By Maila Baje
Our olfactory senses don’t betray us. And they haven’t been on such a heightened state of alert in a long time.
Foreign personalities with peculiar reputations land in Nepal openly as well as opaquely. Our top Nepali leaders fly abroad with abandon for pleasure, personal errands and medical treatment. Can they really be so callously oblivious of our underlying predicament?
If destinations as varied as Dubai, Bangkok and Singapore should reassure those inimical to New Delhi’s traditional monopoly in the driver’s seat, the amorphousness of the current course cancels things out. Compared to this, Delhi Compromises I and II were as clear as day(dreaming). Small wonder, then, that we are acting out in our uncanny ways.
Nepal Communist Party co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, barely back from holidaying in Dubai, tried his best to be coherent. When he started out his public speech after inaugurating a bridge in Ramechhap district, it sounded like he was responding to former coalition partner, Rastriya Prajatantra Party chairman Kamal Thapa. A day earlier, Thapa had said it was time to seek an alternative to the current political system, which was certainly enough to infuriate its chief internal architect.
But then Dahal went on to warn former king Gyanendra that the people might force him to vacate government-provided Nagarjun Palace. The former monarch hasn’t said a thing, although he has brought out a book. In the past, when ex-king Gyanendra has upbraided his successors, Dahal has kept quiet. An eviction notice for the former monarch for meeting individually with a trio of PhD’s united in their disdain for the current dispensation and can’t stop telling us what they talked about?
Sharper minds are convinced Dahal spoke with a purpose. When the pedal hits the metal, the ex-Maoist supremo can always invoke the imperative of acknowledging ground realities and exercising maximum flexibility.
But, then, Dahal is no longer the smartest guy in the room. If acting Prime Minister Ishwar Pokharel really didn’t visit Nirmal Niwas, why did he have to park his vehicle in the vicinity of the ex-monarch’s private residence? Pokharel has now challenged reporters to either prove that he held private talks with the former king or apologize.
Maybe our deputy prime and defense minister feels calumniated by perceptions of skullduggery at a time when Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli is convalescing in Singapore. Or maybe in his capacity as defense minister he did meet with the ex-king, who was supreme commander of the Royal Nepal Army.
Perhaps Pokharel as the head of Nepal Trust, which is entrusted with using the property of King Birendra, Queen Aishwarya and their family for the welfare of the nation, sought a meeting with the nation’s most prominent ex-royal to update records. Given Pokharel’s days-long silence, however, you can’t quite let go of the feeling that even if he didn’t exactly enter Nirmal Niwas, he did want to keep his arch-nemesis Dahal guessing.
Admittedly, the ex-monarch’s departure for Bangkok just as Oli announced an extension of his stay in Singapore has thickened the plot. Ordinary Nepalis are caught between public figures confident of the imminence of the monarchy’s restoration and those equally convinced that the institution has receded deeper into anachronism.
Any word trickling out on ingredients, cooks, kitchens would make our existence less excruciating.