Many years i.e. three centuries ago it was customary during Dasain time to hold the Gorkha to Liglige race to select the individual for ruling the community for the coming year. The winner would be crowned king and would rule the people living there for one whole year.
Such a custom was perhaps in accordance with accepted norms that the person so chosen would be most able to save the community, big or small from outside murderers or even ferocious animals. He would be leader for a limited period of the clan or group until he became old or incapable when a younger individual would challenge him for this task. The old incumbent would perhaps may be even killed or driven out from the community!
In more recent times we have read of Papa Duvalier who ruled the African state of Haiti for 14 years and was followed by son Baby Duvalier who ruled for a similar period until he was driven out. Thus ended 28 years of their dynastic rule.
The classical case of course is of North Korea where Kim Il Sung as PM (1948-72) & President (1972-1994) started the dynastic in North Korea. He was followed by his son Kim Jong Il. There was some competition to be the next leader and following a murder of the eldest, the youngest third son Kim Jong Un took over in 2011. Though his sister Kim Jojong is currently second in command it is thought that his now teenage daughter is coming in the limelight.
Why is it that some of us Easterners still continue to think that our kith and kin are the best persons to continue in this fashion done. If it is not the patriarch himself it is his coterie or chamchas. In the case of India, after Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi took over the PM post and got killed in the process. In Sri Lanka, S W R D Bandaranaike paid with his life in the PM post. His wife Shrimavo became PM a number of times and his daughter Chandarika Kumaratunga President without much further damage! Whilst Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Ziaur Rahman paid with their lives for being Presidents, the daughter Sheikh Hassina of the former and wife Zia Khaleda of the latter are still opposing and fighting each other. In Pakistan President Bhutto was executed by the state and his daughter who had become PM was later also killed by an assassinator. The deduction seems to be that once politics has become a habit and a way of life it is difficult, especially in our Asian culture to get rid of the urge to be in power. The Royal Massacre of 2001 is the proof of killings for politics.
And this is perhaps a trend in other parts of Asia too. Philippines has seen the return to power of the son of previous President Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos who at one time had to flee the country. Following his election, the son Bongbong Marcos is back in the saddle as President of the country. Yes people’s memories are very short. Were all the leaders named above the ablest or the shrewdest, who happened to hold power in their respective countries for their extended periods of time?
Our former PM Oli went recently to Cambodia where the incumbent PM Hun Sen, who has been in power since 1995 was been elected with an overwhelming majority. The once grapevine rumour has been confirmed and the premiership has been handed over, with the concurrence of the King of Cambodia, to Hun Sen’s eldest son Han Manet. Such action reminds us Nepali of the hey days of Rana rule in Nepal.
In Nepal one has only to think of our National Martyrs as the individuals who have been fighting for peoples’ rights in the early days of freedom struggle and paid with their lives. Those who had been in power since 1950, seem in hindsight to be carpetbaggers or sukusgoondas. They have, in our context come to and clung to power by hook or by crook at the cost of development of the Nepali people.
The Rana family ruled over us for 104 years before their yoke was thrown off. A number of Nepali politicians of different parties have been at the helm of state affairs and have become PM of the land five, four, three or even two times, have not yet forsaken politics. Have they succumbed to the eternal saying, ‘Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely’? They and their diehard cronies will not allow the younger generation to come to the fore. It seems that they will do so at the Arya Ghat at the time of departure from this world. The prime question is, ‘Do we need to suffer from these new pseudo lords?’
Our House of Representatives is in the doldrums. Not much has been achieved in terms of legislations passed as the proceedings were obstructed regularly by those having vested interests. The reason for all these unwanted activities is to make sure that the political wrongdoings which have become a regular feature of political functioning by certain parties which have been in power in Nepal over the years do not see the light of day.
Unfortunately most of the current crop of leaders is responsible for our present state of affairs! It is the common Nepali who has had to suffer silently over the decades. Our party leaders may have held high posts in government after winning elections by spending their ill-gotten wealth. All parties should have rules that if leaders lose elections they must hand over leadership to new generation.
Is crime against the state and murder the bedrock of current politics? Is this the destiny of us Nepalis? Or is it simply just a question of ‘Jiske Lath, uski Bhainse’ in the long run?
The author is a retired medical doctor and writes fiction under the pen name of Mani Dixit also. Website: www.hdixit.org.np. Twitter: @manidixithd