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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Nepal faces the Disaster

The political (mal)developments in Nepal have a strange parallel to the results of fateful mid-term elections in US. The implications for Nepal, however, are far more ominous.

Routing of the Obama’s democratic party in Mid-term elections in the US has been the matter of intense discussions and analyses now. Few politicians in this faraway country of Nepal may see the probability of the same phenomenon here, i.e. fall of a triumphant movement or power in a relatively short time. The slogan of ‘Change’ that helped Obama gather unprecedented mass of followers two years ago lies in tatters now with the reassuring victory of the Republicans who sold, the failure of Obama administration to clear the very mess created by the Republicans themselves back during the tenure of George Bush, to the weary voters. The change has indeed taken place but what the frustrated American people will now get is the ‘same old wine in the new bottle’.

Momentum of similar nature of ‘regressive change’ is gaining hold in Nepal also, though here the time period since the fall of the monarchy has been almost four years by now. The intense polarization and squabbling among the political parties has taken its toll as the popularly elected Constituent Assembly has been unable to elect the prime minister for sixteenth times in four months. The vital issues of timely drafting the Constitution and concluding the peace process have drifted into sidelines and each of the political leader is busy pointing fingers at the others.

Political crises are fairly frequent in Nepal and many of them have come in the past two decades. Few of them have ended fruitfully as the movements with firm backing of the masses have succeeded in challenging the status quoits, particularly in 1990 and 2006. The eventual failure of the politicians to institutionalize the achievements of the movements apart, the political changes have meant a lot for political as well as social and economic aspects of development in Nepal. Furthermore, unlike in the more developed countries with sound economies, the livelihood of the majority of the poor people in Nepal depend heavily on the political stability and relative lack of violence. That is why the political (mal)developments are viewed with serious and justified apprehension from the bottom itself of the society. There are some features that were absent or less significant in the past crises but have arisen more ominously this time; that too with due justification.

The formal end of the State-Maoist conflict in 2006 was more or less the result of the polarization among the political forces with the alignment of the parliamentary political parties with the rebel Maoists against the Monarchy. That was made possible by the historic 12-Point deal supposedly inked in Delhi with facilitation of India. With emergence and sharpening of the Left-vs-Right polarization among the signatories of that deal over these four years, the third pole of supposedly overthrown monarchy now stands to gain solidly amid the great confusion among the people. The second factor that makes the transition more volatile and stagnation more intractable and dangerous is the multiple fractures within the political parties with different factions wit vested interests seeking to gain contradictory incentives.

The other important factor complicating the mess further is the international alignation of both the poles: left and right. As the rightist alliance of now-working government of MK Nepal was the result of the complex cooperation and coordination among all the rightist and status-quoist national forces including the army with Indian establishment, it could do nothing but toe the lines of the benefactor southern neighbor. The Maoists were obviously repelled away from the Indian establishment after untimely demise of the Prachanda-led government and were eager to play the ill-fated ‘China Card’ by growing proximity with the other giant northern neighbor. As their attempts at antagonizing India became increasingly evident, India was comfortable to play with them by using its centuries-long clout to keep them away at any price. This is how one of the least popular governments in post-1990 Nepal has dragged its lifetime for four months after the resignation of the PM and still with no end at sight.

This is how the proud journey of Nepal after the successful people’s revolt of 2006 has degenerated into a nasty and destructive feud between the two poles of the former allies. By now the first five months of the added one year tenure of the CA have been squandered for a zero-sum game of power. The leading politicians are so pre-occupied with the welfare of their factions in the party that they are ready to collaborate with rival parties in order to improve their own position inside the party. The so called centrist parties like CPN (UML) have so prominent factions that the one is more afraid of the other faction more than the rival parties. And the clever men in the extreme right are here to utilize this quandary to make the impossible possible: the revival of monarchy and the Hindu Kingdom.

This is where we stand now four lost years after the historic people’s movement: the parties of the alliance that overthrew the monarchy having developed multiple inter and intra-party fractures, the ordinary people befuddled, the once-active social society in disarray and the allegedly overthrown monarchy in resurgence. Even though every politician in Nepal is now paying lip service to the consensus-politics and ending the deadlock, these existential issues of all shades of politicians will make any amicable solution in near future less likely. A working-consensus is the minimum for the mere entry into the crucial issues like the timely drafting of constitution and logical conclusion of the peace process. The resolution of the outstanding issues like the delineation of the provinces in the to-be-borne federal Nepal and determining the system of governance in the same need the will-power and flexibility never seen in the history of Nepal politics. The reasonable tackling of the multi-faceted conflicts, many of them armed, that are sprouting during the transition demand the courage and perseverance that is difficult to expect from the Nepali politicians.

Knowing all this, the recently demoralized monarchists and the opportunists are now singing the song of Hindu Kingdom with the immensely unpopular ex-king Gyanendra and immensely defamed ex-Crown Prince Paras venturing the temples throughout the country to read the minds of people. They now wish that we forgot it was the farewell of that obsolete system of Monarchy that made it possible to bring the deadly insurgency to a halt and to address the millennia long exploitation and injustice to a large section of people. That it was that change in 2006 that helped us dream bigger things about our future though the politicians now appear to trample upon them. And most importantly they dream to help the Hindu religious parties in India to expand their fundamentalist ideology to Nepal. And for this they are eager to defame the present politicians further.

When confusion prevails, the people attempt to choose the less evil between the given two. And when it is the race between the evil of the past and the evil of the present, they tend to choose the evil of the past. This was probably how the immensely unpopular descendents of George Bush were able to gain majority in the US House of Majority and erode the majority of the Democrats in the senate. It is often repeated among the progressives that the US has eventually turned into one-party system from the Two-party one; with the Democratic party increasingly drifting to the right. That is why the Americans may not have a major change in their fate with these election results. But in case of Nepal, it will be the questions of life-and-death for thousands who live a life of delicate balance and further deterioration in politics will lead to multiple and intense conflicts. No constitution and incomplete peace process at the end of coming six to seven months will be a colossal disaster for all the Nepalis except the henchmen of ex-King and handful of opportunist status quoits.

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