Dashain is almost here. Soon the government offices and private institutions, including the media houses, will close down for the celebration. Like most years, Dashain this year has not become so much a matter of celebration for the general people mainly because of rise of prices of essential commodities to astronomical proportion. Prices of foods and vegetables have gone up so high that people worry whether they will be able to afford to celebrate. Yet, people have started to leave the Kathmandu Valley in hundreds of thousands each day to meet their relatives and parents. By Phoolpati, which this year falls on Saturday, almost half of the people will have left Kathmandu. Politically, there is frustration among the people after the recent rape scandal related to Speaker of the House of Representatives, Krishna Bahadur Mahara.
But something positive seems to be on the card too. The visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping is expected amid (or right after) Dashain and the government is making preparation to make the visit successful. The visit of President Xi, which will become the second such visit to Nepal by the sitting Chinese president in 23 years, has been looked up with expectations by political class as well as the general public alike. Among other things, this visit is expected to lay some groundwork for much-needed connectivity projects between Nepal and China. Some important deals are expected to be signed on economic cooperation. However, much will depend on how well-prepared Nepali side will be and how well the government will negotiate with the Chinese delegation. We hope the government will act in such a way in which Nepal will benefit from cooperation with China.
There is a widening distrust between the ruling and opposition parties at the moment. The main opposition Nepali Congress has accused the government of becoming authoritarian and has threatened to stage anti-government protests. Then there is growing resentment against the government at the people’s level for failing to ensure rule of law and good governance. Nepali leaders make Dashain the time for solidarity and commitment. Two years ago, on October 3, while people were celebrating Dashain festival then CPN-UML and Maoist Center announced electoral alliance with the effect of eventual merger between the two parties. This development led to the two communist parties winning the elections of provincial and federal parliaments with near two-thirds majority and forming the strongest government in many years. People naturally looked up to the unified party for expediting development and ensuring good governance. Two years later, this hope is fast eroding as the government has failed to live up to the expectations of general people. Nepali political parties organize tea receptions and give the message of solidarity and brotherhood during these festivals. Can there be any surprise announcement this Dashain to address people’s aspirations? We will have to wait and watch. Meanwhile, we wish that the festival of blessings and goodwill will imbibe in political leaders the sense of accountability toward people and the country. We hope that ruling party will be able to work with renewed enthusiasm after Dashain. On that optimistic note, we wish happy Dashain to all our readers and well wishers.