Sunday, October 12, 2014

So, Which Way Is It Again?

It’s that time in the political calendar where political prestidigitations on the surface seek to convey a state of the nation that is hale and hearty.
As the first deadline for the promulgation of the new constitution under the new constituent assembly – January 22 – approaches, the political parties are making the right sounds and moves. “Sure, it’s crunch time, but we’re up to the job.” Expect more point-wise compromises ostensibly to push things forward. If certain things have to be put off to promulgate the basic law, than so be it. That sentiment is gaining some ground.
The political establishment seems so eager for a breakthrough that Prime Minister Sushil Koirala realized only later that protocol would not permit him to serve on the High Level Political Committee led by the leader of the opposition and demurred.
Employing a mixture of school-yard bullying and bellowing, Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal got what he wanted: a seat at the top table. With the Maoist chief now leading the charge, his deputy, Baburam Bhattarai, must be heaving a sigh of relief. As the person entrusted with ironing out differences on contentious issues, he had begun throwing up his hands in desperation in all directions. In the event of another fiasco, Bhattarai won’t be the only Maoist open to opprobrium.
At the other end of the spectrum, barely a year into its electoral feat, the royalist right is down in the dumps. The former king, who has outlived his ancestors, is in poor health. The former crown prince’s latest arrest in Thailand on charges of drug possession (trafficking?) has left the Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal wondering whether its campaign for the restoration of the monarchy is even worth the trouble.
Kamal Thapa and Co. find themselves in the most unenviable position. Restoration of Hindu statehood – that other plank of the RPPN platform – has now been all but taken over by Khum Bahadur Khadka’s faction of the Nepali Congress. And that movement is drawing support from people associated with the atheist left.
Isn’t it funny, though, that every time the republicans’ folly is on the verge of furthering the chances of the monarchy, the dude in Thailand seems to step right into it? This is not being insensitive to the former crown prince, whose latest visage resembles almost nothing of his former royal self.
Consider how fate is playing with the nation’s collective emotions. If you want to be honest, the monarchy has not disappeared from the people’s hearts and minds. Sure, the political establishment has been kicking the ex-king around. Deep down, every Nepali these past years has known that, if pushed to the brink, there was some place to turn to.
If we want to restore the monarchy formally, time may be running out. No adult might be available to wear the crown. (Since we know how baby kings worked out for us in the past, can teen queens be expected to fare any better, notwithstanding our gender blindness?) And the irony of ironies? Greater hastiness might have to be employed to restore the monarchy than what was put into abolishing it.