Nepali Times
Moving Target
Adolescent antics



Reacting to Maoist antics has become the government's latest full time job. Our hapless home minister, ever willing to bend over backwards on cue, is far too busy appeasing the unruly newcomers in parliament to keep track of their non-stop contraventions of the peace agreement. Alarming innovations like the YCL, kamikaze trade unionism, and violent attacks on the media continue the party's text-book strategy of keeping everyone off-balance and in constant damage-control mode. (Picture: Even rickshaws weren\'t spared during Wednesday\'s banda.)

Maturity has never been a hallmark of national politics but the Maoists have brought unprecedented levels of irresponsibility into the arena. As the seven-party stalwarts express outrage at every YCL crime, reminiscent of elderly parents scolding rowdy teenagers, the police somehow never manage to actually arrest anybody, indicating these teenagers stopped listening years ago.

In the Hand's mercifully limited experience, adolescents are typically self-obsessed, un-cooperative, and strongly averse to criticism, traits all too familiar to those following local politics of late.

Tracing this trend back a decade or so, any ideology-free individual soon concludes the entire Pupil's War was an ill-conceived exercise in nationwide juvenile delinquency. Despite noble goals professed by the ideologues, their bloody pursuit of a mythical workers paradise was always held hostage to a childishly intolerant, violent methodology.

Our first clue to the Party's rich fantasy life was its cute noms de guerre. As a kid, long before PK Dahal made everyone call him Supremo Commander Awesome-cum-Fierce-One, the Hand gained notoriety as the great Apache warrior Geronimo in after school skirmishes. Unlike the comrades, we have all since pulled up our socks and moved on.

Another early indication of the leadership's aversion to real life was their dogged adherence to an ideology that had already failed spectacularly wherever attempted. Obviously 'live and learn' is not in the communist lexicon, but willful denial of reality, whether geopolitical, historical or Santa Clausical, could never be called mature. It would be nice if the Little Red Book (i.e. Daddy) had all the answers but most of us figured out long ago that life is never so simple.

Declaring war and wreaking havoc in a pique because of unmet demands is something we'd expect of adolescent street-gangs, not a political party with national aspirations. The responsible approach of putting their platform before the people must have seemed too tedious (i.e. adult) compared with going underground to live out imaginary roles in an epic adventure. Nepal's remote districts provided the ideal venue for creating glorious dreams of utopia, while sabotaging infrastructure and demanding free food from the locals is way more fun than getting a job in town.

That was the past. The list now continues in the present tense. Coercion and intimidation may be universally frowned upon by democratic societies, including those presently propping up the peace process, but ask any of the countless extortion victims and they'll tell you these features are Maoist policy cornerstones. Most people learn early on that 'free money' is an oxymoron and end up working for a living, whereas the cadre has been taught free lunch is their ideological birthright.

Packing a pistol and acting the tough guy is usually the stuff of Hindi action movies, not parliamentary democracy. Last time the Hand carried a gun was during those childhood wars (it was plastic), whereas nowadays fully grown MPs insist on bringing illegal weapons into Singha Darbar. We'll leave the Freudian interpretations concerning men too insecure to leave home without a pistol for another diatribe but surely none of this indicates maturity, political, social or otherwise.

Intolerance of differing opinions is yet another juvenile trait the Maoists have made their own, displaying an edgy insecurity towards dissent more typical of pimply, disgruntled youth than a bunch of pudgy middle-aged netajis.

Nobody said it would be easy to go from deluded revolutionary to democratic statesmen. True democracy is the most advanced and demanding of all political systems and takes courage, finesse and maturity to pull off. Whether these leaders can control their baser instincts long enough to allow a free election remains to be seen, but at least it's clear the people are more than ready to exercise their franchise and throw the bums out.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)