Nepali Times
Guest Column
No sermons, please


Having squandered the people's trust through their corrupt and unaccountable behaviour, the unrepentant leaders of the major parties have been making a beeline to New Delhi to grovel at the feet of their mentors.

Why are they seeking the trust of Indian leaders instead of trying to figure out why the Nepali people aren't trusting them? Upon return to Kathmandu, Girija Prasad Koirala jubilantly announced to the Nepali people that he and his seven party alliance had the full backing of the Indian leaders. Talk about shooting oneself in the foot.

It should have been perfectly clear to Koirala and his ilk that India has always looked at Nepal through the prism of its national interest. And New Delhi has always extracted its pound of flesh. Pakistan's bifurcation, helping Sri Lanka's Tamil rebels, New Delhi has a history of meddling in the neighbourhood. And various independent authors have cited over the years that India's ultimate aim in Nepal is 'Bhutanisation'.

(See: Martin Hoftun et al in Democracy and Social Change in Nepal, 1999). It may be worse, senior Indian diplomats have even hinted publicly about the 'S' word: Sikkimisation.

While we may have ourselves to blame for our own disunity, the southern neighbour since British India days has often used political fissures in Kathmandu to further its geopolitical interest. There was 1951, 1961, 1990 and now there are the Nepali Maoists who still enjoy freedom of movement in India. Recent reports of senior Maoist leaders being escorted around Delhi to meet Indian (and Nepali) politicians suggest that the Indian government's hand may be in much deeper than previously thought.

The present crisis should have been a time for serious introspection for the parties. The vast multitudes that converged spontaneously on Ratna Park to topple the Panchayat regime in 1990 have now become bystanders, watching in amusement the tantrums of the seven-party alliance. It is only a few hundred people they now can put together (at considerable material cost) for their street shows.

The people's trust in the parties can be restored only on three conditions: the parties should get rid of their corrupt leaders, make their finances transparent, and establish intra-party democracy. Can they do it? Will they? In sheer exasperation, a previous chief election commissioner had once publicly asked what good would a free and fair election do if the contest were to be held between two smugglers nominated by their respective parties.

The need to address these issues was becoming increasingly compelling because of people withholding support to the parties. But the opportunity seems to have been scuppered at the hands of foreign powers, particularly America, Britain and Europe. What is particularly hypocritical is that they are all following India's lead, the same India that is very much at home with the Bhutani autocracy and the Burmese junta.

One particular foreign envoy has even questioned the legality of the RCCC, apparently oblivious to the fact that his own 'Iraq war' has been pronounced illegal by none other than the United Nations.

Such meddling by self-styled kingmakers sends wrong signals to the parties which should be in self-cleansing mode. They may think that they don't need to reform and democratise from within. These do-gooder diplomats should know that democracy is much more than voting or sending corrupt politicians to power.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)