A friend recently described running into former US Ambassador Moriarty at a transit lounge somewhere in Asia. What shocked him was how ole Jim – in charge here while the US outsourced its Nepal policy to Delhi – seemed so very embarrassed to meet a Nepali, would not ask anything about Nepal, and was simply anxious to slink away into anonymity. Wuz it dem bad, nasty ghosts from Wikileaks?! Hardly. It is because the current Nepali quagmire has become the pricking of a bad conscience to the architects of the Loktantrick regime change, and not just the Americans. Those going to Delhi describe an even greater reticence among the cheerleaders of the 2006 street protests to mention Nepal. If the practice of Loktantra can morph swaggering superpower viceroys into tail-tucked puppies, imagine what it is doing to the domestic votaries themselves! Where are the Civil Society leaders of Janandolan-2 hiding today?
Just in the last few weeks, enough examples of political desperation have surfaced. Topping the list is the Supreme Court’s decision that the Constituent Assembly’s mandate will not end until the new constitution is made, whenever that be. Earlier, the court had decided that the CA can change anything in the interim constitution but republicanism, secularism and federalism. Why, one may ask, and for what divine reason? By propping up that which is collapsing from its own incompetent weight (and taking the Supreme Court’s prestige with it), has the court thus not granted the CA infinite life while rewarding gross ineptitude and dereliction of duty?
The main reason why the CA will not be able to make a new constitution is because these ill-digested ideologies (“imported ideologies” said former PM KP Bhattarai) are in dissonance with Nepal’s ground realities. Writing a breaking story in Kathmandu Post last week, Mulmi and Kharel describe the rise – in secular Nepal, something impossible when the country was Hindu – of a Nepali version of India’s RSS, a militant Hindu organization. The root cause they identified was the sense of insult and insecurity experienced by the majority Hindus in the way secularism was dumped on them. Embedded in this action was the accusation that a Hindu state could not be just, even when the missionaries who bankrolled it happen to come from crusading Christian or jihadist Islamic monarchies. A telling point that the two authors bring out is that this group of cultural militants took an active part in the street protests of 2005/6 to remove the king “because he did nothing for the Hindus” and now want the highest office of the land to go to only Hindus! If Janandolan-2 was basically a consensus Muglani project of both the Congress(I) and the BJP, no points for guessing which end of the geopolitical spectrum this militancy draws its roots from.
Highlighting the problems with federalism, Gagan Thapa, one of the younger MPs and a member of the Kangress central committee, admitted in a TV interview that he, as a member of Nepal’s largest ethnic group, would be unable to put his signature on an ethnicity-based federal constitution that would make him and others like him second class citizens in a motherland they call their own. Wonder why he and his party never thought of it when they served as cheerleaders of the Maoist agenda and passed it, with nary a thought of the consequences? Is leadership not about being able to see just a few steps and days ahead of the rest of us in the followership mode?
Such short-sightedness is not limited to the parliamentary parties alone: the Maoists enjoy more than a fair share of it as well. Comrade Hisila Yami recently led a delegation of Newa Rajya activists to the NEA demanding that Newa Rajya, aka Kathmandu Valley, be freed of loadshedding, a demand as impractical as ridiculous, especially coming from a politician with a technical background. She seems to have met her match in the wizened veterans of the NEA: they reminded her that it was her own party’s agenda that water, land and forests belonged to the local federal units, and poor Newa Rajya has no hydropower station to meet the demands of some 10% of Nepal’s total population that reside here, the majority of them, incidentally, not Newars. A gaggle of Newar MPs from several political parties demanded on TV a week back that Sugat Ratna Kansakar (of the alleged Airbus scam fame) be released from jail. They argued that he was being locked up only because he was a Newar. Indeed, why is nothing being done to those who have looted the NEA as well as the Nepal Police in Darfur or been deep up to their gills in passport and telecom scams?