Nepali Times
Strictly Business
Spinning out of control


Suppose, on one fine Sunday, young people affiliated with your political party storm into a media house, beat up managers and journalists and smash windows and furniture. The incident makes national and international news. What do you do?

First, you deny that the incident happened at all, and that even if it did happen, your cadres were not involved. Pressed with evidence, you then say that it was actually the media staff who hired goons to beat up your staff when they had gone for a meeting. Later, you change the story to say that ex-royalists who had infiltrated your ranks were the ones who carried out the attacks, thereby giving your party a bad name.

A day later, you make light of the attack, saying that only light beating had taken place, and that no murder had been committed. But as pressures mount, you finally send two named accused to surrender to the police. For a few days, they are kept in police custody, where they are served food from five-star restaurants and entertained by visits from ministers. Once the accused are released on bail, which amounts to a slap on the wrist, you make sure that they melt into the shadows. Thanks to your art of spin you carry on as if nothing has happened, while your henchmen gloss over details to paint the whole episode as oppression by feudal capitalists.

Take another example. You force temple priests to submit resignations. You replace them with two local priests of your liking. You don't care about local sentiments nor about hundreds of years of history. You justify it in the name of nationalism, even though patriotism is the refuge of scoundrels. Guarded by goons, you force open the temple gates so the new priests could offer prayers to Shiva.

Still, when a group of disgruntled junior priests stage a press conference to air their grievances, you send your goons again to beat them up in broad daylight in front of the media. Your hooligans also deliberately beat up some reporters and damage their equipment. Then you tell the same journalists on camera that your young communists were there to protect the temple from violence. The Supreme Court issues an edict to you to not touch the temple. But you carry on as if these man-made laws do not apply to your decisions, and that these protests will run out of steam soon. After a few days of intense protests from the public and negative media coverage in India, you meekly withdraw your decisions.

These two incidents show that in today's 24/7 media, you can't go on covering one lie with another lie. True, you may shout the loudest by using half-truths to your advantage. Sooner or later, you will be found out, and voters and well-wishers will stop trusting you. When you are seen as untrustworthy, you don't function as a government for long.

Sure, you can harass those in opposition by issuing death threats, but that is not why people elected you to power. They voted for you to get on with the business of drafting the constitution so that 28 million Nepalis can understand what the agreed-upon guidelines of the game are for their success, prosperity and happiness in Nepal.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)