Monday, May 22, 2006

On the HoR Proclamation

The House of Representatives in Nepal passed a “historic” proclamation last week. Time will tell how historic it is, but for now it has to be seen as a major decision.

The King’s Blunders
In a famous Hindi movie, the merciless villain Gabbar Sing reminds hapless villagers that only one person can save them from his wrath—khud Gabbar (Gabbar himself)! In the April uprising of Nepal, only one person was ultimately responsible for the massive decline in popularity of the Nepali monarchy—the monarch himself.

The king surrounded himself with bad people and paid the price. All this while he was constantly talking about “swachha chhabi.” Even when he took over direct rule, many Nepalis were willing to give him a chance. People were sick and tired of violence and constant abuse of the system by everyone. No matter what his intentions were (and whether he had any good intentions is now questionable), king Gyanendra’s utmost priority should have been to project an image of reform and a system of governance based on accountability, integrity and strong democratic norms. It’s hard to imagine that a team with people like Kamal Thapa, Jagat Gauchan, Sharad Chandra Shah and Niranjan Thapa, would ever give that impression.

The Proclamation
There isn’t much room to disagree with some of the tenets of the proclamation. However, there is no mention of issues (i.e. corruption and lack of strong democratic norms) that are equally, if not more, responsible for plunging Nepal into the current state of mess. As it is worded, the proclamation gives the impression that it was the king who is at fault for everything. Is that really the case? Are the politicians unwilling to take responsibility for anything? Like I have said over and over again, the king’s moves would be extremely unlikely, if not outright impossible, had the leaders succeeded in garnering the support and trust of the general population.

Another issue that is untimely and unnecessary under the present context is turning Nepal into a secular state. Not once did I see people on the streets demanding secular Nepal. People were mostly upset about the lack of progress on the peace front seemingly declining everyday situation in Nepal. Is Hinduism to be blamed for Nepal’s crisis? Why the issue of secularism before corruption? Did the people march on the streets asking for a secular Nepal?

Besides, isn’t Nepal status as a nation an issue that is decided by all Nepalis rather than by a parliament that is defunct for all practical purposes? After all the last elections were held over eight years ago, and the ground realities are much different now.

The army is said to be freed from the king’s clutches. This is fine on paper. But politicizing the army and making it run on the whim of the defense minister or other politicians will be death wish for Nepalis. After all the army is the only obstacle to stop a full-fledged takeover of Nepal by the Maoists.

And, in the absence of context, what is the law of our land? Since when did parliament become bigger than the constitution? Remember, this is an opportune time to start from a fresh slate. What happens now could have long term repercussions. The politicians should be mindful of not setting precedence that will hurt the building of democratic culture in Nepal. Things need to be done the right way, not in a haste that reeks awfully like a locomotive fueled by vendetta rummaging through the political scenario.

If this proclamation is challenged at the Supreme Court, what is the court expected to look at? Is it appropriate for laws to nullify the constitution? Isn’t it the other way round? And the way parliamentarians are going around threatening judges of impeachment should they go against the people will, what direction are we heading towards? Isn’t an independent and strong judiciary a fundamental requirement of lively democracy?

Learn your Lessons
So far everything appears to have been driven by the Maoist agenda. What has the government received in return? Are the Maoists willing to stop their extortion spree that has become more rampant in the weeks since parliament was restored?

A big debate is going on about the suppression of the people’s movement which saw 22 people lose their lives. However, there seems to be no talk about the 13,000 dead directly as a result of the Maoist rebellion. Is this kind of double standard going to be the norm now?

Lots of mistakes have been made, especially since the 1990 popular movement, that has stifled the growth of a vibrant democratic system in Nepal. The need now is to sift through those mistakes and figure out ways of not repeating them. Acting in haste to quell immediate voices of decent is not as important as starting to build a deep-rooted democratic culture that is self-sustained and immune to attack from any person or institution that is driven by personal agendas.


Anonymous said...

Like you said, the king made very bad decisions and now will have to live with them. The parliament is now supreme and it is good that the kings powers are reduced. It is better to have 205 or whatever you say people control the future of nepal than one person (king) or one family (royals) hoina ra.

We are already seeing good things hapen and more will come with time. Opposition like yours will not sway the responsibel people doing their jobs.

Nepali Blogger said...

You are right that the king made many bad decisions. But my contention has always been this -- he is not the sole culprit here to be taking all the wrath. When are our politicians going to learn their lessons are accept some accountability?

Nepal belongs to Nepalis, no question about that. It is not a birta of one person or family. However, we passed that stage in 1990 and look what happened.

As for good things, we still have a long way to go. Vendetta is over now and we have a new beginning, but with the same inept people running the show, I don't know how much to expect. However, I hope I am wrong and things are different this time around.


Anonymous said...

I write this with Urgency:

Recent meeting held in New Delhi (India) participated by politicians, reporters, and people like Devendra Raj Pandey has been disclosed as a meeting to discuss the modalities of making Nepal similar to Bhutan. The attendees of this meeting even after returning from India have not stated their intent and reason for this meeting. Even a senior leader like Mr. Narayan Man Bichuke have spoke against and declined to attend it by saying, I will not be a party to " selling of a nation." Why this is not reported in general newspapers, for all Nepali. Is there a conspiracy by these so-called-leaders to sale our beloved Nepal to India under the pretext of Democracy and Loktranta.

I urge all Nepali to fight this till the end. Ask yourself, are we so desperate, unable, and unpatriotic to let others dictate, pressure us, and mould us as they see fit. Is there no sense of duty to our nation? sense of love and patriotism left in us? Why should we accept agenda that is not in the interest of Nepal and Nepali- why be blinded by call for Democracy even if we lose the nation to foreigners.

Rise up people, time is running out. I say this, not to create confusion, THIS IS THE FACT and ask anyone of many participant who were there attending meeting to sale Nepal. I say once again-time has come to defend Nepal before it is too late.

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