SHRUTI SHRESTHA / KANTIPUR
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal is jetting off again, this time to Norway and Finland.
We can't see the purpose of this visit at this time, unless with all the crises at home he wants a break. Whoever has been advising the prime minister of late has given him another bad piece of advice: you don't leave your country when there is an energy emergency, when the peace process is stuck, there is a breakdown in law and order and a mutiny is brewing within your own party.
The ostensible reason for the visit: to inspect hydropower plants just doesn't hold water. If he really wanted an urgent fix for the energy crisis, it would have been better to go to Lucknow and Patna. Building trust with India to immediately import 200MW and getting the necessary transmission lines strung up from Gorakhpur to Butwal would have made much more sense.
Ensuring that transmission lines damaged by the Kosi should have been this govenment's priority five months ago. If those pylons were up, power cuts this month would have been only 10 hours a day. If a proper ferry had been installed, 24 women and children wouldn't have died in the boat disaster on 4 January.
It is just as well that an inspection of Danish windmills is off the itinerary. The PM may want to check out the Nordic power pool as a model for regional energy sharing. Norwegian hydropower investment is important for Nepal, but any new major project in the Tama Kosi basin is going to take another five years to come on line. And Finnish IT companies aren't about to set up BPOs in Nepal with our current labour relations, skills incapacity and energy famine.
The only real issue for us is whether the PM is going to get the message from his hosts to start behaving like the elected leader of a country that he is, and not like a paranoid party boss. His threat this week to take power by force if his government is brought down should be proof to the Scandinavian democracies that this man hasn't purged himself of totalitarian tendencies. In the lineup of portraits at the party unification ceremony, just look at where the Maoists get their inspiration from.
We hope Norwegian and Finnish diplomats here have briefed their home governments about what this elected leader has been up to back home: saying one thing and doing another.
Happy holidays, Mr Prime Minister. The country will await your return in pitch darkness.