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Spice of Life

By P. Kharel

Search for socialism
Nepali Congress is being attacked and ridiculed left and right these days. One of the criticisms includes the party having long turned its back on socialism that its vaunted leader B.P. Koirala espoused six decades ago. It flaunts its Socialist International association but with nothing but scorn from the discerning public that is well aware of how the country’s oldest existing political party abandoned the basic principles of socialism in both letter and spirit.
NC’s ties with Germany’s Social Democratic Party makes a mockery of the association. SDP President Friedrich Ebert, before breathing his last, had explicitly stood for rejecting bouquets and such other trappings that represented vulgar display of waste of resources that went against socialist grain. Nepali politicians who vouch for socialist principles can be seen weighed down by heaps of garlands around their necks. The basic issue is that these socialists might not even have heard of the renowned German socialist leader’s penchant for practising what he preached.
If not all NC members, at least those intellectuals who were beneficiaries of FES-sponsored fellowships and study tours should have realised it and briefed their peers on it. But then if such practices were a norm, Nepali Congress would not have foundered the way it has of late.

Shed pretensions
Schools in Kathmandu Valley were closed for two days to cope with the likely traffic congestion that might have been aggravated on account of the BIMSSTEC meeting in the capital last fortnight. Half a dozen leaders from the grouping were treated to Nepalese hospitality but surely it should not have been at the expense of hundreds of thousands of students made to take enforced leave of schools.
Would any loktantrik government elsewhere taken such drastic step instead of finding alternative to reduce traffic congestion?
If the Government of Nepal could not handle the situation, it should have intimated to member countries of its inability to play host. False sense of pride and meaningless pretensions do not suit especially a poverty-ridden country whose position in the eyes of the guests might have been emphasised by the manner in which the Thai Prime Minister rejected the idea of joining others in the retreat planned at Gokarna Resort. Poor roads and security concern were given as reasons for the reservations.
When others know so much about us, it’s useless pretending what we are not.

The latest politician to admit in public about the bizarre manner in which secularism and federalism were thrust in the 2015 Constitution of Nepal is Nepali Congress leader Dr. Narayan Khadka. Dr. Ram Sharan Mahata, Arjun Narsingh KC, KB Gurung and Prakash Man Singh might have their own opinions on this aspect of the “achievements” trumpeted by their peers in their own party as well as by other groups in regular touch with them. For that matter, some sections of Oli’s Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and other leftist parties, too, are beginning to have second thoughts about what they had been hailing as “achievements” culminating in the 2016 Constitution.
Leftist leaders Chitra Bahadur KC and Narayan Man Bijukchhe had since the beginning spoken against federalism. Nepali Congress had never made federal structure of the state and secularism its agenda. The features in the Constitution came as a surprise to most NC members, who have yet to summon their courage to call for change in the Constitution.
In any case, many groups are vehemently against some of the clauses, to which Prime Minister KP Oli has responded: “A Construction is not a religious scripture that cannot be changed.” This might give extra confidence to others, too, to voice their protest against the Constitution which is supposed to have been approved by “80 per cent of the people”.

Setting for amendment
Caution is called for. Capitals cape has it that various vested interest groups constantly on the lookout for the slightest of an excuse to trigger public demonstrations. Elements bent on not allowing the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) government with the ease a two-thirds majority would normally enable the group in power.
By the way, the KP Oli government has also produced a “martyr” in a child who was killed when police fired at crowds protesting against the rape and murder of a girl child in Kanchanpur.
Martyrs generally have villains too. Not in any Nepal. Be it during the Madhesh movement, which recorded twice the number of martyrs counted in the 2005-6 political campaign, or on other sad occasions when brave and innocent people were killed, no one has been held accountable.
Such being the state of governance, the kind of democracy Nepalis are saddled with must have made a curious kind of development to other democracies in different parts of the world. Yet, political party leaders and their cheer leaders are deaf to questions over the way governance is being handled in a country with “the best Constitution in the world”.

Without comment
Dev Prakash Tripathi, in Ghata ra Bichar weekly: “If the federal loktntrik republic were to be accepted with such legal provisions [civil code act], we would have to understand that there is no worst political system than this.”

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