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Why rock the boat(s) when you don’t want to swim?

BY MAILA BAJE
MB-Rock the boat-blogAs the unification/power ritual deepens on our theoretically triumphant left, the Nepali Congress-led government is exhibiting fewer signs of having been beaten.
The Maoist Center, the putative half of those so eager to push Nepal’s red-hued rejuvenation, still holds on to ministerial berths although its representatives have had no assigned responsibilities for months.
If, amid the luxury and leisure of power, the Maoists seem to have developed second thoughts on the virtue and value of unification with the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML), we would do well to remember that the adherents of the Great Helmsman have been riding two boats for quite some time.
The Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal, which the other day blamed its alliance with the Nepali Congress for its poll debacle, sees no reason to quit the ruling (albeit caretaker) coalition, either. The fact that the party’s internal post-poll recriminations even managed to spill into a cabinet meeting is being taken as a matter of course. (Unless party chief Kamal Thapa is busy trying to blame anything other than his celestial stars for the collective curse.)
Upendra Yadav, president of the Federal Socialist Forum Nepal, put things in succinct perspective the other day when he said the architects of the constitution have been ambushed by their invention. This probably makes it safe for would-be premier K.P. Oli to keep waiting in the wings a little bit longer.
Nepalis are increasingly reconciled to beholding that grand amalgamation on the left when it actually happens. That makes it easier for the UML and the Maoists to continue portraying unity as inevitable without having to do anything much about it.
As to the assumption of power, there are potentially unpopular decisions that need to be taken relating to the naming of provinces and establishing their capitals, among other things. You don’t have to be an old-school cynic to realize how well it serves Oli & Co. not to have to tackle them as their first item of business in Singha Durbar (more likely in Baluwatar). Letting Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba take care of any fallout would make perfect sense for a fraternity theoretically in the midst of a splendid ideological consolidation.
Playing the victim, in the meantime, would be prudent politics. Around the world, communists have been on the defensive for so long that a new generation of lads and lasses (and everyone in between) has begun wondering whether they could be so bad. It’s one thing for the Nepali Congress to be a sore loser. But to be snobbish too?
Yet victimhood has its limits. Oli can remind the country all he wants how the Nepali Congress in 2008 had refused to hand over power to the Maoists for three months. The Nepali Congress, for its part, can recall how the Maoists had reneged on their pledge to nominate Girija Prasad Koirala as the first president of Nepal. (A pledge that many in the Nepali Congress and outside still claim persuaded the Grand Old Man to turn republican after having stuck out his neck so far for some space for a ceremonial monarchy.)
In another day and age, we might have justly debated whether one wrong could so brazenly justify another. Alas, we have come too far trying to reconcile our relative truths.

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