The news of reappointment of Kul Man Ghising, the engineer who ended load-shedding, as the MD of the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) for another tenure, spread like wildfire on social media, bringing a sigh of relief, if not some happiness, among the Kathmanduites. (The news, it turned out, was premature.)
I think this is the right time to tell you a story that begins with a suicide in Syangja district. You can probably classify it as a sociopolitical action thriller at local level, in Nepal.
Some months back, the head of the health department in Galyang municipality was found dead, hanging by a tree. The police concluded it was a suicide.
A news story appeared in an online newspaper, directly blaming the mayor for the suicide. The mayor is of the Nepal Communist Party and the reporter who wrote the report was, obviously, associated with the Nepali Congress.
All hell broke loose in Syangja then.
The gangs of reporters and supporters, from the two parties, declared war on each other.
Soon, the financial disclosure of a fundraising Mahayagya to build a temple, that had taken place ten years ago, was splashed all over the papers. The team that organized it was from the Congress party.
Then, a case of rape was registered against the one of the municipal NCP party chairs, and widely covered in media. It was later discovered that the FIR was registered by a relative, and the woman who was said to be raped wasn't available.
In the next incident, the mayor of the same municipality, who belongs to the Congress party, was in a garage at night, accompanied by some boys, getting his vehicle repaired. Someone appeared there and a brawl ensued. The newcomer was drunk and had attacked the mayor’s boys first.
And then the midnight breaking story appeared in many online papers, that the mayor had beaten a boy, the drunk newcomer, black and blue, which, of course, wasn’t true.
And the action thriller continues. This, I believe, isn’t limited to Syangja. Local politics all over Nepal is being done like this. There is no rule of law, and no independent journalism. Politics has criminalized everything in the society, and it’s now taken over completely by the criminals.
Federalism, what was presented as a promising panacea for most ills that ailed Nepal as a nation, has ended up being a joke. The local governments are clueless at best and being run as gang dens at worst, openly collaborating with criminals in plundering the natural resources and terrorizing people.
The provincial governments haven’t been able to even establish their own presence, forget making an impact. They have become an agency for recruitment of the political cadres at different levels.
And, what is worse, nowhere do we see anything meaningful being done to achieve the prosperity that this government at the center promised. Too busy to secure the government's own survival and manage the power struggle within the ruling party, the government with close to two-thirds majority has wasted a historic opportunity.
How did we end up here? Why is this unprecedented opportunity slipping away, teasing us point blank, and we are unable to respond? Why is this criminalization of politics, at every level, accepted as the new normal?
The answers probably lie deep in our society and recent history. But the socio-psychological analysis aside, we can safely lay the blame on the present day politicians.
The only way out of this dark phase is a citizen’s revolt.
If the government decides against retaining the ‘Cool Man’ who broke the criminal load-shedding business nexus at the NEA, Kathmanduites will probably awaken from the slumber and revolt.
In any case, there is no ‘Cool Man’ to break the politico-criminal nexus led cronyism that is pulling the country into a downward spiral.
Nepal has a unique political set up. The critical youth mass, which can drive change, is mostly away or concentrated in Kathmandu. And what we have left in the countryside is not enough to resist any mainstream decadence.