Siddhi B. Ranjitkar: Change - Not Status Quo
Change - Not Status Quo
By Siddhi B. Ranjitkar
The seven-party alliance (SPA) had earned an enormous political capital during the People’s Movement in April 2006 but it has already squandered it putting the wrong person at the helm of the government. Nepalese people want a change but the current SPA-backed government headed by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala wanted to maintain status qua keeping the power for himself and for the people who had ruled for 238 years keeping the Nepalese people in general and ethnic communities in particular high and dry.
Girija has been working for saving the monarchy that has been reviled by the people so much for continuing the despotic rule rather than saving the country. He did not show any love for the country but had been loyal to the king and his dynasty. In doing so he did not realized that he had been putting the country at the risk of chaos, political instability and even breaking into pieces.
Nepalese people want a change in governance. They want to have their say in the administration. They had been living under the autocratic ruler for quite a long time. First time, they revolted against the autocratic Ranas and brought the mighty autocrats down to earth. However, the then politicians going against the people’s will for democracy had successful maintained status quo and attempted to step in the shoes of the former autocrats. Consequently, they lost the peoples’ trust in them. And King Mahendra easily took over the power back from the elected government.
The second time, Nepalese people came out against the despotic rulers in 1990 and brought them down to their knee. However, the power went back again to the politicians wishing to maintain status quo rather than bringing changes as Nepalis wanted. So, the then-rulers did not take any actions against the former rulers responsible for committing crimes against the Nepalese people. In course of time, they even share the power with them in an expectation to be in power forever. It led to the formation of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-Maoist) that went to take up arms against the despotic rulers and the rulers wishing to maintain the status quo.
The third time, Nepalese people fought for a drastic change was in 2006. The People’s Movement in April 2006 had clearly demonstrated that Nepalis want a drastic change in the governance. So, they went to street facing the bullets fired by the security forces of the despotic king. They want a republic not a king. More than 20 people gave their lives and more than 5,000 people suffered from various levels of injuries, some from serious injuries and becoming disabled forever. The SPA-backed government instead of taking care of those people, who did not care of their personal safety for bringing down the despotic king, has been taking care of the king.
The Nepalese people want a drastic change in governance in other words a republic. However, Girija and his clique have been for maintaining a status quo. Hence, they have been for saving the monarchy as a tool for suppressing the people and a group of people monopolizing the power. That is why the so-called most Democratic Party called Nepali Congress (NC) has no democracy in it.
Nepalis want a change. We have seen that none of the political parties are for a drastic change. They failed in making the interim constitution for an inclusive democracy. Again a bunch of people headed by Girija has won the battle for pushing the country to a status quo bypassing the ethnic communities. However, it is only their myopic vision of seeing to keep themselves above all the people. None could run the country peacefully expect for the ethnic communities themselves coming together and running the country together for the best future of all.
Some of the leaders of the NC know it; so they have been for a republic rather than saving the king. They know that the king has gone forever and it is futile to saving the dead donkey as depicted in a cartoon published in one of the leading newspaper in Nepal. They must keep on fighting for a republic and an internal democracy in the NC if they really want to save it from extinction as Nepalese people had already given it a chance for changing the governance three times. This is the last chance the NC will ever get, and it needs to use it for the best of the people and of its own.
For maintaining the status quo, Girija and his clique have been sheltering all corrupt politicians and even giving them the status of the member of the Central Committee. If the NC wants to perpetuate its survival it should pursue the politics of a change rather than a status quo. To this end, it needs to clean the party removing all corrupt politicians including Girija. The change-minded leaders should not split away from the NC rather should remove all the corrupt politicians that have been obstacles to a change.
The NC could still be a party of the people if it makes changes according to the Nepalese people’s desire. Their desire is a republic with an inclusive democracy. The CPN-Maoist came up with the promise of inclusive democracy but its leaders have not kept the pledges made to the people agreeing to the Interim Constitution that has neglected the inclusive democracy leaving the ethnic communities high and dry. Possibly, the ethnic communities have to launch another peaceful movement for an inclusive democracy.
The CPN-UML has been just like a cat waiting for a mouse to appear. It has been inept. It has not been able to fight for anything concrete but has been only frustrated at what they have not been able to do. This is a syndrome of the impotent nature of its leaders. They cannot figure out what they rally want. They made a mistake making Girija again a Prime Minister, and following him rather than leading him. Fearing that they would be blamed for any disturbance, they did not stop Girija from taking oath of the Prime Minister from the king in April 2006. It was the immediate reversal of the people’s will for a republic. At that time, the CPN-UML had a good chance of getting the power if it had come to the people and fought for immediate republic but it failed as it listened to the foreign advisors rather than listening to the people’s will. Now, it is too late to make a drastic change as the Nepalis want.
We cannot trust the CPN-Maoist as they have clearly demonstrated that they are not keeping the promises made to the people but for getting into power. They have been giving back to the regressive forces what the Nepalese people had gained during the People’s Movement in April 2006. They have even left out the idea of making Nepal a republic. They have illusion that the giant neighbor is the power base rather than the Nepalese people. This was exactly what once Jung Bahadur thought and even went to help the British to suppress the Indian people’s uprising in 1857 in the hope of keeping his dynastic rule with the support from the alien. It is time for all leaders to get enlightened that their power base is not any foreign power or assistance but the Nepalese people. If they could do what the Nepalese people want they would keep the power if not they would fall as the king fell.
Currently, there is a widespread discontent among the Nepalese people as Girija does not care of the Nepalese people while caring for his beloved king and his family. While the royal family is still living in the palace that belongs to the people, Nepalis have to fight for their survival. For example, the internally displaced people have not been able to get into their home; families and relatives of the victims of the enforced-disappeared made by the Maoists as well as by the government security forces have not been able to know whereabouts of their loved-ones; disabled and injured during the People’s Movement in April 2006 have not received any compensation and have been attempting to draw the attention of the SPA-backed government to their woes.
The staffs of the Nepal Drinking water Corporation have staged a sit-in on the premise of their offices as the so-called Government of Nepal has been planning to turn over the administration of Nepal Drinking water Corporation to a foreign private company know for its corruption. This is almost like repeating the not-very-old history of 1991 when Girija sold two brand new Boeings belonging to the then-Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation only to get two old Boeings in lease for creating room for making money on the left and right hands. He disabled the smoothly running trolley bus company for making room for his sycophants to make money.
The university students and the employees have been staging protest not filling up the vacant positions of university vice-chancellors and other positions for smoothly running the universities. He nominated his relatives and sycophants to the position of the ambassadors drawing opposition from all quarters. The transport workers, hotel workers and so on have been on the streets to protest. These were the street scenes in 1990s when Girija was the Prime Minister but repeating again now. He has been simply repeating his habit of doing nothing for the Nepalese people but doing everything for his near and dear ones.
Girija thinks that the area around the official residence of the Prime Minister and his office at Singh Durbar is his, and prevent the Nepalese people from staging protest in those areas but he should be aware of the truth that those areas belong to the Nepalese people not anyone else. The SPA-backed government has been forcibly evicting the Civil Society leaders and other people protesting those areas. The SPA and the government it has been backing will enjoy the consequences.
Will such a person like Girija pursue the policy of chance? Certainly not, so the alternative is to change Girija in other words remove Girija from power immediately and bring someone in that will work for the people. He or she might be the current Home Minister or someone else so that Nepalis would not need to launch another movement. Nepalis need to send the king too along with Girija packing forever.