Nepali Times
Mayday, Mayday

Analysts have come up with many analogies to describe the present state of the nation: a patient in intensive care, a village on a volcano, a boat that has sprung a leak, a truck falling off a cliff. But the best one we have heard so far in the cocktail circuit is a jet with a major systems malfunction that is diving towards the ground, while the captain and co-pilot are busy punching each others' faces, as a hijacker behind them holds a gun to their heads. Go figure out who is who.

Pretty soon, at the rate we are going, there will be nothing left to fight over. Here we are, confronting one of the most perilous times in our nation's history and our elected politicians are behaving as if it is plunder as usual. At a time when we need a national consensus, we are at our most divisive. At a time when we need decisive leadership, we have vacillation and a twiddling of thumbs. At a time when we need transparency and accountability, the looting has gone into high gear. At a time when we need to be delivering health care and education on a war footing, we are footing a war. And there is even a sickening scramble on to pocket kickbacks on the paraphernalia to fight that war.

The main opposition UML, squeezed by the Maoists who have commandeered their cadre and a stubborn government that refuses to go, have started collecting tyres for street pyres. Then there is that most intractable quarrel: between Girija Prasad Koirala and Krishna Prasad Bhattarai and/or Koirala and Sher Bahadur Deuba. The latter both had started rubbing their hands in anticipation of the power grab when Koirala's resignation was deemed to be imminent.

Now, we hear rumblings of dissent even within Koirala's inner circle. Sushil Koirala, the mysterious behind-the-scenes confidante of the prime minister, loathes Mahesh Acharya, Khum Bahadur Khadka, and Govinda Raj Joshi. Deputy Prime Minister Ram Chandra Poudel can barely stand Joshi and Jaya Prakash Anand and Acharya, and they heartily return the favour. Acharya and Mahat can't get along, and both have problems with Arjun Narsingh KC.

If you thought that was bad enough, look at the Koirala family: Prakash hates First Daughter Sujata who hates First Neice Shailaja who hates actress Manisha. Auntie Nona, for her part, is disgusted with Sujata and Sushil who reciprocate the feeling.

What's with Nepal's bahuns? Just because they can't get along, do they have to drag the whole country down with them? Not that the high priests in the other parties are any better. Our Communist Party has the distinction of being the most splintered of any communist party in the world-from blood red to pale pink all connected loosely in shifting alliances and vying to outdo each other in closing down schools, calling three-day bandhs, torching public property and launching vitriolic attacks on each other through their media mouthpieces.

We have a situation here. The captain and the co-pilot have knocked themselves unconscious. The hijacker is in command, but can he fly the plane? Quick, what do we do...

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)