By P. Kharel
Is the once peaceful and stable Nepal fated to rulers ignoring pressing issues and those ignored bent on airing their disenchantment through less than peaceful means? Should such situation to continue, political stability and economic prosperity will persist as mere promises never to be fulfilled by the existing crop of leaders and their parties.
Much ado is made about the 2015 constitution whose contents were never debated at length in public during the two elected constituent assemblies. Many issues remain unaddressed.
Netra Bikram Chand’s Maoist group can be taken lightly, only at the cost of inviting instability. The vulnerability of the existing situation to graver plight is a modest trailer by the series of bomb blasts in the run up to the recently concluded general and provincial polls. Sher Bahadur Deuba, who gave to himself a handful of ministerial portfolios, including the important home ministry, was seen lacking the required competence while militant groups planted and exploded bombs all over the country as if at will.
FAILURE: There was little ground for doubt as to who was behind the destructive deeds but the government failed to identify the group until the eleventh hour of the elections. Several hundred people were reported arrested in an apparent attempt to pacify people that the government was in “action”. In the official culture of hitting at only soft targets, the failure to trace the group leaders of the blast perpetrators carried little surprise.
Charges that intelligence agencies found themselves rudderless echo how far deep the country’s once fairly reliable institutions now have been reduced to. Party workers are known to have been assigned as informers in large numbers. These recruits worked most casually, producing weekly reports of hardly any worthwhile information but words assembled perfunctorily for the sake of words, disguised as “report”.
(By the way, are journalists among such recruits? In a country with a high rate of unemployed or underemployed educated youth, journalists can become vulnerable to such regular paying-jobs. There is no regulation or assurance that they are not in the business of intelligence activity in the garb of their declared profession.)
Loktantrik decade has harvested more “martyrs” than at any other time in Nepal’s history, including the infamous kot massacre of 1846 when Jung Bahadur emerged as one who laid the foundation of the Rana rule for the next 104 years. Intellectuals, students, professional groups, academics, human rights activists and artistes are all politicised, partisanised and affected by vested interests. No society divided so vertically on political party lines gains much ground in quickening development strides and engaging in practice all-round principle of equality.
Ominous signs were seen when copies of the hurriedly announced 2015 Constitution were burnt in public by sections grossly unhappy with it. The contents and provisions in the constitution were not vetted through extensive public discussion. Members of the unusually large Constituent Assembly approved the constitution without free and adequate debates. They meekly and loyally obeyed the party whips. The Constituent Assembly functioned like a parliament rather than a constituent assembly that debated the pros and cons of each clause at great length.
DISCORDANT NOTES: The “architects” of the 2006 political changes are sounding discordant notes that present them as good for nothings. They have grouped together opposing claimantsas “loktantrik” or “Leftist front”. Labelled a “loktantrik” force, since the eve of the recent elections, RPP calls for a Hindu State and constitutional monarchy while its offshoot RPP-D calls for Hindu State thought it remains coy about monarchy and federalism. Both the groups of former panchas are reserved about federal structure of the state. But these are all claimed as the “achievements” of 2006 movement which saw Nepali Congress and UML at the forefront while the Maoists provided muscle power from the shadows. That Maoists were at one time termed “terrorists” by the NC is another matter.
NC never raised these issues during the 2005-6 movement. Hence it took the Maoist agendas wholesale without public discussion. Chitra Bahadur KC, of the Left front, has been one of the strongest critics of the federal structure.
Opportunists without vision, consistency or integrity are a danger to any party. They sponsor and shelter corruption. That is why the big fish get away with their wrong-doings and the small fries get nabbed. The big fish are immune to investigation.
Saudi Arabia is one of the most extreme forms of absolute monarchy today, yet its Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has launched a crackdown on royals and their cronies in a move that expects an estimated $ 100 billion to be retrieved from these individuals who funneled to their own bank accounts what really belonged to the people.
Madhesi movement claimed more martyrs than any other democratic movement in Nepal since 1950-51. Ironically, “loktantrik” government ordered the firing which felled and created the martyrs. Partisan as they often are, human rightswallhs prefer not to raise this issue at length.
Nepal might have entered a new political order whose fate should be known within the next couple of years.
Perils Of Ignoring Key Issues
By P. Kharel