7-13 October 2016 #829

Drama in real life

Dasain feels like someone pressed the pause button just as we were reaching a climax in politics
Bidushi Dhungel
Bibeksheel Nepali
Members of an alliance formed to express solidarity with Govinda KC — whose ninth hunger strike reached its eleventh day on Friday — meet UML Chair KP Oli at the latter's residence on Friday, and ask him why political parties are silent about CIAA Chair Lokman Singh Karki's excesses.

Dasain seems to have forced itself upon us again. For the majority who come from outside Kathmandu, it must be a welcome change to leave the Valley’s despair behind. For those of us with nowhere to go for the festival, we have begun to simply run away.

Tickets to Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur are the cheapest they have ever been. There is always a temple on some mountain in India that is yet to bless us, and this time of year the hills of Nagarkot, Dhulikhel and now Chandragiri with its cable car are most alluring.

The truth is that sitting in the hollow of this Valley this Dasain, there is actually very little to celebrate. There are a few spirit-lifters during the festival week here: the luxury of calm quiet roads, fresh air, the nip in the evening breeze and pause from the catastrophe that is Nepal made possible by the fact that media is also on holiday. That is about it, though.

It feels like someone has pressed the pause button on the remote just as we were reaching the climax in politics. Or a laptop running out of battery during the season finale of Game of Thrones just before someone is killed off but we are not quite sure who yet. We will eventually find out, but that excruciating wait is almost paralysing.

That is where Nepal is: the finale has been playing in slow motion and now the lights have gone out for a month or so. In that interim we are supposed to make merry, eat goat, play cards and drink away our worries. Kathmandu is at the centre of all this madness, which is why everyone is leaving.

As the Drama in Real Life in Nepal unfolds in painfully slow motion, the people’s faith in the parliamentary system weakens by the day. The executive and legislature are effectively dysfunctional. An otherwise corrupt and unjust justice system has delivered to us a warrior in Sushila Karki to lead the Supreme Court, and all hopes hinge on her to avert an immediate crisis.

But her tenure too will come to an end in April, and it is likely the judiciary will return to business as usual with political interference and corruption. The bitter certainty is that there is no alternative to Parliament. While the judiciary is the third pillar of democracy, we should know we are in a real crisis if all hopes rest on this one tottering pillar. Unlike the political class, which seems content to let the Supreme Court and Sushila Karki bear the burden of their blunder in appointing the CIAA chief, we must push for a parallel process within Parliament to wake up the legislature from its coma.

It is not about whether or not the task of impeachment is possible, it is about whether we collectively push to revive parliamentary democracy and on which side of history each one of us will stand. It is not only defeatist to argue that impeachment is a lost cause, it is a danger to the continuity of parliamentary democracy to argue otherwise. There is no choice but to pressurise members of parliament to take a risk, to face the wrath of whips and the CIAA.

We need to start with three elected representatives to sign the impeachment proposal. It seems that it will take a lot more than what we had hoped, but it is not an impossibility. If even that is impossible, then the crisis of democracy will be real and may become impossible to fix.

For now, there is no alternative to making the most of this pause. If we can’t let loose and be merry, we can at least use this break to reflect and regroup. For the storm is only just beginning to brew.

Read also

Unhealthy politics, Editorial

Checking and balancing, Binita Dahal

Muckraking among bottomfeeders, Bidushi Dhungel

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