Find­ing a place be­tween haugh­ti­ness and hope­less­ness

People's Review - - COMMENTARY - BY MAILA BAJE

Maoist Cen­ter chair­man Pushpa Ka­mal Da­hal's taunts and gibes to the Nepali Congress seem to be trou­bling quite a few prom­i­nent mem­bers of our se­nior rul­ing party. The left­ist al­liance so sud­denly sprung upon the na­tion amid the Da­sain fes­tiv­i­ties has given an op­por­tu­nity to the Nepali Congress to re­ju­ve­nate it­self, Da­hal be­gan pon­tif­i­cat­ing shortly there­after. That line has be­come al­most a re­frain on that side of the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum. Granted, Prime Min­is­ter Sher Ba­hadur Deuba and his al­lies gave a bit of an open­ing by their un­due alarmism in re­sponse to the devel­op­ment. But, re­ally, their ag­i­ta­tion was prob­a­bly trig­gered more by the un­ex­pect­ed­ness of the event than by an earnest ap­praisal of its po­ten­tial im­pli­ca­tions. Lately, Deuba and his col­leagues seem to be ex­ud­ing a more re­laxed at­ti­tude. Just the other day, the prime min­is­ter left out the M word when he rum­bled on about how his party had van­quished the Rana and Pan­chayat au­toc­ra­cies. Now, was his ap­par­ent am­ne­sia re­lat­ing to the events of April 2006 an ac­ci­dent or a de­lib­er­ate omis­sion? That's some­thing the left­ies can scratch their heads on. Mean­while, Ga­gan Thapa, the most prom­i­nent Nepali Congress repub­li­can of his gen­er­a­tion, has de­tailed the ways in which his party could stand to gain from left­ist unity. His core con­tention: the left­ward drift of the Com­mu­nist Party of NepalUni­fied Marx­ist-Lenin­ist (UML) could only widen the po­ten­tial base for the Nepali Congress. Other Congress lead­ers are torn be­tween eter­nal smug­ness and abid­ing shock. The lat­ter sen­ti­ment seems to be in greater abun­dance in their pri­vate en­gage­ments. Yes, the Nepali Congress is in poor shape. No, it is not sapped of its in­trin­sic strength. Like any party in power in the world these days, Congress lead­ers can't seem to see or think right. Worse, they are busy eval­u­at­ing the guy or gal stand­ing next to them in the party. Com­par­isons in terms of time spent in jail or of springs crossed ver­sus cur­rent stature in terms of pa­tron­age and pelf emerge to ruin the an­i­ma­tion and en­ergy of wield­ing power. In terms of re­silience, how­ever, the Nepali Congress is in a league of its own, bol­stered no doubt by its en­vi­able le­git­i­macy. Party lead­ers may seem odi­ous while in power, but in the end, they are the ones called to clean up the mess. Af­ter all, can Da­hal and his com­rades imag­ine the April 2006 upris­ing and its af­ter­math with­out Gir­ija Prasad Koirala and his or­ga­ni­za­tion? Sure, the left mo­bi­lized them­selves on the streets. But what other party could have rewrit­ten his­tory in a way that turned what was a pop­u­lar upris­ing against au­to­cratic monar­chy into a repub­li­can one and got­ten away with it? Still, the Nepali Congress eas­ily man­ages to mis­man­age things by veer­ing be­tween alarmism and ar­ro­gance. The temp­ta­tion grip­ping sec­tions of the party to put off the elec­tions to stop a pos­si­ble left­ist land­slide is mis­placed. The UML and Maoists couldn't do any­thing separately to turn the Nepali Congress into an­other Praja Par­ishad. This may be a case where they won't be able to do much to­gether, either. In fact, let the pro­po­nents make up their minds whether the re­align­ment her­alds a rad­i­cal­ized UML or a much more mod­er­ated Maoists. In the mean­time, all you Nepali Congress lead­ers and sup­port­ers, quit telling us how great you and your party are. We the sov­er­eign peo­ple don't like it when you keep rub­bing it in like that.

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