Published On: April 8, 2023 09:00 AM NPT By: Niranjan Mani Dixit
I am in my late sixties. I must say that I lost my age just as millions of other people in Nepal who have had maddening and awful lives in spite of Nepal becoming a beautiful and resourceful country due to political power in the wrong hands for decades, and the country mishandled and mismanaged terribly.
In retrospect, King Birendra's shortsighted, indolent and laissez-faire rule for almost three decades (1972-2001) could not pick up from what his provident father King Mahendra had splendidly earned for the country. King Birendra’s incapacity led to the emergence of many of the burning issues and problems Nepal has been grappling with. One is the Maoist insurgency (1996-2006). Nepal turning into a Federal Democratic Republic in 2008 has yet no fruition, but failing and putting Nepal’s socio-economy and geo-politics at a greater risk.
Development is haphazard with dismal incremental positive changes of spontaneity and of no significant value additions, but politically limited to unattended populist announcements and rhetoric, misleading people. The political party supremos seldom know how to translate vision, mission and objectives into tangible actions and results just as premature consultants who normally can only lecture about ‘what’ but do not ‘how’ to implement and deliver. Time is spent on nitty-gritty decisions and actions such as providing driving license, embossed number plate for the vehicle, foreign passports, fixing road traffic lights and filling pot holes on the city roads in Kathmandu.
Compromise and rule
The constitution has been premeditated to have lapses and ambiguities to the benefit of the dominant politicians who often syndicate for their longevity in power and power circle is perhaps out of fear if they may have to face the potential legal charges related to crimes such as corruption, misuse of power and authority and human rights violations such as during the Maoist insurgency which killed an estimated 17,000 civilians and 1,300 disappeared. Transitional justice process and consensus in the country and internationally on the phase of self-proclaimed people’s war (janayuddha), a phase of violence, have been stalled for 18 years. Lawlessness has been trickily and barefacedly exercised. Plotting and menacing people and human rights organizations and even the judiciary to evade or dismiss or not let investigate criminal cases is unlawful. “Power doesn't corrupt. Fear corrupts... perhaps the fear of a loss of power.” (John Steinbeck, 1902, American writer). Those who abuse power and authority do so with impunity and lawlessness.
Mysteries behind the royal massacre on 1 June 2001 where nine members of the royal family including King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya were killed is not yet scientifically and empirically investigated. Mysterious killing of democratic communist party leader Madan Bhandari on May 16, 1993 in a car accident is unsolved. Was it the then Crown Prince Dipendra or CIA or RAW or MSC or the so-called Maoists insurgents or the then Royal Nepalese Army chief behind the royal massacre is yet a suspense.
Corruption, acquisitive and bribable culture has been ingrained in politico-bureaucracy which is a sinister trait rampant ever since the democratic transition of 1990. Files of serious legal charges liable for trial and punishment are eluded unlike in China where President Xi coming to power punished in three years 1 million people for corruption which included many political bigwigs and high-ranking government officers.
Elected overwhelmingly from Chitwan-2 constituency, Rabi Lamichhhane, former Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister from outshining RSP (Rastriya Swatantra Party) had to resign due to minor procedural discrepancy in his citizenship certificate. Analysts however observed that this was politically conspirative and duped resignation victimizing him for his powerful speech in the House of Representative session that the pending files of bigwigs on corruption charges including irregularities would be opened for legal action, and the lawmakers need not approach him for release of any culprit or exempting trial and punishment.
Still kept under the carpet in effect of ‘compromise and rule’ by the cyclic musical-chair-government are for instance these corruption cases: Baluwatar Lalita Niwas government land (134 ropani) scam; Ncell capital gains tax evasion worth Rs 70 billion; NAC wide-body aircraft purchase scam (Rs 3.88 billion), tax revenue misappropriation worth Rs 21 billion by the Tax Settlement Commission (2015) and OMNI procurement deals for lifesaving PPEs test kits. Civil servants and the leaders of the major political parties having nexus, a conflict of interest, is the root cause of rampant corruption, irregularities and loss of accountability. No one is above the law. Belling the cat (felons) has been overdue.
Politicized media and astrology
A bunch of leading social media, some televising media centers and senior journalists are often criticized for becoming politicized and spinner of provocative, hypothesized and unethical news; and even sometimes bargaining and blackmailing for income which is a conflict of interest. Some political leaders, bureaucrats and the media centers and journalists are criticized for having been incentivized or cash gifts provided by external forces such as India for their loyalty and service, which is illicit.
