Monday, August 15, 2011

Political Destiny & Curse By Stealth

Regardless of how things turn out after the resignation of Prime Minister Jhal Nath Khanal over the weekend, this much is clear. Politicians can keep their word.
Okay, Khanal broke his self-imposed deadline by a day. Against the general record of our politicos, does that really count against him?
If you think so, look at the element of the story. This was the first time – at least in Maila Baje’s recollection – that a significant segment of the political establishment had implored a prime minister not to resign.
Our quest to national newness has opened up political novelties. Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal resigned as premier in 2009 without anyone of consequence ever having demanded it. Madhav Kumar Nepal became the longest-serving caretaker premier in Nepal (and almost in the world) despite having extended the constituent assembly in exchange for what everyone had  understood was his immediate resignation.
Nepali Congress leader Ram Chandra Poudel, that valiant soldier who claimed to have contested all those ridiculous rounds of balloting just to save democracy, is battling to keep his seat as parliamentary party leader of the Nepali Congress.
With the big and small parties all mired in internal conflict – some at multiple levels – the constituent assembly has become the proverbial tiger that everyone needs to keep riding. So Nepalis must brace for another extension to keep the chasing the dream of … nobody knows what.
But, then, are we really in charge? We keep hearing advice from certain foreign corners about the need for new elections. Successive elections for an assembly to write a new constitution were something proposed in these columns in the past – but only to the extent of emphasizing the absurdity with the absurd. That serious stakeholders could contemplate such a thing is scary, so say the least.
Yet other foreign quarters – including those who vociferously pressed the idea of radical change in the not too distant past – have become votaries of the status quo. Some worry that any vacuum might let Nepal regain its Hindu character and thus check the spread of the Good News. Others fear for the gains in sexuality a deeply conservative society has achieved.
When a Nepali starts talking seriously about the possibility of the existence of water on Mars – and is taken seriously – you can be pretty sure how badly those who have been using Nepal as a laboratory for far too long are going nuts.
Each day we discover that on the other side of the Himalayas lays a richer treasure trove of resources. (Actually that’s what Tibet in Chinese signifies.) But on this side, we are supposed to believe we are barren just because a guy called Toni Hagen said so many, many years ago. Elsewhere technology has helped to trace what was hitherto deemed untraceable. Yet we are expected to forget Hagen’s time and context and mull deeper into that sati’s-curse line. (Who exactly was the hapless lady and what were here precise words, anyone?)
Pardon the rambling, but it seemed like a good way to spend time before we discover the true story behind Prime Minister Khanal’s resignation – as well as appointment.