Nepal’s failed Loktantrick politicians, their Mughlani handlers, the fawning corporate media, theircivil society devoteesand the blindly supportive EuroAmerican diplomatic community would do well to recall a word from the Nepali children’s playground: dhoos. It means not only “game over” or “game collapses” but also that all the points you may have gathered till then become null and void, and the game has to start from scratch. It has still not dawned on most of the party oligarchs that the collapse of the elected CA on 28th May, 2010 without being able to frame a new orderwithin its elected mandate hasbrought about a moral dhoos, and its final and ignominious death in 2012 exactly two yearslater despite self-perpetuating of its own lifea double dhoos. That flop is a game-changer in Nepali history and politics. All that one can now wait for is for a triple dhoos– when the present dispensation admitsits inability to hold a meaningful electionby November. Although they may go through the sham motions of appearing to prepare for elections, this bunch of civil servants’ government manipulated from behind the stage by four flunked oligarchs can hardly be expected to draw up a new political architecture or cobble together a new alliance with dissidents that is necessary for the task.
That realization seems to be dawning on a growing band of Kangressis: Shashank Koirala’s recent interview in the BBC admitting that it was a mistake to sideline the monarchy is interesting only as a representative indicator of the discomfort felt by many in the party of the grave political misstep of 2005. Outside the small coterie around Girija Koirala, none in the party were too happy about being the political porters of Maoist republican ideology. When Girija forced this illiberal decision on the party, it was only Shashank among the immediate family of BP Koirala who backed his uncle, and now seems to regret doing so. His older brother Prakash as well as his niecethe Bollywood actressManisha had been openly against moving along this path. Stalwarts in the party such as Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, who charged the Kangress of having become “nakkali ra nirarthak” (fake and meaningless)when it took this line, as well as Sailaja Acharya, PL Singh, Ram Babu Prasaiand others had long warned against it. It requires courage to stand up against a comfortable current and admit mistakes, butunlike Shashank, the political apparatchiks who have an organizational grip over the party do not have the political integrity or required leadership traits to get the party out of its current doldrums.
Among the communist comrades, the trajectory has been different. They are romantically fixated on the idea of abstract republicanism irrespective of its historical impracticality in holding a diverse nation together. Worldwide, the Left has romanticized the French Revolution of 1789 as the epitome of Liberté, égalité, fraternité,despite the horrific evidence of blatant “war crimes” and human rights violations to the contrary. Nepali communists would do well to not just read Marx’s Der 18te Brumaire des Louis Napoleon and remain intellectually fossilized at that, but to go beyond and read a more realistic assessment by Edmund Burke in his Reflections on the Revolution in France. The latter certainly helps in explaining the current Nepali doldrums far better than does Marx’s inverted Hegelianism. Burke showed that the French Revolution would end disastrously, that it violated its own slogan of justice. He argued that the American Revolution would succeed because of it put pragmatism in the center state and abstract romanticization in the back burner. Despite being a Whig Protestant that repudiated any divine right of kings, he argued for a constitutional monarchy without many political and administrative rights as a means of avoiding the chaos that France had to go through.
In their constant parroting of “protecting the achievements of 2006”, i.e. republicanism, secularism and federalism, the communist Left and their intellectually docile fellow travelersin the Girija Kangress fail to realize that republicanism, secularism and federalism were no “achievements”, but rather that they were political disasters visited upon an unsuspecting country mostly by foreign interests using the Loktantrick leaders as willing tools. And the entire Left spectrum of Nepali politics (the numerically dominant dogma) too has been an ideological porter of a different kind. The half-baked notion of federalism led to the demise of the CA, and won’t allow another one to be elected unless the silhouette of its broad political architecture is first spelled out, a task the current tribe of political bureaucrats can hardly be expected to successfully shoulder. The other two romantic but illegal and illegitimate back-door imports of 2006, i.e. republicanism and secularism, are beginning to show early signs of their anti-body rejections in this current second stage of the unraveling of the 2005 political architecture. In recent times, multinational and multi-linguistic states such as the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires have been forced into republicanism and disintegration to serve the needs of the global market and other geo-strategic interests. And countries that have been the experimental laboratories – of fascism in Spain or totalitarian communism in Pol Pot’s Cambodia – have had to fall back on tradition to save the nation by restoring a constitutional monarchy, unconsciously along the approach preached by Edmund Burke.
The recent statements by Dash Maoist’s leaders Mohan Vaidya and Netra Bickram Chand that they can work with the King to protect Nepal’s nationalism and national interests must be seen as a process of de-romanticization. If one discounts exceptions like Nirmal Lama (guru of current Maoists and one of the framers of the 1990 constitution) or RooplalBishwakarma (one of the few genuine, not token, Dalit political leaders) Nepali communists, right from their birth in Varanasi or Calcutta in the immediate post-World War II era, have never come from the socialclass of workers and peasants that they claim to represent. The early founders of the communist party of Nepal have been sons of landlords or petty bourgeois, and today’s new generation of communist leaders in all the dozen or so parties bearing that name have middle class backgrounds. All their class political aspirations (but not their personal ambitions of aggrandizement) were actually met by the political changes of 1990. As in Europe where the Greens are derisively referred to as “watermelons”, i.e. green on the outside but red in the inside, Nepali communists of the establishment variety (especially the Cash Maoists or the EMaLaise) are “apple communists”, red on the outside, white on the inside capable of opportunistically absorbing any political colour demanded by their foreign political handlers.
It is the ideologically more committed Dash Maoists that are currently going through the torture of facing up to Nepal’s social and geo-political realities, as are those in the Nepali Kangress with any sense of political integrity. They could easily end their anguish by going the whole recanting route, restoring the 1990 constitution and honestly allowing the Nepali voters to decide on contentious issues through a referendum. After all, the entire political game plan since the 12-point Delhi Deal of November 2005 has by now become dhoos after the collapse of the CA architecture and one has to begin the game anew from the point where one took the wrong turn earlier! For those in mortal fear of the return of the King – an institution above party politics that is increasingly proving to be necessary to keep the parties within disciplinary limits among other things – they can breathe easier since all monarchists are arguing not for an absolute but for a constitutional monarchy, much as Edmund Burke did over two centuries ago. And for the “republican romantics” among the communists, they too will benefit with the restoration of the 1990 constitution, since a monarchy would then allow them to shed their totalitarian, authoritarian Stalinist image as it has helped Hun Sen in Cambodia, and allow them to get on with pushing their “progressive agenda” among the people through a Madan Bhandari route instead of being stuck in today’s impasse and taking all the historical blame for it.