Respected Lawabiding People….

A close look at the political speeches: Boring they might be, but speeches are necessary during this season of the Constituent Assembly elections. Demand for highprofile orators is increasing.

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

[Nepali version of this story will appear in tomorrow’s Koseli of Kantipur daily. A shorter version of the story will appear in tomorrow’s Kathmandu Post.]

Gagan Thapa addresses a campaign rally in Kirtipur last Saturday (22 March). Pic by Bikas Karki

“Comrade chairman,” comrade guest said as he stepped up to the microphone. “Comrade members of the UML’s standing and central committees who are on the dais and all the law-abiding people present at this mass meeting. I would like to greet you with the revolutionary lal salaam (red salute) on behalf of the UML.”

Lal salaam! It was UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal addressing an electoral program in New Baneshwor last Sunday. Nepal wanted to clarify something before indirectly chiding the Maoists and mentioning a few points from his party’s election manifesto in the 25-minute-long speech. “Friends,” he said, “as the campaign moves forward, leaders and actors might lose their voices.”

(The actors are the entertainers who provide amusement to the participants of mass meetings. Folk singer Bhagwan Bhandari had sung a song and requested the audience to cast their votes for the sun emblem, the election symbol of the UML, before Nepal went on.)

“So we should take great care of our throats,” said a smiling but hoarse Nepal. “Don’t give us cold water. Hot water…”

Instead of completing the sentence, Nepal changed the subject, “No power on earth can stop this election.” His declaration made the headlines. It wasn’t difficult to understand the incomplete “hot water” sentence, but it’s a reflection of how sloppy Nepali speechmakers are. They lack clarity, use passive sentences and give such long and repetitive orations that listeners get bored.

“Many leaders except a few youth are not updated,” said satirist Manoj Gajurel, who parodies political leaders. “The leaders enunciate theories and talk through their hats. The young generation who participated in the people’s movement don’t understand what they are saying.” He added that political programs were using music and other entertainment to attract audiences as nobody wanted to come just to listen to the speeches.

Madhav Nepal address a mass meeting in New Baneshwor Sunday (23 March)

Boring they might be, but speeches are necessary during this season of the Constituent Assembly elections. “High profile” speakers like Madhav Nepal are speaking at an average of five programs a day. Busy speakers have become like those Nepali film actors who reach the shooting spot of the next film as soon as they are done with the first. During all the rush, they hardly find time to study the character that they are going to perform in the movie. The impact could be seen in the poor portrayal of the character. Same happens in public speaking. The more the speeches, the clumsier they become. Regardless of how good or bad the speeches are, they take their toll on the speaker’s throat.

“I can’t speak,” whispered Mahesh Acharya, the Nepali Congress candidate in Morang-6, during a telephonic interview Monday. “I have lost my voice,” he added in a barely audible voice from the clinic where he was being treated.

Nepal, a candidate in Rhautahat-6 and Kathmandu-2, didn’t speak at a program in Kirtipur last week because of a soar throat. He must have drunk a lot of hot water to prepare himself for the New Baneshwor gathering.

Hot water certainly helps to deliver a speech but it remains to be seen if the speeches help them to get more votes. Amidst that uncertainty demand for fine orators is increasing as the campaign intensifies. “I was in Biratnagar a while ago,” said Nepali Congress youth leader Gagan Thapa on phone. “Now I am in Kathmandu and about to go to Chitwan.” Thapa, who is in NC’s closed list of the candidates for proportional elections, is skilled in delivering speeches that, according to reporters who have covered his programs, ‘rouse up the masses’, ‘make people stand up’, and ‘encourage the listeners’.

“I give importance to three things,” Thapa said about his speeches. “There should be some message and substance so that listeners learn something.” Emphasizing that he never “underestimates the listeners”, Thapa said that he wanted to communicate with them as if he were talking to them directly. “The third point is the context. I used to talk about the movement during the people’s movement, now I ask for votes for my party.”

“CA election is the common responsibility of all parties,” said Thapa adding that he talks good things about his party rather than chiding others. “Speeches shouldn’t create lowest level of enmity. Cadres from other parties who come to listen to me shouldn’t go back angry.”

