MIN RATNA BAJRACHARYA
I reached Nepalganj on a banda day last December. People were not bothered about who had called the strike. "A leader might have died," said a passenger at the airport. Everyone there was slamming the politicians and calling them ridiculous. One could guess that some politician somewhere must have committed a crime, and it became clear later that Tharuhat had called the strike.
Our rickshaw driver grumbled that the country would be different if our leaders were better. A strike was good for the rickshaw driver, as he got more passengers. "But we're not like our leaders who look out for their own benefit only," he said. "We should see how many people suffer because of a banda."
A week ago in Janakpur, a motorcade transporting politician Mahanta Thakur glided past a village in the style of a Hindi movie. A bystander murmured, "Kuch sharm hota to aisa nahi karta." If he had any shame, he would not have travelled this way, he meant.
We find that people loath leaders everywhere, in Kathmandu, in the districts, in villages. It is their repeated failures to forge a consensus for a new government that has resulted in this hatred. People reason that Nepal's leaders are not doing what they were elected for. Voices are being raised and people want the new constitution to guarantee the right to withdraw votes if leaders do not fulfil their mandate.
Recently, a participant in a publicly recorded TV program said that he was filled with remorse for having voted for the current leaders. He wanted to take back his vote. Advocate and social activist Mohini Maharjan has launched a campaign called 'recall your vote'.
Physical attacks are definitely not civilised, but leaders should learn from the slapping incident. Khanal was the victim, but people did not sympathise with him. Regmi, the offender, had support from across the country because Nepal is frustrated with its leaders. It may only be Khanal who got slapped, but all leaders face similar anger.