Public Knows It All: Nepali Politics

While returning home this evening, an interesting conversation that I overheard in a three-wheeler (tempo) made me feel fresh

By Dinesh Wagle on July 19th, 2005 in Wagle Street Journal

It was a strange ride for me this evening. I am politically speaking here. For the first time after the (abrupt for many and planned for a few fistful) Feb 1 royal takeover, I saw people, general people, talking something sharply against the royal regime. Even in that hot temperature, amidst the sound and hit coming out from the old engine of the tempo, I felt cool, energized, and excited.

“Now, you can’t open an association,” a young man, seated right to a woman who was just opposite to me, commented looking to a person seated next to myself.

“Hyaa nonsense,” the man replied. “How long can they hold like this?” They were acquaintances, I guessed.

“I also don’t have any idea,” the young man, apparently a college person with some responsibilities in an office.

The man next to me was an average person representing the tired, not so politically interested person. He was not a political activist. He was just a layman, if I can use the term here. It seemed that he quite aware of the political developments but was not much interested in going on the streets shouting pro-democracy slogans. He was a domestic man.

“They can’t hold like this for long,” he, in his 50s, observed.

Then another fellow involved himself in the conversation. The vehicle was moving with its usual pace. Three persons were hanging themselves on the side of the vehicle. This third fellow, I peeked through the shoulder of my seat-fellow and guessed his age as 30, was seated just by the entrance of the three-wheeler.

“Dekhiyo, dekhiyo,” he said, “rajako sasan pani dekhiyo. Kehi napenan. [I saw the king’s rule as well. He delivered no result.]”

I have never heard this kind of conversation in a public transportation vehicle. People have stopped talking politics after the royal takeover. They are observing the king in action. Those who talk are hardcore political activists or those who have benefited in one way or the other by the changed context. And they have contrasting views regarding the change and the politics. General public was, it seemed, neutral. Is it starting to take side for the better? I am not sure yet.

But what I am dead sure about is that the public, these people who are traveling in this vehicle, returning home from a tough day, are the one who matter for any change in future, especially for the restoration of democratic rights in the country.

While they were talking about the bad things that the king’s regime has done in the last several months, the woman quickly glanced at my chest. She moved her eyes but quickly returned them and fixed over what was written there: “For a democratic Nepal.” [On the back of my t-shirt is United We Blog!] I wondered what she must have been thinking. She seemed to be a working woman. She was listening the conversation. The man, next me, also glanced at my face, I could feel that. He was a bit suspicious. I guessed he took me as someone from the royal side. And I guessed that the woman took me as someone from the democratic side.

But the old man did not stop talking.

“Look that announcement of pillion riding ban,” he commented sharply. “In the evening they banned and in the next morning they backtracked from the decision. They have become unsuccessful.” He again repeated, glancing suspiciously, at least I felt so, at me, “They can’t hold for long.”

I did not utter a word. In fact, I do not speak to fellow travelers, especially the one whom I do not know, unless it is absolutely necessary. Once, I briefly thought about taking out the camera and taking picture of those persons for this blog. But that would definitely increase the suspicion of my fellow old man about my identity. I quietly abandoned the idea.

When I got off from the vehicle, I was feeling fresh.

26 Responses to “Public Knows It All”

Save Nepal (savenepal@gmail.com) Says:
July 20th, 2005 at 12:08 am

People do understand. The past 12 years of democracy has fundamentally altered the relationship between the STATE and the people. No nationalist or Naitik education will alter this situation.

Don’t expect that people show up in the streets with a call of politicians. It takes time. You have to brave police battons, jails and what not. People will come out onto the streets. Slowly, but surely.

Even this people’s extreme frustration with political parties is not necessarily negative. It means they understand the fundamental relationship between the state and the people. Wait and see, how KG who heads a bunch of criminals in the name of a “government”, go about the people’s aspirations.