Action is slightly different than word. Thapa delivered a fierce speech in Kirtipur last Saturday that certainly didn’t make the Maoist feel good. Thapa, soaked in the vermilion as he took part in Holi cum election rally in Biratnagar in the morning, had gone straight to Kirtipur to address the meeting. He started the speech with a sentence something like this according to a reporter who was present in the meeting: “Those who swim in the pool of blood play with the color of vermilion and see how good it feels…”

“That’s because of the context,” Thapa defended his speech in an interview. “That’s [Maoist chairman] Prachanda’s constituency. Also the mass was tired by the long and boring speeches by those who spoke before me. If I hadn’t attracted the mass’s attention like that, I couldn’t have communicated with them.”

Leftist politician Pari Thapa agreed that one should use ‘appropriate gesture and words to attract the public’. The leader of Communist Party of Nepal (Unified), who said he prepares notes to avoid repetition added that ‘one hour is normally enough to cover main points’ in electoral speeches. “I make slight changes depending on the place,” said the parliamentarian in a phone interview from Siraha where he had reached this week from addressing meetings in Ramechhap. “I talk mostly about new Nepal and State restructuring.”

Speech is all about speaking for sure. It helps speaker sell ideas. Throughout history, charismatic world leaders have used the power of speech to communicate difficult truths, galvanize citizens to fight for independence and to unite nations to defeat foreign enemies, states a website that sells a 13-part documentary series entitled Greatest Speeches of the 20th Century: Voices in Time. There’s one thing in common with all those great speeches delivered by the likes of Winston Churchill Barack Obama (about race): all were carefully written. With the exception of Narayan Man Bijukchhe, leader of the Nepal Workers and Peasants Party, Nepali leaders never write their speeches.

“No special preparation,” said Shankar Pokharel of the UML who is considered a fine orator. “I plan the speech in my mind, not in a diary.” Adding that his involvement in preparing party’s manifesto and other documents helps him keep track of major issues Pokharel said he decides about the nature of the speech after gauging the audience. “If there are intellectuals I talk about policies, theories and present arguments,” said Pokharel who is in the closed list of the UML candidates for proportional election. “You have to cite examples to general public, give emotional speech to young audience, tell same thing from different angles to the old.”

Such is the level of distrust for the political speeches that putting ‘leaders’ and ‘speeches’ together hardly makes an optimistic sentence. Leaders only give speeches, goes the popular saying, never work. Biggest challenge of the speeches is to win the trust of the audience. “Speeches lost credibility because the speakers didn’t fulfill the promises made in them,” said Gagan Thapa. “If the audiences feel that I speak truth it will be easier for me to connect with them.”

The audience might clap during a speech, but that does not necessarily mean that they are going to vote for the speaker’s party. “I don’t think a committed person will change his opinion after listening to a speech,” said Pokharel. “But good arguments can influence the neutral masses.”

Even if speeches may not inspire the general public, Pokharel said that they were necessary to motivate the cadres and publicize the party’s agenda. “They work harder when they are inspired,” he said. “That helps increase the number of votes for the party. Party supporters will be excited if the party’s agenda is effective, while opponents become defensive.”

Speeches serve different purposes, and their nature varies depending on the speaker. Manmohan Bhattarai, who is considered to be one of the finest orators in the Nepali Congress, says speechmaking is an art that must be creative.

“I also used to give radical speeches at one point,” he said. “I used to enjoy attacking my antagonists. Today, I focus on sharing the knowledge that I have gained by reading books with uninformed listeners.” That knowledge, he said, also includes arguments that the Nepali Congress is the better choice in the elections.



20 responses to “Respected Lawabiding People….”

  1. Deep Kumar Upadhya Avatar
    Deep Kumar Upadhya

    I agree with Gagan Da. In fact he is the best ever young leader which NC has. Best Wishes for him.

