By Maila Baje
A new Nepali year has descended on us amid a plethora of fortune-telling on the country’s politics. From face readers to star gazers, the verdict is that 2076 will be an uncommon year. The conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in Sagittarius led to the end of Nepal’s multiparty democracy in December 1960. When the two planets stood in mutual aspect (with Saturn in Sagittarius) in April 1990, multiparty democracy was restored. With Saturn and Jupiter in conjunction in Sagittarius again this year, some people are keeping their fingers crossed.
Well, what about April 2006, by far the momentous of our political convulsions? That period was defined by the competing horoscopes of King Gyanendra and Maoist supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, not planetary transits, according to some soothsayers.
Dahal still has some political energy flowing, while Prime Minister K.P. Oli’s time is said to be fading. Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba has that standing prediction of becoming head of government a couple of more times. The other ex-premiers such as Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhal Nath Khanal either haven’t had their charts read or don’t want their configurations publicized.
Baburam Bhattarai is not one to believe in the stars, but, then, he probably believes more firmly that his premiership was a fluke (albeit a more sensible one than Khil Raj Regmi’s). Lokendra Bahadur Chand has long receded into irrelevance to even to harbor aspirations. Among the wannabes, Bam Dev Gautam is itching the most, but every scratch of his has so far proved counterproductive. The other ex and current deputy premiers know they have a hard time elbowing out each other before anything else.
Although Prakash Chandra Lohani has long been said to own the most politically promising horoscope, things just haven’t fructified. Maybe there are some inauspicious combinations somewhere across the 12 houses and signs that are too intricate for the astrologers. Or Lohani hasn’t been running the right maha and antar dashas yet. His Rastriya Prajatantra Party (United) has just won the Election Commission’s imprimatur along with the long-cherished plough as it symbol. So maybe things are changing.
By most astrologers’ accounts, the restoration of the monarchy remains a strong possibility this year, especially toward the end. They say they have been matching Nepal’s annual horoscope with that of former king Gyanendra. (Some have consulted his grandson’s as well and sound additionally upbeat.) Of course, our star gazers are also watching the crowds the former king has been pulling in the plains as well as the hills. Significantly, ex-king Shah, in his New Year message, signaled his readiness to learn from his mistakes and asked the rest of us to do so from ours in the broader national interest.
After the Tarai swarms, Prime Minister Oli used the legislature to warn the ex-king and his supporters not to try to defy the laws of nature by seeking to resurrect something that had passed on to the Great Beyond. But, then, the prime minister must know how likely an intoxicated medical examiner is to issue a premature death certificate.
Oli hasn’t reacted to the king’s tours in the hills. The most supporters of the republican order have been able to do is challenge monarchists to bring the king back and try to keep him on the throne for two days. Quite a climb-down, wouldn’t you agree?
Oli instead has trained his ire on Nepalis who don’t seem to see the wonderful things his government has done over the past year. President Bidya Bhandari, too, is descending into a bit of despondency. At a recent public function, she spoke of a sustained campaign to denigrate her office. Dahal tends to speak out when he doesn’t have to and keeps quiet when he should be saying something.
The Nepali Congress is too busy chasing its tail. The other parties are attempting to fill the vacuum but just don’t have enough clean air. So the Oli government blunders on almost deliberately burdening itself to imminent collapse.
What can the Indian election results, the Dalai Lama’s health and the other uncontrollable external variables do when we can’t get a grip on ourselves? So let’s keep tracking the planetary trajectories.
What do the stars have in store?
By Maila Baje