The people of this great Himalayan nation have awakened. And the end is close – perhaps only days away. They have overcome fear after being exposed to the limits of oppression and humiliation heaved upon them.
The King and his cronies have always thought of themselves as an unreachable elite class. They have demonstrated this time and again by cutting off communications, implementing extended power cuts, clamping curfews and arresting political and human rights activists whenever and wherever they wanted. If that is how they operate, what is the difference between them and the Maoists? State terrorism is the worst kind of terrorism. And it has been used against the people continually. The people were pushed to the wall with the government’s terror tactics. With nowhere to go, they have bounced back with just as much energy against repression.
The King, who had neglected the power of the political parties, has been forced to recognize that power is with the people, not in his hands. Perhaps he believed the people were disenchanted by the parties led by corrupt leaders like Girija, Madhav Nepal, and Sher Bahadur. What he ignored was that integral to the parties were other good young cadres who might have hated the corrupt leadership but believed firmly in the parties’ ideologies and direction.
As these young cadres came to the street; they brought a flood with them – the unstoppable flood. These cadres are common people – somebody’s son, somebody’s sister, somebody’s husband, somebody’s wife, or somebody’s father. These low level cadres were never involved in any corruption scandals like Girija in Lauda Air, Sher Bahadur in Melumchi and Madhav Nepal in the illegal import of gold using one of his cabinet members (Bamdev) when he has vice-premier. They want to see a great Nepal and want to be part of that. It is their enthusiasm that has started the chain reaction. It took a while to start the chain reaction, but now it has started. It is just like an atomic bomb chain reaction. It is going to explode soon and, when it does, it is going to clean a lot of germs with its smoke. Cronies like Kamal Thapa, Giri and others are some of the germs to be smoked along with their boss.
Ironically, it is the King himself who is responsible for the creating the storm. Surrounded by a committee of old and useless guards who do not speak up but just follow orders, he has lost touch with reality on the ground. Throughout history, autocrats have always failed to see the ground reality which is presented to them by sycophantic advisors seeking merely to please or out of fear. That’s exactly what is happening in Nepal. Giri, Bista and Thapa, I am sure, listen to the orders ‘from above’ with their knees down and do not dare telling the King that he is in trouble. These fools made the King think that he could quell the uprising by imposing curfews, baton charging, and some air firing because that’s what the King wanted to hear. The king was not ready to listen that the uprising could not be controlled. Funny that he who is trying to hide the truth from the public is the one being lied by his most trusted cronies. That’s why it is told in Nepali:
लाटो खान्छ एक बल्ड्याङ र बाठो खान्छ नौ बल्ड्याङ
What we are seeing in Nepal is the old Panchayat era tactics. The tactics are bound to fail because the country has changed. Kathmandu metro probably has 10 times more people than we had in 2046, literacy rate in the country has gone up significantly (thanks to multiparty democracy), private media has become the fourth power in the state and the world has seen several autocrats prosecuted in the International Court of Justice between then and now.
Now that the old tactics will not work, what new tactics does the King use to stop the flood? I do not think that there are any easy options left. Things have become very complicated. Attacks are coming form all corners. Apart from the police, the army and some royalist cronies, the people have abandoned whatever respect they had for monarchy and joined the protests. Angry protesters in every part of the country have thrown themselves into the fire without worrying about the consequences. They are ready to go all the way. The king better be ready to go all the way too. If some of the seven party leaders try to compromise (with Girija not wanting to die without being prime minister one more time and Sher Bahadur’s wife visiting an astrologist wondering when her husband would get the post back again), their cadres are not going to tolerate them.
The leaders of the parties have the chance to atone for their failings of the past. They can gain back some of the respect and trust they have lost among the people. It is time for them to lead the party and the movement from the forefront. They can set an example for the king.