Thursday, November 13, 2008

They just don't get it!

There is plenty of room to suspect the motives of the trio -- Koirala, Sitaula and Mahat

The constitution drafting process has not begun even after the six months of the Constituent Assembly (CA) election. While Puspa Kamal Dahal and his men are busy enjoying the power, for the likes of Bam Dev Gautam, it is business as usual. The Madheshi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) does not appear very much interested in pushing Madheshi issues, which it cashed in successfully during the CA election forward. For now, Upendra Yadav is happy to be, where he is. As long as he is in power, Madheshi issues will remain on the back burner.

While the parties that are in power are enjoying the limelight and the power, the Nepali Congress (NC) that ruled the country for the last one and a half decades appears bewildered, bitter, and directionless. The party leaders seem to have run out of fresh ideas. All they do these days is -- regurgitate how big of a threat the Maoists are to democracy in Nepal. Are the Maoists really a threat to democracy? Absolutely yes! I, for one, never believed that the Maoists were for multiparty democracy. It is not just me; the Maoists themselves have time and again reiterated that their ultimate goal is to establish a communist state. The misinterpretation of the Maoists' strategic intent always came from the very people that are now charging the Maoists for being threat to democracy.

While in the corridor of power, it never occurred to Girija Prasad Koirala, Krishna Prasad Sitaula, and Ram Sharan Mahat that the Maoists were a threat to democracy. While we were questioning the Maoists' strategic end goal, these were the very people telling the Nepali people that the CPN (Maoist) was a reformed force that wanted a safe landing and were in the process of getting mainstreamed.

As long as they were in power, they didn't utter a word about the Maoist intentions. Then Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula looked the other way when the Maoists committed heinous crimes (the murderers of Jitendra Shah and the Young Communist League thugs that thrashed Dr Gyanendra Giri never got punished) and former finance minister Ram Sharan Mahat exhibited his sense of entitlement on national coffer by disbursing 330 million to the ex-members of the legislature-parliament. He never told the public, whose money he was handing over to the Maoists, that he had records of whether or not their hard-earned money were being put to good use by the Maoists.

All of a sudden now, these very people who put our freedom into the clutches of the Maoists, are trying to convince us that they are the ones, who understand the threat to democracy from the Maoists and are actually capable of getting us out. Isn't that ludicrous? Why would anyone want to go to a doctor, who misdiagnosed the problem in the first place?

There is plenty of room to suspect the motives of the trio -- Koirala, Sitaula and Mahat. Are they really for democracy or simply playing the 'democracy' card to bounce back to the power? After getting wedded in a submissive relationship for three years, these people are opening up their mouth now. Should the Nepalis believe them when they say they understand that radical communism poses a threat to democracy and are actually capable of defending people's freedom?

What did Koirala and his henchmen in the cabinet do to ensure the victory of democratic forces in the CA election? Actions speak louder than words. You can fool some people sometimes, but you can't fool all the people all the time.

In a nation where a third of people live on less than a dollar, a mere use of a "noun," a "verb," and the word democracy in political speeches won't convince people. And, if you were one of the happy campers that allowed the Maoists reduce the peace process to appease process, forget about it. For these poor, there was no democracy to begin with. They never got a chance to enjoy the dividends of democracy or else they would not be such a massive support for the Maoists amongst the poor and the downtrodden. For another 40 percent or so, it is all about jobs, good education for their children, and better access to health care. If anyone can assure them of that, they will readily side with that person or the party and that is what is precisely happening in Nepal. The poor are happy dreaming about the prosperity that the Maoists have promised them. By the time the younger generation that is rallying behind Dahal actually understands what communism is capable of delivering; there will be no Puspa Kamal Dahal, Baburam Bhattarai, and the likes. The Maoists henchmen will have played their innings by then.

What percentage do educated and economically well off people that value democracy and freedom make up in Nepal? Ten percent would be a generous estimate. Do the people in this ultra minority actually believe that Koirala, Sitaula and Mahat really stand for liberal democracy and freedom that educated class cherishes for? Had the answer been in affirmative, people like Professor Krishna Khanal would not be deserting the NC. When people like him jump off a ship, it is time to know that either the ship has a hole on it or the sailors are a bunch of drunkards, who have no clue about where they are sailing the ship to.

Is the game over? Not yet, but it has definitely gotten increasingly difficult. Personally, I don't have confidence on the very people who lacked the judgment on what the Maoists stood for and what they were actually up to. If they knew it, then they were not being honest about it. In any case, they are not the kind of leaders Nepal needs to consolidate democracy.

We need new faces to confront new challenges that we are facing. There still exists an opening.
Freedom and democracy can still be snatched from the clutches of the Maoists. But for that to actually happen, we need young politicians that believe in democracy to come out and take political centre stage. The mainstream media is still up for democracy in Nepal. So, with media on your side, you can obscure the Maoists' propaganda with clear and concise message. But all this has to come from someone clean and credible, not from phonies, who pose as democrats. Not from someone who got us into the Maoists' lap, and are now posing as saviors.

The sheer regurgitation of the phrase "democracy in peril" will not be sufficient to defeat the Maoists, who want to destroy people's right to choose whether they want to send their kids to a private or public school and which hospital they want to visit and which doctor they want to see, when ill. If the Maoists have their ways, like in Cuba, specialised diagnostic studies (e.g., CT scans, endoscopies, ultrasound, etc.) and treatments (e.g., chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, etc.) will have to be approved by bureaucrats. Ask general Nepalis if that is what they want.

The Maoists have been clamouring that they would transform the country in the coming decades by attracting foreign investments. Who would invest in a country where union militancy is promoted by the party that runs the government and where the largest faction of the coalition government has a brigade or brigands that can take laws into their hand and operate without impunity? Who will invest in a country whose finance minister openly threatens private sector ordering that private school and hospital owners should look for investment alternatives? Ask these questions to the Maoists that are selling dreams without being challenged.

It is important for people to understand that, what the democrats in Nepal have to offer is, far better than what the Maoists are promising. The sheer regurgitation of "democracy in peril" will not do the trick. The more you regurgitate it, the more you will look stupid and out of touch with reality.

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