Monday, June 7, 2010

Never-ending political crisis

The nation would plunge into a bigger chaos if the Constituent Assembly (CA) is not extended. Nepali people must have heard this countless times in the past months, of course, and many must have accepted it without thinking. Life would be hunky dory and we would all live happily thereafter, political pundits and the media hinted. It was portrayed as the final hurdle to the finish line. Contrary to the political pundit and media’s assertion, the political stalemate has rather thickened. The latest deal retailed as an essential leap to bail out the country from plunging into the bigger chaos is increasingly appearing as another doomed assertion.

The gravest problem this nation faces is the inability of the so- called intellectuals and media to confront the fact that we shouldn’t resort to deals to govern the nation. Deals can be conveniently bent or broken to suit political outcomes. In a country, where the end justifies the means, resorting to deals to bail the nation out of political stalemate is itself a recipe for disaster. Where have the countless deals signed in the past taken us?

Nepalis complain endlessly about how immoral and stupid politicians are, and how badly they have lied to the public about this or that. But what we forget is that our politicians perfectly represent a nation that shows such a thoroughgoing incapacity for thought, and such an aversion to the truth about their own behavior. We seek morality and honesty in our politicians, when we, ourselves, are unwilling to confront the truth for what it is. It is high time that our political pundits and media bosses take a deep breath and try to analyze the crux of the problem before suggesting the easiest way out.

By endlessly opting for an easy way out, we are piling up the problems and letting it accumulate for implosion. Instead of letting the parties fight it out democratically in elections, we are forcing them to do backdoor dealings, which are often not followed. If one is to venture forward mentally one baby step, one will quickly come to see that the deal that was struck minutes before the expiration of CA was a political necessity more than anything else. It was not something that came out of realization of responsibility towards Nepali people. Had KP Oli not struck a deal, the UML would have witnessed a vertical split. With the migration of the likes of Bamdev Gautam to the Maoist camp, Oli would have lost substantial amount of political capital and the backing of India that he enjoys now. For Oli, it was a desperate act of political survival. As far as Pushpa Kamal Dahal is concerned, with dissolution of the CA, his stature and the bargaining power, which stems out of the sheer number that the Maoist party has in CA, would have ceased to exist. With India and the major political parties against Dahal’s prime ministerial aspirations, keeping the CA alive was a political necessity. For the Nepali Congress, sailing with the CPN-UML was the only option at hand. Keeping the CPN-UML intact is not only in the best interest of Oli and the incumbent prime minister but also the congress party. Any vertical split in the CPN-UML and the breakaway faction’s migration to the Maoist camp shall further dwarf the NC’s stature, which is the last thing that the NC wants at this point in time. NC’s political future is very much dependent upon its symbiotic relationship with the CPN-UML.

What happened during the eve of May 28 was a desperate act of political survival. Now, that political parties have successfully bailed themselves out without spending much of their political capital, the game is on to out-fox each other. The NC and CPN-UML are all set to outsmart the Maoists in the very game that the Maoists used against them not a very long ago. The Maoists want to bounce back to the power by adhering to one of the three points in the deal—Prime Minister’s resignation—and undermining others. Whereas the CPN-UML, NC and India want to checkmate Dahal by asking the Maoists to first fulfill other points in the deal, which is virtually impossible. The power of the Maoist party and its control over the society comes from the muscle of the battle hardened fighters, whom it slyly rebranded as young communist leaguers and the loyal party members who are now enjoying the property looted in the last two decades. Why would the Maoists alienate its base and heed the demands put forward by NC and CPM-UML? It simply does not make any sense.

So far, Pushpa Kamal Dahal has kept his prime ministerial aspirations under wraps. He wants to throw his hat in the ring after the incumbent resigns. And, that is where the problem lies. Both India and politicians of the major political parties do not want Pushpa Kamal Dahal as the next prime minister. For India, he is too unreliable to serve Indian interests, whereas for others, he is too ambitious and charismatic, who they think can cut their size further down. India would immediately give its nod and other parties would follow suit, if Baburam Bhattarai was to become the next prime minister. With the major political parties at home and India in an antagonistic mode, it might be the last thing that Pushpa Kamal Dahal might want at this point in time. In a quest for a shortcut through a new set of deals, we might have embarked on a senseless political quagmire. Very soon another round of deal-making might be needed to troubleshoot the snag in the deal signed on May 28.

After all our nation is governed through deals, what’s wrong with that?

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