Friday, December 02, 2005

The Big Block Party



Madhav Kumar Nepal to Blogdai: "Are you happy today?"
Blogdai: "Yes I'm happy, are you going to say something new again?"
Madhav Kumar Nepal: "I always say something new."
Blogdai: "Well, good luck with that today, I suppose."
Madhav Kumar Nepal: "Namaste."


Photos: (top) K. P. Oli calls for a taxi in the middle of his speech. (middle) The lil' elf hisself poses for blogdai.

Blogdai was on the platform for yesterday's garden party at new Baneshwor. I left before the little elf got to speak, but I heard enough.


Some highlights:

Some shrill Nepali woman got up and started shrieking about the WTO. Since Nepal is not a strong member of that particular oganization, one has to wonder why all the venom.

It must have been WTO day at the event because some guy named Paul Nichols of La Via Compesina called the WTO a "weapon of mass destruction." I think he was there just as the obligatory, token white guy. A whole lot of hot air that was barely understood by the crowd.

The obscure INdian politician who gave his speech in Hindi, as if we were all in India. I suppose his presence was meant to lend some credibility from "big brother."

UML's singing "all communist boy's folk band" Tried to sing "We shall overcome" in Nepali; no one sang along.

The constantly undulating mass of about 100 teenage boys to the left of the stage. Lots of pushing and shoving: a characteristic of boys this age when they get in a big exciting crowd. Every now and then, one of these boys would fall over and about 1000 people in the crowd would stand up and look, sensing a "riot." (Remember these boys, they figure prominently later in this article)

Observations:

Funny, lots and lots of party flags and banners: Not one Nepali flag anywhere.

30,000 people, but no Girija Babu. Sure it's a UML meet but is that any way to run an "alliance." The big egos are still embroiled in their perpetual spat, blogdai guesses.

Cops were mellow. You would be too if you were outnumbered 1000 to 1.

Most people were standing around smiling and watching people. One got the impression that they were there just for the spectacle. About, 300 supporters, sitting close to the stage, clapped at everything said and done, however.

This will undoubtedly give some of our reader a heart attack, but blogdai actually LIKED the spirit of the demonstration. There was a real sense of a legitimate citizen movement beginning among those gathered. But alas, the party leaders and speech-givers neither sensed nor capitalized on this feeling. Not one new thing was offered. Instead of hope, they offered blame; instead of new programs, they refused to admit the failures of the old; instead of progressive discourse, they stirred everyone up with slogans and cliche's. Such a wasted opportunity; too bad.

K. P. Oli sounds a lot like Joe Peschi.

All in all, a rudderless affair. No outlines of anything concrete, no promises to not repeat the mistakes of the past, no show of alliance, only blank rhetoric.

Later that same day:

Remember those boys I mentioned above? Turns out they just couldn't get enough of the day so they left Devkota Sadak, turned the corner and waited for the King to arrive at the convention center. So now here comes the rocks: thrown at a motocade heading into the center. Bad move boys. Security kicked some serious butt, ran over someone, gassed the boys and basically wreaked havoc. So, despite what you may read in the papers, this was not a disgruntled surge of humanity bent on overthrowing a tyrant, this was a group of teenage boys out for a day's frolic, throwing rocks at the King's car. Much as I'd love to blame the parties for this one, blogdai can honestly say that it appeared to be unaligned (and unpaid) individuals who threw the rocks and started the mess.

-=blogdai

19 Comments:

At 4:17 AM, December 04, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the more balanced articles going around at the moment. And in the Japan Times of all places:

Folly of vying to rule rather than serve by Christopher Lingle

As for the boys you mentioned - seems to be the general experience I've had of these demonstrations. Bored kids with nothing better to do apart from mischief making. Gundas.

naagboy

 
At 11:36 AM, December 04, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

Looks like these boys pissed off the other side yesterday. Royal supporters attacked the UML headquarters.

