Saturday, September 06, 2014

The Shapes Of Things To Come

The constitution-drafting process, stymied in its legitimate venue despite a second popular mandate, is now set to be pursued at the Track II level.
How the putative round table conference might be able to iron out contentious issues when there are so many more wrinkles outside the constituent assembly is anyone’s guess.
But the mainstream parties have demonstrated that they at least care. And in today’s liberal/left milieu, that touchy-feely approach counts for good optics.
Not to everyone though. Kamal Thapa, the leader of the conservative Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal, blasted the Big Three for trying to impose their decisions on the country.
Normally, the majority vote – which the Big Three more than represent – carries the day. As a political practitioner across three system, Thapa knows the numbers game. But, then, there’s that pesky concept of ‘consensus’ that stands in the way. Everyone inside the chamber believes he or she should have a finger in the pie.
The non-party polity could not advance the notion of every-Nepali-is-a-pancha-and-vice-versa and had to give way to groups, coteries and factions long before we restored multiparty politics. Now the purveyors of newness are striving for conformity.
Thus, while castigating the Big Three, Thapa came to the defense of the Baidya Maoists, whose political chutzpah has been startling, if anything.
To be charitable, you could argue that the political establishment has heeded Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Applauding Nepali lawmakers for having embarked on what he called an exemplary mission for the world during his address to the house last month, Modi also cautioned them to make sure no comma, full stop, presence or absence ever came back to haunt them.
That exhortation was a given when Nepalis voted in a second constituent assembly after the first fell flat. Somehow, the message was deemed so much more significant because the messenger was so mesmerizing.
The Baidya Maoists who not only boycotted the last election but also tried to subvert are going to have a say in the document. We can expect disparate groups and organizations to get a patient hearing.
This will provide another opportunity for our grievance industry to churn out new groups of victims to overwhelm the system. Saul Alinsky would certainly be proud.
To their credit, Deputy Prime Minister Bam Dev Gautam and Nepal Workers and Peasants Party leader Narayan Man Bijukchhe have pointed to the absurdity of the situation. But they are lonely voices on their perch.
Deeper down, they, too, need to expand the culpability base once the day of reckoning arrives. Still, our quest for nebulous newness can be expected to continue as long as the external sponsors of the search refuse to concede failure.
And they won’t concede because they have invested so much for diverse reasons. Those who pay the pipers will continue to call the tunes, regardless of how jarring the sounds may be to the rest of us.
So the operative question is this: Since we are a work in progress in perpetuity, why quibble over whether the table is round, square, triangular or even turned upside down?