There they go again. K.P. Bhattarai and G.P. Koirala are back at it. These two fellows first create a crisis, and then they busy themselves trying to resolve it. It almost looks like they do it on purpose-so they don't get bored in their old age. It would all have been hugely entertaining if only it were not so dangerous for the nation. Chronic squabbling in the ruling party has brought governance to a standstill.
The Maoists, who had taken a monsoon break in the leech season,
seem to be capitalising now on this disarray at the top. The Prime Minister promised MPs of insurgency-affected districts that he would ensure them safe passage back home for the Dasain festival. The Maoists responded with a fresh offensive last week. They chose soft targets to make their presence felt in the capital: setting school buses on fire, lobbing pipe bombs while police wives were having a function, and scaring the Home
Minister with another home-made bomb. Elsewhere in the kingdom, they
used human shields of women and children to loot police posts, a not-soglorious
technique for a "People's War".
It is doubtful whether such acts of arson and mayhem actually further the cause of "revolution". Even so, the Maoists are not solely to blame for this spurt of recklessness. Prime Minister Koirala, the chief keeper of law, and Sher Bahadur Deuba, the man entrusted with the task of talking to the Maoists, are more interested in undermining each other's influence in their own party than in engaging the rebels. And, as far as they are concerned, the country may as well go to pot.
This ugly grab for power going on at the centre is not the only cause of Nepal's woes, but it certainly looms large. The Maoists are merely taking advantage of it. The ruling party's unruliness is exacerbating the nation's crises, including the Maoist one. With a reshuffle in the air, ministers vacillate, senior bureaucrats obfuscate and the general administration of the country has been left to minor officials left to their own devices. It is a wonder that this man-made disaster (and it is made by men) has not yet completely crippled the nation.
But it will if the mess is allowed to prolong. The Nepali Congress chieftains have to decide: are they going to go on like this or just get it over with and split the party? Patch up or break up.
There is nothing wrong with political parties splitting, they do it all the time. The UML and the RPP both did it. (Some of them even come back together later.) Leaders of the Nepali Congress like to boast that theirs is a mass-based party. It appears to have become a mess-based one. Were it not the ruling party, none of us would have bothered about their internal affairs. But the collective destiny of 23 million people is hanging in the air while the cronies of these two septuagenarians play out their proxy battles.
It is time the infighting is brought to a logical and swift conclusion. The party should formalise its split and bifurcate into a Congress G and a Congress K.
ROADS WORST TRAVELLED
Kathmandu has 10 percent of the country's total road network, but more than half of all the cars in Nepal drive on them. That ratio partly explains the condition of what are euphemistically called "roads" in Kathmandu. The term "pothole" is inadequate to describe the craters that dot the long narrow space between walls in this city. These turn into major lakes in the monsoon that could swallow up a Kursk-class submarine.
The powers that be drive around in their Sports Utility Vehicles, most of them imported dutyfree by flaunting the privileges conferred upon them by the last hung parliament.