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The fraternity begins to fight back

BY MAILA BAJE
image0012The latest whirlwind involving Dr. Govinda K.C. and Chief Justice Gopal Parajuli marks a critical turning point. Our political fraternity, long fed up with pinpricks from what it considers the periphery, has decided to speak out.
Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist leader K.P. Oli used his customary banter to convey his disaffection with the political scene, drawing in Dr. K.C. as a crude allegory. If Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhi Prasad Yadav is so confused about post-election procedures, maybe he should start consulting the esteemed orthopedic surgeon. Unsurprisingly, Oli’s broadside outraged Dr. K.C.’s supporters, who vowed to wage a moral struggle against our prime minister in waiting.
The Nepali Congress’ Ram Sharan Mahat had no time for such indignation. He cautioned Dr. K.C. to make sure his campaign against Chief Justice Parajuli did not obstruct the rule of law so vital to any society’s ability to function. The Nepal Bar Association, too, came out in support of the chief justice.
The culmination of Nepal’s dozen years of drift – the local, provincial and nation elections – has no doubt fired up our professional politicians. They may win or lose elections, but they aren’t going to listen to sermons from men and women who they consider should be paying more attention to their own jobs.
Indeed, civil society’s overreach began unnerving our politicians not too long after the People’s Movement I in 1990. Granted, lawyers, doctors, engineers played a prominent role in the fight against three decades of palace-led partyless rule. But when it came time for the palace to compromise, it did so with politicians, as it certainly should have.
If the newly empowered politicians began betraying the people, elections were supposed to take care of that. If they were corrupt, there were legal and institutional remedies. Civil society could play the role of a watchdog, but that canine couldn’t expect to be in the driver’s seat.
By the time of People’s Movement II in 2006, civil society had almost arrogated to itself the role of arbiter of the nation’s destiny. If civil society seemed to lead the politicians then, it was because the political class lay discredited. So the political fraternity had good reason to thank civil society. When the political process resumed after the royal reinstatement of the legislature, it was time for civil society to step back.
Yet the hectoring didn’t stop. Our politicians, their plates full, were reluctant to fight back. Defying most doomsayers, including Maila Baje, they negotiated the tempestuous domestic political terrain as well as the turbulent geopolitical waters to promulgate a new constitution and to consecrate it through elections, underpinning the progression with enough popular legitimacy and support.
If all it took to purify the polity were an individual’s moral crusade, things would have been a lot easier for everyone else. After all, in a revolution, as they say, the most difficult part to invent is the end. And, as has been said in this space previously, doesn’t this penchant for starving yourself go against the Hippocratic oath every doctor, we are told, is supposed to breathe in and out at all times?
Now, Dr. K.C. isn’t his own patient so that oath doesn’t count, you might say. Okay. But, still, why does such a prominent medical expert get to harm himself, regardless of the nobility of the cause, when millions of Nepalis are in dire need of his healing touch?
Again, far more people have the ability to deprive themselves of vital nourishment at will than to use surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors, and congenital disorders. What happened to the concept of optimizing the utilization of a nation’s scarce resources?
No criticism of Dr. K.C. can diminish the personal sacrifice and commitment he has made in the cause of cleansing the body politic. However, people like Oli and Mahat are emboldened to speak out today because of their eagerness to remind us that people like Kunwar Indrajit Singh, Keshar Jung Rayamajhi, Tulsi Giri and Ram Baran Yadav shed their white coats to become full-time politicians in that mucky and muddled – albeit appropriate – arena.

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