Anarchy let looseTheir intent does not seem to be to bring the democratic process back on track.
'Loktantra kanoon ko raaj ho, bal michyai haina' ('Democracy means the rule of law and not misuse of brute force). This makes for a great opening sentence for students mugging up punch lines for a school-level speech contest. Except that the line was spoken by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Thursday while taking aim at his fellow comrades who had called for a nationwide general strike. Ironically, he was setting the stage for a shakti pradarshan—in other words, a chest-thumping festival—in front of Narayanhiti Palace on Friday.
But great punch lines do not take a second to fall flat depending on who is speaking. What Oli has done in the past several months towards undoing democracy is enough to turn a forceful philosophical adage into a joke. Each citizen of the country has witnessed the undemocratic and unconstitutional moves Oli has made to consolidate his power and downsize his comrades within the party.
Oli's nemeses within the party have proven to be no better. If there was any doubt about the intention of the two factions of the ruling Nepal Communist Party, it is now clearer than ever before. Their intent does not seem to be to bring the democratic process back on track. Rather, it is to consolidate their power and downsize the other faction within the party. Both the warring factions of the ruling party have exposed nothing but criminal intent to create an environment of confrontation so that they can put the blame on the other.
This race is certain to lead them nowhere except a political dungeon full of chicanery and deceit. That dungeon has little space for humility and humanity. Once inside, it is difficult to step out, for the filth inside is too comfortable to make you want to desert it and adapt to the civility of the outside world. This is evident in the way leaders make a daily spectacle of their intra-party feud, so replete with filthy language that their speeches should come with parental guidelines.
Having weathered years of instability, leaders across political parties should now have been working towards strengthening democracy and making a better society. However, they have shown no inclination to do so. What they are exhibiting, instead, is a consistent attempt to ruin whatever is left of the political culture and create anarchy. They have shown little regard for the political culture that is the hallmark of a mature democracy.
Worse even, they have shown close to zero concern for the lives of the people who have to toil hard to eat two meals a day. They were nowhere to be seen when the people—their voters—walked hundreds of kilometres home and went to bed hungry in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic when the government imposed a nationwide lockdown abruptly. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs and means of livelihood as the pandemic—and the lockdown—continued to keep people inside homes and ravaged the economy. The leaders, though, showed little interest in easing the lives of the people.
Ditto on Thursday, when the Dahal-Nepal faction of the ruling Nepal Communist Party organised the nationwide general strike. The strike may have been prompted by Wednesday's appointments for 11 constitutional bodies. The appointments were outright wrong, unconstitutional and provocative, but the Dahal-Nepal faction seems to have fallen to the bait to the liking of Oli.
A taxi was burnt to ashes here, a shop was vandalised there. And to observe how well their cadres were carrying on the vandal act, Dahal toured the city in his Land Cruiser Prado while Nepal rode pillion on a scooter even as KP Oli’s cadre led a march-past, chanting 'KP Oli, I love you'. So much for their professed allegiance to the rule of law!