Nepali Times
Publisher\'s Note
Relief and despair

Nearly a week after the withdrawal of the Maoist strike, and till press time, the political parties are still going around in circles.

The popular mood is one of relief that the unnecessary and ruinous shutdown is over, but despair that the country is headed for another major showdown. The average citizen watches aghast as national leaders claw at each other for the prime ministership while the country suffers and is mired deeper in crisis.

The Himalmedia Public Opinion Poll this month, as well as sound bites on the street this week, prove that the people are fed up with this deadlock. They are not at all reassured by the names being thrown up as alternatives to Pushpa Kamal Dahal. The national mood is for change to a dynamic, youthful, visionary leadership that can take the people towards prosperity and justice. Unfortunately, every formula being put forward as an alternative to the Maoists is made up of the same tired, discredited faces from the past. Most people are now so worn out, opposition to the Maoists for having punished the people with the strike is now being replaced by resentment against the prime minister for refusing to step down.

The real dilemma here is that the Maoists, who most people think are the ones who can and should set things right, are untrustworthy bullies. The Maoist candidate for prime ministership himself is someone who openly threatens civil society leaders with harm, and promises fire and brimstone against a business community that his party has already bled dry. His ominous threat to the media ("we are keeping a close watch on what you are writing") at the rally on Sunday was followed through the very next day by his cadre with selective and systematic attacks on reporters covering the protests near Singh Darbar. There have been threats and intimidation against businesses, media and professionals who supported and took part in the citizens' protest last Friday.

Chairman Dahal is his own worst enemy. The people are still willing to give him a chance if he starts behaving like a statesman, heals rather than hurts, and unites rather than plays his rivals against each other. Yet we see a leader increasingly trapped by his own rhetoric and under pressure from within his own party for the cult of personality he has unleashed.

There is wide agreement among all the parties that the first order of business is that they should quickly and collectively move to extend the mandate of the CA to avoid a dangerous constitutional void on 28 May. No leader we know is against consensus and the setting up of a national government. As far as we can make out, the disagreement is only over procedure, sequencing and who should lead the government.

But the heart of the matter is that the Maoists keep reminding us every day through words and action that they are not a party to be trusted. They seem unwilling or incapable of giving up their self-destructive habit of using threats, intimidation and extortion to get their way.

Proximate breakthrough
Edging closer? - By Dewan Rai
Letting go - By Prashant Jha
Less revolting- By Kiran Nepal

1. Gonu Jha
Prachanda is the real epitome of the personality cult. A Dr,..Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

2. Lambu Bhai
Ma euta manisko khojima chhu. Hami sabai, the whole nation is.

3. Arthur
"Most people are now so worn out, opposition to the Maoists for having punished the people with the strike is now being replaced by resentment against the prime minister for refusing to step down."

That seems to be the mood among english speaking internet readers of Nepali Times - as shown by the current online poll with roughly equal numbers for and against MKN resigning despite large online majorities against secularism, federalism etc and overwhelming hostility to Maoists.

But there were many times more people enforcing the strike than participating in the peace rally and even the peace rally did not support MKN keeping his chair. So that "fifty-fifty split" is hardly the general mood even in KTM.

The "popular mood" described by Kunda Dixit is just the mood of his own circles and readers.

There seems to be very little support for the present government and a great deal of support for the Maoists outside those narrow circles.

Only among online english speaking readers of Nepali Times could one find such equivocation.

Being "bullied" out of government by losing popular support is called democracy.

4. Sargam

This fall KD has a very fine wrap-up which doesn't add more hot air to the shrouded mist, kind of ambit on this thread.

And time is of the essence!?!

5. kabulekanchho

Do you really believe that Comrade Prachanda could be transformed into a softer gentler "statesman" like once they had Atal Behari Bajpayee in India? I do not have anything to say if it is just a hope (against all odds), but I do not think this kind of hope has any rational basis and miracles like this happens in real life. Prachanda comes in a package, take it or leave it. His thinking process, values and world view are shaped by a very narrow understanding of whatever limited formal and informal education he had. Thais narrow view looks at the whole world in black and white only. This world view was quite popular in Nepal amongst self styled progressives once upon a time. They were ideologically and intellectually (not sure if there were any!) inspired by the great helmsman of the North, Pictorial China (in Hindi), Collected works of Comrade Stalin and Mao and of course the Redbook. Reflection of "these great works of political philosophy" can in seen in the articles written by one of his deputy, who is touted as the brainiest amongst the Maoist theologians of contemporary Nepal, in the mainstream news media targeted to generally politically indifferent city dwellers. So he is not alone there, he has many clones some of them might act as good cop and some as bad cop depending on the situation. All of them come in a package, take it or leave. You cannot escape from the philosophy at the age of 55 or 60 whole formative years you grew up with.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)