Saturday, 26 May 2012

An open letter to the political leaders of Nepal

(A version of this article published in on 26 May 2012)

May 26, 2012 

Dear leaders of all the political parties and ethnicities of Nepal,

I am writing this letter in the context of the most likely event of failing to promulgate an acceptable constitution by the deadline of tomorrow May 27, 2012, and that of your contribution towards the recent escalation of ethnic tensions.

The current political situation of the country is a function of many different forces from the past and the present as well as within and outside this nation’s border. You, in the capacity of political leaders, are not the sole culprit. To imply that will be a gross exaggerating of the truth, and is unfair on you. Everyone involved, including us the people, should share the responsibility for this sorry state of affairs. However, if anyone is to be held accountable for the political mismanagement side of the story the fingers unmistakably points exclusively towards you, the political leaders.

Please do not take this letter only as a list of your incompetence, irresponsibility and stupidity. Nothing described here about your character and behaviour is new or made up. They are merely based on observation and recollection over the years.

This letter gives you a list of ten short and sweet advices if you want to save this nation, your political career, and your parties from being extinct from the face of the planet. They are by  no means an exhaustive list. Have you realized yet or not but you have already driven yourself and your institutions almost to the brink of no return. Your ship is about to tip over; crashing is imminent upon you. The timing, location and modus operandi of such a crash are anyone’s guess but the recipe for disaster has been brewing for a long…long time now. It is, as a matter of fact, a surprise why apocalypse has not yet been damned upon you for your sins. If you think you are the captains of your and the respective political parties’ destiny, the coming few weeks or months could be your last chance to navigate into the right direction. While you have time save yourselves from being perished into the bottomless nadir.

In non-hierarchical order, here are the numbers one to ten of my advice:

1. Respect your electorate. Your politics is so pathetically disconnected from your electorate. You are a representative of the electorate. Without the votes, you are a commoner like any one. It is the electorate that trusts and elevates you to the role of their representative. Thus treat your electorate with some respect and be accountable to them. Remember who voted you and what is your mandate. People voted you as the members of the Constitution Assembly to ratify the constitution. Instead, despite the numerous extensions of the office you have done very less of your main responsibility. You have been busy bickering over the sideshows and secondary role, mainly over running the administrative office.

2. Keep your eyes and ears open. You seem not only deaf over people’s wish but also blind about what is happening around you. Nepalis do not want a divided Nepal. They want a unified Nepal where they can safely live and raise their families. Restructuring based on ethnicities is a recipe for disaster. Why on earth would you want to pursue an option that disturbs the societal harmony?

3. If you can’t do the job, hand it to capable hands. It is a joke that even at his age Sher B Deuba is still considered a youth leader of Nepali Congress. The so-called top leaders seem like you have already exceeded your use by date. They look and sound stale and tired. No wonder they have made uncountable number of error of judgments. Within your parties there are more capable emerging young leaders. Talking again about Nepali Congress, you have a charismatic leader like Gagan Thapa. Gagan Thapa is mentioned here in the capacity of more than an individual here. He represents a generation whose ideas are fresh, bold and different. Some smart teenagers still at school think, analyse and behave more sensibly than most party leaders. The time has now come to pass the baton to a different leadership to run the show. You have already failed, time and again, yourself and the nation.

4. Stop treating people like your subjects. Stop treating people for granted whenever you speak or act. You are actually making a joke and fool of yourself. It seems you are unaware how much watchful and educated people are today of what is going around them and what you guys are up to. Just because the majority of them are silent so often does not necessarily mean they condone your political mismanagement. Last Wednesday’s peace rally is a good hint. You should have got the message of the silent majority – loud and clear.

Photo Courtesy: Ranjit Nagarik Nepali via Facebook page of Rabindra Mishra

5. Look in the mirror first. Look at yourself before you bicker and moan about others within and outside your own party, and the neighboring countries. Your intra and inter party squabbles over petty matters is a living example of the colonial legacy “divide and rule”. The difference between your and the colonial version though is in your case the seeds of division are nourished by yourself. Why do you blame overseas interference when you can never unite for our national interests? The outsiders are acting to merely and rightly protect their own borders and people’s interest.