  2. Joti - from Scotland Avatar
    Joti – from Scotland

    I want to involve in politics one day. We really need someone who is serious about making country strong. Gagan sounds ideal at the moment. this is 21st century and our country is still running by out of date politicians who don’t have clear vision about where they want to position nepal in near future. We lack a leader like Mao -tesung who united scattered china, boycott foreigner from interfering china and now look where china stands in the world now. India always interfere nepal. Indian never want nepal to be well known in the world. they used to say Mt. everst lies in india, Budda is from India and According to recent BBC documentary says “Tibetian migrant Tensing Sherpa residing in India” are Sherpa pro-tibetians? i thought they are loyal to Nepal. Why say european that they are Tibetian and why do they tell Nepali that they from Solukhumbu, and they are nepali?
    Why are they so afraid of? This is what we have to bear being nepali living in a Foreign country.

  3. Anjan Avatar

    I agree with Joti that the out of date politicians without a vision have to retire. But we don’t need a Mao here.

    What Nepal needs:
    We should start importing oil and other necessary things from China. And we should be able to survive even if India closes it’s borders. Till this happens Nepal will always be a colony of India.

  4. Sangesh Avatar

    Best of luck to all new faces for the upcoming elections.

  5. Masayo Avatar

    Mmmm…well, Anjan..
    What makes you think that China would be better than India? Who is responsible to pay the bill?
    Who stopped the oil transport to Nepal at the border just a month ago? Did we? Or did they?

    Let’s not have Nepal become `Just a Fat Big Border’ between two countries.

  6. indraman Avatar

    sick n tired with leaders n political parties,hard to trust them..i love my country bt i will always hate all of this politicans.

  7. Joti - scotland Avatar
    Joti – scotland

    Anjan thanks for support, what i meant by Mao is; i just wanted nepali public to understand that a leader like Mao had no education merely was a front runner army. look at nepal if you see the resume of nepali politicians all are : gold medalist, doctors, highly educated from UK or USA is that all we need in a leader right now who can deliver speech in English? or a visionary leadership?

    Only China speaks for nepal in international agenda…not even Indian where we share same religion. what’s the point of having SARCC if indian dominates other country? has nepal achieve out of any of SARCC summit. Instead india is is enjoying all the benefits of SARCC. Stupid nepali leaders , pro-indian Girija is now looking a chance to fit her Christian daughter Sujata a prime minister?

    I believe in hard work then peace not like Hollywood lama (dali lama) getting money from America out of nothing other than meditation. you know once Dali lama went to see Mao Tesung in China and instead Mao said to him ” Religion is Poision”

  8. Joti - scotland Avatar
    Joti – scotland

    Indraram…don’t get upset and tired ! we need young leader who has a vision like Barak Obama who can unite all our nepali public that what we need, unity not divide. we need equal rights to basic things like education, jobs things like that. all we have is, division and castes which is bad for a counter. the more unity Nepal becomes, the more strong we becomes. For how long India can disrupt oil? remember this “where there is a will, there is a way” we should believe in ourselves, then eveything will be alright. God is watching you!

  9. freedom_writer Avatar

    Joti, I respect your want to become a politician someday and I wish you all the best for that. Our country certainly needs new leaders with broader visions. However, Nepal certainly doesn’t need a leader like Mao Tse-Tung. It’s true that “in less than a lifetime he raised China from being a broken, feudalistic anachronism to a united world force”, on the other hand 70 million Chinese died as a result of his policies. When he invaded Tibet and annexed it to mainland China, 1 million tibetans (out of 6 million population) died. Thats a huge number of people.

    Nepal should remove the caste system, I agree on that. Religion, I think is a different thing. It’s a spritual thing. Most poeple need some kind of spritual belief to pull them from the daily crisis of life.The religion, however, should not be mixed with the politics and it should be confined within one’s home. Religion should save people and not take their lives.

