Nepali Times
State Of The State
Ending the season of unreason


. The interim head of state goes to an animist-Buddhist-Hindu living goddess to receive her blessings for his regime.
. A suspended monarch pays his respects to the same deity by cover of night.
. The Maoists bite the hand that fed their egos for the past decade and attack Kantipur Publications.
. The unification of NC prompts one of its last surviving founders to call it quits.

The odd, the unusual, and the unbelievable are commonplace every week in Nepali politics. No wonder the cover pages of national newspapers look like pamphlets of this bizarre bazaar. Believe it or not, the news is that there is nothing new today aside from the fresh antics of the same boring people.

The media has given up trying to make sense of the confusion, and just broadcasts talking heads. News of the escalating disorder in the countryside is raising the anxiety level of the middle class, the section of population that often helps create cohesion in pluralistic societies. Uncertainties over constituent assembly elections have thrown governance out of gear.

Most politicians will be only too happy to be left alone to continue with the status quo, but they know that is not an option anymore. There is no turning back to the days of dead certainty. Society is vibrant with new ideas, but the polity is still trapped in a tomb of dead traditions. That is the contradiction that is fuelling dissatisfaction. Torn between conflicting emotions of continuity and change, the leadership is paralysed. Regular pronouncements by meddlesome envoys complicate the situation even more.

Amidst the despondency of unmet expectations, it's easy to forget that Nepal has come a long way since the ruthless insurgency of the Maoists and the whimsical misrule of the monarchists. We have committed avoidable blunders, but almost every society does so when it is trying to transform itself. There is no reason to panic.

Heavens will not fall if constituent assembly elections are once again postponed. Emergency plans of some international agencies to airlift staff at short notice are unnecessarily alarmist. You can go, we'll sort our mess in our own ham-fisted way.

And despite their public belligerence, the Maoists know that the ground beneath their feet has slipped. The new frontline for the Maoists is the interim parliament, but the commissars will be parrotting party slogans. Gunmen in the madhes have lost political steam. With the division of Sadbhabana there will be a legitimate force to voice genuine grievances of madhesis.

For the first time since their entry into competitive politics, the UML is eschewing populism and behaving responsibly. Surprisingly, even parties led by former panchas have shown considerable restraint. Perhaps Girija Prasad Koirala is correct in his assessment that bigger beneficiaries of fully proportionate election system would be RPP, RJP and fringe rightists.

Those at the helm of national affairs know that chaotic though the situation may be, it hasn't spun out of control. Tragedies in Rautahat and Kapilbastu have shaken the system, but Nietzsche may have been right after all: that which doesn't kill us makes us stronger. Since their first understanding two years ago, political parties in the ruling coalition have managed to hang together despite doctrinaire adherents. They will probably ride out the current storm. After this season of unreason, Dasain should take us to long-awaited mutual understanding and social amity.

CK lal in

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)