Prime Minister KP Oli in his recent public appearances has fired his customary verbal bomb shells on the intellectuals of the country after dumping neck deep vitriolic remarks on his opponents. Out of the many allegations made against the intelligentsia, one of them is that they have spoilt the unemployed youths in the country.
An intellectual follows logic in his or her address to any issue. Logic has assumption, proposition and conclusion. The assumption is that countries believe in constitutional supremacy. It means that everybody, whether one be the prime minister, president or a peasant, has to obey the constitution in both letter and spirit
The Prime Minister's remark is reminiscent of the death sentence meted to Socrates in 399BC.
He was made to drink hemlock by then Athenians on the charge that he had corrupted the youths of the country. His unfortunate execution has been very well portrayed in Plato's "Phaedo".
The love-hate relationship between the intellectuals and the rulers goes back to mythological times in this part of the world.
King Dasarath of Ramayana fame resorted to the court scholar sage, Basistha, when he was childless for a long time. Sage Basistha instructed him to approach Sage Shringa who dwelt in the Shringi Cave located downstream of the Phulchowki mountain near Lamatar village of Lalitpur district in Nepal.
Shringi conducted the Putresthi Yagya ritual, following which Dasarath had four sonsRam, Laxman, Bharat and Shatrughan from his three queens Kaushalya, Kaikayi and Sumitra.
The king became so happy that he gave the hand of his daughter Shanta in marriage to Sage Shringi. This is an excellent example of love-love relationship with the intelligentsia.
In yet another mythological text Mahabharata, Dhritarashtra liked Dronacharya, who was the teacher of the Pandavas and Kauravas, because he sided with the Kauravas in the war. But he was disappointed with Bidur, scholar extraordinary, famous for Bidur Niti, or policy.
It isbecause he did not support the Kauravas for not sharing the territory with the Pandavas. This, in turn, is an example of a hate-hate relationship between the rulers and the academicians.
In Nepal, this tradition of having a court scholar continued for a long time. In the 17th century, King Siddhi Narsingh Malla had Bishwa Nath Upadhyaya as the court scholar. Under his advice, he built the Taleju as well as Krishna Temple in Patan. Pratap Malla, though lecherous, had profound respect for scholarship.
Accordingly, he brought Lambakarna Bhatta and Gyanananda from India.
On their advice, he put his sons turn by turn on the throne for one year each in order provide them prior experience of statecraft.
Goreswor Panta was the teacher of Prithvi Narayan Shah as he had revealed the Gayatri Mantra to his father Nara Bhupal Shah. Shah was at odds with Tribikram Sen, the rule of Tanahu, who also happened to be the disciple of Panta. Shah went to Banaras and requested Panta to arrange an unarmed meeting on the bank of the River Trishuli between himself and Sen. Sen smelled a rat in the proposal, but he agreed after appreciation of Shah by Panta.
Shah had hidden arms in the river bank sand. After the meeting, his supporters attacked Sen and imprisoned him. Thereafter, Shah banished aged Panta from the country to India. This is an example of use and throw approach taken with the intellectual by the ruler.
An intellectual follows logic in his or her address to any issue.
Logic has assumption, proposition and conclusion.
The assumption is that countries believe in constitutional supremacy.
It means that everybody, whether one be the prime minister, president or a peasant, has to obey the constitution in both letter and spirit.
Nowhere has the constitution given powers to a Prime Minister like Oli, who enjoys majority as a single party or coalition of parties, to dissolve the parliament, according to para 76. Only aprime minister who has staked the claim to form a government on an individual basis and cannot muster majority support after 30 days of becoming the prime minister can recommend for the dissolution of the parliament to the President. Only in such a situation, can the parliament be dissolved according to the present constitution.
In such a situation, only para 85 of the constitution comes into effect. It says that except when dissolved earlier, the term of the House of Representatives shall be of five years.
But the Prime Minister's supporters have maintained that Clause 85 has provided for the dissolution of the House, which is a sheer lie.
If this is the textual aspect of the constitution, the spirit was to discourage the dissolution of the House to the extent possible because of several dissolutions in the past that damped the development aspirations of the people.
Accordingly, the formation of a jumbo cabinet, the filing of a no-confidence motion every now and then, and the dissolution of the parliament were rightly wished out of existence in the constitution.
The constitution nowhere talks about the political decision that a prime minister can take. The proposition by Prime Minister Oli that he had taken apolitical decision is not compatible with the assumption.
Hence, the conclusion is that the Prime Minister has taken an unconstitutional stand. This has been rightly echoed by the Supreme Court in its landmark verdict.
Prime Minister Oli seems to like intellectuals like Dronacharya who take sides and shower lavish praise on him. But he does not see eye to eye with intellectuals like Bidur who speaks the truth and gives sincere advice.
There is no dearth of people who say that he has even imitated Prithvi Narayan Shah by using and throwing Yuba Raj Khatiwada in the Nepali Embassy in the United States, when he could make better contributions in more important positions.
History has shown time and again how dictators have condemned the intelligentsia for their bold but selfless opinion.
The development of increasing allergy towards the intellectuals indicates growing despotic and dictatorial tendencies in the Prime Minister.
A version of this article appears in the print on March 4, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.