Nepali Times
Guest Column
Changeless change


Towards the end of his life Josef Stalin famously remarked that revolutions were so cruel they never allowed the dead rebels to be buried with dignity. "They are put on pedestals, and then cast out into the streets," Stalin added.

It seems the rebels of the April Uprising are also being thrown from their pedestals down to the pavement. Without even repairing or repenting for the 12 years of parliamentary malgovernance in the 1990s, they are now installing the same old regime in a loktantra guise. This synthetic democracy is about to run aground on the shoals of janajati, madhesi, indigenous, women, Karnali and the demands of the disenfranchised.

These groups have different histories, and the roads to their liberation will necessarily also be different. But there must be a common formula to address them. However, today the dalits couldn't be bothered about the janajatis. The janajatis don't care about madhesi demands. The madhesi isn't concerned about the Karnali. The Karnali activists couldn't care less about the indigenous struggle.

Civil society and the political parties have been unable to find the thread that runs through these struggles. Who will bring them all together? What is the national symbol that will unite these demands?

Last week, Badi women took their clothes off and climbed on the gates of Singha Darbar to expose the government's apathy towards their plight. Kathmandu was laughing, because it didn't get it: the Badi women were not exposing themselves, they were exposing the inertia and neglect of the government towards its citizens.

The end of the Maoist revolution is proof that political democracy is not possible without economic and cultural democracy. But the seven parties are not prepared to chart a political course for the future that will mark a new beginning.

The Nepali people were already let down once by the incomplete revolution of 1990. And today's dream of a New Nepal is afflicted with terrifying contradictions.

Some pseudo-democrats seem to be for the constituent assembly elections because they see it as the vehicle to perpetuate the status quo. Their strategy is to pay lip service to change but prevent real change, accept the transformation of the state but keep it intact. For them, all this is just a charade.

The famous Indian magician P C Sorcar was asked whether he feared death. He replied: "Magicians don't die, they vanish." Nepal's ancient regime has carried out a similar disappearing act. It's not visible, but it's still very much there.

After years of slumber, the people wake up and topple a tyrant. Then the people go back to sleep for years. The people were victorious in their struggle but lost out when compromises are struck. At the rate things are moving today, history is repeating itself.

The Maoists must share the blame. They could have remained in their base areas and forced the government to change. In fact, they would have been more effective if they had carried on their struggle from Rolpa, than joining the government in Kathmandu.

You can't fight new enemies from old fortresses. How can we forge a new Nepal while the parties carry all the old cultural and administrative baggage? It would be foolish to expect these old wrongdoers to make the dream of a New Nepal come true with the present administration, present governance structures, present judicial system, present leadership and present mentality.

Nepal has returned to the period before Prithbi Narayan Shah created this country with his conquest. We have to re-unify Nepal under a new paradigm.

Krishnajwala Devkota is the editor of the daily newspaper, Naya Partika and a longer version of this piece appeared in his column Pharak Mat. Reprinted with permission.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)