• Friday 20th September 2019

Chasing ghosts in ghoulish clothes

  • Published on: August 21, 2019

  • Is Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli deliberately trying to destroy the system he represents? The question is no longer sacrilegious. In fact, it is becoming starker with each pronouncement he makes.
    Oli affirmed in parliament the other day that he would continue for a full five-year term, warning his opponents not to ‘daydream’ about toppling the government. The fact that such resoluteness came just days before the mid-point in his constitutionally mandated term is significant.
    With abundant clarity, Oli has rubbished reports that he is bound by any understanding to trade executive power with Nepal Communist Party co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ as part of the deal leading to the unification of the Unified Marxist-Leninists and Maoists factions last year.
    But, then, Oli hasn’t been quite credible lately as a communicator of such affirmations. For starters, what’s really going on with his health? Earlier this month, the premier extended his stay in Singapore even after having his aides tell us he was in perfect health. Did he have to wait to sign his discharge papers?
    Barely had the prime minister returned home than reports began to surface of another imminent medical trip to the city-state. As a key Oli adviser rejected those reports, the prime minister cryptically told the nation that nothing would happen to him for another 20-25 years. (And making a pitch for Cetamol.) Now, the Singapore trip seems to be on.
    Was apportioning the NCP departments that important to the efficient functioning of the government? Or was rearranging the power balance in the ruling party the real motive here? More importantly, how do we know that Oli’s departure-arrival-departure isn’t part of the ‘broad consultations’ everyone seems convinced is going on abroad but unable to comprehend?
    There was much Oli could have said in his address to the House of Representatives by way of assuaging the country’s anxieties. Apart from avowing his staying power and enumerating minor policy priorities, the only other thing the prime minister did was demonize those seeking a restoration of the monarchy. If that cause is indeed such a lost one, surely Oli need not have spent precious time in the august assembly emphasizing the obvious.
    The prime minister may have desisted from the kind of threats and vitriol Dahal unleashed on the former monarch a week ago upon gauging the backlash it produced. Or maybe Oli is inherently more charitable than Dahal.
    Yet the premier was all over the place on the subject. If monarchists are trying to resuscitate a ghost from the graveyard, wouldn’t letting them revel in their delusion be the best response? Instead, Oli vowed to unleash the full force of the government against such royalist conspiracies. Not without, however, pleading for unity among democratic forces to overcome traditional regressive forces attempting to jeopardize democracy.
    Well, what is it, Mr. Prime Minister, that you see right, left and center: a puerile paroxysm or a clear and present danger? If you and your cohorts can’t make up your minds, maybe that signals the system’s time is truly up.


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