Who smothers Nepali dreams ?
Dream is a luxury for Nepal which has been reeling under a difficult political situation in the transition period. The eventual dissolution of the Constituent Assembly (CA) elected in 2008 without promulgating a hotly-awaited constitution within the deadline of May 27 and the following political chaos have proved it once again.
Even though, after becoming a secular public from an old Hindu kingdom four years ago, this Himalayan nation does every so often get dreams at the national level which may be called Nepali dreams.
Prachanda (Pushpa Kamal Dahal), chairman of the Unified Communist of Nepal-Maoist [UCPN(Maoist)] has a dream. The then Prime Minister Prachanda trumpeted his vision of turning Nepal into “Switzerland of Asia”, evidently encouraged by Maoist’s sweeping victory in the 2008 election.
Later the dream was fed by Maoist-led government, the first one under CA that also serves as a parliament, after signing the 2006 peace accord which ended a decade-long conflict, with some lofty promises such as high GDP growth and low inflation.
Baburam Bhattarai, prime minister of the present caretaker government also has an oft-told dream, a real dilly that Nepal can be “a vibrant bridging state” not only between India and China, but also of South Asia and East Asia. In this way, the leader tries to redefine Nepal’s traditional role as a “yam between two boulders” and wave goodbye to the identity of “buffer state” between the two giants growing rapidly.
To capitalize on Nepal’s specific strategic location and help his country find an ideal place in the emerging world order, the PM chewed the cud and shared with news media his designs including building physical connectivity — railway and road network, developing special economic zones, establishing independent think tanks, and so on.
Time tests all. Prachanda’s dream turned into a very short- lived passion that decayed upon growing inter-and intra-party rifts, resulting in a jest of media critics thanks to deadlocked politics and stagnant economy. With lots of bureaucratic hurdles and without a stable investment environment, Nepal, one of the poorest countries in Asia stands foreign investment off.
Bhattarai’s grander ambition also seems dwindling and possibly can not avoid being a dump squib.
Firstly, often as he advocates his great concept at UN General Assembly, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit and in the meeting with visiting Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, no hail with great clat from other Nepali politicians. Driven by lust for power, many bovine politicians fail to go beyond political expediency and short gain.
Secondly, without a real constitution which guarantees equality to all, Nepal’s politics is rowdily in a mess, full of never- ending debates, trading barbs, accusations and counter accusations which made the PM on the ice. A myriad of social incongruities are having the dream over a barrel.
Thirdly, there is an undercurrent called regional and international interference strongly influencing this undeveloped nation. A recent report mentions that Nepal has “the highest degree of foreign interference in the world”. It is reported recently that while addressing the poor, the PM himself complained of outside powers aggressively pushing their respective agendas in Nepal.
For political leaders worth their salt, it takes an uncommon amount of guts and wisdom to put their dreams on the line, to hold them up and to faithfully guard them. But one person, even the most excellent, one party, event the biggest or one government, even a powerful could not lead Nepal to the La-la land. It is the unanimous effort of all classes, all castes and all parties as dreams’ keepers that can shape a “New Nepal”, a brave new world.
Ironically, what Nepal, as of now, lacks most is national consensus, which is vividly evidenced by the termination of the 601-seat assembly that has opened up a real can of worms.
Last Friday, 22 opposition parties including Nepali Congress ( NC) and CPN-UML launched an anti-government campaign with the slogans — Let’s forge consensus government; Let’s stop Maoist autocracy and foil their state capture plot. Political leaders said they will not rest till after unseating Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai.
Because of politics in sixes and sevens, those few who have the power to imagine a better, freer and happier Nepal have degraded themselves for being castle builders, with their precious but tender dreams in the wind and weather. (Xinhua)