Sunday, August 30, 2015

You Don’t Want To Mess With This Guy

“How could a liar like he become a doctor?” Sher Bahadur Deuba bellowed the other day. Ouch.
The question surely cut deeper into Dr. Baburam Bhattarai because Deuba is not generally known for such biting words. But, then, it only goes on to show that the Nepali Congress leader couldn’t put up with the Maoist vice-chairman’s antics anymore.
As chairman of the Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee Dr. Bhattarai seems to be doing everything but promoting those attributes, at least within the context of the federalism fracas. Don’t take Deuba’s word for that. Like any stick-in-the-mud rebel who can’t believe his rebellion is actually over, Dr. Bhattarai has had a hard time accepting responsibility for what he and his folks have done. Nine years after the Maoists’ incessant gloating over how they “won” their “people’s war”, the extent of their loss of the peace is becoming clearer. Still, they consider themselves above any culpability for the mess Nepal currently is in.
During his three terms as prime minister, Deuba recognized full well the kind of chicanery, obfuscation and deceit the chief ideologue of a discredited ideology had to engage in to rope in gullible Nepalis. (For a while, our comrades succeeded in persuading the world that the Chinese were behind the insurgency bearing the name of their Great Helmsman, all the while ensconced deep inside Indian territory.)
From the dribs and drabs emanating in the media, this much is clear: Deuba holds Dr. Bhattarai responsible for spreading the canard that he, Deuba, was somehow against the Tharus. In Deuba’s contention, opposition to splitting Kailali and Kanchanpur districts was not tantamount to opposition to greater autonomy for a community that spans the entire east-west southern belt.
Allegations of the complicity of the Maoists themselves in fanning the violence there certainly could not have appeased Deuba. If anything, they must have brought old wounds to the fore, especially as the patina of erudition and deliberation continued to shield Dr. Bhattarai. After all, anytime anyone recalled Deuba’s association – even in the loosest sense of the word – with the London School of Economics in the late 1980s, sneers and snickers immediately followed. Deuba was sent abroad by his mentor, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, so the Panchayat rulers couldn’t ensnare another promising Nepali Congress youth leader with the offer of a zonal commissionership, we were told.
Such perceptions of ordinariness went on to define Deuba the prime minister. A meeting with the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Britain during the early days of the global war on terror might not rank as an accomplishment to the left-dominated political establishment. However, many ordinary Nepalis do tend to recall those meetings as affirmations of Nepali “normalness” in the comity of nations. Especially considering that Dr. Bhattarai had to sneak past his own deputy and foreign minister for a one-on-one with then Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Summit in Teheran.
To make a long story short: Deuba has an understandable ire against eggheads who deserve to have eggs splattered all over their face. Next time, Dr. Bhattarai riles him, he might want to ask something like: “What kind of architect destroys a nation?”