Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bouquets Of Boondoggle

The purveyors of perfidy are prospering. Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala declared the other day in a television interview that the controversy sparked by her decision to pull out of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal’s official entourage to New Delhi was actually a boon to her Nepali Congress.
Without the media linking the abrupt move to her apparent dissatisfaction with the prime minister’s failure to promote her to deputy premier, told the interviewer, the Nepali Congress wouldn’t have recognized how incommensurate its place in the cabinet was with its numerical presence in the constituent assembly. If anything, the country’s second-largest party could now claim the deputy premiership with greater credibility and conviction.
Sujata, of course, carefully stuck to her official line that ill health prevented her from joining her boss in his most important diplomatic foray. And a significant section of her own party isn’t buying that story. The foreign minister is infuriated by the persistence with which she is being asked to explain the obvious.
The B-word was not far off Sujata’s immediate predecessor’s mind, either. Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) leader Upendra Yadav told supporters that the split the party recently suffered was actually a boon. The Madhesi movement, Yadav asserted, was now cleansed of opportunists. But his ebullience didn’t end there. Yadav likened the situation to the blessing World War II turned out to be for Japan. (How fortunate for us that Yadav was no longer foreign minister when he drew that parallel, especially during the solemn month of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki carnage commemorations!)
United Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal hasn’t described his resignation from the premiership as a godsend to the party in such graphic terms. But his bravado certainly points to such belief. It was impossible for Dahal to unleash the raucous rank and file onto the streets in the form of the Young Communist League while he was trying to govern, for a change. It was becoming harder still to keep them quiet any longer, especially with his failure to sack the army chief.
Having resorted to the easy way out, the perpetual agitator in Dahal has flourish to the point where he has widened his sights. The upholding-civilian-supremacy crusade may have failed to impress many in the country. But he sees in it the Maoists’ international salvation, after having braved the opprobrium of key allies of those crucial subterranean years.
If Dahal has really made a bid for the leadership of the international revolutionary movement, then his experience in power must be a central part of his campaign. “We joined the peace process in earnestness to emancipate the people, but were being forced to abandon our core ideals every step of the way once we won the largest number of seats,” he must have told the faithful during the secret conclave he supposedly attended during his recent European trip. “Let this be a cautionary tale to revolutionaries the world over and an impetus for permanent revolution.” Peace is, after all, war by other means.
In reality, Sujata’s antics may be part of a grand design to destabilize Prime Minister Nepal’s government and precipitate its fall. Yadav, for his part, wants to undermine the Unified Marxist-Leninists – the prime instigators of the MJF, in his view – without letting the rival faction led by Deputy Prime Minister Bijay Kumar Gachchadar reap the most benefits. Oddly enough, Dahal’s motives are the clearest: a keen desire to obfuscate his true purpose of the moment.
The national boondoggle can be expected to continue because Nepalis aren’t terribly interested in counting their blessings right now. They are too busy trying to evade new blights.