A cross-section of Nepalis we spoke to on a swing through central Nepal this week were unanimous in their support for Baburam Bhattarai. After months of paralyzing deadlock, there is hope that the new prime minister's intellect and integrity will help unknot the hopelessly tangled politics.
Ordinary Nepalis are clutching at straws. This positive perception of Bhattarai, even by those not traditionally well-disposed to the Maoist party, stems from a feeling that desperate times call for desperate measures. Most are willing to overlook the lack of transparency in the four-point agreement with the Madhesi front that allowed Bhattarai to be propelled to Singha Darbar. They brush aside the Maoist support for the Madhes autonomy proposal as politically expedient, and they are even willing to ignore the clause on the general amnesty to those accused of wartime atrocities. This desire to see Bhattarai succeed has prompted many activist wallahs to soft-pedal the agreement that made him prime minister.
But the international community has now taken serious note of the amnesty clause. Undeterred, the new Maoist-appointed Attorney General Mukti Pradhan has made an outrageous statement that all murder cases against Maoist leaders from the war years will be dismissed. The NC and UML, after initially promising to behave themselves in the role of a constructive opposition seem to have developed a deep distrust of Maoist motives. Within the Maoist party, the gloves have come off with Baidya faction now openly talking of a showdown at the central committee meeting on Monday that will decide on whether or not to officially split off. The talk of revolt now is of a revolt within the party.
With all this going on, the people's expectations on one beleaguered prime minister may be unrealistically high. Bhattarai himself has fed these expectations by working 20 hours a day, getting to work in Singha Darbar while the gates are still locked, and getting his secretary to act on the 1,000 emails he gets every day. Although the public is responding favourably to the crackdown on food adulteration, the prime minister's relief package is somewhat populist and it is questionable whether curbing organized crime should come under "emergency relief".
The statement by Gopal Kirati this week about floating a movement of Bahun Chhetris is a dangerously cynical attempt to exploit a further polarisation of Nepali society. Kirati is so close to Pushpa Kamal Dahal that he staged a noisy demonstration against the lack of Janajati representation in the previous cabinet at the behest of his boss. Which leads us to the conclusion that Dahal is now worried that his party may have pushed too far with ethnic politics and this may cost him votes in the next elections because a large chunk of "high" caste voters feel alienated. This is his clumsy attempt at protecting the caste flank, but it seriously risks driving a wedge in Nepal's social fabric between Bahun Chhetris vs the rest.
The prime minister, as vice-chairman of his party, and a PhD will not have to be told about what a dangerous game this is. While he keeps one eye on the current crises, Bhattarai may have to devote some of his waking hours to the seeds of long-term discord that are being laid by his own comrades.
Read also: Where justice is a game, ANURAG ACHARYA Perpetrators of war crimes often assume power to use their positions to escape prosecution
1. jange "Ordinary Nepalis are clutching at straws."
No. It is the political and intellectual elite that is clutching at straws. Having offered the monarchy, CA and federalism as a sop to the Maoists they (inculding the Maoists) are finding that these are not based on political realities. Hence the Gopal Kirati drama mentioned above.
"...and it is questionable whether curbing organized crime should come under "emergency relief"."
That is definitely wrong. It should be under "getting rid of the competition".
16 SEPT 2011 | 11:22 AM NST
2. who cares
good thing about public supporting bhatterai is that bhatterai has to give up pla, ycl, looting, extortion, killing, threatening, lying, being foreign agent etc. ...
....and if they give up everything there wont be maosit cause then after only way to stay in politics would be brain power and none of them got it.
so it's not all bad.
16 SEPT 2011 | 1:39 PM NST
3. Saltwater (East-coast) Economist What are you pretending for???
Most Big brains except perhaps Pradeep Giri and CK Lal are all pretending in Kathmandu because big brains are always desperate.
At the top mantle, Himal Media is pretending.
What irks big brains ain't a dismal fear of recognition but stunted hardihood borne in the cocoon of bourgeois military-industrial complex.
