Dr. Baburam Bhattarai has the distinction of being the first Ph.D to hold the office of the Prime Minister in Nepal. He may have many other qualities and qualification as well. Yet, he has proved that he utterly lacks team spirit, suffers from megalomaniac arrogance, believes in one-up-manship, and has utter contempt for the rest. He may have proved he is different, but not a good leader with vision and ability to implement that.
All these qualities appeared starkly when he stood at the podium of the United Nations General Assembly hall, and made his maiden address. To the world community, and especially the big and rich powers, his message was “we kill, and you heal.” He reeled out from the books and reports that expose the disparity between the amount spent on defense and arms by the rich countries and the amount spent on poverty alleviation. But in the next breath, he literally said “we have killed, and now you must heal.”. He asked for generous help in the reconstruction in the post conflict Nepal with a warning that ‘lip service alone will not do’.
But nowhere did he express any remorse for the death, destruction and devastation that the politics and policies he authored and implemented during the years of insurgency during his address. The U S assistant Secretary of State for Asia and Pacific Robert O Blake gave a clear message to Bhattarai that under the current situation, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (UCPN-M) continued to remain in the terrorist list of the U S government. That leaves Bhattarai with no option than prove by his action and conduct that he believes in and adheres to democracy.
To the world body, he assured that ‘my government’ will be completing the unique peace process in Nepal. When he said that, he had already consumed two third of the 45 days deadline he had set for the purpose. While he sought the support and generous assistance from the international community, he made no commitment that he would be implementing the comprehensive peace agreement and its provisions. He simply sought that the world community must recognize the insurgency as the ‘people’s war’, and that his real agenda was the implementation of the 4-point agenda that Prachanda signed with heads of five Madhesh groups on August 28.
What the Prime Minister said naturally amounts to convey to the world community that ‘it is me, and my agenda, and not what the CPA might have said ‘ will be the course that Bhattarai government will follow. Only saving grace for him was the assurance from India’s beleaguered Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who not only promised all help for completion of the peace process and constitution writing, but also hoped that the twin task will be completed under the leadership of Bhattarai.
India perhaps may have to say that for several reasons, and the loss of image it has suffered in Nepal, especially during the past five years. Not only because it mediated and substantially influenced Nepal’s political course from the day 12-point agreement was signed until now, but it also has to discover the last ' Nepali actor’ on whose shoulder the entire responsibility for the inevitable failure could be fixed. India is being held responsible in the esteem of average and ordinary apolitical Nepali—even those who would never think ill of the South—for the mess and uncertainty that Nepal has been pushed into since the 2006 change.
A weak Bhattarai who does not command support even in his own party will not be able to institutionalize the changes that political parties, mainly the Maoists, Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) and the Nepali Congress announced at a time when they were pursuing the policy of competitive radicalism. Bhattarai knows it, and therefore, has now resorted to the politics of populism that has discredited him more than any other leader in the contemporary politics. People’s anger and lack of trust on him is soaring fast. He will have only to options to address that: one by using force against them, and the other by succumbing to their will and accepting failure. Will his lust for power and being a superior human allow him to take the second course?
He had the taste of the anger of the Nepalis in New York who waved black flag at him. Bhatarai’s deliberate disregard for Nepali dress, his disrespect for a section of the Nepali populace—Brahman, Dalits, Chhetris, Newars and a large section of ethnic groups —by denying any space to the first three in deciding federal province, and all of them by discarding what they consider their national or formal dress, and by challenging the unification of Nepal under the leadership of Prithvinarayan Shah, and of late not being sensitive towards the earthquake victims, and by promoting his family –has all gone against him> He is no more a leader perceived as the man who could retrieve the country at the time of crisis. Instead, he is a suspect in the eyes of the people as a man with a hidden agenda.
He is back from New York, but that means nothing for the country, mainly because he did not have the country's interest uppermost in his mind. If posing for a photograph with Obama means anything for him, he must consider himself lucky.