6. Stop fishing in murky waters. Stop mudding in sideshows. Get on to your main job and the mandate the electorate gave you. Stop going tangents and throwing tantrums. Stop making short sighted and selfish deals while distracting everyone over your sideshows. We always see you bitterly bickering over power sharing. People understand why you are so much power hungry. We understand that if not for the state coffers you would be light years away from taking the responsibility of running the administration. Is it true that your last minute agreement few weeks ago on eleven name-less and boundary-less federal states came about only after a deal was struck among yourselves on power sharing over who gets the portfolios of the president and the prime minister?

7. Practice what you preach. Why is there a galaxy between your speech and action? How can you lie outright? Not once or twice but almost every time? You behave like a compulsive liar. How do you sleep in the night? Do yourself a favour – be honest and see how it feels when you come clean.

8. Be a symbol of harmony, not harbinger of division. Before you talk about finishing people from other ethnicities (in reference to Malla K Sundar’s recent address in Khulla Manch to a gathering of the Newar community), think how you would feel if others said that to you or did that to your own people. Don’t you know what happened in the past in Gujarat, Bangaladesh, Afganistan, India and Pakistan due to ethnic and religious tensions? Aren’t your bones chilled by the horrors of the holocaust (six million state-sponsored systematic slaughter of the jews by the Nazis and their supporters), the Rawandan genocide (one million slain within hundred days over the ethnic conflict of the majority Hutus and the minority Tutsis), and the Bosnian ethnic cleansing (eight thousand Bosnian muslims killed by Serbs)?

9. Educate yourself and know what you are up to. Do your homework. You have not well explained us what this ethnic federalism truly means. By the way, do you actually know what this beast is? Also, can you explain how the so-called dual model of power sharing between a direct-elect president and a parliament-elect prime minister going to function? Where on earth is it practiced? It is learned that you refer this to the Swiss model. For your information, the Swiss president is a ceremonial one. The model works for them because the Swiss have checks and balances, and they respect and abide by the rule of the game. Swiss model works for Switzerland does not necessarily mean it will work for us. The political, social, economic and cultural context is completely different between Switzerland and Nepal. Obviously you have no capability to come up with a workable model made in Nepal for Nepal.

10. If you call yourself a leader, dare to become one. Lead by example. Do the right thing for the people not what is beneficial merely to you, your in-laws and your comrades. Instead of fuelling the ethnic tension, you had opportunity to lead your people to practice tolerance and to promote pluralism by saying no to this business of dividing the country. That would have put moral pressure on other ethnicities to think differently, and would have helped to calm down the tension to a greater extent. None of you stood up to that role. You unfortunately did not have the vision to see the larger than life possibility in that role. You denied yourself the glory; you lost the opportunity of your lifetime. Instead, you could not resist the impulse of being a hero by riding the lame ethnic donkey. Did you not realize that this breed of ethnic card is full of risk? The donkey may soon badly kick you and stamp on you big time. Now you are left in a situation where chances are you will be doomed regardless of whether or not if you did or said anything further on this matter.

So much for my unsolicited ten point advice. I wish you luck to score ten out of ten. I feel so sorry for you that by persistently going against your duties and responsibilities, you have already committed huge crime against the humanity. Unfortunately you have taken yourself to a point of no return. However, the people of this great nation may still forgive you and give you one last chance. This time, take my advice, do the right thing. Time is running out, fast.

This is your last chance to seek salvation of the crimes you have committed. Make no mistake; your crimes are of an epic proportion. The ten points above have spelled out for you, in black and white, some of what you should have figured out yourself. Now it is up to you. We, the people, are watching and waiting to see what you do next. Rest is up to you.

Finally, one piece of advice also to the citizens of this great nation. Let us live like true citizens, not a subject. Awake, and demand the right answers from your politicians. You will get the right answers only if you ask the right questions.


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