Pramod Aryal Says:
July 20th, 2005 at 2:51 am
Time has come. I think it is now due that people will definitely come against the monarch. as i have been saying monarchy of nepal will go by 2007 AD October if he moves in this pace and style.

blogdai Says:
July 20th, 2005 at 7:52 am
Protests and demonstrations are a sign of a healthy, angry democracy, but I can’t help but feel that Kathmanduites had become conditioned to the monotony and frequency of these displays. In the past, you could set your clock on demonstrations. Every time a Koirala did not get their way, a demonstration would ensue. We were all getting weary of the traffic jams and annoyances of these “peoples” protests, to the point that any relevance they might have had was lost in our frustration with their obtrusiveness.

Show me a mass demonstration for democracy that doesn’t use the tired term “regression” or doesn’t call for some extremist overthrow of the monarchy; AND, is an actual, spontaneous outpouring of citizen sentiment rather than a contrived and paid-for political spectacle, and I’d be happy to join in.

I love a good democracy when I see one.

-=blogdai

Save Nepal (savenepal@gmail.com) Says:
July 20th, 2005 at 8:44 am
**** How does bombs sound???? Well, no demonstration under ramarajya. The key is: are you free from fear? Quite perceptive idea though. There is reason to believe that Kathmanduites have become fed up with demonstrations – why do you shy from locating the specif places. Maybe Matathirtha was less annoyed than Thankot. Maybe Thankot was less annoyed than say, Putalisak. But the king’s place must be the most annoyed place, right? There is no homogoneous Kathmandu. There are no homogeous Kathmanduites. Things sound a bit complicated.

We well could benifit from comparing the costs of daily explosions to “traffic jams.” Never mind, nobody minded much when pedistrian sidewalks were being destroyed for “Kathmanduites.”

******I could benifit if I could know the definition of “extremes.” Who is extremes? On what ground you measure the degree of extremism???

I liked your idea though. Somebody (who is this??) must show you a “spontaneous” protest (of millions???) and you will join for “good democracy.” Sounds great idea!

Well, maybe some “astrologers” (Raj Jyotish, we might need) will tell us about the “not paid for” demonstrations. Unfortunatley, it often becomes too late to manage when “spontaneous” outpourings of people occure.

Good idea though. Let’s first others come out onto the streets. Let than number grow to millions. I will join them then for “good democracy”

haha Says:
July 20th, 2005 at 9:41 am
moral of the story is: the author is too cool to talk to ‘layman’ but eager to write all of his experience for the ‘educated masses’.

blogdai Says:
July 20th, 2005 at 11:18 am
We are all homogenous brothers and sisters under the traffic jam.

Let’s rewrite the monarchy out of the constitution, partner with Maoists and overthrow the King. Which group is currently taking that approach? Sounds rather extreme, doesn’t it?

Demonstrations for peace, anti-Maoist atrocity demonstrations, even taxi-driver protests sound more spontaneous to me than those NC-sponsored banner-fests. Who pays for them? Can’t see a taxi driver spending his hard-earned rupees on a new banner. No, those groups hit the streets because they are voicing their legitimate displeasure at something.

Can we get an un-tainted pro-democracy demonstration in the same spirit?

-=blogdai

Save Nepal (savenepal@gmail.com) Says:
July 20th, 2005 at 12:02 pm
Homogeneity: millions are over exploited for centuries …(not just the past 12 years)…. However much I dislike, it looks like the homonized took up matters in their own hands. There is no harm to be ashamed of history although a few wants it to be a subject of perennial “pride.” So, the quesion is the ownership of the history that needs immidiate attention.

Granted a “group” is eager to “rewrite” the HIStory. Where does extremism fit in here? Who labels whom for what?

I am talking out “legitimate” displeasure….This is the precisely the “thing” Nepal’s current ruler(s) thinks that it depends upon HIS “kindness.” When the people are equalled to stupidity, you can’t stand your own head…

Risking police battons, jails may not very attractive things. But I am hopeful. “More spontaneous” demonstrations will be there for a “good democracy.” Still not sure what is “untainted” demonstration?

