Sunday, June 10, 2012

Let The Merriment Continue

It’s reassuring to see that our political leadership has returned to its spirited and playful mood. After all, the sky really did not fall after the constituent assembly died without producing a constitution.
Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal seemed to be in the bounciest mood of all when he prattled with zest and volubility the other day over how he took India for a double ride. First, his party took a firm stand in favor of identity-based federalism. New Delhi, according to Dahal, had been expecting the Maoists to support a constitution that contained no provision for federalism based on identity.
The second ride rolled on when, Dahal gushed, the Maoists defied the Indians by not supporting the imposition of an emergency order to prolong the constituent assembly’s term by six months.
A few days later, still in a frisky mode, Dahal rejected the notion that the Maoists had disbanded their once formidable fighting for virtually nothing. “The Nepal Army is in the grip of the Maoists,” Dahal asserted. Scary as that sounds, it’s probably safe to take that assertion as part of Dahal’s general cheerfulness.
From the other end of the communist spectrum, CPN-UML senior leader Madhav Kumar
Nepal, too, was in much jollity. In an interview with reporters, he conceded that he knew from the outset that the constituent assembly would end up being an albatross around the national neck.
However, he offered no explanation as to why he insulted the Nepali people by entering the assembly through a circuitous route after having been doubly defeated in the elections.
The assembled reporters did not seem terribly impressed by his articulation of the road ahead. One suggested how the mainstream parties could now rebut the monarchists when they sought a seat at the table. “A seat for a spent force?” Madhav Nepal retorted. “Then why don’t we also bring the Ranas, Mallas, Licchavis, Kirats and everybody else who came before them?”
Of course, that was before Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal’s public rally calling for the restoration of the monarchy, which dwarfed the earlier gathering organized by an alliance of mainstream and fringe parties opposed to Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai’s continuance in office.
The Nepali Congress, the most befuddled of the three in the post-April 2006 epoch, still managed to have its share of the amusement. The rival Sushil Koirala and Sher Bahadur Deuba factions are trying to distinguish themselves from the rest of the crowd by pushing bizarre ideas that have only convoluted the discourse. The party claiming to be Nepal’s only democratic formation now risks hemorrhaging its janjati flank.
Tempting as it might be to castigate the callousness of top national leaders during such extreme times, Maila Baje thinks we really need to cut them some slack. Two foreign eggheads, writing in The New York Times, blamed the post-monarchy leadership for wrecking Nepal and called for withholding aid to force them to see straight. That was too much for two other foreign brainboxes, who fired off a letter to the editor rebuking the original authors for ignoring the gains Nepalis had actually made. They specifically chided the authors for counseling aid suspension.
Such internecine battles suggest that Nepalis may be turning the tables on our alien interlocutors. When they got an opportunity, foreigners stepped in en masse with their irreconcilable formulations on religion, language, ethnicity, sexual orientation and the like that were not part of the original hopey-changey vision laid down in the 12-Point Agreement. (Of course, the shrewder of our politicos, like the Maoists, milked the foreigners to the hilt.)
Today, when foreigners – in their state and non-state incarnations – are counting the return on their investment, their shock is palpable. Nepali politicians, for their part, finally seem determined not to accept responsibility for things that were not of their doing. So, let the merriment continue.