Dasain has been busy for those of us travelling to be with family. It's also been busy for those travelling away from family, namely, an assortment of politicians flocking to northern climes under an assortment of excuses. A whole brigade of Nepalis headed to China Ė the vice president, PLA commanders, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, and then the president himself, mostly in connection with the closing of the Shanghai Expo. Speaker Subhas Nembang dashed over to Canada, ostensibly to discuss issues of federal justice. And now we hear Prakash Man Singh (NC), Narayan Kaji Shrestha (Maoist), and Bishnu Prasad Paudel (UML) are meeting leaders of the British coalition government in London. Shrestha himself will tuck in a trip to Belgium and France as well.
If it took a statesman with the chutzpah of Jang Bahadur to break the age-old taboo against crossing the 'kalo pani', nothing seems to curb the very average Nepali politician's appetite for foreign junkets these days. With the exception of President Ram Baran Yadav's state visit and Dahal's rather unstately visit, it may safely be concluded that all these visits are totally gratuitous. Doesn't Subhas Nembang have more pressing issues to deal with in the Legislature-Parliament, or is he content to allow the futile expenditure of political and taxpayers' capital ad nauseam? Why are the NC/UML/Maoist trio visiting London instead of thrashing out issues in the inter and intra-party meetings? Most politicians in Nepal who have complained about 'foreign interference' have subsequently gone running to foreign lands begging for interference.
The irony of it all, of course, is Chairman Dahal's message from the Chinese. Stung by the Maharagate scandal (more indicative of a clumsy plant from the south than a genuine Chinese interest in buying off MPs to secure a Maoist victory) and concerned by the ongoing instability in Nepal, the Chinese Government made sure its message got across to all and sundry: "Don't rock the boat". Nepal has increasing contact with China, but so far the indication is that the dragon nation is content to promote harmony in Nepal as long as Nepal does the same for China, getting by with a little aid from its friends. Dahal's talk of a vague tripartite agreement between Nepal, China and India was simply a cover for the embarrassment of not having achieved anything politically advantageous for himself or his party.
The message seems clear enough. With India busy with President Obama, and China too busy to be dabbling in Nepali politics, it looks like it's up to us to sort out our own house. Once this round of junkets is over, with Tihar past us, the real work must begin.