Two millimetres. That is how fast the human nail grows in three weeks, judging by the progress of the indelible ink on our fingers.
The UML and NC have been sitting in the corner in a deep sulk ever since their humiliating defeat in the elections. Three weeks is enough time for these two parties to snap out of it. Their silence, sense of hurt and their blame game is self-indulgent and counter-productive for the task of nation-building that lies ahead.
Before the election, Madhab Kumar Nepal gave Pushpa Kamal Dahal some sage advice: "The Maoist party must learn to be good losers, democracy has its ups and downs." That was very good counsel and it would be prudent for his own party and the NC to follow it.
The sky hasn't fallen, the Nepali people have done the NC and UML a favour by giving them a wake-up call. Now the parties have a chance to infuse young blood and re-invent themselves. The Maoists may be the largest party but they can't form a government on their own. The Madhesi parties have been voted in sizeable numbers, reflecting the aspirations of the Tarai and also taking some of the wind out of the sails of the militant groups.
The NC and the UML have an even more responsible role now. They shouldn't be putting up unnecessary obstacles in government-formation, a political deadlock now could have deadly consequences. They need to be defenders of pluralism and democratic principles to balance off a party that has come out of the jungles and whose ideological and behavioural traits are still suspect. Even after elections, Maoist young communists haven't stopped threats and violence against candidates and supporters of other parties. The NC and UML may be bad losers, but the YCL is a bad winner.
It is now up to the mature parliamentary parties to be the whistle-blowers for democracy and freedom, to speak out and protect it in the constitution drafting process. So far the Maoists have paid lip-service to pluralism and multi-party competition, their words need to be translated into action. It doesn't help the transition process that the party leading the government also has its own army, and the prime minister may soon be heading two armies as well as a violent vanguard force. This abnormal state of affairs must now be brought to closure.
For the past two years, the world has looked at Nepal's conflict transformation with amazement. It is now up to the political leadership to rise above pique and pettiness to repay to the Nepali people the debt they owe them.