Nepali Times
State Of The State
A nation of Rams


As he waits in the drizzle at Bishnumati Bridge, Ram Shrestha is more worried about whether he will get his five litres before the petrol station at Teku runs out.

Ram Chaudhary is concerned about making a living in Bardiya, where highways have been closed now for a week because of a transportation dispute. But the Far West was always too far for Kathmandu to take notice.

Twelve hours ago and a world away, Ram Bhattarai was mopping the floor of a hotel lobby in Bahrain. He hated his job but didn't want to come back home. "What will I do there in Tanahu?"

At the boarding gate Ram Gurung was asking if money changers in Nepal will accept Lebanese currency. He is now trying his luck in Malaysia after facing disappointments in the Gulf.

In the flight back to Kathmandu, Ram Mandal from Suga Nikas in Dhanusha was excited to hear abut a Madhesi president, but he wasn't sure what it would mean for the future of his three sons back home. The youngest was only a year old when he left for Saudi Arabia four years ago. He wants to send them to school so that they can earn like his Egyptian supervisor at the mosque where he lays bricks with a Malyali mason.

It has taken four years of hard toil for Ram Mandal to pay off the loan he took to pay the manpower company and buy some land. For the first time in his life, Ram Mandal is not working someone else's field, he is going home to plant rice on his own land.

The presidential drama that unfolded this week had all the hallmarks of a soap opera as the three Rams locked horns.

The final outcome was unfavourable to the Maoists but they took it gracefully. Pushpa Kamal Dahal was one of the first to congratulate Ram Baran Yadav. The aftermath of the polls, however, has been less convivial.

In a fit of pique, the Maoists decided to opt out of government and play the role of "constructive" opposition.

Immediately, the MJF said if the Maoists won't form a new government, they will. The Forum isn't satisfied with being rewarded by the NC-UML-MJF alliance with the post of Vice President.

Apprehensions are rife that this coalition will not hold, and there are rumours that GP Koirala will continue to head the government with the backing of former kangresis in the Madhesi parties.

However, the political leaders of Old Nepal seem oblivious that their parlour games do not interest Nepalis here or abroad anymore. The struggle to just survive is now so great that few have the time or inclination to follow who back-stabbed whom in Kathmandu.

Businesses closed down in Janakpur for a day this week to protest crime and anarchy on the day that the town's most-prominent son was at Pashupatinath to offer thanksgiving. The disconnect between rulers and the ruled makes Maoist's decision to remain out of power even more dangerous. President Ram's first order of business will be to work with the Maoists rather than against them. The alternative is chaos.

President Ram used to graze water buffaloes when he was a boy, he is now the president of Nepal's Ram Gurungs, Ram Shresthas, Ram Mandals, Ram Bhattarais and Ram Chaudharys. It is their wellbeing that should be foremost in his mind.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)