Sunday, January 08, 2012

A Fraternity’s Fervor In Self-Defense Flippancy

Leaders of the Big Three were always capable of charming us with their small chatter. The chunks Maila Baje could collect over one 48-hour period last week were truly splendid.
Nepali Congress president Sushil Koirala asserted that his party had done nothing to hurt the country. The CPN-UML’s K.P. Sharma Oli claimed that the current crop of leaders was keeping Nepalis in the dark in the name of fostering change. The Maoists’ C.P. Gajurel, who is becoming increasingly acerbic in some of his public pronouncements, called his party chairman, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, a traitor.
Sushil Koirala’s comment came against the backdrop of the autocracy allegation leveled against him by party dissident-in-chief Sher Bahadur Deuba. For someone who feels he stood up rather heroically to Girija Prasad Koirala, Deuba certainly cannot afford to let Sushil get the better of him. The party president is entirely justified in explaining his side of the story.
But Sushil took things a bit too far. Forget the specifics. A party that claims to have led three valiant campaigns to bring democracy was unable to preserve it twice and may be on the verge of failing a third time. How much longer can the nation put up with mere intentions, putting aside actual performance?
In including himself among the ranks of politicians who have failed the country, Oli is probably projecting himself as a worthy successor to Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai. Given the beating Dr. Bhattarai’s personal image has taken during his tenure at the helm, any politician can expect to bask in the soft idolatry of lowered expectations. But Oli could have at least tried to shed more light on the kind of darkness he believes his tribe has cast on the country. He has, after all, been at the center of some of the most opaque deals sullying the Nepali political firmament.
Gajurel’s labeling of Dahal as a traitor is reminiscent, at least superficially, of the travails of another Comrade Pushpa a generation ago. Yet the accusers of Pushpa Lal Shrestha themselves could not ward off the same allegation from other comrades. Gajurel, who ostensibly wants to see Ram Bahadur Thapa Badal in Dr. Bhattarai’s seat, has too much of his skin in the game not to recognize how subjective the T word can be.
In grappling with the mechanics and machinations of the parliamentary system they once condemned as despicable as the monarchy, Badal or, for that matter, Mohan Baidya have diluted their rhetoric of a full Maoist takeover of the Nepali state. Granted, they have offered boisterous protests against perceived pernicious compromises Dahal and Bhattarai have made in the name of peace. Still, there may be some in their ranks who would be equally prone to accuse the hardest of the Maoist hardliners of having abandoning the cause.
In reality, our politicians have taken the easy way out. They are caught in a dance the real choreographers are directing on the fly. By demonizing their collective fraternity, they manage to keep the people as well as the puppeteers at bay. We’re all having fun in our own ways. Just don’t lose your penchant for springing up compromises when it comes to the crunch.