Makar Says:
July 20th, 2005 at 7:43 pm
Untainted ‘pro-monarchy rallies’ and spontaneous ‘pro-democracy’ rallies! Wet dreams.

blogdai Says:
July 20th, 2005 at 8:55 pm
Makar says it all.

It is inconceivable that a democracy demonstation, as they exist now, can be held without the money and influence of one of the the deposed political parties, and as such, they are tainted. We have too many references to Koirala-organized protests that masquerade as “pro-democracy” and before that “anti-regression” actions that only hide a deeper political and self-serving purpose.

-=blogdai

logician Says:
July 20th, 2005 at 10:58 pm
If you don’t credit political party leaders for democracy, then whom do you ? Yourself ? We here in front of our computers are luxurious wealthy creatures in eyes of poor, unfurtunate Humli,Rolpali,Bhojpure or other alike. Are we really so and liable to discredit others ? Discredit your side in time of crisis and praise a devil side in time of doom are fools’ concepts. Identify yourself what you are for , Loktantra or Rajtantra ? and stick firmly on it. People will follow you if you are a leader or you will follow them. Mud slinging at political leaders will bring no change.

blogdad Says:
July 21st, 2005 at 3:22 am
Blogdai: “It is inconceivable that a democracy demonstation,…of the the deposed political parties, and as such, they are tainted.”

Why is it “inconceivable” that people don’t go to demonstration??? Does youdon’t-like means nobody should like? Are those who have attended protests are stipid who were bought?? They must be influeced by parties; no doubt about it.

Just give up on your dirty mind that those who disagree with you – and act differently from you – are stupid or “bought.”

blogdai Says:
July 21st, 2005 at 4:52 am
Are you able to understand that it is inconceivable to a person like Makar and that my comment was made in that context?

When you see a democracy demonstration, what is your perception of it? When you see shiny new banners and, perhaps one or two Nepali Congress banners, what is your perception of it? When you hear demonstrators STILL fighting against “regression” in the streets, what are your thoughts?

Makar’s view shows that he has cultivated a bias towards demonstrations. He has a pre-conceived notion of both their validity and their sponsorship. If Makar is not alone in his thinking, and surely he is not, doesn’t that directly imply that these demonstrations—probably ANY demonstrations in Makar’s mind—are tainted?

No, I do not credit the political parties for any form of democracy. I credit them for misappropriating the term for their personal gain while they watched their country spin toward anarchy. What began as a beautiful experiment evolved quickly into a license to steal.

Picking sides and rigidly adhering to absolutism is folly. Saying that we must return to democracy at all costs and romanticizing your willingness to endure police batons and jail, shows a fundamental lack of understanding. Here’s why: One of the principle, and greatest, attributes of a vibrant, functioning democracy is its ability to work towards compromise. Does that sound like an attribute of any party? Some of you seem to anger quite quickly. Can you not accept opposing views or find a compromising position either? Try it; it’s very democratic. I am no great fan of the King, but do you honestly believe that he would reject a unified front from the parties if they approched him in the spirit of compromise? If you say no then you perhaps were not around while G fired then reinstated Deuba, and invoked article 127 at the behest of the parties. Sound like an uncompromising autocrat to you?

OK, here’s my compromise to you. I believe the takeover was necessary, to be sure, but I also believe that G. might be blowing this opportunity by hiring old Panchayat-era thugs and by repressing basic freedoms. He lives in the modern world now, and surely can’t be that stupid. I also fervently believe that democracy must and should take hold in Nepal. The middle ground here is that it should be a Nepali form that takes into considerations the unique character of Nepal’s history and citizens. I firmly reject the reflexive, poorly articulated idea that democracy must “return to Nepal at all costs.” It was manipulated the first time, so why give the crooks another chance?

Two things were and are relevant to the survival of Nepal: First, get rid of the ineffective, corrupt leadership under Koirala, Deuba or whomever; and second, eliminate the Maoists, plain and simple. One of these has already been accomplished. Finish the other and then we all can blather about our perceived notions of democracy.