  10. Joti - scotland Avatar
    Joti – scotland

    Thanks for that f..writer. You know if you look at the history, you see western domination all over the world. For example more than 6 million Jews were massacred, about 5 million people were killed in India and in South africa to get freedom from British empire, you know that happens. That was then but even in now, you can see how america invaded iraq for oil? thousands of iraqi including women and children were killed and still dying…where is he record? westerners keeps the record about china killing Tibetans but why they failed to keep their own data? For me all the same. UN is created by america so that they gives top jobs to their own people and at the same time UN workers keep on eye who is doing what.
    Mao did merge Tibet into China because of political reason that he had to demolish American influence in Tibet which was a big threat to China. china defeated America twice in 50s and 60s war. America was curious what china is up to next therefore he used Dale lama. He was getting lot of money and weapon from america, he was who first shoot chinese police. So American is responsible for tibetan matter. That’s not our problem. I am profoundly religious person but not like lama sitting and praying, i believe in hard work that what i meant by. .. It was not my quotation but it was mao’s quotation once he told to Dalai lama… and what he means by that is – hard work in order to feed people and their family so that time meditation was bad influence for china.

    Well it is fair for Hollywood lama to sit and pray because he gets lot of money from USA but what about ordinary Tibetans? who needs food, health care, transportation …does Dalai lama provides that?

    America disrupts other country in order to sell their weapon now they are running out of their game anymore. now, China is dominating the world and they are jealous of this. for me all are same! if you look at he tibetan protesters recently there were more westerners than tibetans.

  11. freedom_writer Avatar

    Yeah, I agree that it’s the game of power and West is playing a big role in it. And I haven’t overlooked at the fact that millions of people in different nations have sacrificed their lives while recouping their freedom. People died while fighiting for their freedom in India, but the main credit of getting freedom in India goes to Gandhi’s principle of “Ahimsha”.

    Joti, thats a strong statement you made by saying that Nepal needs a leader like Mao Tse-Tung. There is more (than what you are seeing) to Mao’s unifying scattered China and bringing up its economy. Before you decide that Nepal needs a leader like Mao Tse-Tung, please look at the other side effects of Mao’s reign in China. Please know more about Mao’s school of belief and his vision. Then only decide if Nepal needs a leader like Mao or not.

    Religion is a very sensitive matter. There have been and there will still be lots of wars in the name of religion. My thinking is that if people can make religion as a private thing (be as religious as they want to be at home) and not bring it out in the public (school or workplace), then there won’t be fights in the name of religion. Thats my belief, you may or may not agree upon it.

    One more thing, how can you living outside of Tibet know what the Tibetans really want? Its for the people of Tibet to decide what they want. I know, in our perspective, it is better to have all the modern amenities and facilities that China is providing to Tibet than to live in the conditions that Dalai Lama was providing during his reign in Tibet. But, who are we to decide? We are outsiders for those Tibetans and they may not want outsiders to interfere in their matters, the same way we don’t want outsiders to interfere in our matters. We Nepalese have never been ruled by foreigners so we don’t know whats it like to let the others rule your country and be minority in your own country. At least I will never understand that.

  12. zay khadka Avatar
    zay khadka

    Dear freedom writer, I totally disagree about Nepal not being ruled by other nation. And we know what it feels like. Mind you Nepal’s situation is far worst than that of Tibet. History till yet – we have never setup our own government. It is India who does so. 85% of the Nepal’s economy is depended to other world. And in history till yet we are serving Indian to British and british to americans.

    But I do agree that Tibet needs freedom so does Nepal. I have seen the reality of Nepalese people and their unconsciousness about the politics and their own fundamental rights.

    Unless people don’t commit themselves to be self dependent no body can do anything. Leaders should make people agree to fight for the rights and survive at any situations – no matter India stops everything.

  13. freedom writer Avatar
    freedom writer

    Dear zay, I tried to recall the history lessons from elementary school, but I could not remember which of the foreigners ruled Nepal. I hated history lessons so will you remind me? As far as I remember, Nepal was ruled by Nepalese themselves, not by the foreigners. And those partsof Nepal, which were captured by British while they were ruling India, are still part of India. And I don’t know how the Nepalese living in Darjeeling feel like.

    Well, if you consider Prithvi Narayan Shah as a foreigner cause Kathmandu was ruled by Mallas before he invaded, then yeah, you can say that we were ruled by foreigners. However, I never considered Shah kings as foreing rulers. I may be wrong if you look from that perspective.

