Phallic fallaciesThe Dharahara inauguration drama amidst the coronavirus crisis was in bad taste.
We are living in the age of view towers. Flush with newfound money that they know not how to utilise, local governments are busy building view towers on mountaintops. You will not find a better example of an oxymoron. Each such view tower is a monumentalisation of the moronic nature and the poverty of thought that characterises our elected leaders. Let alone view towers, our leaders inaugurate as mundane a thing as a water tap to bolster their own public image.
Leaders with Lilliputian mentalities stand on tall towers in a bid to claim their position in history as towering figures. It is a different matter altogether that no great world leader has been remembered for the concrete towers he built or inaugurated. But that does not matter to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. He is in an inauguration overdrive of late, even as his government stares at the exit and he has to remake himself as ‘the great leader’ by any means whatsoever.
It is no wonder, then, that Oli would present himself, with great aplomb, as the unrivalled candidate to inaugurate the Bhimsen Stambha, or Dharahara, rebuilt after the 2015 earthquake. In any case, Oli has made the rebuilding of the tower his pet project and a matter of national pride. Why would he not? After all, the tower, situated right in the heart of Kathmandu City, has some historical-cultural significance. He knows how to hit the raw nerve of the common masses who, bored of the mundane and the mediocre all around, need something swanky and splendid to look up to.
In a country that puts phallogocentrism at the centre stage, it is befitting that the phallic structure of the old tower has been replicated as it is and is taller than before. The phallic design of the rebuilt—newly built, in fact, as the stump of the fallen one remains intact—Dharahara would not have mattered much had Prime Minister Oli shown any serious concern for the bigger issues facing the country. We do not hold any grudges either against Bhimsen Thapa or against Bhimsen Stambha. But the way the prime minister used the rebuilding of a fallen tower to rescue his own fallen image is appalling. The mukhtiyar would surely have been dismayed to see what the tower that bears his name has been reduced to.
Prime Minister Oli has consistently failed to take care of people's needs throughout his tenure, more so during the past year and recently when the Covid-19 crisis has thrown public life off the track. The daily coronavirus infection rate has crossed the 3,000 mark; the influx of people from neighbouring India threatens to turn the country into yet another hotspot; and the imposition of yet another lockdown is just a matter of time. The government itself has asked citizens to follow Covid-19 safety precautions, including not congregating in a crowd bigger than 25 members, and maintaining physical distancing, among other means. However, in a blatant violation of his administration’s directive, the prime minister was in a mood for some deepawali on Saturday as if the coronavirus was on leave.
The whole inauguration drama, bringing together hundreds of people to celebrate the occasion, and showering flower petals from the balcony when he should have been presiding over high-level meetings to help contain the ever-increasing Covid-19 caseload in the country, was pretty unbecoming of a prime minister, if not utterly disgusting.