Politically motivated and manipulated astrologers who cannot envisage their own future, as protagonist pamperers and falsified predictionaries, are forecasting the destiny and behavior of political leaders. One much-talked about forecast is about septuagenarian leader, Sher Bahadur Deuba, a five-time PM already, would continue becoming so up to a total of seven times in his lifetime, as if it was counting the number of football goals! Such ridiculous and provocative predictions have also been graced by other sexagenarian leaders.
Political identity and isms
No political “isms” and party principles are working. Maoism, Marxism-Leninism, Democratism and Socialism all in one basket are jumbled as a party cocktail or punch drink where political parties of different backgrounds have lost their distinctive identities and sincerities; and hence is synonymous to almost a Unicameral Legislature of Panchayat era introduced by King Mahendra. Too many political ‘cooks’ of criss-cross combinations in the name of a coalition (gathabandhan), getting indulged in power and posts sharing (bhagbanda) are spoiling the ‘broth’, meaning the country and the republican democracy is getting back to square one.
A whimsical mindset of the power-crazy supremos, treating politics ‘a game of any possibilities’ like Rubik's cube solver game or fun games, is not consistent with the universal ideals of either the federal democratic republic or socialism or communism. This misconstrued the people’s mandate. Power equations and arithmetical permutations to the extent of attempting horse-trading and floor-crossing in the Federal Parliament for toppling the government is frequent. In consequence, the average tenure of office of a PM is about a year ever since the 1990 political change which speaks volumes.
Confined to politics, ever since the 1990 multi-party movement about ten leading politicians are camouflaging and reincarnating into any political hat synonymous to an octopus or a tree lizard who can change their shape and color. Also identical to 'hyena dog politics' where hyenas join together for killing a prey but later fight with each other to secure a bigger chunk of it, they are competing for power, posts and wealth acquisitions. The political sector, a lucrative business, is also turning into don-ism or stunt similar to the repulsive Bollywood Hindi cinema storylines in which fighting against corrupt and gangsters-turned politicians are portrayed.
There is a sharp decline of civility, ethics, nobility and intrinsic personal capacity, and therefore ills and imps are on the rise. Political behaviors are undemocratic, ‘peculiar’, idiosyncratic, and erratic. A nuisance that exchanges of quarrelsome and scorching words of accusations, egotism, censures, discredits, humiliation and offenses by the unscrupulous political leaders make them untrustworthy for power and leadership roles. The government is becoming Kakistocratic and Plutocratic. “You can't get rich in politics unless you're a crook.” (Harry Truman, American President, 1945.
Genetically, having a feudalistic character of hedonism, the political leaders in power have a rental attitude and demeanor. They find remittance income, exporting human capital, (economically, socially and politically conscious population which otherwise is desperately needed to kick off national production and productivity), a ‘luxury’ of meeting their expenditures and upkeep in the government – a penny-wise and pound-foolish development approach. Exodus of youths also would make political leaders’ life easier as balloting in their disapprobation and street protests against corruption, crimes, irregularities, human rights violations and misuse of power and authority would not be possible. How can Nepal free itself from the clutches of wrong political hands?
Inter- and Intra-party feuds often led to sharing the PM post, as a bone of contention or private property, between the two supremos for 2.5 years each is unconstitutional. Likewise, silliness lies in CPN-UML Chairman and NC President competing with each other for becoming the Kingmaker for crowning CPN Maoist (Central) Chairman having only 32 seats (a third position) in the House of Representatives as a PM.
Despite Nepal becoming a Federal Democratic Republic in 2008, PM is still not -elect, but -select, which is undemocratic. What a democracy and political ethics is this where Nepali Congress (NC), the single largest party, not forming its government voted instead in the floor test of 20th March for CPN Maoist (Center) Chairman to be the PM? NC did not want to be the strong opposition as it was constitutionally mandatory as it happened on 10th January when CPN-UML Chairman K.P Oli was the Kingmaker for Prachanda, CPN Maoist (Center) Chairman.
In the name of development generosity, democracy and human rights, the ‘trio’ external forces, namely India on the forefront followed by America and China as competitors, are violating protocols and diplomatic norms, making unwanted and irrelevant visits whenever there are political fissures or PM and president are being selected. They chip-in and dictate as Kingmakers the political leaders so that their overarching geopolitical and geostrategic interests could be met. Even more answerable for such interventions are the political leaders who are lenient and welcoming in their competitive drive for coming to “power”. If external interventions are unchecked, Nepal could also be a war zone and shabby like Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine in future.
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