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M.R. Josse: Failed Politicians, In Nepal

Failed Politicians, In Nepal

By M.R. Josse

Politicians of assorted stripes often chant, mantra-like, that Nepal is about to be declared a ‘failed state’. Though none but the purblind or naïve can assert that everything in the Kingdom is in shipshape condition, the sweeping ‘failed state’ allegation is patently false.

Nepal is admittedly a ‘soft state’ as are, in fact, most Third World nations. It is not, however, a ‘failed state’ where the writ of the government does not hold sway over the national territory or one which has become a hopeless basket case.

On the other hand, what is undeniable – but this hardly ever finds articulation – is that the nation has for too long been burdened with failed politicians!

Gods who failed

Indeed, as much is attested by contemporary political history, especially in the 1990-2002 period, that witnessed not merely a succession of opportunistic revolving-door governments but also staggering corruption, mind-blowing ineptitude in governance, rank nepotism and blatant politicisation of virtually all areas in the public domain, including the education sector.

No wonder, then, that politicians who in 1990 had, to the general populace, seemed knights in shining armour within a decade or so were perceived as Gods who failed. Nowhere was this, perhaps, more effectively underlined than in their inability, or unwillingness, to tackle the Maoist insurgency that first surfaced in February 1996 and which to date has claimed over 12,000 precious lives, not to mention incalculable destruction of valuable developmental infrastructure.

The sad but telling irony is that today the very folk who drafted the 1990 Constitution think nothing of proposing a working alliance with the Maoists! The latter, at least, right from the start indicated their intention of tearing up that document and working, through brute force of arms and terror, to establish a radical communist state in their awesome, non-tolerant image.

So much, then, for the general backdrop. Let us now recall some specific recent utterances by senior Nepali politicos, in the context of my argument that the state has not failed; only its prominent politicians have.

NC President Girija Prasad Koirala, for instance, claimed at a party function that “the nation will be a failed state if things continue as of the present”, meaning, unless he and his co-claimants are hoisted to power once again – this time conveniently sans elections!

Confused, contradictory

Koirala appealed to party members to work “in a coordinated way to avert that kind of scenario” as that would help “to keep the nation as an independent entity.” The utter failure of intellect is evident in the sheer contradiction between such a stance and current NC policy of inviting interference and intervention in Nepal’s domestic affairs from India, the US and the EU. Would such be expected “to keep the nation as an independent entity”?

A failure of another sort is reflected in NC Vice-President Sushil Koirala’s declaration before a group of Kathmandu reporters this week that he did not understand the new UML goal of “democratic republicanism .” While it clearly hints at significant differences now between the NC and UML, what is untenable is Sushil’s claim of unawareness in these terms: “I am responsible to the seven-party alliance, but I do not know what democratic republicanism means.”

While still on the failure of the Nepali Congress leadership, it may be germane to note the recent warning issued by Minister for Environment, Science and Technology, Prakash Koirala, saying that the current NC leadership was making the party “a puppet of alien forces”– something that could not be imagined under B.P. Koirala.

Finally, UML chief Madhav Kumar Nepal’s criticism, at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, of China’s timely arms commitment to Nepal to combat the Maoist insurgency also brilliantly underscores the UML’s failure to come to grips with the danger of consorting with those who wish to undermine this nation’s very existence.

In short: ours is a case not of a failed state, but of failed politicians!


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