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Guest Column
The versatile jokers

Basanta Lohani

Vegetations appear and disappear. It is an everyday affair of the nature. But for a tree to grow of a size, texture and strength, it is both time taking and painstaking. When that tree shows symptoms of decay or is made to decay, for whatever reason, it is increasingly painful. More so in the case of a leader. The context here is of Puspa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda. His voyage from a cowshed in Dhikurpokhari to Singha Durbar was full of strength, determination, struggle, romanticism, myth and realities. A baby crying to survive in the cowshed finally sported a proud prime ministerial smile within a span of slightly over fifty three years. His confidence, as contained in the smile, made us more confident in the belief that New Nepal will be unfolded. But his smile this time in the course of dubbing his prime ministerial ambition as a joke looked so sheepish.

Biologists believe that the originating point of smile is fear. It evolved through what they term it as ‘fear grin’. As a protective device, the monkeys grinned to its predator to signal that they are harmless. Over millions of years of evolutionary grinding, this grin is what we all across the globe have as smile to express different shades of emotions - happiness to anxiety, pleasure and amusement, and euphoria to sadism. The smile could be fake or real. It could hide or disclose feelings. Thus a smile could be friendly, deceitful, enigmatic, wholesome, euphoric, innocent and sheepish. As a proverb goes, even in the laughter the heart is sorrowful. Or some may smile deriving pleasure in cruelty. Human behavior what it is today is primarily a learning from the animals in terms of strategy for survival. In other words, it is the mimicry of animals successfully developed to suit the human environmental settings. Thus, Prachanda’s smile that day bore a mixture of nerve feeling and ambition. It frantically tried to hide a faded hope amidst a tired and weird look of his facial contour overstretched by the muscular flexing.

That was on January 21, 2013. He was in Baburamji’s home district Gorkha to attend his party’s function. In his press conference, thereafter, and being flanked by both his deputies holding the position of prime minister and deputy prime minister, he proposed himself as the prime ministerial candidate. Baburamji was quick to second it, concluding that his chairman was the only alternative for a consensus prime minister. Prachanda spoke at length citing Girijababu’s endorsement to prove his level of competence. Girijababu had given him the responsibility to steer the country in his absence, he added. This sent shivers down the spine in Baburam government’s coalition partner, the Madhesi Front.

Prachanda has the habit of proposing himself. The first time such proposal came to public notice was when euphoric Prachanda proposed himself as the president of the country. It was the time the interim constitution was not ready yet. Being a Great leader the way he was, he was thus driven with the idea of nothing less than the president. Kathmandu city was flooded with wall posters of Prachanda as the president of Nepal. Little did he realize then that the prime minister will hold the executive authority. He was then branded as ‘wall president’. Thus, he switched to become the prime minister. But there was nothing wrong in it. I think it was benign.

However, the realities now have come to the light the way the darkness of night has to give in to the unfolding morning sun. Girijababu did not resign for three months even when the Maoists party was elected to become the single largest party in the Constituent Assembly that also worked as the parliament. Girijababu would have continued as prime minister the way Madhav Nepal became the prime minister had the pied piper known that Prachanda is still untamed.

The problem started from the day he went to China to attend the summer Olympic. It became a hue and cry. People supported him resolutely telling that our prime minister has the right to visit any country in the world. On August 8, 2008, I wrote an article titled why is this hue and cry for? However, what mattered was the tune of the pied piper. Prachanda was eased out after nine months. He became red with anger wiping out all his smiles and acted tough raising the slogan of civilian supremacy. He burnt his fingers and reconciled. Finally, he learnt a lesson to dance to the tune of the pied piper more vigorously. This is what he has been practicing since but the pied piper is not convinced that his steps are perfect the ways Baburamji’s are.

Prachanda carries a faded hope. Unless he can please Baburamji first, he knows his ambition will not be fulfilled. In this game of deceit and betrayal, he has declared many times that he has no ambition to become the prime minister. However, in Gorkha, he proposed himself as the prime ministerial candidate with Baburamji’s support. But something went wrong. We do not know where and how? The very next day, Prachanda brushed aside his declaration as a joke with a sheepish grin. And, it was seconded by Baburamji the way he seconded his earlier proposal. This time it was visibly hilariously though. Now Prachanda is willing to accept any body as the prime minister provided the election is guaranteed. This again is a façade as we all know that Maoists do not want the election at least for a year. But for home consumption, he is two steps ahead for election. They think that anything they speak, people will buy.

Prachanda’s effort to mimic a harmless behavioral signal has failed. It seems he still needs to perfect his steps. Yes, they have graduated to be versatile jokers while dancing to the tune of the pied piper from across who has been playing different tunes at different times. This has been the most agonizing period for Nepal. The time has come that we have to run this country from the musical composition within as we the nation. This collective embodiment of ours cannot be plundered, pillaged and resigned to penury where a beaming child is robbed of his smile. To this end, a new revolution from within is imminent. Let wisdom prevail.

(Author’s email: [email protected])

(Editor’s Note: Nepalis, wherever they live, as well as friends of Nepal around the globe are requested to contribute their views/opinions/recollections etc. on issues concerning present day Nepal to the Guest Column of Nepalnews. Length of the article should not be more than 1,000 words and may be edited for the purpose of clarity and space. Relevant photos as well as photo of the author may also be sent along with the article. Please send your write-ups to [email protected])

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