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Spice of Life

By P Kharel

Bickering communists

Unity delay between the two factions in Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has disenchanted its rank and file no end. Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s Maoist faction is discontent with Prime Minister KP Oli’s style of assertive leadership as the head of government that does not bother taking the party into confidence on major decisions.

Dahal’s group wants the introduction of one-person one-post policy, which would mean that Oli would either have to step down as premier or bow out of the party leadership. It finds the existing provision for two equal chairpersons in the organisation ridiculous. On the other hand, Oli’s coterie concludes that the Maoists will be in an unenviable lurch if they tried to grow too big for their boots, what with a deep slide in their organisational hold and popular base. Even if the assessment is not off the mark, it generates rancor in the Maoists who until a couple of years ago used to be seen as a formidable force in the national political scene. Today, they are being dismissed as a fringe group.

Oli’s sycophants try comparing the government’s present situation with that of the Marich Man Singh Shrestha government in 1989-90, when India imposed 15-month long economic blockade. The comparison is totally misplaced, though. Shrestha, who did not have the benefit of support of any of the current crop of mainstream parties in or out of power, had to face not only India but also the efforts of the NC-Left Front trying to queer the pitch against the government. The opposition combine was took advantage of the crippling blockade. Homegrown forces clutched and briefed by foreign agencies originating in India and afar were also against the Shrestha government. Oli never faced such situation.

Maoist leaders till not long ago wanted to test and taste the aura of majesty with a meeting with King Gyanendra who rebuffed the former armed rebels that caused the deaths of 17,000 people and wounding of many more in addition to the vast destruction all around. Criticism of any government is guaranteed to attract large majority of people, barring die hard supporters. Poor performance is the cause of this culture. The high branded but low minded propaganda might have an initial advantage over audience attention, only to be dumped eventually to the bin of perpetual contempt. That is what the Maoists in particular and the vertically divided NCP get to find today.

Madesh demands

Last week, CK Raut, for long declared by the State as a felon, signed an agreement with the Oli government, in which he pledged to aide by the country’s existing Constitution. This came as a huge relief to a government that was in desperate need to show something of substance in its governance record. The actual effect will unfold in the coming months, as questions are already being raised seriously by members of the ruling NCP itself.

On the other hand, the event was quickly followed by another announcement by the basically Madhes-based Rastriya Janata Party which had over the months issued ultimatums 16 times to the federal government to meet their demands for constitutional amendment. Some RJP leaders had tried defending their stand saying that there was no written support and hence no need for a formal pullout. However, their peers continued issuing threats of withdrawal. RJP supported the government for 13 months and finally announced the snap-off last week, coincidentally after Raut pledged to join main stream politics under the existing Constitution.

RJP has declared that it would soon launch a national campaign not confined to Madesh movement but nationwide rallies against the KP Oli government.

Again, Govind KC

Dr Govind KC’s latest action has raised a new ethical question after he held a press conference at Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu. He should have organised the meet at some other venue, considering that the issue was not exclusively related to the hospital he works for. No institution, private or government, allows such exercise. Not even the institutions from which he obtained his medical degrees or those he visited abroad in the course of his long career allow it.

However, this does not mean the issue brought up by KC is irrelevant, involving as it does the exorbitant fees exacted by medical colleges on hapless students beyond the officially permissible level. Against the Rs 4.2 million ceiling set for medical college fee outside Kathmandu Valley, larger amounts are being enforced upon students. Some extort up to Rs 5.5 million. Gandaki Medical College was raided in this regard recently.

Ironically, most of the medicos who expressed solidarity with KC’s series of indefinite hunger strikes keep themselves mum over the extortions that their colleges impose on students.

Communism & exorcising

A former communist prime minister’s residence was witness to pandits being brought in to exorcise the “haunted” place and shoo away spirits. It is yet to be confirmed whether the ritual fetched the desired results in propitiating the uninvited spirits and leave the residents in peace.

Meanwhile, another communist comrade was heard making inquiries about the exorcist to cast away bad spells whose details she did not elaborate.

Without comment

Shyam Prasad Mainali, in Rajdhani daily: “Political party leaders became engrossed in corruption within a short span of time. It became difficult to find a leader with a clean image.”

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