-=blogdai

Save Nepal (savenepal@gmail.com) Says:
July 21st, 2005 at 6:15 am
“Two things…One of these has already been accomplished….Finish the other and then we all can blather about our perceived notions of democracy.

*******Nobody is claiming that the parties are “clean.” Nor am I a supporter of party actions in the aftermath of Ashoj 18. I knew for the first time from you that KG invoked article 127 at the “behest of the parties.” I missed something or you were dreaming, I can’t say. Well, the question for me is: who has the authority to chastise the parties? What is the legitimacy of the authority? If anybody who has bullets can claim legitimacy, then the Maoists must be accorded equal legitimacy for whatever they have done so far. Going by your logic, one would say that the Maosts did the first part of their job successfully (finishing off democratic forces), then they only need to finish the monarchy. Doesn’t it sound interesting?

“Eliminate the Maoists” – yes, plain and simple. But how????????? The army has been in the field for more than 2 years, the result is there for you to see and judge….Sorry, I can’t agree. For me, if anybody wants to see peace return to the country, one has to cultivate the political sides of the Maoists. “Compromise”- to repeat your own pharse, which sometimes appear to be aburd word in Nepal’s current political lexicon.

“I believe the takeover was necessary,….He lives in the modern world now, and surely canâ t be that stupid.”

*******”HE lives in the modern world, so he can’t be stupid.” Very interesting indeed. Which world do the Maoists live? Ditto to your argument, I would say that the Maoists probably are not dreaming to rule the “Maoist way.” Nepal has already seen experimentations with varieties of the monarchial systems for centuries. By bringing panchayat thugs (your word) into his “council of misnisters,” and “reppressing basic freedoms” (again your words), KG only showed us the sample of what his brother and forefathers did to the people. How do you trust such an institution? The logical answer is: The parties (maybe they have “zero” support base) and the Maoists should unite and get rid of the monarchy for ever. There is another reason to be get rid of the monarchy. KG perhaps has perhaps crosed the “avarage” life expectancy of the Shah rulers in Nepal. Paras is on the roll. Are we destined to be praja under the “dynamic leadership” of Paras??? Finally, if the Maoists are ready (I don’t know; I guess they might) to compromise provided the monarchy is elliminated, why thousands should die for the sake of KG?

I never have been a fan of Girija or any party in general. But I have been fan of a party system of governance. Only reminder to me is: the parties were the forces ELECTED by the people. KG does not have any rights to despise the people. Sorry, I can’t do it…I don’t think that Nepalis should be “taught” evry now and then by KG…I have every reason to believe that the people were learning and experimenting….

Democracy here and now.

haude Says:
July 21st, 2005 at 7:50 am
“Are those who have attended protests are stipid who were bought??”

– Yes, BLOGDAD if they are not bought…then they have to be STUPID! It is simple as that. I hope you were not one of those fools who joined the protest.

BLOGDAI…well said…keep it up. At least some people are talking some sense here.

haude Says:
July 21st, 2005 at 8:02 am
Logician (maybe you need a name change)

“Discredit your side in time of crisis and praise a devil side in time of doom are foolsâ concepts. Identify yourself what you are for , Loktantra or Rajtantra ? and stick firmly on it.”

– NO, you do NOT need to identify yourself with any of them and stick firmly to it. If that’s what you want to do, then you are just a “bheda”…coz only a bheda will follow rest of the bheda blindly off the cliff. What you need to do is see through these facades and make your own judgements. And if you think it’s wrong you need to speak up.

“People will follow you if you are a leader or you will follow them. Mud slinging at political leaders will bring no change.”

