Nepali Times
Guest Column
Crisis within a crisis


Standard international practice of democracy has it that erring politicians yield their place to others more likely to regain people's trust. Not so in Nepal.

Even as the disgraced stubbornly cling on to what they probably see as potentially lucrative positions, party members instead of getting rid of their tainted leaders, continue to render them their near-servile obeisance. So much so that even leaders incarcerated for corruption are unanimously re-elected to their former positions.

For many party workers too, the incumbency of their party in power has meant they can scramble for crumbs tossed to them by their leaders in the high table. For the people in the streets, however, this considerably blurs the distinction between an ideology-based party and a mafia operation. While such political behaviour has been the mother of all problems in Nepal, surprisingly we still see a knee-jerk adherence to keeping these crooks around.

As King Gyanendra mentioned in his address to the nation on Wednesday, the February First takeover came only after the monarch's attempts to give clean administration to the country through these very parties failed due to the latter's intransigence. Even before Sher Bahadur Deuba was appointed prime minister in January 2004 the king had met the leaders of all the then agitating parties and presented them a seven-point agenda comprising of consensus on national issues, peace and security, curbing of corruption, people-oriented system of governance, national unity, holding election and an all-party consensus government.

But what the parties wanted was an immediate return to unbridled incumbency even without popular mandate in elections, which due to their reckless misconduct during their dozen years in government could no longer be held.

As if the Maoists have not done enough already through their safe havens in India, the seven party alliance leadership is now engaged in inviting Indian interference more or less in the same manner as that of the Sikkimese leaders in the buildup to 1974 when India swallowed up the country. Holding rallies of thousands of party cadres cost huge sums of money. But since the parties are not given to transparency in their financial dealings, among other things, one is bound to lend credence to the rumour now making rounds in Kathmandu that the money after all did not come from their earlier earnings.

Instead, millions of rupees have since made it from abroad to help finance the jamboree of their paid party workers to create an illusion of popular support, whereas the disturbances it creates only incense the vast silent majority even more against them and their egregious acts of foolhardiness.

The spontaneity of popular support is shown more by the thousands of people who mill around the king and queen for their darshan during their visits to the districts. Since the political parties in Nepal still have to evolve as instruments of total and genuine democracy and good governance, people do look up to the monarch as an indispensable countervailing force not only against the indiscretions of the parties, but also against the evil designs of foreign powers.

There is, however, no denying the fact that the present interim government could have done much more to translate the monarch's patriotic intentions into concrete programs and achievements. For one thing, the present government continues to stick to the same unproductive if not counterproductive development planning and highly-centralised implementation system.

The present government's task, therefore, should be create new conditions of development so that people begin to look to the post-Maoist future with a sense of optimism and enthusiasm. Not doing this will let the people down as well as the counterbalancing role inherent in the Nepali monarchy.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)