The big problem with these types of teenage boys is that they tend to start civil wars.

1. Throw rocks at the king
2. King supporters retaliate at UML headquarters.
3. It goes to the next level.

In other news: I guess Paras couldn't stand a little brick precipitation on his car. He stopped by the armed police (blue meanies) station in Thamel for 10 inutes today. Just long enough to cuss out the commander and slap down a few constables.

I talked to a few Nepalis today who said that they guaranteed Paras would have an eventful and short life.

-=blogdai

 
At 12:23 PM, December 04, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nepal's present crisis is a prelude to a future crisis that could plunge her into a 'failed sate':

1. Maoists have outflanked every one: Once again Babu and Prachanda have shown themselves to be skilled politicians. They have effectively split the atom with explosive effects. They now have the legitimacy that they lacked without the 'poltical parties' by their side. Now even Switzerland is offering her blessings to the marriage of convenience.
2. The war can not be won on the ground but through politics:
The parties are taking a risk but the egotism shown by Madhev Nepal, Koirala show that they 'think' they are capable of keeping the Maoists on their side. If i were Prachanda, I would be smiling at the naivete of these politicians.
3. India: The country gives with one hand but takes with another. The King believes that he has some kind of tenuous support from the Indians because they fear his movement towards China. The political parties and Maoists believe that they have the support of India (hence the frequent medical visits).

Result:
1.) The Maoists have cleverly seized the political agenda by joining with the political parties. The Indians will push them to a.) overthrow the King in the belief of installing a democratic system b.) reach a deal that reintroduces democracy immediately. Since B.) is unlikely the aim would seem to be to overthrow the King entirely.
2.) If the 'alliance' achieves a.) then the Maoists will sweep the political parties aside or marginalise their powers with the ruthlessness and authoritarian power that they have shown in their Western strongholds.
3.) The political parties have little or no power to seize power should they be threatened by the Maoists. They have the legitimacy that the international community and India give them but that is as far it goes. They also have the money to launch protests but they don't have the moral conviction to launch a rebellion against any Maoists seizure of power.
4.) The King's only option is to proceed with haste on his plan to bring democracy to the people. If he does not do so then he is gone. Simple. He has effectively risked the future of the monarchy on his Feb announcement. He needs to cling to this plan and implement it to survive.
5.) The Maoists need to ensure that the King does not succeed and they have achieved an enormous coup in persuading the biggest political parties to boycott future elections. If they can ensure that the King does not bring democracy back to the people then they will force the situation in their favour.

Conclusion: This is a war of political attrition. He who can last the longest will win. The Maoists are technically closest to achieving the means to 'win' this power game but the King can break their back bone by reintroducing democracy to Nepal.

As the Japanese Article illustrates -this is a war of power and only power. Who wants to rule Nepal? That is the question in Koirala's, Nepal's, Prachanda's and Gyanendra's minds? It is NOT who wants to represent the people?

My apologies for a rather crude explanation of my thoughts but i have an essay to write for my MSc. Still, i hope they make reasonable sense to you all.

 
At 1:48 PM, December 04, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who will bring down the House?

Not political parties, not maoist. But Paras will bring it down.

This guy has been so sheltered and removed from Nepal and Nepali's problems that he is incapable of reaching out to people in a human level.

Just heard that 2 inspectors and an SP were suspended. And I am thinking 12,000 nepalese have died and not a single person in security force was fired. And Paras' car gets hit by a brick and these policemen get suspended, IGP is threatened, and a few even slapped. Is a brick on Paras' car worse than the lives of 12,000 nepalese?

This is an outrage and a humilation to Nepali people from someone who has not earned a dime in his life and has lived in luxury on taxpayers' money from birth.

Now, let see what palace's reaction will be? They will hide Paras for a few weeks and then they will bring some positive photo op of Paras doing some social work or something. But Nepali people have seen enough of this and will not be fooled by such shallow efforts.

