BY P. KHAREL
How long this sorry spectacle of state affairs, pray! Nepalis are experiencing distorted democracy because of self-serving leaders and cronies, shadowed by hangars-on keen on making money the quickest way by getting catapulted to positions of power and privilege without the required qualifications but only expression of loyalty as faithful followers of those at the helm of national affairs.
The past decade anticipates the next decade of promise, perfidy and pitfalls, betrayals and delusion for the Nepali masses across the nation. Disciples of B.P. Koirala and Pushpalal Shrestha swear by the names of their leaders but engage in malpractice with impunity.
We are compelled to bear the indignity of having at the helm of the state affairs yesterday’s cutthroats, turncoats and perpetrators of violence that no previous generation had witnessed in modern Nepal since 1769. When they sermonise on the need for law and order, and corruption control, they have hit on the pressing problems most seriously affecting governance in the loktantrik decade, but this is only lip service.
Prime Minister K.P. Oli seethes with fury over Sher Bahadur Deuba’s last ditch-effort to lure Pushpa Kamal Dahal into agreeing to a “five-year” premiership with Nepali Congress support for breaking up the CPN (UML)-Maoist Centre combine that fought the recent general and provincial elections. The maverick Dahal, for once, did not fall for it, as he sensed that if he succumbed to Deuba’s offer, he would lose the last vestiges of credibility.
RASH & RECKLESS: A series of reckless decisions by the defeated ruling combination, designed to create economic and administrative difficulties for the incoming government, has been a source of bitterness for the new government.
The charmed circle of Congress cronies and the mainstream Koirala coterie have ruined the Nepali Congress that Deuba now chairs. NC undoubtedly took the lead role among political parties in the political changes since 1951. In 2006, it pawned and eventually got B.P. Koirala’s basic idea of democracy auctioned off.
Selective reading of history aims at fake information to torment its opponent, deluding its perpetrators that posterity would digest it, though it can cause narcotising effects on the less discerning millions. Treating violence-perpetrators and killers as heroes or revolutionaries is no democracy or its other manifestations.
The new government will have to learn to put promises to action. If persistently polarised and partisan views afflict the cabinet functioning, as happened so regularly in the past, politics might take a drastically different course than what we have witnessed lately. In fact, the manner which secretaries at the various ministries were reshuffled gave a jolt to the coalition partners.
Checking corruption is empty talk, unless proved otherwise. For far too long Nepalis suffered the corrupt making their pervasive rounds with impunity. The corrupt are strong because they have a solid backing from patrons who share ill-obtained profits. This is a country where the list of martyrs keeps lengthening and thus rendering martyrs as products of brokering on party lines. Nepal today has more than 11,500 martyrs, including 6,500 declared by a cabinet decision in 2009! Some 2,000 names are awaiting official enlistment.
NEGATING EQUALITY: The notorious practice of “bhaagbanda”, whereby the mainstream parties split projects, seats, posts and the like on the basis of politically partisan lines, prevents independent thinking Nepalis from any opportunity to be a beneficiary. Such undemocratic spoils system at its worst proves to be autocracy on the rampage, negating the principle of equality of opportunity. As such, the credentials of appointees to key positions in state institutions attract searching and unflattering questions.
The present might not be ours; the future, on the other hand, could be ours too. All that needs is opting for vigorously, relentlessly but through peaceful means, unlike the three major parties whose backgrounds are marked by violence. These are hard questions requiring equally hard answers, which demand no less hard decisions and actions. This is a tall order in times of cronyism no doubt, but essential just the same.
No wayward party lasts in strength; it peters out into a tame stump. In Nepal, the existing scheme of things calls for parties to reinvent themselves for meaningful and effective presence in the political circuit. This is a losing battle at present, given the snail-like pace of its leaders in taking stock of the situation honestly and making quick decisions that begin grabbing public imagination where acute skepticism pervades all around.
The past decade has been a chronicle of harrowing mess and gross impunity. The ebb and flow of events during the decade of turmoil, vainly couched in the coin “transition” for all the political sins committed with impunity, will go down as an indelible blot on thugs and lunatics who took the people through the garden path.
NC, Maoists, RPPs and Madhes-based groups all have to suffer a big climb-down. “King Makers” are on the sidelines and hence marginalised. Instead, NC is trying to eke out a career of that role, which greatly risks reducing the party to the margins, unless the organisation is overhauled thoroughly without any more delay.