“Parties fight among themselves, and the country doesn’t develop!” As a college lad studying political science, I read with disgust textbook- praise of the Panchayat system. Its founder and the composer of the quote above, King Mahendra, erred in erecting a one-party state; but he diagnosed the behavior of multiple parties correctly. Presently, our country suffers development-delays because the CPN (Maoist Centre) has stabbed the UML in the back, as Sushil Koirala put his knife into KP Oli last year. Unless a miracle occurs, PM Oli will face a certain no-confidence vote; and then the wrangling Nepali Congress (NC) and Maoists will take months to form a government. This interim lack of government will allow authorities to indulge in corruption and delay projects.
Oli’s relatively good record
Most Christians despise PM Oli because he took away Christmas as a national holiday. However, we should give him the credit for laying the foundation stone for the Pokhara International airport, which we could only dream of for the last forty years. He has also started wind-electricity projects in Rolpa; and, through his encouragement, many families have turned to solar power. Suspension bridges have begun to replace “tuins” .
The CPN (Maoist Centre) and the NC have blamed the Oli government of neglecting the earthquake victims and the Madeshi demands. The earthquake took place on April 25, 2015 and Oli assumed the prime ministerial responsibilities only on October 12. NC’s Sushil Koirala was the prime minister for five months after the disastrous quake. Koirala didn’t do much for the earthquake victims. Besides, the Madeshi leaders nagged Koirala too. These agitators now forget that Koirala (thus NC) ignored their demands as well.
We have to give PM Oli the credit for saving Nepal from being another Bhutan. With the nine-month economic blockade, India presumed that Nepal would become its client state. Under Oli’s leadership, Nepal stood firm; and initiated steps to open more trade points with China. Neither Pushpa Kamal Dahal nor Sher Bahadur Deuba, partly responsible for the blockade by lying to Indian authorities, has anything in their past records to enthuse Nepalis. We are doomed to have them as the PM for nine months each after KP Oli.
On July 6, Sir John Chilcot presented the Iraq Inquiry Report at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster, London. The report concludes that PM Tony Blair involved the UK in the Iraq war needlessly. Saddam Hussein did relatively well in spite of UN sanctions. Both the USA and the UK should have put pressure on Turkey and Jordan to stop assisting Iraq. Instead, Blair decided to support the US president Geroge W. Bush too readily. After the Chilcot report, Blair has to live with the lifelong disgrace of having shed British and Iraqi blood unnecessarily.
Dahal stands as Nepal’s Tony Blair. Despite its failings, Sher Bahadur Deuba’s government in 1996 existed through a democratic election. Dahal, Bhattarai, and Baidya, the leaders of the underground Maoist party, started the 10 year war that claimed 18000 lives. The Maoist trio with Dahal as the leader could have avoided the war with the resultant deaths, widows, orphans, and the maimed.
Ten years after the futile war and another ten years in transition, what does Dahal have to show for his bloodletting? Pulling the country back to underdevelopment by thirty years! Now, he wants to become the prime minister a second time in a parliamentary democracy that he once despised. But, the blood-stained Dahal has emerged a lame duck already. Recently, he cancelled a tour to Australia on the fear that he would experience the “down-under” hospitality in a prison. The story of Colonel Kumar Lama facing British justice must have rattled Dahal. Having done practically nothing for the country when he became the prime minister for nine months, Dahal must surely repent of his bloody past if the ordinary Nepalis should place their hopes in him. His lust for the PM’s seat hides his longing to get himself and other criminally-implicated Maoists pardoned. On May 13, Dahal challenged, “Drag me to court!” He knows his future partner in the government, the cowardly NC, has no guts to do that.
Ever since democracy re-entered our country in 1990, I have voted for the NC; and encouraged others to do so. However, seeing how the NC has behaved during the past 26 years, I regret doing it. One can hardly forget how NC cadres garlanded Khum Bahadur Khadka after he served his prison sentence for corruption. Tainted Chiranjivi Wagle, Govind Raj Joshi, and Jaya Prakash Prasad Gupta (now no longer with the NC) too received hero’s treatment. Both Khadka and Joshi, after their release from prison, have advocated that Nepal become a Hindu state, in spite of the fact that their religion did not prevent them from stealing our country’s money. Sher Bahadur Deuba relied heavily on the crook Khadka to win the party’s chair against Ram Chandra Paudel. Now, he relies on Dahal, who has already betrayed him often, to make him the PM for the fourth time.
Deuba has already led our country three times. On each stint, he gathered negative achievements. Whether the Pajero scandal or sending off parliamentarians overseas so that they could not vote against him or his increasing of King Gyanendra’s salary by six times or his surrendering of democracy to the king or his sending 75000 pounds sterling for medical treatment of a female royalty residing in the UK or his nepotism of making of his wife a MP, Deuba does not inspire much hope. Ever since he visited Indian leaders early this year, Deuba had been itching to become the PM again, after Dahal, with the blessings of our southern neighbour.
We have to live with our leaders, but unless they practice ethical politics, our country will remain undeveloped. Till they reform from their present gutter-behaviour, they are merely old wines in old jars.
The Kathmandu Post published an edited version of this article on July 27, 2016. Please see http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2016-07-27/old-wine-in-old-bottles.html Ramesh Khatry, July 27, 2016