Saturday, August 30, 2014

Bonfires Of Inanities

It’s getting down to crunch time for Comrade Baburam Bhattarai.
Our Doctor of Eternal Innovation is actively tamping down public expectations, as the deadline for the promulgation of the constitution looms.
A basic law promulgated through majority vote of elected representatives would not be able to address all sections of society and therefore the nation’s needs, Bhattarai sagaciously informed us the other day.
The chairman of parliament’s Constitutional Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee also spoke of efforts under way to convene a round table conference to ensure consensus behind the document. True, such an event would go a long way toward assuaging the likes of the Mohan Baidya-led faction of the Maoists and the assortment of small armed groups. But, then, C.P. Gajurel, a luminary in the Baidya lot, has already shifted the goalposts. A few days earlier, he dismissed federalism, democracy and republicanism as India’s agenda, ostensibly pushed for diabolic purposes.
Tempting as it certainly is, there’s no time to dwell on the shamelessness of the contention of a man whose party waged a 10-year bloody war to advance that trifecta. For now, Gajurel has zeroed in on the conflagration likely to consume the country should a tainted statute be foisted upon it.
Even if Gajurel is indulging in usual theatrics here, movements on the wider stage are hardly encouraging. Bhattarai’s boss, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, continues to warn that the Maoists might pull out of the constituent assembly altogether. You can’t imagine what a man so desperate to keep his house in order might wreak.
The talk of replacing one perpetual convalescent with another in the premiership had already weighed down the process before the government finally came out with a partial list of nominated members of the constituent assembly. For one thing, the assembly is still incomplete. For another, even after such inordinate delay, one lady’s name had to be scratched out because it later emerged she was already on the proportional representation list of her party. With that kind of inattention to detail, you wonder…
From the details emerging from the drafters – and those close to them – everything the Nepali people were promised would be in the statute of New Nepal is now being deemed amendable. Republicanism, the first gift of the first constituent assembly bestowed under the aegis of an unelected, interim prime minister, will be in the preamble. So that should be unalterable, right. Well, not quite. The drafters are not sure how to deal with the beginning, so they’ve decided to leave it till the end.
Bhattarai, whose prime ministerial tenure will be remembered for the capital’s road-widening project, has stopped taking credit for single-handedly turning Nepal into a republic. Instead, he’s talking about the urgency of building a new political force. Yet we seem to be decaying.
With no constituent assembly, the interim constitution of 1951 lasted nine years. With two such bodies elected already, the current temporary statute seems set to last quite that long.
No wonder men like Chitra Bahadur K.C. and Kamal Thapa have stepped down from their respective anti-federalism and pro-monarchist perches, and want the constitution promulgated as soon as possible. Putting out those bonfires of inanities might be our more pressing task.