1-7 April 2016 #802

Battling irrelevance

The dustbin of history awaits party clowns who have played the people for fools all these years
Foreign Hand


Nepal seems to have entered a woozy state of suspended animation these days, a zone that’s in-between-crises where seasons change and time passes but nothing actually ever gets done. From earthquake relief to moving the TRC forward to providing basic services like electricity and water, the mechanisms of state are on hold while most of our leaders stopped even pretending to govern by going on holiday to Beijing.

The current UML/Maoist/RPP coalition led by KP Oli will be remembered as one of the least pro-active governments in history, just when urgent action was needed most. If only our PM had mobilised the vast resources at his disposal to help the quake victims his status would be god-like by now. Just imagine how much civil strife could have been avoided, and what a hero he would be, if only he had negotiated in good faith with Madhesi leaders. Instead, through his trademark buffoonery and sheer inactivity, KP Oli has managed to render his government irrelevant while still in power.

The blockade provided the perfect excuse to drop all pretence of governance and focus exclusively on making the black market pay, reinforcing the grab-what-you-can ethos that’s become the new normal. Nothing got solved in the Tarai, ethnic resentments fester and the show went on the road to Delhi and Beijing.

Unless you were on those junkets (China offered hospitality to 11 delegates for a few days, KP Oli brought 98 for a week) or are part of his bloated cabinet, PM-sahib has already faded into lame-duck obscurity. Just ask any of the earthquake victims, still waiting patiently for aid after 11 long months, how relevant this government has been, and weep.

The battle against creeping irrelevance doesn’t stop there. As staunch monarchists- cum-Hindu chauvinists in a secular republic the RPP is like a one-trick pony from a circus that already left town. Praying for the return of a disgraced royal family and defending the cow as national animal is hardly a recipe for progress.

Congress is the only party not locked into an outdated, discredited ideology, giving it the best chance of staying relevant. A strong showing in the last election confirmed they’re still perceived as the lesser of several evils, which is the best anyone can hope for these days, while the death of party chief Sushil Koirala presented a historic opportunity to revitalise the party leadership.

Alas, rather than look to the future the mantle was passed to three times PM Sher Bahadur Deuba, a man firmly locked in the past. His dubious achievements include being in power when war broke out, getting jailed for corruption and dismissing all locally elected governments, a policy disaster that harmed every village and town nationwide for many years to come. The king then dismissed him, brought him back and dismissed him again, making Deuba the Dubious the only PM in history so honoured. One can’t make this up, and despite the near-certainty a new progressive leader would win the next election, hierarchy trumps common sense and the country’s better interests every time. (see issue#794 ‘The stifling burden of hierarchy’)

Since the blockade collapsed, the Madhesi parties have reverted to their default state of disarray, a nuisance factor on the edge of the national polity. Until, of course, the next time their unaddressed grievances boil over and the Tarai explodes all over again.

That leaves the Maoists in all their manifestations, already so outdated in the 1990’s they had to wage a 10 year civil war just to gain relevance.

Maoism cannot survive without an enemy and after decades spent attacking the state, education system, feudalism, revisionism, capitalism, industrialism and foreign handilism, the Maoist leadership, now firmly entrenched in the moneyed elite they once targeted, have nobody left to attack but themselves.

That would explain the countless fractures in the party since the war ended, especially since both the splits and frequent attempts at reunification follow their time-honoured tradition of pointless activity. (see issue #755 ‘Pointless Activity (Revolutionary)’) Recent unification talks with Mohan Baidya’s CPN Revolutionary-Maoists, whose name alone disqualifies them from reality, predictably went nowhere. The closest they came to agreeing on anything occurred when a CPN-M member asked Baidya, in the interest of party unity, to stop burning the constitution all the time.

Needless to say, nobody spoke about anything that actually matters to voters, like reducing inflation, providing jobs and improving services.

Ironically, the only one talking about the economy is the man largely responsible for the economic mess Nepal’s in today. Baburam Bhattarai, Maoist ideologue and Prachanda’s constant side-kick for 25 years, has been reincarnated as a free-market capitalist. His recently formed New Force party, widely hailed as a desperate last ditch attempt at relevance, promotes an odd economic model blending both Maoist and Keynesian policies. First destroy the infrastructure, padlock the factories and stop all development projects and then get rich rebuilding it somehow.

When all is said and done, the dustbin of history awaits these party clowns who’ve played the people for fools all these years. Let’s not forget that political parties can only justify their existence and stay relevant in a democratic system through achieving goals that benefit the people. By that measure, all of the above players lost relevance long ago.

Read also:

The stifling burden of hierarchy, Foreign Hand

Noble ends through noble means, Rubeena Mahato

May the force be with you, David Seddon

Pointless Activity (Revolutionary), Foreign Hand

Welcome to the Time Warp, Foreign Hand

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