Nepali Times
Into the darkness


In the last few weeks the cold dark evenings have become unbearable during this load-shed winter. With 10 hours of power cuts every day, there isn't much one can do but mull, snooze, meditate or worse, think about the state of the country.

The Nepali political situation in the last week turned as dark as the powerless nights. We have had an earful of threats, accusations and no end of whining from senior politicians and party leaders. While Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, leader of the party with one-third of the seats in the parliament, has been threatening to quit the government and take up arms again, UML's Madhab Kumar Nepal has been spreading the word throughout the country that the government, which his party is a part of, is a total failure.

The changes taking place in the country in the last few months have been rapid and overwhelming. Sometimes it is hard to keep track of how much things have changed. In all this, one characteristic that hasn't changed is politicians' habit of complaining and not watching what they are saying when things don't go their way.

Is it so difficult to understand that one of the reasons why Nepalis went out and voted in such large numbers was because they were tired of the same old way of doing things? Many in the villages of Nepal voted for the Maoists because they were fed up with the war, the killings, losing family members, the threats and the lawlessness war had brought home. Last week in Panauti a local resident Mahesh Karmacharya said what many Nepalis have been thinking but have been too afraid to say, "In the last few months since the Maoists started leading the government they haven't done anything to prove that they are different from the other politicians who have been in charge since 1990."

When a prime minister threatens to quit the government because unnamed international powers are not allowing them to work, it makes the people wonder if their intentions for the country are genuine. And these threats come at a time when the media has been reporting on how the lives of the comrades have changed since leaving the jungle, how most of them are now living in the lap of luxury. Moreover, for a senior leader like Madhab Nepal, whose party is part of a coalition government, it is absurd to hear him say that the government has failed.

Leaders threaten to prove a point either to the opposition or to the people. What they don't understand is that such threats create cynicism and hopelessness in the people. They can't trust a party that threatens to go back to war when diplomacy gets a little hard to handle. Nepalis went out in overwhelming numbers and voted for the Maoists, but not all the votes came from die-hard supporters. After ten years of waging war the Maoists have to do a lot more to gain the trust of the people than win an election. The little credibility they may have gained is lost when they bare their fangs.

Meanwhile, instead of thinking of ways to reorganise their parties so that they can gain back the support they lost in the CA elections, older parties like the NC are busy trying to find fault. In the eyes of the people such backbiting just makes them look like very bad losers.

During the CA elections people in the villages were promised education, roads, food, employment, development. Eight months have passed and nothing has been done. Nepalis in the hinterland don't care about internal party rifts, they don't care about who was promoted in the party ranks or which invisible foreign hand wants what from Nepal or who said what in Kathmandu.

People want promises to be kept. They want to know that their children are safe and their neighbours won't die of a curable disease. They have had enough of the war. Twelve years of living in fear is enough.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)