Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
People power

The ongoing agitation by the political parties of the dissolved House of Representatives has become something of a joke for the royal palace. Their movement has not won the people's support despite the media's amplification of police interference and brutality during their protest programs.

What is missing is mass participation, even though political stalwarts like Girija Prasad Koirala of the Nepali Congress and Madhab Kumar Nepal of the UML are literally taking to the streets. Their only support comes from workers and party activists. It is clear to see that what they claimed to be a people's movement is actually a limited party-movement.

There is a reason why the political parties have been unable to latch onto the public like in 1990. The target then was the removal of a partyless Panchayat system and restoration of multiparty democracy. To that end people were ready to sacrifice even their lives.

This time around, the end result is not as big or as defined. The protesting parties' demands of restoration of the parliament and formation of an all party government is by no means a goal like that of ending the Panchayat regime. In the event that this joint movement succeeds in reversing the decision of October Fourth, the same faces will jostle each other to be in the driving seat. The common citizen has experienced enough of that in the past decade and more. It is highly unlikely that they will martyr themselves for political opportunists.

Moreover, it is evident that these parties are still trying to bargain with the king, which is why they have launched only soft-protest programs under their joint movement. It is clear that the top leaders of these political blocs still pine for ministerial berths. Only their minions carry the flame of this movement with any semblance of true zeal. In truth, the people are indifferent to the movement, and the royal palace and the government are cracking open the champagne over the fact. But they tread a fine line. Should their barely concealed jubilance be interpreted as arrogance, the people are likely to back the political parties.

The government is undoubtedly happy with the turn of events. It seems to believe that the parties' enthusiasm will fizzle in the days to come and that will end the story. They fail to take into account that the tide may turn if the people decide to support the movement.

The palace and the government must understand the people are not on their side just because they aren't flooding the streets in support of the joint movement. The situation can only be exacerbated by the likes of Sharad Chandra Shah having a say in the governance of this country. The palace could have all it's plans crumble if it doesn't take heed. The only way out is an understanding between the palace and the political parties.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)