Oli’s show of strength strikes different notes with different peopleWhile commuters see it as a traffic nuisance, supporters rally behind the prime minister.
For Rabindra Prajapati, who works at a bank at Durbar Marg, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s political rally in front of the Narayanhiti Palace, was a nuisance. Prajapati faced a lot of trouble commuting to work on Friday.
“This is disgusting. They are showing their power within the party instead of serving people at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic is not over,” said Prajapati.
But try saying that to the thousands of supporters of the prime minister. Oli received praise and adulation from his supporters who applauded him throughout his speech.
Meanwhile, thousands of people were stuck in traffic jams and public vehicles were not allowed inside the Ring Road due to the mass gathering organised by the caretaker prime minister’s Nepal Communist Party faction.
This came just a day after the general strike enforced by the Puspa Kamal Dahal-Madhav Kumar Nepal faction of the party. Earlier, on January 23 the city’s traffic was thrown into chaos as the Pradarshani Marg and Bhadrakali areas were overrun by a sea of people attending a protest rally organised by the Dahal-Nepal group.
On Friday, according to the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, rallies were organised from 13 different locations in the city. Around 700 buses entered Kathmandu from outside Valley—most passengers coming in to take part in the demonstration.
Buses used to ferry demonstrators were parked on major road sections in the city such as Tripureshwor, Koteshwor and Kupondole—adding to the traffic woes.
But Oli’s supporters didn’t mind the traffic snarls as they rooted for the prime minister the whole day.
“If we look at the constitution, what he did was wrong. But he didn't have any alternative than to dissolve the House,” said Krishna Kumar Koirala, 29, who came from Dhading to take part in the demonstration. “Dahal and Nepal didn’t let him work.”
Some of the people who attended Friday's demonstration didn’t know about Oli breaching the constitution. They said that they attended the rally as there were rumours that Oli was going to declare that Nepal would once again become a Hindu kingdom.
“Though we are Muslims, we want the Hindu kingdom back. At least there was not much corruption when the king was there,” said Kalamudin Ansari, 57, from Birgunj Metropolitan City.
The demonstration venue saw brisk business for hawkers, who were seen selling peanuts, oranges, noodles and water. “Mass gatherings like this are good for us. At least we can earn some money without being harassed by police,” said Parbati Tamang, 33, who was selling oranges to protesters.
“We support those who let us work and earn a little and treat us like humans,” said Tamang. “I do not know what the constitution is.”
Meanwhile, few of the participants from different parts of Kathmandu said they were neutral to the whole controversy and were there just to listen to Oli for the jokes he cracks.
“During depressing times like these he gives you hope, with humour,” said Surpa Raj Panday, 47, a resident of Durbar Marg. “Oli’s move was unconstitutional, but I equally do not believe in Dahal, Nepal or any other political party, as all of them are self-centric.”