own leaders to reap the benefits. When push came to shove in the new millennium the Maoists prove a convenient movement to junk the Monarchy and everything else of the old claiming that a new Nepal needed new beginnings. In actual fact, the people now realize, that have been led backwards blindly. These eye-openers might prove a hopeful beginning for something new. It is not enough that a media that saw only welcome lights burning for the new constitution last year also acknowledge that a lot of people burned the new constitution this year. The problem is in identifying the option. For this, coherence and awareness, needed in the media as well, becomes foremost.