– If you think change in leadership is needed, then people need to speak up…and if they don’t who will?? It is not as simple as Loktantra and Rajtantra, it is far more complex! Being a logician I had the impression that you will be the first to comprehend that.

bidhya Says:
July 21st, 2005 at 8:48 am
haude, how much are you paid to speak whatever comes into your mind? Can somebody who supports king of criminals be any different from a criminal?

maude Says:
July 21st, 2005 at 9:19 am
haude (maybe you need a keep up your name)

Only a haude knows the languate of Bheda. Are you a bheda or dui Khutte?

As haude means sticking to own voice and not listening in to any bang, your name deserve appreciation. Either you hear your own voice or your types (haudes).

Keep it up haude, as haude, I expect you to do this extacly in the future.

haude Says:
July 21st, 2005 at 10:12 am
Bidhya,

And the netas are not criminals? By the way, how did you get the impression that I support the King?…and you call yourself Bidhya? I think you also need a name change!

Maude, I have not clue what you are trying to say…Prabhu explain gardinu malai…. D)

blogdai Says:
July 21st, 2005 at 11:14 am
I am always amazed at the level of discourse on these threads. The pattern is familiar: Reflexively defend anything that you perceive as a threat against your position while nit-picking the words and phrases of others out of context.

You all sound like the sons and daughters of the seven party alliance. Is this what democracy means to you? Jealosly guard your position while attacking others? If so, then it can truly be said that Nepal never experienced a true, free, democracy.

I’ve been doing this for a while now and have entered into discussions on most major Nepal blogs. Samudaya, FreeNepal, my own blog and now United We Blog, just to name a few. This angry and selfish debate form seems to be a common method of expression. It occurs to me that this is the exact posture of political debate that got Nepal into its perrilous situation in the first place. Uncompromising statements, unwillingness to consider opposing views, petty sniping and irrelevant sound-bite criticisms, all point to a gaping hole in your objectivity. Is it really so useful to be this way at this point in Nepal’s history?

People who refuse to compromise or hold absolute unilateral viewpoints do so out of fear. Fear that something might be taken from them if they let down their guard for an instant.

It is apparent that there are more than a few non-native English speakers on these threads. How fortunate you are to be able to argue in an open forum this way. Only well-educated, advantaged Nepalis fell free to speak this way. Perhaps you are an expatriate Nepali? Perhaps the old system of government allowed you to prosper and you are angry at its removal?

The Nepalis I know all live in Nepal. They love good, spirited criticism of their country and system. They argue politely, yet forcefully make their positions known. Life in Nepal has taught them that it is only the priveledged who have the luxury of being angry and only politicians and the rich refuse to compromise.

-=blogdai

Kankai Says:
July 22nd, 2005 at 1:31 am
blogdai must be a Gyane[ndra]’s bhanja, he calls others 7 party’s childern, and comments why can’t everyone be civil. You must be something JBR or Shah to stoop so low.

blogdad Says:
July 22nd, 2005 at 6:20 am
An attitude and practice- hey you are slaves, I am the Master so you have to obey my orders – can’t be a route to “compromise.” Please, don’t abuse the term compromise again…

We need to protect ourselves from self-righteous persons, king or bloggers…

blogdai Says:
July 22nd, 2005 at 10:21 am
Yes, yes, be threatened and “protect yourselves” rather than engage in healthy debate. Enemies are everywhere, right dai?

You don’t deserve democracy because you have no concept of it. Be frightened and be afraid, all foreigners are evil, right again dai? You can never be part of the world community with this insipid and narrow view.

How dare you masquerade as anything more than a sheltered, out of touch party fop, who cannot grasp the simple concepts of debate and argumentation. Give your country a chance and leave this debate to those who are qualified.

Compromise drives democracy; you have no skill with the concept or your responses would be different. Say what you will, as this is a free forum, but would you please be so kind as to make some sense and let rational debate reign? Nepal does not deserve your unstructured cackling. Here’s a small hint: DEBATE IS NOT FURTHERED BY EMPHATICALLY MAKING UNRELATED AND IRRELEVANT POINTS.

Sometimes I get the feeling that some of your are drunk and just wish to practice your English. Well, guess what: your country just might need your education and expertise, and yet you are all content with postering here on this thread and making no sense.

