Nail culprits of MadhesKP Oli has an old-world constituency to pursue divisive politics that is practically perilous for the national interest, and his scant knowledge makes him uniquely placed to hard-sell an unfiltered version of nationalism.
KP Oli has an old-world constituency to pursue divisive politics that is practically perilous for the national interest, and his scant knowledge makes him uniquely placed to hard-sell an unfiltered version of nationalism. His version of nationalism is plagiarised; it’s sourced from different quarters, including his mind that is non-performing for governance and ultra-performing for propelling hatred along racial lines. A lapsed Naxalite with selective memory, Oli is not someone who is fit for the helm of our country as prime minister or even as head of a major party like the CPN-UML. His memory loss often makes an anti-India flag-bearer cheer the Facebooking motley of Kathmandu elites who believe his plan to run a metro train near and above Mt Everest or in his impossible imaginary settings featuring incidences like having the Chinese president available daily for morning tea in Kathmandu.
Everything is possible, if the imagination is strong and it doesn’t have to turn into reality. So opium-dozed is Oli’s politics that even his penchant for fracturing Madhes gives some sort of solace to his near and dear ones. While the Madhesi Morcha has a working pattern of oligarchy, the other political parties including the Nepali Congress have gone into hibernation to promote the KP Oli and CK Raut brand of politics. Oli is a nationalist for his own sake. CK Raut takes the matter further and shares his preference for having a separate nation for himself. Both are in favour of keeping a nation, both are delinked from historical realities, and both champion two hate-filled worldviews that is unkind to half of Nepal and its citizens.
Nepal has enough troubles with creative politicians like Oli and Raut, but that’s not the end of the story. China is there with its currency, hard-to-understand propaganda machinery and cheap products; and so is India with its currency, India House and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB). The SSB, which was not set to kill civilians or redraw India’s borders under the pretext of doing some work, has recently altered the course in Kanchanpur and other places by showering bullets on unarmed civilians for petty matters. Unlike India’s border with Bangladesh, India and Nepal share an open border regime that is not open for border skirmishes.
India’s diplomatic mission in Kathmandu, which appears to be staffed through lucky draws, is not capable of pushing India’s interests. When the Nepali police mercilessly abused Madhesi protestors, it made experts guess whether India would open its back and front diplomatic channels to make any difference. But there was hardly any action by New Delhi, South Block or India’s roving Prime Minister Narendra Modi.India’s rise in global politics has confounded policymakers and observers alike. While India is more confident of its capabilities than in the past, it remains unsure of its role in the world. Especially in its neighbourhood, its diplomacy has long ceased to work beyond tokenism.
Finding solid ground
With prospects of a constitutional amendment blurred, bizarre attempts to hold elections before that will worsen the situation. The Madhesis are alienated today, and their assertion to become equal citizens are still to be seen as a last effort to positively align with the country and its offerings. Madhesi aspirations have been disastrously overlooked by the Kathmandu regime. This has created a void that will not be filled until the constitution is properly amended.
Different stakeholders in Nepali politics have been contributing to creating a chasm between the Pahad and the Tarai. This is irrespective of how both should not have been made units of comparative analysis for setting up a social and economic agenda. By keeping the people polarised over non-issues, the culprits did all they could to let the grim truth never harm them. Nepal is still a feudal society with a deep class divide, but it’s not being targeted to ensure parity. Instead, what is going around are personified stories that do good to no one.
Nepal can’t juggle between the worldviews of Oli and Raut for long. What Nepal needs to do is find a ground where its political and territorial issues can be dealt with seriousness and without external advice. Before it is too late, the Prachanda-led government should go for a constitutional amendment so that elections can be held. Any action taken in this direction and with a positive spirit will reshape Nepal’s political and economic landscapes. Nepal should be made inclusive where each and every Nepali can feel he or she belongs. To make this happen, Nepal needs to abandon narrow worldviews. It’s not optional; it’s mandatory, and it’s an idea whose time has come. Any delay will be disastrous. A two-pronged strategy is needed: nail the culprits of fractured Madhes, and end polarisation by making room for the aspirations of the Madhesis and other marginalised groups in the new constitution.
Thakur is a New Delhi-based journalist and writer