Summer of swans

The public demonstration of May 16 should be an eye-opener to all the party leaders, including of the Maoists. It showed that the public can no longer be taken for a ride by anybody. Especially in view of the importance and sensitivity, what occurred that day was not unexpected. The ire, as it were, was directed against the president of Nepali Congress (Democratic), Sher Bahadur Deuba, who reportedly suggested that the King should be allowed to remain the supreme commander-in-chief of the army sans uniform. The demonstrators set some seven government vehicles on fire demanding retraction of his view that was widely perceived to be against the people’s aspirations. Although Deuba later vehemently denied making any remark to that effect, the damage was already done. As a seasoned politician and leader of a party that actively participated in the anti-autocracy Jana Andolan, Deuba must desist from making statements likely to ignite trouble for himself, his party and ultimately the country.

Also, the agitators’ wrath was provoked by the delay in announcing the ‘historic’ proclamation establishing, once for all, the supremacy of parliament and bringing in a number of changes in the national political set-up, including curbing the powers of the king, renaming ‘His Majesty’s Government’ to ‘Nepal Government’ and converting the Royal Nepalese Army to Nepal Army. Thankfully, Home Minister Krishna Sitaula clarified later in the day that the delay was due to cabinet expansion issue. Although there is some logic in the minister’s reasoning since all the parties are not represented in the current cabinet and the proclamation requires a consensus, it is hard to swallow the view ruling out disagreements among alliance constituents on certain issues, given the postponement of the declaration to Thursday (today).

In the midst of the ongoing inter- and intra-party bickerings, the political leaders certainly are wasting valuable time on wranglings over petty matters, instead of grappling with issues of greater significance to the nation. They need to display a higher sense of responsibility and concentrate in constructive

nation-building efforts. In this regard, Maoist supremo Prachanda’s appeal on Tuesday to his jailed cadres to call off their hunger strike is a step in the right direction. The inmates have been on continuous hunger strike in various jails across the nation since the past week demanding the release of all the detained colleagues of theirs. The government, on its part, must not get bogged down with minor administrative details, which could easily be left for the bureaucrats to handle. In order to avoid repetition of the violent public eruption, seen Tuesday, the government simply cannot pretend to be too occupied to ignore the priorities dictated by the popular uprising.