To the other poster of similar questionable sanity who conveniently forgot who it was that invoked article 127:

Remember back in 2002? Deuba’s wrecking-ball of a government invokes article 53.4 and requests the King to dissolve parliament. Only trouble was, 53.4 stipulated that new parliamentary elections must be held within 6 months of parliament’s dissolution. Deuba, as you may remember, was unable to hold elections in the allotted timeframe and pleaded with the king to invoke article 127 which would push elections back 14 months and leave Deuba as simply a caretaker of the loose factions of political parties. No wonder G. Sacked him for being incompetant. Here’s a complete summary of events:

Come better prepared for this debate. Backtracking to catch you up on basic news events only slows down this thread. It also speaks volumes on your ability to effectively argue these issue in the context of Nepalâ s political history.

You know what? This is an embarassment. You all chose to be here, on the Western originated internet, on Western invented blogs, and speaking what is probably a non-native tongue for some of you, English; one would think that you could be better prepared. This is not a self-esteem exercise for rich nepalis. This is not a place for you to practice your English grammar, and this is not a forum that should honor nonsensical responses. This is a place to address real issue for Nepalis in Nepal. Just by chance, would any of you think it would be more useful to stop your self-absorbed preening and start figuring out a way to save your country? Perhaps you don’t care. Perhaps you would rather just restore yourselves to your former prominent positions prior to the takeover, am I right?

It is obvious where your loyalties lie. It is my prayer that, someday, Nepalis who have less money and advantage will also be able to display their thought and loyalties on a forum like this as well.

-=blogdai

UWB: We placed blod and italics, but not CAPs in this comment.

blogdai Says:
July 22nd, 2005 at 10:41 am
Retraction and apology: Apparently, you are all under slow and meticulous editorial scrutiny here that gives the impression of outright censorship or blocking.

I have repeated myself and posted anonymously and, for integrity’s sake, would like to disclose that now.

Again, apologies abound as it appears that my comments were, in fact, not censored. (How democratic and compromising of me, don’t you think?)

Thank you all for your understanding.

-=blogdai

Save Nepal (savenepal@gmail.com) Says:
July 22nd, 2005 at 8:01 pm
I don’t need to go over any link or reread history. Deuba and parties did not ask G to remove the eleceted government. There were ISSUES which did not include the political system. Anybody can beniffit rereading CLOSELY AND SANELY. When I say reread, I don’t mean spit a few dirty words against Girija or whoever and self-congratutate on clappings of a few maroons.

Oh yes, it is hard to declare the exact point where my loyalties lies, but I am sure where they don’t. I never believed G. and his army could solve the crisis. Nor did I ever believe the millitary can crush the Maoists…

blogdai Says:
July 23rd, 2005 at 8:32 am
How can I answer you? There are literally hundreds of articles on “Deuba’s folly” that verify my point. It was presented as nothing more than simple background material, and yet you take offense and imply some cryptic “issues” involved that you do not explain. Ke garne? There is obviously some capacity issues that keep you from getting up to speed here, so suggesting that you make your points more clearly might just be falling on deaf ears, but persist we will.

One glimmer of hope: If you don’t believe G. or the RNA can solve the problem, please explain. Perhaps many of us agree with this point. I personally think it is a viewpoint that hasn’t received much discussion and just might be interesting. Are you able to give good reasons for your feelings without drifting off into tangenital nonsense again?

Please, let’s get this discussion back on track and lets hear your reasons. I promise to be a good boy and respond more respectfully.

-=blogdai

haude Says:
July 23rd, 2005 at 10:54 am
Apart from blogdai I would like to hear that as well. And more precisely, if this cannot be part of the solution and [king] Gyane[ndra] is the major problem instead, what then is the alternative you are willing to offer. And don’t just say “Democracy” will “naturally” take care of things, and also make sure not to take your agruments out of the present circumstances and context all right! I would love to hear and understand your reasons.

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