People are not going to tolerate it when any political group declares shutdowns and restricts their mobility.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal-Madhav Kumar Nepal faction of the Nepal Communist Party tried to bring the whole country to a standstill on Thursday. Reports of cadres disrupting mobility started to come from early morning. A taxi was set on fire near Gongabu bus park. Another taxi and a microbus were vandalized in Swoyambhu and Chabahil. Cases of clashes and vandalism have been reported from outside of the valley as well. However, general people largely defied the general strike. Many people braved the possible risks and came out to work as usual. By mid-afternoon, vehicular movement was beginning to thicken. Surely, the Dahal-Nepal faction and its cadres will have us believe this disruption of mobility and vandalism as a mark of success of general strike but the truth to the contrary is apparent. People have spoken against banda, they have called the political parties to explore the alternative to paralyzing normal life. The resistance against banda was conspicuous as soon as the Dahal-Nepal faction announced it on Wednesday. People opposed this in strong terms on social media, asked the party to come to senses, and stop enforcing the counterproductive general strike. This wise advice should have been heeded by the leaders and cadres of the Dahal-Nepal faction.
Needless to say, the government of KP Sharma Oli has crossed the constitutional boundaries. The dissolution of the House of Representatives by Prime Minister Oli is flagrantly unconstitutional, so are the appointments made in various constitutional bodies by the government on Friday. Oli’s one after another unconstitutional move has made the mockery of constitutionalism and the federal democratic republic system itself. In this context, every individual and a political party has a right to rage but while raging they also need to realize that their activities do not cause sufferings and hardships to the people. Forced general strikes do just that.
It should be noted that political parties, including those who forced strikes on Thursday, had made a series of commitments that they would not be involved in any type of disruptive activities. Besides, the series of bandas and strikes the parties foisted on during the decade-long insurgency and the transitional period that followed had made people sick and tired of such activities. Banda is a bad idea for a simple reason that it robs people of their right to mobility and livelihood. It triggers violence—with banda enforcers trying to disrupt mobility and security forces resisting them. The cycle of banda, violence, instability and chaos will lead us nowhere.
Whatever Prime Minister Oli has done and has been doing since the House dissolution on December 20, and thereafter, is wrong and political parties and civil society leaders have been rightly raising their voices against his unconstitutional and regressive steps. But two wrongs do not make a right. It requires moral support and sympathy from a larger section of the society and the people for resistance against the government to be successful. Banda, when imposed by force, generates public resentment against the very group or the party which enforces it. The widespread public opposition against the general strikes on Thursday has sent a message loud and stark: People are not going to tolerate it when any political group declares shutdowns and restricts their mobility.
Dahal-Nepal faction of the NCP and every other party needs to bear this in mind all the time.