“When you got nothing you got nothing to lose” goes the refrain of a Bob Dylan song. This thinking, perhaps, drives Nepali politicians too, for if this were not true they would surely have demonstrated some semblance of being guided by principles.
Girija Prasad Koirala, Madhav Kumar Nepal and Sher Bahadur Deuba, while in power, variously termed the CPN Maoists, terrorists; offered bounty on their heads and issued Red Corner Notices against their senior comrades. The recent signing of a “12-point understanding” with the same group (Maoists) to work together ostensibly to “end autocratic monarchy” in Nepal, demonstrates Nepali political leadership’s capacity to suspend collective judgment and convince themselves that a party whose ultimate goal is to create a Maoist state, will depart from their stated prime agenda and join the multi-party bandwagon.
Their subservience to foreign powers and willingness to compromise national interest is legendary. The famous saying “only scoundrels sleep with the enemy to advance their personal ambitions” never seems to be applicable in the case of Nepal’s so-called national level leaders.
Much has been said about the King’s move, which simply is a constitutional responsibility fulfilled, expected of any Head of State under such a situation to try and rescue a failing nation. The King’s action must also be viewed in the context of what was promised, and what is being done. The King in his address on February 1 made commitments to achieving three principal objectives, namely, establish peace, establish good governance and institutionalise democracy within the stipulated three years’ time frame.
The progress so far: Towards establishing peace, perceptible signs of a weakening Maoist outfit, forced to ally itself with the political parties and declaring their willingness to join the political mainstream indicates gains made in this direction. Strategic ploy notwithstanding, their realisation that the road to state power is not through the barrel of a gun, is surely a gain for the nation.
Corruption, which had engulfed every aspect of our national life, cannot be uprooted easily from our society. The diminishing levels experienced by all Nepalese as compared to only a few years ago, however, instills a sense of faith in the roadmap stated by the King. A few more cases in line with the actions taken against some corrupt politicians and bureaucrats would lend further credence to the promise of good governance.
The last of the assurances made by the King was to institutionalise democracy through elections. The local elections being announced for 8th of February and election for the Lower House of Parliament being set within a year from then, is surely a step toward rejuvenating the political process derailed since the dissolution of Parliament in October 2002 by then Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba. The Seven-party’s refusal to participate in the polls, indeed their efforts to thwart the government initiative to elect peoples’ representatives at the local level, exposes their insincerity towards “democracy” they preach day and night on the street.
Much has also been said about the King’s rigid stance against the Seven-party alliance’s protests and their new found comrades, some even seeking conciliatory gestures from him, to negotiate for themselves a safe landing, and to defuse the situation. Such a move also being advocated by some of the foreign powers including the EU, the U.K. and India is seemingly the easiest solution. But the easiest is not necessarily the best, especially when a nation is on the brink of collapse.
Given past records of ineptitude, handing political powers back to the same clique of leaders in an undemocratic manner will revert to unending dissolution of Parliaments, constant intra party feuds, escalated levels of corruption and ultimately deliver the country into the hands of the Maoists. Such a scenario would be disastrous not only for Nepal but also to all its friends and neighbors. A foretaste of such an outcome has already been felt in some Indian states close to the Nepali border.
The King’s roadmap planned for Nepal during the three years of his direct rule can be used to arrest growth of terrorism, expose the dishonest politicians and install in their place competent individuals through the democratic process of national elections. For a vision as clear as this, there is no need to appease or compromise with these insincere aspirants in order to guide the country back to a functioning democracy.
The King understands that the institution of monarchy is the only axis of public trust and hope. How else does one explain throngs of Nepalese making requests for new hospitals, roads, bridges, airports, schools, you name it. But above all else, we hear the most say “we want peace Your Majesty”, wherever he visits. Such requests / demands were never made of the erstwhile prime ministers, ministers, politicians, rights activists, or any one of those so called peoples’ representatives. Why? Perhaps, people in Nepal have rarely experienced these pretenders delivering on their promises, or showing any signs, indicative of their sincerity, making disappointments far outweigh people’s hopes.
Future of Monarchy
The inborn trust and respect placed on the institution by a majority of Nepalese and the fact that he wields the power and authority to craft a solution for a peaceful, prosperous Nepal must be accepted by all those who wish this country well. The future of the institution of Monarchy is directly tied to the fate of the Nepalese people, the King understands this. He also evidently understands that the end of democracy in Nepal would only mean the end of the nation’s sovereignty, and therein lies the difference between him and the Nepalese politicians.
By Bijen Jonchhe