Sunday, March 25, 2012

Comrade, Don’t Sit On The Sidelines

With many in the country fixated on whether the Maoists might actually capture state power and turn us into inmates of a giant national re-education camp, CPN-UML leader K.P. Oli is crying wolf in the other direction.
The failure to draft the constitution within the latest extended deadline would pave the way for a rightist coup, Oli told an audience in Khandbari, Sankhuwasabha district last week.
The advent of spring once again has instilled the political ambience with much anticipation. So many political surprises have been sprung out of the hat this time of year in the past that you cannot realistically constrain the realm of possibility.
Before you contemplate a restoration of the monarchy, however, consider this: In Oli’s estimation, former king Gyanendra will not be the right-winger grabbing power. Who, pray, then, could be lurking further to the right of the crown?
Let’s ponder a little deeper. Is Oli talking about the reactionary right and its penchant for aristocracy and established religion? Or is he signaling the moderate right and its fixation with limited government and distrust of intellectuals?
Might, on the other hand, the UML leader be referring to the radical right and its espousal of romantic and aggressive nationalism? Or is he indicating the extreme right with all its association with anti-immigration and implicit racism?
Or perhaps the former deputy prime minister is alluding to the neo-liberal right, which combines a belief in a market economy and deregulation with the traditional right’s beliefs in patriotism, elitism and law and order?
Specifically, in our context, this could mean anything between right-wing elements of the national military or other armed forces who believe a gory national makeover is unavoidable and theocrats who deem that Hinduism can no longer take everything coming its way.
Oli is too smart a politician to stop being banal and cryptic. And let’s not forget that he is considered a leading contender to succeeded Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, without, one might add, even being a member of the legislature. (Not that that is something new in his party.) To that extent, Oli has made our task harder.
Impelled by Marx and Lenin to become among Nepal’s first headhunters, Oli has subsequently been in and around power long enough to have finally, as they say, understood Marxism and Leninism. Yet, in the manner of his comrades, he cannot disavow communism outright without risking political irrelevance.
Still, when he sees the Maoist alligator opening its mouth, Oli doesn’t know whether it is trying to smile or preparing to eat him up. Thus, he has emerged as one of the fiercest critics of the Maoists (who consider him a leading rightist).
As a middle-aged communist confronting his own mortality every time he flies out for medical treatment, Oli recognizes the corruption of a dream of justice when he sees it.
Maila Baje cannot claim to have peered into the soul of Oli and ferreted out the preceding sentiments. All this comes from a few books of the greatest quotations of the 20th century on communism.
If Oli thinks such assertions are too banal and cryptic for our own good, then might want to employ a little more candor and tell us what he means by a right-wing power grab.