Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
"Politicians pushed out democracy"

Where is Nepali politics headed?
To evaluate the situation now, democracy will not exist until corruption is rooted out. The country will not develop and monarchy can't survive until democracy is restored. We have not had an honest and visionary leader. No constitution or law has been made with the people in mind. Even this constitution wasn't much help. On one side we have the Maoists using violence and on the other the Royal Nepali Army waging war in the name of peace. Caught in between are the people.

What gave rise to the culture of corruption?
It all started during the Panchayat. But it flourished during post-1990 democracy because politicians could be bought out. That is why the country is now facing violence and poverty and its citizens are living in terror. The corrupted, from party workers to leaders, have bled the country dry.

Who invited this situation in the country?
Until now, the king, NC and UML have been the main rulers. Lack of vision and action on their part led to this situation. The king is also a Nepali and we must acknowledge his good work and criticise bad ones. We can't say that right is wrong and wrong is right. The palace is as much to blame as the political parties and so-called intellectuals for this mess.

So what's the way out?
Though the past led to this accident, the climax was the king's February First proclamation. The parties much recognise their weaknesses. Until they acknowledge it, there can be no improvement. That's why what the king said was based on truth.

If that's so, why did the parties protest?
Each party has factions. The UML and the NC know they do have honest, patriotic, intelligent party workers but they are duped time and again. Those who were in power destroyed the country. We need a new leadership. For the palace to weaken parties and divide and rule is to work against the good of the nation.

How are the people to perceive the royal step?
We need to leave behind the lust for power within the parties. Some politicians and so-called intellectuals have a big hand in pushing democracy into the palace gates. If it hadn't been for their weaknesses, democracy wouldn't be crippled today. But just because they were to blame doesn't mean the palace can label democracy defective. There is something seriously amiss. The king's speech doesn't match his actions. One gets the sense he is moving towards active monarchy instead of multiparty democracy.

But the king has time and again expressed his commitment to constitutional monarchy and multiparty democracy.
The country cannot develop without democracy and democracy can't survive without political parties. If a leader leads the people with honest vision towards development, freedom and prosperity, nobody needs to be imprisoned or arrested. It is wrong to imprison or punish someone for anything other than a crime. The country is in a state of emergency and laws have been made accordingly. Some people have not been allowed to leave the Valley although they are not Maoists. If the emergency is to bring the Maoists under control, why are others being punished? This is just an excuse to weaken the democratic forces.

How should the political parties move ahead in future?
We have lost our democratic rights and freedom to the selfishness of a few corrupt people. Still, a country needs political parties. They must now strive to earn back the people's respect and start again.

Should the emergency have been imposed?
The government says that this was done to quell the Maoists. But it needn't be imposed on the innocent and those protesting peacefully. To do so is authoritarian.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)