Nepali politics Shock treatment seems inevitable

Doctors don’t usually prescribe shock treatment to their patients but they do when no other treatment works. That is what looks like our fate, at least, in politics. King Gyanendra did not wake up until the Jana Andolan II gave him a shock treatment in April. In fact, he himself had initiated the shock-treatment process in February 2005. The royal takeover was nothing less than a heavy blow to the political leaders. They came to senses and, consequently, shook hands with the Maoists against whom they had once fought tooth and nail by declaring them “terrorists”. They succeeded in their concerted efforts to end the absolute rule of the King and, in that process, marginalised the institution of monarchy from governance.

But the way the political parties in power are behaving with aplomb at present cannot but invite a jolt given the rule of shock treatment. That jerk can come from the urban-centred movement that the Maoists have threatened to start in case the ongoing peace talks produce no concrete results or otherwise get bogged down or too slow. Or the bump may spring from a mob violence triggered by sensitive public issues like the one witnessed in the aftermath of the oil-price jump.

Either way, the general public has the key role to play. People desist from resorting to a shock treatment for their rulers until they can hold on to their hopes of promoting their vital interests such as peace. The general public went into a rage against the royal rule primarily because it failed to keep their hopes of peace high. The same kind of desperate situation will soon build up if the government fails to assure the people that peace would not break under the trying situation of Nepal.

The April uprising was not only a rude shock to those in power but also to those out of it. It was also an event of astonishment for the world. But the people of Nepal are, in turn, up for another kind of experience, with the UN ready to manage our arms and armies soon.

Theoretically, it is a nice idea of the world body managing the armies to prevent any armed flare-up before, during or after the proposed elections for Constituent Assembly. But practically, it means incapacitating the rebel military force, which, in other words, means debilitating their coercive power. No surprise, the Maoist rebels got an inner nudge between their political and military wings on the UN control over their arms.

In case our political leaders fail to make peace, we better invite the United Nations to run our administration with a mandate to hold a free and fair election for the Constituent Assembly within a period of six to twelve months and hand over power to an elected government. That will be tantamount to giving a shock treatment to the people of Nepal, who have been alien to foreign rule. That will however give them a lesson on the importance of independence of their country.

It was, moreover, nothing less than a shock treatment for the Nepali Congress (Democratic) when Nepali Congress president Girija Prasad Koirala pledged to unite the two parties. It was equally nothing less than a counter-blow when Bimalendra Nidhi wanted all republican Congress members to join his party NC-D and pro-monarchy members to join NC.

Given the aggressive role of the foreign powers in Nepal, some countries deserve a powerful swing from our side. It can be done by offering them a clear choice. Let us, for example, ask the United States not to meddle in our internal affairs or to sign a treaty of friendship, if the Americans are so keen on our country, like the one we have signed with India in 1950 that allows the people of these countries free movement in one another’s land. It also carries provisions for mutual consultations on the matter of defence, helping each other at times of crises like external aggression from a third party. Will it not push the superpower to reel from shock?

Similarly, we can also augument vigilance across the southern border and transplanting the open-border policy up north. Now that mainland China is linked to Tibet with a railway line, a special relationship with China like the one we have with India is plausible and practical as well.

Take the latest case of the Bhutanese refugees who have been swept by a shock wave from the United States by opening its doors to as many as 60,000, more than half the total number languishing in the refugee camps of Nepal. Apart from its political implications, it is a great offer on humanitarian grounds and the refugees should welcome it as a windfall opportunity to go to the land of opportunity. However, the danger lies in yet another shock that might overwhelm them if the whole episode turns out to be a fake or a gimmick.

Shrestha is a freelance journalist