When it’s all about look­ing busy

People's Review - - COMMENTARY - By Maila Baje

As the post-Da­sain/Ti­har po­lit­i­cal mo­men­tum picks up, in­tro­spec­tion seems to be the by­word on the left cen­ter and right alike. For­mer prime min­is­ters Pushpa Ka­mal Da­hal and Mad­hav Ku­mar Nepal of the rul­ing Nepal Com­mu­nist Party (NCP) have promised that the gov­ern­ment will be­gin show­ing more life. It is sig­nif­i­cant that the as­sur­ance comes from the two men most re­spon­si­ble for dis­rupt­ing Prime Min­is­ter Khadga Prasad Oli's gov­ern­ment from within the party. Da­hal's much-hyped geopo­lit­i­cal ex­cur­sion turned out to be a dud, largely ow­ing to the ex­ces­sive hospi­tal­ity New Delhi show­ered on him. Mad­hav Nepal's use of Oli's ab­sence from the coun­try to mount a vir­tual in­sur­rec­tion didn't turn out be pro­pi­tious in its tim­ing, ei­ther. Still, the two ex-pre­miers can't es­cape part of the blame for our po­lit­i­cal plight. Da­hal has lit­tle com­punc­tion in ac­cus­ing the bu­reau­cracy of im­ped­ing a gov­ern­ment en­joy­ing a two-thirds ma­jor­ity in the leg­is­la­ture. Mad­hav Nepal hasn't been as cal­lous in de­flect­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity, but he hasn't been ter­ri­bly re­cep­tive of what is ar­guably his share of it. Over at the Nepali Congress, pres­i­dent SherBa­hadurDeuba has lost none of his new­found zeal for go­ing his way. The nom­i­na­tion of Bi­jay Ku­mar Gachchad­dar as vice-pres­i­dent is prov­ing hard to swal­low for many party func­tionar­ies, in­clud­ing who have noth­ing per­son­ally against the man. The party hadn't quite suf­fered such a drought of qual­i­fied can­di­dates that Deuba had to turn to some­one who left and re­joined the Nepali Congress in cir­cum­stances that still are largely ob­scure. Gachchad­dar's skills as a leader are not in ques­tion here. What kind of mes­sage does Deuba want to send by re­ward­ing, so to speak, a wa­ter pot with­out a base, re­gard­less of the shini­ness of the brass? (If you ask Deuba pri­vately, he'd prob­a­bly have a short and easy an­swer: per­sonal loy­alty.) The Nepali Congress is so di­vided that the anti-Deuba fac­tions can't be sure that any­thing of sig­nif­i­cance re­ally unites the dis­si­dents. So Su­jataKoirala talks about Deuba's last chance, while cousins Shashank and Shekhar speak of the im­per­a­tive of check­ing the ide­o­log­i­cal and in­sti­tu­tional dis­ar­ray the party finds it­self in. Lit­tle won­der that non-Koiralas like Ram Chan­dra Poudel feel the need to tip-toe around things: let­ting ev­ery­one know how mad they are but not enough about what they in­tend to do. The right is once again an­i­mated by talk of re­uni­fi­ca­tion among the three prin­ci­pal fac­tions. Ka­mal Thapa of the Ras­triya Pra­jan­tantra Party seems to be pre­par­ing for the storm he pre­dicts will rage after In­dia's na­tional elec­tions next year. Pashu­pati Shamsher Rana of the Ra stri ya Pr aja tantra Party (Demo­cratic) in­sists he will re­store Hindu state­hood, with­out elab­o­rat­ing how he in­tends to achieve that. Prakash Chan­dra Lo­hani of the Ra stri ya Pr aja tantra Party (Na­tion­al­ist) in­sipidly main­tains that unity will be achieved sooner than later. The fu­sion/fis­sion cy­cle on the right has be­come so rou­tine that most peo­ple aren't too both­ered about what re­ally unites and di­vides the men and women on that end of po­lit­i­cal spec­trum. The mere process is ex­cit­ing enough to drive the larger nar­ra­tive that pol­i­tics is alive. Still, the fact that all three points on the ide­o­log­i­cal spec­trum are un­der­go­ing a form of overt in­tro­spec­tion can't be co­in­ci­den­tal. At a ba­sic level, it un­der­scores the ten­ta­tive­ness Nepali pol­i­tics hasn't been able to shed even after the pro­mul­ga­tion of a new Con­sti­tu­tion and elec­tions at all three tiers. Pol­i­tics, like most other things, shuns a sense of fi­nal­ity. But haven't we been loi­ter­ing around the start­ing line for far too long? Maybe the key to Nepal's destiny still isn't in the hands of Nepalis. A glance around the neigh­bor­hood does lit­tle to clar­ify our out­look. Is Dok­lam or Wuhan the op­er­at­ing word re­gard­ing Sino-In­dian re­la­tions? An elec­tion in the Mal­dives is said to have thrown out a pro-Chi­nese gov­ern­ment. But it only seems to have shifted geopo­lit­i­cal ri­val­ries north­east­ward to Sri Lanka. Pak­istan was said to have be­come a shin­ing em­blem of the in­her­ent sense­less­ness of China's am­bi­tious Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive (BRI). But the joint state­ment an­nounced after Prime Min­is­ter Im­ran Khan's visit to China ap­pears to have given new im­pe­tus to the China-Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor, the flag­ship of the BRI. In such a sit­u­a­tion, you can't blame our po­lit­i­cal class for not know­ing what might hap­pen here next and when. The best they can do is pre­pare for the in­def­i­nite. How do you do that best? By look­ing like you are busy pre­par­ing all the same.

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