16 SEPT 2011 | 4:11 PM NST
Even the people Nepali Times talks to unanimously reject its relentless negativity.
But they are just being "unrealistic" and "clutching at straws" while Nepali Times remains serenely fatalist.
16 SEPT 2011 | 4:12 PM NST
#4 Hahahahahaha (sarcastic laughter). So are so predictable Arthurji.
16 SEPT 2011 | 6:49 PM NST
Moderator, can you do something about Saltwater. Put him through a translator software or something?
16 SEPT 2011 | 6:50 PM NST
@KiranL, Naresh Neupane the dreaded commentator seems to have make a comeback to NT. Only this time as Saltwater. hahaha
16 SEPT 2011 | 7:38 PM NST
The violence that the Maoists could create in future or created in the past has to do with its feeble nature to accept individual freedom (even Gajurel sir and his aides were barred to enjoy it!). It is not unknown that despite of their commitment to universal standard of Democracy they have a soft spot for violence. This is not the unique source(cause) of the Maoists violence, the Maoists party is plagued with cretinous men (a vivid example is Gopal Kiranti ) whose main aim is to gather more cretins and heat the street as it is free of cost in Nepal. The show goes on as no one tries to check the contents and imagine the consequences of their inflamatory words. And another source of violence comes because of their party structure which cannot run without any sort of patronage system and oblige them to take side with some powerful men all the time. A party who wants to establish a society of proletariats is enmeshed in a game of third class burgeoise.
The Maoists can fool all the kathmandu based elites and media houses with their so called two line party policy, Baburam Bhattarai can buy as much time as he wants with his individual efforts and logo of Board first, and Baidhya and company could threaten of another war. After all, drama is what we are used to. Be it good or bad, we watch them with patience.
Dear Maoists and those who sympathizes with the party
THE MAOISTS NEED TO DECLARE ANOTHER WAR! But please this time dont be mistaken with the target, and you don-t need to go to jungle because your enemy number one is within your party.
16 SEPT 2011 | 7:57 PM NST
9. Bibek Sharma
Let the Maoist split. That is the best news ever. After the split, you can arrest Pushpa Kamal, Kiran and Gajurel and charge them with treason. Baburam is an educated man. You can reason with him. As for the other 3 mentioned above, lets remind them that if they want to live by the sword, then we will be quite happy to see them die by the sword. Does Nepali Army or Nepali police have the capacity to provide for peace or are they just content with eating Dal - Bhat. Also what is the true intent of the Indians and Americans. If there is another revolt, will innocent Nepalis die like the Sryians.
16 SEPT 2011 | 1:10 AM NST
10. Tapan Das
Gopal Kirati's Trojan Horse. Bahun-Chhetri that including Thakuri and Sanyasi,even Dalits, have never asked for a province or state with racial or ethnic naming. They are for federal multi-cultural ,inclusive, proportionally represented fully democratc secular provinces representing the present ground reality of the compotion of various nationalities residing in them. Out of 3956 VDCs and munici
17 SEPT 2011 | 6:06 AM NST
11. Rabi They brush aside the Maoist support for the Madhes autonomy proposal as politically expedient, and they are even willing to ignore the clause on the general amnesty to those accused of wartime atrocities.
Bhattarai is very adept at speaking with a forked tongue.
Now he has transferred the home secretary under political pressure despite promising otherwise.
What message, removing an honest secretary like Paudyel at the insistence of a known corrupt politician, sends to the other government officers? BRB does not have to do anything else now, every government official and police officer has got his message. If they cannot please their political masters their job is going to be in jeopardy.
That he wants the criminal cases against real criminals posing as politicians dismissed, is another example of his doublespeak. He wants his fellowMaoists to believe that this is part of his two line strategy.
He needs to take back these decisions and go beyond symbolic gestures if he wants to be taken seriously.
