Sunday, January 11, 2015

Caught Between Anticipation And Indifference

The Constitution is all about, well, whom you want to ask.
For Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist chairman Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, the January 22 deadline is sacrosanct as part of his drive to become prime minister. It doesn’t matter what’s in the document as long as it comes out.
Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, too, has been insistent on the urgency of adhering to that date. But, then, he would have to step down from a perch he didn’t originally covet but has since grown comfortable on.
Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal isn’t even trying to hide how hard he wants to miss the deadline. What he wants is the presidency, with full powers. Everything else is just a prop.
Lately, the Madhes-based parties have professed their desire to prevent Oli’s rise to the premiership. Once the January 22 deadline is breached, they hope to join a national government and keep the conversation alive. There is so much going on under the surface among the factions there that needs to be sorted out subterraneaneously.
To be sure, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal (RPP-N) is energized by its chariot procession for restoring the Hindu state. But it doesn’t have the numbers to prevent a secular statute, unless there is a massive revolt in the Nepali Congress by like-minded members.
Should that happen, the RPP-N would have to share the Hindu agenda with a more formidable faction. In reality, though, it has provided the cover needed for Nepali Congress members to revisit their decision to go secular. So the RPP-N insists on meeting the deadline while staking out its ground in the event that it is missed.
Reversing secularism will be fought tooth and nail by the western powers and their local protégés that drove that agenda. Maila Baje has been hearing a subdued but sustained fear in the republican camp that the West might accept the restoration of a Hindu monarchy provided the state remains secular.
India, although ruled by a Hindu nationalist party unabashed about promoting its ideology domestically, will not come out openly in favor of Hindu statehood here. Compromise and consensus will be the mantra from down south, as during the days of the Rana-Congress alliance and the twin-pillar theory. What matters is figuring out what transpires behind that façade of conciliation.
China, too, has become more outspoken, particularly on state restructuring. But, then, candor has been the general trend in Xi Jinping’s neighborhood policy. Investing consideration and cash in all key parties means Beijing would not have to suffer the indignities of 2006 all over again. (Remember how they had to beg, scream, kick and cajole to let their ambassador become the first top foreign diplomat not to present his/her credentials to the king?)
Any surprise, then, that the nation’s conscience has been seared by an admixture of anticipation and indifference ahead of January 22?