--BY MADAN LAMSAL
The big political parties of Nepal are currently engaged in a serious debate on how to take the country forward on the path of prosperity. The Nepali Congress is busy preparing for the great battle of holding the party’s 14th general convention. The canes, spears and batons needed for that are all in the ready position! It seems holding the general convention is going to be akin to organising a great revolution due to the ongoing debate on whether or not to amend the party’s statute’s article related to active membership and to or not to increase the number of departments in the party.
The NCP, the ruling party, too, is doing its bit to realise the country’s prosperity dream. Though the party faces temporary hurdles from time to time - such as who the executive chairman of the party will be, or whether the MCC grant can be accepted and deciding the capital and names of provinces, it seems the sickles and hammers required for taking the country on the path of socialism are being prepared. It can be openly said that these and other preparations by the parties that appear on the surface are in fact aimed at developing the country. These preparations are not disputes; rather they are intense theoretical discussions, debates and deliberations being undertaken for the sake of the country.
In fact, the Nepali people have been listening to these intense theoretical discussions from the big political parties from 1990 onwards and have been seemingly enjoying them. Therefore, in every meeting of the parties or in every speech of the ministers, prime ministers etc, issues like prosperity, development, good governance, civil rights etc are never excluded. But those who do not understand such theoretical issues are terrified thinking that a bigger problem will come.
Because the people have started taking seriously what the comedians say and lightly – as a form of entertainment - what the ministers and politicians say, as if they were said by comedians or jokers, things have seemingly turned upside down. What has happened to the people? Have they started seeing everything the wrong way? That’s why the people have started getting afraid whenever the ministers and politicians talk about development and prosperity. Because the results in every sector are just the opposite of what is anticipated. That’s why it seems we have to say – “Rather, give us poverty and bad governance. How long will you keep writing prosperity and good governance in our fate, God?! Have some mercy on us!” This pessimistic wish arises from the fact that the government talks about ideals, transparency and honesty but the bellies of politicians keep growing!
They fall under the compulsion to live in mansions. They protest against feudal and capitalist systems but practice consumerism and ‘use and throw’ policy. They talk about sacrifice for and devotion to the country. But in practice, they even go to the extent of splitting their own parties for lucrative posts. They talk about alleviating poverty, but in practice they are alleviated from poverty but the poverty in the country increases. What is happening? Who is creating such a situation? The politicians – my sympathies are with them – are indeed working day and night for the country; it’s just that the results are just the opposite of what is intended!
The politicians have been repeatedly asking foreigners to invest in Nepal. But the foreigners do everything but invest here. For the betterment of the people, the government has been introducing bill after bill. The government thinks it will do the people some good. But the people always get the wrong end of it or understand it the opposite way.
For example, thinking that the culture of abusing each other was growing in Nepali society, the government recently tabled the Information Technology Bill at parliament. But the journalists are protesting against it everywhere. It seems many journalists just don’t know how good the Bill is. Perhaps they haven’t read the bill properly. So, maybe they don’t know that the Bill has a provision that fines people more for using abusive language than for going out and beating up a person! The government is trying to say that if someone uses abusive language against you on social networking sites, you can go and bash up that person and you will have to pay less in fines!! What kind of journalist doesn’t understand this?
The fact is this Information Technology Act is a must. Because in the USA, Trump has been saying that the social networking sites must be tamed because of ‘fake news’. In Nepal too, the social media has become the mainstream media – at least, the two-thirds majority government thinks so. People say the two-thirds majority government is becoming dictatorial. Who will become dictatorial if not this government? Can a minority government afford to become dictatorial? Isn’t democracy all about the dictatorship of the majority? Everyone ought to understand this little thing. The prime minister has been saying repeatedly – “Republic and poverty cannot go together.” What it means is though poverty will stay in the country, the republic will keep advancing forward in a red carriage anyway!