He really has a chance to make a difference given the good-will he has among the people, and the fact many are willing to overlook his past personal failings in the hope he will turn the country around. But at this rate he may just squander their goodwill away.
It is time that he puts an end to this doublespeak and his two line strategy if he wants to elevate himself as a statesman in the league of BP and Prithivi Narayan Shah. Or else he will be remembered as nothing more than the worst sort of opportunist no different than many others flanking him.
17 SEPT 2011 | 7:58 AM NST
Puspa Kamal Dahal is the Chanakya of Nepai politics.The moment he found out that Bahun and Chhetri Khas Samaj declared that they will not vote parties that are supporting discriminatory actions like making their status as Anyaor in the Others category and thus turning them into Second Class Citizens in their own country of thousands of years. They declared that they are Indigenous adibasi . They may not be Janjati or Tribals though. So he has directed hid cronies to baffle the Bahun -Chhetrits. So any leader who does not support their cause may be assured that heor she should not count on their votee in the forthcoming election. You are not our leader if you do not champion pour cause goes the saying.
17 SEPT 2011 | 8:06 AM NST
13. Kedar Khadka
Chhetris are Adibasi. So are Bahuns . They are here from the time of the Buddha and Alexander the Great. They are not Tribals or Janajati ok. Parties that make us Second Class Citizen and discriminate us may forget our support votes in the coming elections. Now we are desparate and since no leaders ,although are from our own communities , should not count on our votes. This is the only weapon we have to deal with our errant ones. We have now decided to disown them from our community Party Leaders .correct your ways or no vote.
17 SEPT 2011 | 8:16 AM NST
# 8 Nirmal
It is not unknown that despite of their commitment to universal standard of Democracy they have a soft spot for violence.
"soft spot for violence". Nice, almost as good as "coercive apparatus".
17 SEPT 2011 | 8:40 AM NST
15. Tulsi Ram Karki
"Dahalis now worried that his party may have pushed too far e with ethnic politics and this may cost him votes in the next elections because a large chunk of "high"Caste votrs feel alienated.'" This is true. Bahun-Chhetris don,t like to be classified as second class citizens.,not as Anyasor the others. They are Indigenous or adibasi. They are not Janjati or Tribals . Unless that is corrected , he should expectno votes from them in the next election. They have aright to Self-identify themselves; they are not to be discriminated and classified by a group of bigotsor foreign donar supported activists..
17 SEPT 2011 | 9:09 AM NST
#12 Rajaram: Puspa Kamal Dahal is the Chanakya of Nepai politics.The moment he found out that Bahun and Chhetri Khas Samaj declared that they will not vote parties...
You are right. Although this a cynical ploy on Dahal's part,voting for people who share your values instead of voting for parties actually works.
In a democracy, the politicians will respond only to pressure groups.
So it is actually a good thing that like Madhesis,Janjatis,Newars,Bahun-Chettris are finally organizing into a group to pressure the politicians.They and the other communities should look at the larger interest of the country first,instead of automatically supporting any party or politician just because they happen to share the same ethnic background.
It is also very important that the Bahun_Chettri group and others protect the interest of the vulnerable groups like the dalits,who are still discriminated by the upper castes not only Bahun-Chetrris but also the upper castes of Madhesis,and Newars.
There is no reason why any Bahun Chettri or any Newar,Janjati or Madhesi should vote for any party that they think does not protect the larger interest of the country.
Only then, will the political parties become more responsive to the will of the people,instead of only to activists with vested interests.
17 SEPT 2011 | 8:45 PM NST
17. Rabindra Yes, the Government of India adopts the stand that all citizens of India are indegenous. India ratified theILO Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Population,1957(No.107)in1958. The country has the largest indigenous and tribal population in Asia(over 80 million),comprised of over 500distnct communities.(the size of whichvaries from 50 to 7 million,),speaking a plethora of different languages.Legally recognised as Scheduled Caste(ST). Nepal should emulate the example of her adjecent neighbour and solve her problem in the same way.