And I am predicting here Paras will be the one to bring this regime down instead of political parties or maoists.

 
At 4:09 PM, December 04, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fool of a king takes a 20 day trip to Africa of all places in order to convince his country that there will be no more corruption in the country.

The country's national airline is no more for that period, as it is reduced to being "His Majesty"'s plaything.

Meanwhile, the political parties actually do the dirty work and come to an agreement with the Maoists on how best to diffuse the situation. Its the most promising outcome so far, promting even the King to make a few comments.

Oh, and as for that fellow. Y'know who I'm talking about. That fellow, lets see, I think he's on the verge of a mental breakdown. Daddy promised that he'd be King too one day and now he gets pelted with stones and no one gives a damn.

 
At 11:59 PM, December 05, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

I don't know, perhaps it is an extrodinary act of bravery and national sacrifice for the King to actually FLY on and RNA plane.

He's doing the country a favor by gettting one of those dangerous hunks of crap out of Nepal.

-=blogdai

 
At 12:13 AM, December 06, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

Also, Naag link to that Times of Japan article by Christopher Lingle is worth the read. It says what we say here only with better erudition and eloquence.

On a secondary note. Lingle's arguement about basing human rights on a group identity, takes square aim at the Tibetan movement and the inherent group favoitism therein. Blogdai has always advocated regional solutions over the ethno-centric, so Lingle's comments are well overdue and in much need in that theatre.

-=blogdai

 
At 6:14 AM, December 06, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lingle makes some very good points, I just wish he would've gotten back to Nepal in the last third of the article, during his diatribe about individual vs collective rights. I thought he was going to start in on quotas!

The overall point about vying to rule vs vying to serve is spot-on, however. (maybe this should have been two separate articles?) I wonder if this issue can be addressed in the wish list with salary caps, term limits, conflict-of-interest reporting requirements, and mandatory transparency of financial records for political office holders. There has to be a way to keep politicians from using their positions to fill their out-of-country bank accounts.

In a govt ridden with corruption, words like democracy, communism, monarchy, and civil rights don't really have much meaning. Nor do votes, for that matter. Nepal will not be served effectively by any group that does not clean up its act, and at present, it looks like they ALL have dirty hands. It has to be the number one priority of any would-be leader(s). No reason they can't start NOW, either. No need to wait for elections. Or anything else. Just do it!

Just venting....

Ramta

 
At 12:20 PM, December 06, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

Yes Ramta, you've always had a good eye for editing. It should have been two articles. So much material: power struggle vs. collective rights. blogdai's head was in a spin.

 
At 1:09 PM, December 06, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mine was too. I didn't actually get the Tibetan angle. I guess the guy just wanted to take full opportunity in the exclusive they granted him. Read up a bit about him. I think I like him already. He had to do a runner from Singapore after offending that great stalwart of freedom, Lee Kuan Yew.

naagboy

 
At 7:25 PM, December 06, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

One good thing is that the article ran in Yesterday's "Himalayan" newspaper. It's a big-circulation English daily here and the article ran on page two.

The tibetan movement, at least as practiced in the West, tends to play favorites. Rather than look for solutions that assist the regional issues that affect all key people, both Nepalis and Tibetans (lingle's "individual rights" approrach), I've heard nothing from the movement other than that tibetans are special by simple virtue of their birth and therefore deserve special attention (lingle's "group rights" arguement).

True, Tibetans are a much persecuted people and deserve help, but the Tibetan movement would seek to segregate tibetans because of this, rather than integrate. This would result in the exact social stratification that Lingle warns against.

-=blogdai

 
At 11:46 PM, December 06, 2005, Anonymous Alison said...

This is more a series of a questions than the expression of an opinion, but...

Why has the King remained so silent since the announcement of the alliance? (I realise he has been out of the country, but if I can keep up with what is going on all the way from Australia, surely the King of Nepal has access to the internet on the road.)

