Friday, December 16, 2005

Compromise(d) Candidate

WHO: Nepali Congress president Girija Prasad Koirala and UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal

WHEN: 10pm, December 16, 2005

WHERE: Maila Baje's head

Madhav Kumar Nepal: The tide is turning in our favor, Girijababu. What do you think?

Girija Prasad Koirala: Let the king's men lose their mind a little more, and then we'll size up the crowds.

MKN: Don't count too much on the crowds, though. This man is nothing like his brother. Moreover, he knows that it’s anger against his government that's fueling the protests – not anything attractive we're saying or doing.

GPK: Now that's the kind of defeatism that has harmed us since Asoj 18. You should be….

MKN: Defeatism. It was your refusal to back me as PM that led to all this…

GPK: Now look who's talking. You're the one who jumped to join the king's government, and you weren't even offered the deputy premier's post. What was your phrase again… "Regression has been half corrected?"

MKN: Okay, okay let's focus on the future. I got a call from a palace aide who said the king was ready to appoint me prime minister if I got an express undertaking from you that the Nepali Congress would join my government. What should I tell him?

GPK: How close to the king is this aide? I need a name and rank.

MKN: Let's keep that a secret for now, shall we?

GPK: Gosh, you're still at your old games after all we've been through.

MKN: C'mon Girijababu let's get a little serious here. This may be our last chance.

GPK: Your last chance, you mean.

MKN: Whatever…

GPK: No Madhavji, I can't support you as PM. I'm already having a hard time wiggling between Sushil and Ram Chandra. I got Ram Chandra to accept Sushil as party vice-president by promising I would step aside in his favor for the premiership.

MKN: What? Ram Chandra for prime minister? After all he did to you after the Darbar hatya kanda? As deputy premier, he should have stuck with you till the very end.

GPK: You miss the point, Madhavji. Ram Chandra's resignation made it easier for to persuade Sujata that my time was up. And, don't forget, Ram Chandra almost became president of Sher Bahadur's new party in 2002. He had dispatched all his supporters to Deuba's conference as a decoy.

MKN: Ram Chandra can't even win his Tanahun constituency without Govindraj's support. Your overestimating the guy.

GPK: No Madhavji, you don't understand. As a commodity, votes are highly unpredictable. Did you expect Bamdev to lose his seat in 1999? It's a man's political acumen that counts.

MKN: And what might be so great about Ram Chandra's acumen?

GPK: Go back a little and remember how Ram Chandra sparked those anti-China protests. All Ram Chandra wanted to know was why Chairman Mao's portrait was hanging higher than King Mahendra's at that Chinese fair? He couldn't be charged with crimes against the state for that.

MKN: Yeah, and he ended up strengthening the palace's ties with China.

GPK: Here's another instance: the student protests of 1979. It was Ram Chandra's idea that students march up to the Pakistani Embassy to lodge a protest against the execution of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. If you ask me, I never liked the guy. He always had that air about the Bhuttos being a cut above the Koiralas – and that was long before most Pakistanis had heard of Benazir. Ram Chandra calculated that Kirti Nidhi's government would crack down on the demonstrators, giving us the excuse to fire up the streets.

MKN: And the king announced a referendum that Surya Bahadur Thapa rigged in favor of the Panchayat system, before getting the boot himself.

GPK: Don't dwell too much on the negative.

MKN: Give me a good reason not to.

GPK: Look, no one expected Ram Chandra to survive incarceration in Tanahun after Magh 19 with that toothache, or whatever it was. He came out with sharper fangs ready to go after the palace until the very end.

MKN: No, I need a better reason.

GPK: Do you think a government led by any other party than the Girija Congress can carry international legitimacy? Especially with Prachanda and Baburam, not to speak of the Calcutta commies, calling the shots in the mainstream? Moreover, we have to split China and Pakistan from the palace – and who better than Ram Chandra to do that?

MKN: That's a cheap shot, Girijababu. The UML has fought harder than anyone in defense of this constitution – Moriarty, Bloomfield and now Martin know that. And don't forget Madan Comrade had given the document only qualified support.
Give me a nice solid reason why you think Ram Chandra is better qualified that I am to become PM.

GPK: I hate to say this, Madhavji, but you asked for it. Ram Chandra dispenses with protocol when it comes to the national interest. He agreed to become Kisunji's deputy premier – and subsequently mine -- after already having served as speaker of the House of Representatives. He's our version of Shimon Peres. But Ram Chandra, too, is human. You can't force the man to make it a habit. You, on the other hand, never rose higher than deputy premier, although I do concede that you were virtually Manmohan's boss for those nine months.

MKN: Yes, I think our comrades will buy this line. I'll update you within 24 hours on what they have to say. Then we can discuss who gets the Royal Palace Affairs portfolio.

GPK: Don't take too long. And, yes, make sure you're always half a mile away from Surya Bahadur until then.