    “Unless people don’t commit themselves to be self dependent no body can do anything.” you said it well there. We have to fight for our own freedom. Leaders with good visions, I think is what our contry really needs at this time. I would like to see new and promising leaders in our country.

  14. freedom writer Avatar
    freedom writer

    And zay, if you meant to say that since India has been controlling Nepal’s freedom, we know how it feels like to be ruled by others then I would agree with you but not totally. Cuase its one thing to tell what to do from behind the screen and yet another thing to come to the stage and remove you from your stage. Chinese people have invaded Tibet and made Tibetans minority in their own land. I haven’t experienced foreigners coming to my country and making us minority kind of situation. And I sincerely pray to god that it never happens in our country.

  15. Joti - scotland Avatar
    Joti – scotland

    I don’t understand why people like freedom writer thinks if someone endorses a leader like a Mao is totally wrong? I just wanted to clarify that a man like mao who had no education, simply was an army and used to learn books written by Russian Communist Leaders, had that vision to make china powerful. All the present leaders and future leaders admire and adopt Mao’s theory in china. Mao won very popular war against super power America which was Vietnam war and Korea war. China is strong in every aspect (ie sells weapons, goods etc) which is making western world very uncomfortable. Even America has recently borrowed money from China. If somebody wants to help Tibetans its America not Nepal. recently in New York, Uk Tibetans are barred from miles to protest against Chinese embassy. Its not a same how police are behaving in Nepal. America wiped out Red Indian in America about 10 million red indian were killed, and now in Iraq. Who cares about that???? so don;t be so sensitive if Nepali police or Government is behaving by beating this way… don’t need to worry about how westerners think if they see in TVs …if that’s all you worried about.

    Bhutan and Nepal has to depend on Indian supplies but How come only Bhutan has barred its border not Nepal? Nepal should put wire or adopt some kind of policy to control its border like Every country does. I agree, we share same religion but isn’t is true that we want to be safe just like we surround our garden from a good neighborhood?

    why kosi and karnali being fortified? it is killing Hundred of people in nepal in Monsoon…isn’t our politicians protecting Indian and not bothering our own people? We can’t afford to depend on Indian anymore we got to be something about it, together.

    We have our own problem, I have not sympathy for Tibetan, as we all know dali lama is a very busy man, very busy traveling western world i think. Ordinary Tibetans need to understand that they are misguided by their own religious leader for his won benefit.

  16. freedom writer Avatar
    freedom writer

    Well, I guess then that we simply have different perspectives. I recognize Mao’s determination and ambition which turned him from a farmer’s son (Mao had graduated from school though) to one of the most important figures in the history of the world. His approach and his ways of bringing about revolution in China by destryoing culture, tradition and history, I think was wrong. And I don’t approve of Americans also. I don’t like the way they out numbered the Red Indains and the way they brought slaves from Africa. The problem America is going through because of racism is I think its self invited problem. And I don’t worry about what others think of me or my country. The one who doesn’t know the whole truth, can’t decide what’s right or wrong. But Nepal needs to worry about that, cause maintaining a good foreign relationship is very important thing for a country.

  17. Joti - scotland Avatar
    Joti – scotland

    I am sure you get that information from western publications. well i know westerners talks about human rights as if they exercise human rights in their own country! I read one of the books and it was about Gautam Buddha written and published by Westerners said, ‘Gautam buddha used to go with many women in his time…how did they know?

  18. freedom_writer Avatar

    Wow, you seem to be pretty strong opinionated person. And I believe that its all about perspectives; everything looks different if viewed in a different perspective.

  19. matribhumi Avatar

    I wish Gagan Thapa who was a student-finished his studies did a Masters and a pHD and maybe then joined politics. But then, I wish million of Nepali youths did this too rather than waving the flags for viagra needing politicians who manipulate them for their selfish needs.
    Another reason why Nepal is where it is and will never be where India is…sad.

  20. Masayo Avatar

    Gee…whizee..Joti,don’t tell me you are typing those comments while you are hoding a boooze in your other hand! You sound like a `just hate any other race but Nepali’ What made you to think that way I wonder…
    Poor thing.. all you need is love?

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