18 SEPT 2011 | 6:19 AM NST
Khas Chhetri Bahun Sanyasi 's demand are. In the federal Nepal we ask for the followings; 1 classify us as Indigenous adibasi not as anya the others. 2.No agradhikar to any one community. Politically not acceptable. No provinces as ethnic or on racial basis. 4. Naming the provinces on cultural geographical basis reflcting their multi-cultural character. 5. Reservation only to marginalized and disadvantaged persons of all communities after defining creamy layer of the society. To the poor of all.
18 SEPT 2011 | 7:14 AM NST
19. kamal kishor
We want to believe that the new PM might be able to steer a path in this turmoil. We are desperate and that is why we want to clutch any straw that comes in our way. It is human nature. A desperate person tries to save himself with actions seemingly ridiculus to others.
But beware: it is a DESPERATE MAN. He can go to any extreme!!! If he decides then the outcome becomes very dark. Beware of that.
18 SEPT 2011 | 8:23 AM NST
20. who cares
Phd- does bhatterai really have Phd degree or he is doing phd on "how destructive idea could lead to total destruction"?
he destroyed and still destroying, trying hard to destroy infrastructures, nepali society, economy, economic confidence, image of nepal and what not.
18 SEPT 2011 | 10:08 AM NST
Reply # 18. Kumar.
Totally Agree of what you say.
Poor is poor in all communities, castes and races. Unfortunately, the West who have been steering this issue in Nepal, have no indepth undersanding and using what little they know of ethnic, caste systems in India and applying it to Nepal. A huge mistake!
Ethnic based federalism is a load of nonsense, which would be detrimental for the nation and will also annoy the silent majority of people.
18 SEPT 2011 | 3:58 PM NST
If we take time frame of 350 year back majority of khas forfathers are migrants from either kumayu or madhya pradesh where madhesi or Tharu were on their land of Mthla. some 150 yers before mithla community devided in fraction between ranas & british for revenue. Now the sovernity of Modern Nepal needs trust of each other but cultural relation and humaniterian freedom canot be ignore.
18 SEPT 2011 | 5:11 PM NST
Again, some of you are in a cultural straightjacket like the old finger in the dike!
It's become generic and formulaic to ask for a separate state till you suck the country dry.
How long are you gonna corroborate the same old story?
The moral decay requires now the reordering of new institutions to classify, for once, that all folks living in Nepal are just Nepalese and that ought to be their sole belonging right!?!
18 SEPT 2011 | 5:11 PM NST
24. Tapan Das
Out of 3956 VDCs and municipality in Nepal ,there is not a single one that is inhabited by one single community. This is unlike Europe or Africa. As the country is secular,multi-cultural, multi ethnic; the provinces also must be based on this very way. No can can change the people ;they are mixed everywhere.
Even local bodies ,c local self-government so will be muti-ethnic. Which is good. It is good to try to put one group together in one province. Still more than half of their population will have to be in another provinces. We are destined to live together in future as well.
The best solution to empower the minority and marginalized is to devolve power to the local bodies.
19 SEPT 2011 | 9:27 AM NST
AFTER BRB WILL BE CRAZY. HE HAS EVOLVE HIMSELF IN CHEAP POPULARITY AND DOING NOTHING PRIORITY WISE. WHY OTHER WILL SUPPORT HIM OR HIS PARTY , THEY HAVE HAD LEV EYED PLA IN CAMP NRS 1000 PER MONTH AND USE THE MONEY IN DEMENTRATION. NOW THEY ARE BARGENNIG FOR HEAVY COMPENSATION WHO DIE DURING CONFLICT. BRB AND HIS GOVERNMENT SHOULD THINK FOR 30 MILLION PEOPLE OF NEPAL, THINKING IN 30,000 IS UNJUSTIFIED AND BURDEN TO NATIONAL TREASURY.THIS IS AGAIN TO CATCH MONEY IN PARTY IN SAME WAY AS THEY HAVE DEMONSTRATED IN PAST.