Monday, December 23, 2013

Let Not The Confusion Confuse Us

With all the ‘sky-will-fall’ urgency that gripped the November elections, you’d think that by now we already would have a full and functioning government at least attempting to put things back on track. The political vacuum Nepal found itself in was so untenable, the argument within and abroad went, that elections had to be held at all costs. The scale and scope of those boycotting it was an unpleasant reality, but one that had to be bravely endured under military-grade security.
Nepalis did heed that call in record numbers. Yet almost a month after the results emerged, we’re no closer to institutions and individuals representing the fresh mandate. The two principal victors – the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML) – are mired in internal factional struggles, even as they are at each other’s throats. The vanquished – the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-Maoist) and the assortment of Madhes-based parties – still cannot comprehend what really hit them.
India and China, the principal external guarantors of our security and stability – and by extension their own – now warn us of the risk inherent in keeping the breakaway Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-Maoist) out of the political process.
The persistent allegations of electoral fraud lacked sufficient credibility from the outset. But that, Maila Baje felt, never really mattered to the parties making them because it provided a camouflage for political bloodletting within amid the shifting political contours.
Among the victors, the abject chaos pervading the surface, alienating a populace already at wit’s end, has allowed leaders, factions and interests an opportunity not only to project their claims but also to preempt those of rivals. On such shifting ground, the fraud allegations provide an excuse to continue their battles under a noble guise.
Inanities, meanwhile, continue to add up. Parties that boycotted the polls began seeking respectful representation in the new assembly. That impelled parties that did participate but failed to win a single seat also to pursue their place. The head of the election government is finding it difficult to return to his full-time job as chief justice, so he will have to be adjusted respectfully within the assembly. The future of President Ram Baran Yadav, hardly an issue in the election campaign, has become numero ono. The latest absurdity making the rounds is the suggestion to make CPN-Maoist chairman Mohan Baidya – the titular head of the alliance that boycotted the elections – president of the republic as a way of calming the streets as well as less agitated senses.
Adding to the general uncertainty is the parallel process that seems to be playing out in different directions. In whispered albeit audible tones, the twin-pillar theory has begun to reappear across the southern border – and not in pejorative terms. Baidya himself has intimated that the country has reached the pre-2006 phase, amid calls for the dissolution of the newly elected assembly.
Former king Gyanendra, whose silence during the entire electoral exercise acquired much significance, has embarked on an extended private tour of the south, during which it may be difficult to separate the personal from the political. The 1990 constitution – particularly with respect to how it was the best political document Nepalis had ever crafted – has never really left the political discourse.
Taken individually, these strands may not mean much. Together, they suggest that the formal political course will assume shape and speed once the informal dynamics are substantially set in motion. So let the confusion continue, without letting it confuse us.