27 May - 2 June 2016 #810

Contempt of State

The sight of grown men sporting teen-age nicknames, puffed up with self-importance as they debate the finer points of a discredited ideology, is as good as it gets these days.
Foreign Hand
Bikram Rai


Politics as entertainment only got better last week as the lunatic fringe went through convulsions, mutiny and high profile splits. Mohan Baidya’s CPN Revolutionary Maoists, a near forgotten entity that considers elections to be a capitalist trick, was torn asunder as Comrade Badal (Cloud) jumped ship amid cries of revisionism and treason.

In the past your scribe wondered why the press bothers with such ridiculous parties with so little support but now feels grateful for the comic relief. There aren’t many countries on earth that still feature communist factions battling it out in epic sagas of betrayal and power-lust.

As Comrade Cloud’s faction went through the motions of setting up a new party Prachanda (Awesome) was waiting with open arms, promising high level posts and dowry galore back in the mother of all Maoist parties. It felt like being privy to the mating rituals of an exotic, endangered species as Awesome and Cloud were reunited, the stuff of Kollywood, and in the heat of the moment the looniest tune of them all, Matrika Yadav and his band of Marxists (Feverish) joined the unity parade.

The sight of grown men sporting teen-age nicknames, puffed up with self-importance as they debate the finer points of a discredited ideology, is as good as it gets these days and would be even funnier if the whole song and dance wasn’t a ruse.

It’s surely no coincidence this sudden push for Maoist unity comes at a time when thousands of complaints on war-era crimes are being registered with the TRC. Perhaps the real reason for this newfound fraternity among communists, who normally squabble for a living, is the fear of prosecution, with the promise of impunity held out to all who join.

Prachanda’s recent pleas to ‘come home’ were rebuffed by Baburam Bhattarai (BRB), who, in his new avatar as Capitalist Roader, declared it was time to ‘polarise instead of unify’ as he desperately tries to leave his past behind. In what sounded like an admission of guilt, Prachanda retorted that BRB can’t escape responsibility for conducting the war ‘that caused suffering’ just because he ‘joined hands with the bourgeoisie’.

If your correspondent could make this stuff up he’d be working overtime in Bollywood. The action continued apace as Prachanda got slapped with a contempt of court charge last week, citing his statements at a recent program called ‘People’s War and Court Verdicts’, (which just goes to show what’s on his mind these days). According to the charge sheet the accused showed contempt of court by saying the judiciary was involved in ‘conspiracy’ and ‘tried to create night in daytime’, while boldly declaring he’d never abide by the court’s verdict.

The Supreme Court has since ordered Prachanda to appear in person within three days (which he won’t) or provide a written explanation (which he might) for such disrespect.

Perhaps a charge of contempt of state for all our leaders would be more appropriate. To be fair, the Maoists are only furthering an age old tradition dating back to the Rana period, when the rulers considered the state their personal property and rules only applied to others. The advent of democracy in 1990 brought little change to this mind-set, as leaders of all the mainstream parties showed contempt for the nation by frequently breaking the law to get what they want.

The Maoists only took this long standing ethos to new lows. While Congress and UML undermined the state through corruption and negligence the Maoists did the same by attacking and displacing it in districts they controlled. All such behaviour denotes a profound lack of respect for the nation’s institutions, differing only by degree and impact.

If Bollywood script-writers had their way our entire political class would be banished to the wilderness to atone for their sins. Alas, such a happy ending eludes us and the recent political drama only produced yet another makeshift party: the CPN Maoist Center, which sounds like a downtown shopping mall selling hammers, sickles and ill-fitting suits, where the sales clerk indoctrinates you and parking attendant hijacks your car.

All Kollywood joking aside, there’s little doubt Nepal has suffered from too much politics and too little policy over the past two decades. A troubling pattern is already well established, whereby the country is held hostage to the needs of a small cabal of individuals while the economy and people’s welfare is completely neglected. Getting to the top through war and violence cost 10 years and a national trauma, followed by another 8 years pretending to write the constitution, milking the system while keeping the country constantly off-balance. Throw in another year for the earthquake and blockade and one wonders whether such instability will ever end, especially since most of the country’s many problems stem directly from this chronic lack of effective governance.

Recent events indicate more trouble on the horizon. As the Maoists unite in their campaign against the judiciary/state the country’s development, barely alive after 20 years of chaos, is sure to be sacrificed yet again in this latest pursuit of personal agendas.

Also read:

The new farce, Foreign Hand

Post truth politics, Foreign Hand

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