Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Bandhs and the Nine Left

Three kinds of people really benefitted from the recent bandhs?the bandh organisers, government employees, and black marketeers out to make a profit. The organisers rested peacefully in their homes or lazed around in the sun at party offices. They could be easily contacted at their homes or their offices. The government employees too were under no tension. Those who wanted to report to work came in and those who did not want to stayed put at home. There would be no cuts in their salaries for being absent during a bandh.

The police are the ones who suffer the most during bandhs, although the recent bandh did not give them any trouble. They did not have to fire bullets or lathi-charge protestors and could be seen at the crossings engrossed in deep conversation. They had to go hungry the whole day, but this is because of the inefficiency of the government and not due to the bandh. Yet, they were enjoying themselves.

Black marketeers had a field day. They made huge profits in a short time and are ready with donations that they normally give to different political parties. Apart from the three categories of people mentioned above, everyone else was frustrated and angry with the bandhs. Some were so angry that they were prepared to even denounce their being Nepalis.

Bandhs in themselves are not good or bad. They are just a means for people to show their feelings and frustrations, and take place because of the circumstances at a particular moment. The bandhs called in the Panchayat regime were to topple the Panchayat system. It was used to secure the democratic rights of the people and therefore those bandhs used to be very successful and effective. That is why people used to participate in great numbers and with much enthusiasm. The bandhs of 1980 played an important part in that process and their role was appreciated.

After the restoration of democracy, bandhs started to play many roles but not one has been used to bring democracy. Therefore bandhs called after 1990 have not been that effective or bloody. Calling bandhs on the smallest pretext has proved to be counterproductive, and they seem to have lost their meaning.

Those in the Nine Left will now have to analyse their mode of functioning. It seems that their programmes are either helping pro-India parties, or the extremists. It has been proved twice that some unseen power is controlling them. The calling off of the bandh called during the rise in prices of petroleum products raised questions. The recent meaningless bandhs have further supported that view. The Nine Left will now have to question their existence and also the way they think.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)