Nepali Times Asian Paints
From The Nepali Press
Crying wolf again

If the foolish shepherd in the folktale had not cried wolf the villagers would have come to his rescue when the wolf really appeared. After 4 October 2002, the political parties have announced one 'decisive' uprising after another against regression. During this period common strategies and programs were charted out no less than three times. Obviously, it's not working. The effort to roll back October Fourth has been unsuccessful and the effort to prevent February First met a similar fate.

It has been 38 days since the seven parties announced their 'decisive' pro-democracy movement with a six-point agenda. But like before, this call to rise up is not going anywhere. There is no spontaneous support from the people. The political party leadership has to ask itself why. Congress and UML leaders announced the protests and then promptly left on foreign visits. This has raised questions about the commitment of the political leaders: is democracy just a slogan for them to get back to power? The king has in fact labelled the parties' protest 'the politics of intimidation'.

Nothing is stopping the parties from doing anything to find a solution: pressuring the king, threatening an uprising or shaking hands with the king. The pro-democracy agitation is itself a threat. If a non-violent agitation opens the doors for talks between the king and the parties and a sustainable solution can be found for the country's political, social and constitutional problems, nobody would oppose it. But to use party faithful and the people to serve selfish ends in the name of democracy is dishonest.

If the parties feel that the interest of the people in their rebellion is waning, it is because they have cried wolf too often. But unlike what some factions of royalists say, the people have not taken to the streets because they are fed-up with democracy. When the parties prove that their solidarity can be trusted, more people than they ever imagined will gather in the streets. The people want to be assured about the parties' real intentions: what do the parties and their leaders really want? Are they fearlessly, selflessly and honestly committed to democracy? Will any future agitation save the country from violence and autocracy?

A half-hearted job is never successful. For the king to be able to dismiss the parties' decisive agitation as yet another intimidation tactic is because the parties have given him reason to say so. In fact, many Nepalis would agree. The leaders of the parties need to take this to heart. To announce a new agitation just for the sake of having one is harmful not just for the parties and their politicians but for the entire future of the democratic movement.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)