Is it because:
a. He is waiting to see how wider public opinion (external to Nepal) reacts before voicing an opinion?

b. He is waiting for the alliance to self-destruct? (I actually think I am crediting him with too much strategic intelligence here)

c. He has severely underestimated the momentum that *appears* to be building (both within and outside Nepal) during this period of deafening silence?

I will state for the record that I am not in Nepal at the moment (and therefore do not consider that I fully appreciate the internal situation) and have posed these questions more as a way of promoting some wider discussion - I have just found it very interesting that there has not been ANY comment from the Palace, and very little comment on that in the press.

 
At 12:30 AM, December 07, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

You will see a lot of the King's comments filtered through ministers like Tulsi Giri and Ramesh Nath Pandey.

Overall, the King does not mind that the maoists and the parties are talking. Today, in fact, the palace issued a statement saying that they would be willing to talk to the Maoists provided the maoists lay down their arms.

Royalty also does not like to react too quickly. Being aloof is part of being royal i guess. You will not see the palace comment on every twist and turn in this process.

-=blogdai

 
At 12:36 AM, December 08, 2005, Anonymous Alison said...

Thanks blogdai - i hadn't heard of the report that the palace had issued a statement of intent to negotiate with the maoists (as long as they disarmed).

One thing that I found interesting in my recent visit was that it was the king who was the open source of most peoples' anger/disaffection etc. It is certainly not that people I was speaking to were supporters of either the maoists or the parties (in most instances it was the complete opposite), but it almost seemed like they had greater expectations of the king, and therefore felt more let down by his relative inaction over the past 10 months...

 
At 3:33 AM, December 08, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just got back from nepal. Tulsi Giri has been silent for over a month now. Ramesh Nath Pandey is just too clumsy of a man so you don't hear any coherent arguments coming from him. Sadly the guy who speaks for King is the former Army Chief Sachit Samsher Rana. This is just a tragedy in making hime Sachit as your spokesperson. It is just mind-boggling listening to him in TV or radio. Fucking idiot.

 
At 5:06 AM, December 08, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

I've said it a hundred times here; G. needs a good PR person who's smart enough to keep these idiots out of the spotlight.

-=blogdai

 
At 10:22 PM, December 08, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blogdai, the fact that you think that King G's problems will be solved by a good PR person shows how shallow you are and how far you are from gravity of the situation.

A good PR is like a make up and may make King G prettier in a short term. However, it is not going to solve our real problems.

 
At 6:43 AM, December 09, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm... to the last anonymous: the importance of PR must not be underestimated. Whether you believe that the King is genuinely interested in a truly democratic solution or not, he MUST have a good PR person to succeed, whatever his plan. The fact that a great number of Nepalis believe that G killed his brother means that whoever does his PR is starting with a tremendous handicap when it comes to selling any plans the King may have.

If you don't believe in the importance of PR, then how do you explain the millions of dollars spent on selling political candidates (and wacko policies) around the world? How do you explain the success of an incompetent, inarticulate, dangerous man like George W. Bush? It's PR. ANYONE who wants to rule needs a good PR person. One of the reasons people who want to SERVE don't get the chance, imo, is because they can't afford a good PR person because they are not brokering power and access (the way that those who want to RULE do).

Blogdai (who I realize is perfectly capable of defending himself... lol) is just being a realist.

Allison, I did not have the same experience on my last visit (Oct 2005). Guess it just depends on who you talk to... the Nepalis I know seem willing to allow the King more time, given the other alternatives. But they are all from Kathmandu and Nuwakot District...

Ramta

 
At 1:53 AM, December 16, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

(blogdai just used the blue pencil to delete a comment)

Too long, too manic, and too boilerplate. If you want to redo the thing in a shorter form, in english out of courtesy for others, try again.

Otherwise, keep your cut and paste commentary to yourself. I understand your party affilliations but you will not get a forum here with such rabidity.

-=blogdai

 

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