Many years ago I remember reading in English a short story by Guy de Maupassant titled ‘Boule de suif’ or ‘A Ball of Fat’. In it a group of travellers in a wagon were held up at the city of Rouen by a Prussian officer who refused to let them depart from the German army controlled area unless a passenger travelling in the vehicle fulfilled his bodily needs. The lady in question was not ready to meet with his demand. On the entreaties of her fellow passengers, the lady finally fulfilled the wanton needs of the officer and then the travellers were allowed to proceed further. Once they were free and were allowed to go on their way all the co-travellers’ attitude to this lady changed and she became a person non-grata and despised by all as being amoral.
The vote of ‘No Confidence’ on the Oli government was started by Pushpa Kamal, who during the course of his diatribe recalled the common saying of politicians being strange individuals and went on to say that in politics there are no permanent friends nor foes. This seemed true to words in that the very Financial Bills that the CPN -M had helped to formulate was being opposed by them as they acted against the government.
In the midst of all this activity and following two days of the debate on the No Confidence Motion, the government supporting parties RPP and MJF-D decided to also leave the ‘Sinking ship of State’, as per the old saying ‘Rodents will leave a sinking ship’.
So this is it. People move according to time and situation. During the course of the debate, Pradeep Giri also brought out the fact that India’s response to Nepal’s affairs had changed to be drastically opposite in the course of about ninety-five years. When King Rajendra of the Shah Dynasty had knocked at the gates of the British India Legation and wanted to take refuge there, in aftermath of the Kot Parva, he had been turned away. The door had however opened majestically when his descendent King Tribhuvan decided to do so, nearly a century later.
And it is not just us in Nepal. Following the shooting of the 22 years old Burhan Wani in Kashmir, as many as forty people have lost their lives. Following his win in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, the Pakistan PM has made a number of statements. In India P Chidambaram, a previous Finance and also a Home Minister of the Indian Congress government stated that New Delhi had ignored the grand bargain made at the time that ruler Hari Singh acceded to India. Perhaps it was the emotional feelings of Kashmir Brahmin Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru that also prompted this step. To all these facts the Indian National Congress party has now issued a statement that the views of Chidambaram on Kashmir were his personal views. Such are the ways in the political field.
Following the earthquake of 2015 Nepal was in the doldrums. The promulgation of the constitution took place when Sushil Koirala was at the helm of affairs. Then came the change in government and the handover to Oli. True there was, and still there is factionalism in the UML. It is all a matter of sharing the cake that they have! It looks like that many appetites of constituents have not been fulfilled to date.
The reality of our Nepali politicians is that they are dancing to the tunes being played at Delhi by the mandarins there. Somehow when Oli started his term, his ire was perhaps at his handlers in South Block. He seemed to be saying to them, ‘Enough is enough,’ and took his actions accordingly. The country at that time was reeling under the ‘Unofficial’ blockade by India at the Indo-Nepal border. The ire of the Delhi beaurocracy was that their diktats were ignored at the time that the Nepali Constitution was promulgated. The agreements with China regarding the supply of fuel, the opening of trade routes, the plans for rail connections and various agreements that were signed only increased their ire. The politicians in office and the people all said, ‘Hi – Hi’.
We have now gone full circle. It turns out now that the state coffers have been opened to party wallahs, the money has been distributed left, right and centre but the fact remains that many of the poor and the needy following the earthquake are still awaiting relief. The reconstruction work that should have been done and completed in many places has not been started yet. Then with the rainfall of this year, many of the bridges have been washed away and the landslides of the mountains have blocked roads almost all over the country. Communication is at a standstill with the populace crying out for relief but being subjected to soaring prices for the basic needs for living. How long must this continue before changes occur? Perhaps all this has culminated in the new slogan of ‘Oli – Maro Goli’.
During the three days of discussion of the ‘No Confidence Motion’ that was being televised live, what one marked was that all the speakers stressed on the moral values and sincerity that is expected of politicians. Whether they will act as per their words, only time will tell.
Where does all this leave us. The people of the country are the silent spectators of the politicians’ game. They are just playing musical chairs once again and singing ‘You scratch my back, I will scratch yours’. Will the new occupiers of ministerial chairs work to implement the plans in the pipeline to improve the status of the Nepali people? We can only ponder and wait.
The author writes fiction under the name of Mani Dixit. Website: www.hdixit.org.np. Twitter: @manidixithd