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Spice of Life

By P. Kharel

Political pawns
Dhan Bahadur Budha, Minister of Sate for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, is not resigning from his Dolpa constituency after all. Earlier, he was being alerted to step down, to make way for Nepal Communist Party (NCP) leader Bam Dev Gautam to make parliamentary entry. For several weeks, the circulated proposal was that Budha would be compensated in a year and a half with a nominated [“enveloped”] seat through proportionate representation at the upper house of the federal legislature. Vehement opposition from the constituency that “no outsider” would be accepted made Gautam withdraw the bid to make the circuitous route to parliament. Gautam lost the elections last year but does not have the patience to serve people from outside the parliament.
Like a shuttle in a play-court, see-sawing at the mercy of the racquet wielded by party leadership, many party members are treated by their “senior” leaders as mere pawns in their political scheme of things. Bam Dev Gautam, who in the latter half of the 1990s split CPN (UML) and veered close toward royal palace, after twists and turns became a die-hard federal, republican of a secularist.
Gautam is not the only communist leader to try parliamentary entry shortly after losing general elections. His party comrade Madhav Kumar Nepal was more successful in this respect. Nepal lost in general elections but had another parliamentarian to resign in lieu of an ambassadorial posting in Sri Lanka, and became a member of the Constituent Assembly. Madhav was essential for Constitution drafting but he went on to become prime minister. He was matched by his deputy premier Sujata who looked after the foreign affairs ministry, though she too had lost elections. And the entire elected NC team did not feel shamed when a defeated one headed the Congress team to the coalition cabinet under another defeated communist leader. Little wonder then such are politicians who say, nothing is impossible in politics.

All for own role
Pro-monarchists seem to be divided into various groups. The differences among them relate to who gets what role. Everybody wants a role for himself or herself. This does not inspire much confidence in others who do not think of what role they can expect for themselves; their only concern is the historical role of the institution whose relevance, they assert, is all the more underscored by the never-ending transition period in the country. With such pro-monarchists, who ought need republicans?
Even after the Oli-government is endorsed by two-thirds majority in parliament and is considered to be the “most powerful” government since the dawn of democracy in 1951, there is widespread dissatisfaction with the government’s no-performance. Likewise, pro-monarchists like the ever squabbling panchas are debating whether former King Gyanendra met with Chinese President Xi Jinping or not. They don’t realise that the king who adamantly rejected the proposal for a baby king and who insisted with the Chinese that his visit should culminate in a meeting with Xi himself. Beijing has its own style. It convinced the former monarch who agreed to meet the South Asian affairs advisor followed by the national advisor and finally the powerful leader. Spade work is essential in their work style. Meticulous preparations are required, including the agendas and follow-up homework for succeeding sessions with higher ups in the power echelons so as to make meeting meaningful and hopefully fruitful.

Black list
Just when civil society, human rights groups and opposition parties in India have been making sharp criticism against the Narendra Modi government of using less than democratic methods in detaining social activists and intellectuals who were against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, it is a queer coincidence that the KP Oli government has drafted a “black list” of journalists.
Actually, black lists always existed. The difference is that such approaches are incorporated in “loktantrik” days. This is perhaps the first time a ruling side has the worst press in the revived multiparty decades. If the hibernating counselors to Oli had the required knowledge and skill, things might have worked better. Instead, the premier’s Oli’s popularity and reputation is suffering a slide so fast that it might be extremely doubtful whether they can retrieve what has been lost.
A section in the UML faction of Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has been whispering among its members that Prime Minister Oli is thinking of making a thorough overhaul in his team to salvage his government’s public image. It’s late, but perhaps not as late as might be generally thought, provided the new team is equipped with new ideas, effective approaches and skill in delivering. Ministers occupying major ministerial portfolios are known to have been tried and tested proving themselves merely a mediocre crop.
Me thinks, so weak is Oli that he will stick with his groove of cronies and hangars-on. Not even his own party intellectuals, civil society leaders, human rights workers and member of various professional units have been able to come with opinions and write-ups that defend the government’s efforts. When there is something delivered, people will sooner or later know. Publicists can’t fool all the people all the time, especially in a country where parties have been trying to fool all the people all the time.

Without comment
NCP (NCP) member and former minister R.K. Mainali, in Nepal Samacharpatra: “If the government keeps on going like this for another six months, the situation will be very tormenting…I know Oli is egoistic, naïve and short-sighted.”

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