As the UML regarded Gyanendra-dictated Sher Bdr Deuba’s government "regression-half-corrected" and joined it, do they now consider the Maoists as "comrades-half-reformed"?

Recent events have proven that the much hyped new Nepal is very much like the old, but without a king in Narayanhiti. Instead of the monarch, others of similar dictatorial bent are trying to impose their wills on the innocent Nepalese population. Beware, an individual as well as groups can practise totalitarianism.

First, the orgy of destruction. G. K. Chesterton wrote about British youth hooliganism, and his resolve neither to laud it nor be impressed by it. Our newly born republican nation went through several days of needless, crippling strikes. On a particular day, six different groups were imposing bandhs for things so important to them that they couldn’t fathom the suffering of their country-people. These behaved no differently than the dictatorial Gyanendra or the murderous YCL. People interviewed by FM radios moaned that the "new Nepal" promised is pretty much like the old.

The government deserves commendation for raising the fuel prices. The Resources Minister Shyam Sundar Gupta and the Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat did the right thing, though it was an unpopular move. As usual, there were some expected (though half-hearted) tire-burning. Some protest for the sake of protesting.

However, price-raises in fuel meant public-service vehicles had to do adjust fares. This is where some fished in murky waters. The UML, still licking its wounds after coming third during the CA poll, had to do something to get the nation’s attention. Enter Thakur Gaire, the president of the ANFSU, a UML-affiliated student organization. Not satisfied by the 43% concession the government granted to students, Gaire’s side-kicks damaged public, government, and private vehicles whose owners dared do their duty on strike-days.

Who pays for the government vehicles that the "diligent" students destroyed? The taxpayers. Some of the money the government could use for education now gets diverted to buy more vehicles because obviously the chief justice (whose jeep the hooligans damaged) will not go to his office on a bicycle. Thus, education suffers! The students, our future leaders, should see the short-sightedness of their actions; and shouldn’t trample on others’ rights while making demands.

Then, the mutilated private vehicles. Will Thakur Gaire and his student-accomplices refund those out of their pockets? Why did the UML leadership, Jhalanath Khanal, Amrit Bohra and the lot, keep silent? Will UML make good the property their students have ruined? How are their youth behaving differently than the YCL they have criticized? Thakur Gaire showed no hint of repentance. Rather he blamed the chief justice for using his vehicle on a strike-day!

We saw pathetic tourists dragging their luggage to various hotels in Kathmandu. Thanks to Gaire for extolling the image of our country overseas! Students have every right to make their demands known peacefully, but not the Thakur Gaire way.

Now to the destruction under the president of the Federation of Nepal National Transport Entrepreneurs (FNNTE), Dinesh Bhandari. Again, no one will deny that FNNTE had legitimate demands. However, why should FNNTE supporters in Pokhara damage six tourist buses and bring such disgrace to our country? Is it because these buses don’t belong to his syndicate which doesn’t allow a vehicle to leave until it has passengers sitting on stools and is full to the roof? Stone-pelting lads wounded a Korean visitor in one of the buses. What report will the person take back to Korea? Are Nepalis treating guests like gods? Dinesh Bhandari should pay for the buses his disciples have ruined and make up the loss to tourist industry, which was just picking up.

Second, the unholy political alliance. Madhav Nepal and K.P. Oli command respect because for the CA poll both refused to ally UML with the Maoists who haven’t yet abandoned violence. Now that the Maoist intimidation during the poll has come to light, both UML and NC (though themselves not totally innocent) can claim they didn’t adopt underhanded means and thus had a moral victory.

However, Jhalanath Khanal, without ethical qualms, has readily allied himself with the Maoists he used to criticize bitterly till a few weeks back. Have the Maoists reformed that Khanal now considers them donor of ministerial posts (for UML) in the next government? This unholy alliance, if it continues, is sure to obliterate the UML. The Maoists only have to take the UML leaders to Shaktikhor for a few days of "hospitality" before they fully convert to Prachandapath.

Since the Maoists have their People’s "Liberation" Army and Pushpa K Dahal (the future PM) still commands it, our country is certainly not a normal democracy with only one army. Thus, NC’s stand that an opposition leader also should sit in the National Security Council is most logical. The Maoists, who nurse totalitarian aims, have opposed it; but the Madhesi parties see the danger and support the NC. In this issue too, the UML has foolishly sided with the Maoists.

As the UML regarded Gyanendra-dictated Sher Bdr Deuba’s government "regression-half-corrected" and joined it, do they now consider the Maoists as "comrades-half-reformed"? Should our country end up a Maoist dictatorship, Jhalanath Khanal and the UML will also have to share the blame. Ethics should take priority over having a few UML ministers under the Maoists.

Third, garbage politics. Kathmandu already has a reputation for being the most polluted city in Asia. Our Sisdole folks halt garbage dumping every now and then, and want to make our capital the dirtiest in the world. We could do without this record. The government should honour its pledges to Sisdole, which should reciprocate similarly.

Discarding these vestiges of old Nepal, we need selfless, far-sighted students, transporters, political parties, and garbage-people (besides others) to make our country prosper. A new Nepal needs new minds.

This article was written by Dr. Ramesh Khatry and published in TKP.

Nepali Christiya Samaj