By Maila Baje
We’re almost midway through the five-year term of what should ordinarily have been Nepal’s most powerful elected government. Yet, our best-case scenario is avoiding either a mid-term election or a split in the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP).
Certitude amid uncertainties is a treacherous trait in the best of times. We may not know how poor Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli’s health really is. We do know that he is fiercely determined to prove the non-existence of that much-ballyhooed premier-sharing deal with NCP co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’. Or, if it does exist, establish its irrelevance.
Dahal, for his part, is so remorseful of his decision to merge his Maoist Center with the erstwhile Unified Marxist-Leninists that he has started blaming everyone else for going along with the unification sham just because the two chairmen happened to jump off the cliff holding hands.
In his intensifying stupor, Dahal may continue to ponder the extent of his ideological bona fides and invite the sympathetic banter of his one-time lieutenant Baburam Bhattarai to our collective merriment. Deep inside, the political class knows how deep the rot runs. Although they might not be quivering publicly, they do recognize the perils of taking their placid posture for granted.
The promise of change was always nebulous. The outcome has been dear and dreadful. New taxes have been levied to fund and facilitate additional layers of the federalism-driven political/administrative machinery, with little to show for the people. Secularism is being promoted as affirmative action for a religion that has been the farthest from our roots. Republicanism has spawned neo-royalism with a pomp and splendor beating the ancien regime.
If ‘new Nepal’ is all about demolishing the old only to resurrect its worst attributes, then it’s scarcely surprising how tedious and taxing the show has become. As the Krishna Bahadur Mahara case now seems to suggest, external investors in our enterprise are doing their math. The former speaker may be their first defaulter, but chances are he is not their last.
The greatest – and perhaps only – thing going for the ruling class is the TINA factor. To be sure, there is no alternative – yet. With the three pillars of the status quo tottering so critically, however, total collapse cannot be predicated on what may or may not rise from the debris.
Today, more and more Nepalis are asking themselves whether it was worth it all. All those new compromises to protect the awful old ones. The headlong quest for inclusivity that has risked erasing our identity. Then there’s the temerity of people like Dahal and Bhattarai, who want to lead another ‘revolution’ but refuse to recognize how badly they have lost credibility the first time around.
There is much more than buyer’s remorse involved here. People are regretting their decision to take what was thrown at them in the name of hope and change. But Nepalis, like people everywhere, aren’t about to kick themselves in the teeth for having been fooled so brazenly. And certainly not when they have such ready targets. That’s what scares the political class most about ex-king Gyanendra Shah’s Tihar salvo – because he spoke from experience.