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Sky Doesn’t Fall, But Nation Bleeds

By P. Kharel

pkharel1So the inevitable has happened. The CPN (UML)-Maoist combined has won a majority for the new parliament. Notwithstanding the hue and cry over the “approaching wolf” in the victory of either of the two largest poll combinations, the Left front has carved a majority all its own. The sky has not fallen; voters, too, did not believe it would. But the outcome will continue to have cancerous effects on Nepali society. This would have happened even if the Nepali Congress-led hodge-podge grouping had secured a majority of seats.

When a disease is deliberately diagnosed wrong, the cure never arrives. Described by its main rivals as a force that would either resort to a national sellout or clamp down an utterly authoritarian rule, the group that now is heading for power has been accepted by voters.

Communists worse than Rana regime, Deuba said a week prior to the elections in second phase.

Fallen foul of the law with the autocracy of impunity and cronyism.

“No freedom under communists,” Prime Minister Deuba was quoted in the Gorkhapatra news daily a week before the final phase of the polls. He added: “Communists are worse than Rana autocracy.”

The Left front’s K.P. Oli had exuded confidence of a landslide majority while his CPN (UML)’s constituent in the Left front, Maoist Centre’s Pushpa Kamal Dahal spoke of “communist rule for the next 50 years”.

Leader of a smaller party, Dr. Prakash Chandra Lohani had warned that the “rampant loot-tantra” would continue unabated if either of these big groupings got hold of power.

UNRESTRAINED: Building a career by calling others names and crticising them for substantial or imaginary charges is what most politicians do. Contacts in various districts told this scribe that, in the constituencies outside the capital valley, other candidates representing different political hues traded no-holds-barred attacks against each other.

“Economic prosperity” was the consensual slogan echoed in the election campaign by the mainstream parties. No one can be blamed for being sceptical about such a miracle.

PANCHAYATI SLOGANS: CPN (UML) raised the banner of achieving for Nepalis living standards averaging Asian standards, which sounds a straight lift from the Panchayat years 35 years ago. It was the late King Birendra’s favourite theme. Another slogan by UML leaders was a pledge “to unleash the forces of development”, which, again, is inspired by the late king’s thrust on all-round progress.

Indeed, there is no copyright on such slogans, unless officially registered as such. But these slogans are chanted by leaders who have had wielded power in the government or as the main opposition. Nowhere in the post-World War II decades has any political party or group delivered dramatic achievement after failing for decades.

If the rulers who so-far let the people down do attain the feat that has eluded so many millions for so long, this scribe would most happily hold is head bowed as a humble obeisance to the new lords of development. After all, such conditions would steer the course of the country toward the right course and enhance the prospects of Nepalis, four million of whom are working in West Asia and other foreign lands for very assured but low wages, often with families left behind at home.

Time will come when the existing statutes of figures approved by the existing forces of power. Some have wangled funds from state exchequer on a regular basis. RPP and its breakaway groups have reasons for celebrating even if amid defeat. They have been lifted to the status of “loktantrik” parties who closed ranks with Nepali Congress against the Left front in the just concluded polls. “We are treated only as vote banks,” is a statement whose theme and detail are common experience in Nepal.

Will we win the future under the so-called federal republic of secular loktantra as an independent, sovereign, united nation exercising its right to tap all available resources, natural and otherwise, without foreign interference?

FALSE START: The air of excitement that wafted in 2006 spring through the corridors of loktantrik sloganeers has long ago proved short-lived. The big promises never came anywhere close to being met, as nine governments changed the baton one after another, and they all missed their appointments with history too many times and for too long to earn any credibility.

In a nation deeply divided, political leaders first open their mouths and think later when it is too late for damage control or correction. The ruling constituents in the days ahead should first set their own houses in order. Consumed by internal squabbles over the spoils of power, the new ruling team should note that serving petty interests and faction-fighting will only aggravate the public disenchantment no end.

In the past, leaders fostered a culture of blaming the past and passing buck elsewhere. Now the same lot that failed us for two and a half decades is back in force. Only independent thinking based on free and fair criticism can bring about meaningful change. We need to wake up to the urgency or brace for something dramatically unpredictable.

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