Thursday, July 5, 2007

Progression or Retrogression?

When it comes to the current situation of the country, the nation is highly polarized. The opinions you get depend upon the social class of the persons you ask a question. If you ask politicians you will get a response describing a rosy picture; but if you ask the general public the chances of you getting an optimistic or upbeat response are very slim. The security situation is deteriorating at an unprecedented pace, the entire nation has been turned into a open killing fields whereby the Youth Communist League (YCL) and Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha's cadres can kill anyone and everyone who dares to dissent without impunity.

People are nervous about the future like never before. During the heights of the Maoist insurgency, people in the hinterlands were the only ones that were forced to embrace the false sense of security bestowed by the Maoists. But now, with each passing day, the YCL is getting more irrational in its quest to gain control over the city dwellers to force the false sense of security. So, it's not only the rural folks that are victims of the Maoist atrocities but also the city dwellers that are forced to cope with the Maoist irrational, whimsical and cheap popularity stunts.

Everyone believed that bringing the Maoists into the mainstream would mark an end of the era of violent politics, which has now proved to be counter intuitive. The situation is getting complicated day by day. With the decaying law and order situation in the country, the numbers of armed groups are increasing rapidly. While the general public is trying its best to remain optimistic about the future, the indicators that portray peace and security paint a gloomy picture. According to the Failed State Index, 2006, constructed by the Fund for Peace, Nepal is in 20th position, which is 15 positions up from the 2005 position. In 2005, Nepal was in 35th position.

In theory, a nation that is governed under democratic principles and striving for an inclusive democracy should be moving away from becoming a failed state. But in our case, we are inching closer to being a failed state. If we see the list of the nations that rank the highest in the failed State Index, it becomes evident that these nations are either engulfed in deadly conflicts or they are ruled by dictators. But in the case of Nepal, although the conflict has officially ended, there has not been any positive improvement in indicators for peace and security. It's sad but the bitter truth of the day that Nepalese people are forced to take with a grin of salt.

While the politicians are tirelessly talking about the need of democracy and swearing on to fight for it, the nation is moving up on that list and getting closer to becoming a failed state. There seem to be an incongruity between what politicians talk and what they actually can deliver. Call it insensitiveness or incompetence on the part of politicians, it's your call, but there is something seriously wrong with the ways our politicians operate.

Instead of working together towards securing peace and stability in the Nation, the top leaders--Girija Prasad Koirala, Madhav Nepal, and Puspa Kamal Dahal of major political parties--Nepali Congress (NC), United Marxist Leninist (UML), and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) are engaged in deadly tussle of fulfilling their own ambitions. While Girija Prasad Koirala is striving for a political legacy, Madhav Nepal is obsessed with Prime Ministerial chair. The new entrant to this deadly tussle of fulfillment of ambition is, the chairman of CPN (Maoist), who wants to become the first president of, yet be declared, Republic of Nepal. While the ambitions of our leaders are on astronomical rise, the aspirations of general public are getting dashed away. The nation is caught into the vortex of violence.

Among these three politicians, Girija Prasad Koirala is the one that is not at the receiving end. He gambled his six decades of his political career to join hands with the radical communists, Maoists, for the greater good of the nation. But now, his partner of the peace, the Maoists, are busy blaming him for the failures and threatening to walk away from the government. The political lefts' gauntlet is out against Koirala. The only option, he has at hand, which would help him establish a legacy is to unite Nepali Congress (NC) and Nepali Congress (Democratic). This would help energize the democratic base and might ensure a decent outcome in favor of the NC during the Constituent Assembly (CA) elections. Instead of focusing too much in grooming his daughter as a successor, he should work towards reviving the NC's base. If she has the capability, she will emerge like Indira Gandhi did in Indian politics or else she can live a mediocre life like the siblings of former prime ministers in India such as Chandra Sekhar and Viswonath Pratap Singh. Koirala should not gamble the future of the Nepali Congress just to establish supremacy of his daughter. Many people besides Koirala clan have shed their blood and sweat to get the NC where it is now. So, instead of focusing too much on keeping reign on family member's hand, Koirala should work towards establishing a political legacy. Out of many things, time is definitely not on his side. Except for putting a bold fight against despotic monarch in the April, 2006 revolution, there are not many positive things younger generations know or would like to remember about the octogenarian prime minister. The accusation of grooming corrupt politicians will not simply go away. Many of his cabinet colleagues of the last 15 years are the biggest “Rags to Riches” Story. They skillfully improved their living standards, which would have been impossible if done through legal means. Koirala might not have enough time at his disposal to get rid of tainted faces from the party, but what he can do and should do is, unite both the factions of Nepali congress and let the leadership evolve on its own. Nepalese people will eventually take care of corrupt politicians by voting them out.

As far as Madhav Nepal is concerned, nobody takes him seriously except for his own cadres. He neither has consistency, nor clear vision and agendas. The only agenda, he seems to have is to, become a prime minister. And, all he knows and does is spit venom on others, especially Koirala. He neither appears like a prime ministerial material, nor carries himself like one. He needs an extreme make over on all fronts. He needs to work on his outlook, his position on issues, and his level of consistency on political issues. The days are gone where peoples' opinions were shaped by vernacular weeklies like Bimarsha, Deshantar, Drishti, and Janastha. Now, people are smart enough to figure out the level of competence politicians have and hidden agendas they pursue.

Puspa Kamal Dahal's ambition of becoming the president of, yet to be declared, Republic of Nepal is more dangerous than that pursued by Nepal. Nepal's tongue lashing is much less harmful than Dahal's calculated move of using YCL to silence dissents and provide false sense of security. There is nothing wrong in having an ambition but the steps he is taking to get there is anti-democratic. The killing of a Nepali Congress-Democratic (NC-D) district committee member by the Maoists in Humla district and YCL's unabated highhandedness clearly shows that Dahal is using YCL's muscle as mighty ladder to fulfill his presidential ambition, if the nation of republic Nepal ever realizes.

The current chaotic situation begs for a question: Are we really progressing or regressing? The politicians might not care, whether they be a president or the prime minister of the failed state Nepal, but the people do care about it. They want a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic nation for themselves and the generations to come. The April revolution of 2006 was for democracy and prosperity, not to fail as a nation. If our goal was to fail, we would have failed sooner at the hands of King Gyanendra. Thus, the Fund for Peace's Failed State Index should be perceived as a wake up call. It is never too late to right wrongs.

No comments: