Nepali Times

After a well-deserved three-day vacation, our politicians are back on the job this week working with renewed vigour to demolish democracy. With friends like these, democracy does not need enemies of the ultra-left, or the ultra-right.
On one side are the pundits of the Nepali Congress who don't know that they have outlived their usefulness to society. They have ruled the country for most of the time since the restoration of democracy, and with their unbridled greed and incessant squabbling have squandered just about everything that they ever fought for. Arrayed against them is a rag-tag bunch of bickering lefties for whom the meaning of democracy has come down to deflating tyres of bicycles belonging to vegetable vendors and office peons.

How utterly symbolic that the motorcycle our comrades decided to torch this week happened to belong to the Bangladesh Embassy. After all, by declaring an unprecedented three-day nationwide shutdown-or-else they proved that their role model is the hartal superpower of the subcontinent. And when Comrade Nepal tells the press that he has been deluged with phone calls from fellow-comrades congratulating him on the resounding success of his lovely bandh, he is too busy basking in the glory to ask if people stayed at home because they shared his political vision, or because they didn't want their motorcycles cremated on the streets. (Never underestimate the power of the Kathmandu's salaried class to stay at home at the slightest provocation.)

Jhal Nath Khanal in a chat with us last week (p. 3, #44) let out the real reason the UML forced the country to close for three days. He said: we have to be on the streets otherwise the Maoists will be there. (Or words to that effect.) The UML strategy therefore boils down to this: paralyse parliament, paralyse the streets. Maybe the UML should find out why that leftist bastion in India, Kerala, has banned bandhs. No form of protest is legitimate if people are forced out of fear to obey. We don't agree that you force others to agree with you. This isn't a spontaneous uprising like it was in 1990. This isn't People Power, it is just Power At Any Cost. By being on the streets, the UML is just showing the ultra-violent left that it also matters.

The result of all this is that Girija Koirala ends up being equated with democracy. This is dangerous not just for the UML, but also for the country. If Koirala goes, as he soon must, does it mean we bid good bye to democracy as well? The Prime Minister has brought this curse upon himself, his party and the nation by clinging on when there were several chances for a graceful exit. But greed rules. With three major multi-billion rupee government contracts pending, the kickbacks to be made on those procurements seem to be a powerful inducement for his cronies to convince him to hang on for a bit longer.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)