Nepali Times
Winner takes nothing

The political tragedy of our time is that history keeps repeating itself as farce. This raises the question: do we need a cabinet at all? It seems to be so difficult to cobble together a team, that people are saying we may be better off just letting the king and prime minister run things for a bit. The biggest objection to Surya Bahadur Thapa's appointment of seven trusted colleagues as cabinet members comes from his own party. "Since you didn't include us, we're going make life hell for you," seems to be the political credo of those left out.

And as long as we are at it, in half jest we suggest scrapping the bureaucracy as well. The terms for ten top HMG secretaries lapsed two months ago, and the Chand administration found itself incapable of replacing them because of rival pressures. So, for the past few months we have been doing without a civil service. Not that anyone noticed.
The VDCs and DDCs were dissolved nearly a year ago, citizens don't have grassroot representation, but Kathmandu hasn't seen any reason for undue alarm. Police posts, schools and health posts in large parts of the country have been abandoned, closed or bombed out and the district headquarters and the capital carry on with business as usual.

Business as usual means fighting tooth and nail over who gets to be prime minister, or who is appointed home minister. If this is what democracy is, and what we are going back to, then the Nepali people have a right to be worried. This country's citizens have now come to expect so little from the political forces in Kathmandu that they have tuned out, and are just trying to survive from day to day and taking it as it comes.

This three-way tug-o-war in Kathmandu is taking us nowhere. Not that it is anything new, our polity has been completely stuck. Every sordid crisis has the stench of political decay, and it reeks once more of ineptitude, selfishness and greed. And because we can't get around blaming ourselves, we blame the Foreign Hand.

It took Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa one full week to name his cabinet. There is no sign that the political parties see any need to unite despite the dire state we are in, and this includes Thapa's own RPP where the Pashupati faction is on the warpath. There they are, duelling once more in one of the suites on the Titanic.

Meanwhile, the Maoists leaders are busy taking their aging parents on media-accompanied cable-car pilgrimages, filling out frequent flier miles on Buddha Air, or flying off on donor-paid junkets to Sri Lanka. At least they keep themselves busy.

No one in Nepal is satisfied with being Top Dog anymore. Everyone wants to be Only Dog. Compromise, give-and-take, trade-off, middle-ground, reconciliation, reform, national interest, common good: none of those words exist in our political lexicon.

If you want to be the sole winner, it means everyone else is going to be a loser. But if you are the only winner, you may not remain for very long.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)