Nepali Times Asian Paints
Deluge of words


When the Maoists joined mainstream politics, the language of threat they employed in public speeches surprised Kathmandu's media and urban liberals across the country. When they became the largest party in the CA and led the government, it got worse. They began to call themselves 'winners' and labeled the rest 'losers'.

The Maoists may not be in government anymore but nothing has changed. Just this week Baburam Bhattarai declared that his party would "smash the state into pieces". Puspha Kamal Dahal has announced that if the government decides to use force against Maoist agitations it will suffer "the same fate former king Gyanendra did".

The other political parties haven't kept quiet either. Deputy PM Bijay Kumar Gachhadar has spoken of the possibility of 'bypassing' the Maoists to endorse the budget. A UML leader recently accused the Nepali Congress of plotting to do away with the CA and establish presidential rule. And small political parties never get tired of blaming the big political parties for the impasse.

These are strong words. Never mind that the UML leader in question recanted. Who are they meant for? Are they meant to put pressure on those at the decision-making level? Are they directed towards leaders of other political parties? Or are they meant for public consumption, as proof that the politicians are actively engaged? It seems everyone is talking but noone is listening.

The only people listening, perhaps, are the Nepali people. But they too are desensitised by sensational slogans. They know that when the Maoists say they are going to "crush the government into pieces", it is just another threat by a party that is sitting in a corner and licking its wounds. Similarly, when the political parties talk about presidential rule, people scoff at the idea, because they know how strong people power is. For the people, these are all hollow threats.

In reality, they only listen because they have no choice but to do so, given media coverage. But Nepali politicians just do not understand that it is not kosher to talk about politics when they have been invited to non-political events. There is a right time, right audience, and a right place for everything. Just because the cameras are rolling and the event has journalists in attendance doesn't mean that politics is all people want to hear about. It is callous and downright offensive to hear keynote speakers talking about crushing the government at the opening of a primary school.
What our leaders have also not understood is that the people do not want to hear any more speeches. If you have heard one, you have heard them all. What they want is action, not name-calling, finger pointing or threats: that's the easiest thing to do in politics.

The priorities for this government are very straightforward - end the impasse and write the constitution on time. The country's budget, prepared months ago, hasn't been passed. There are 60-odd bills waiting their turn. Only seven of the eleven thematic committees of the CA have submitted their drafts. With less than six months to finish writing the constitution, there hasn't been a more important time in our history for our leaders to be delivering on the promises they made to the Nepali people.

The CA election last year was not just about writing a new constitution. When we went to the polls, we voted to end years of uncertainty and insecurity, in the hope that the country would move in a new direction. Our leaders are so consumed with their power struggles that they have forgotten the most important player in all this - the people. Stop badmouthing each other, stop this flow of negativity and hatred, come together like you did during the April Uprising and break this deadlock.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)