The Kathmandu Post 15 May 2008
As soon as CPN (Maoist) showed signs of victory in the vote counting after CA elections, many political chameleons were set to change their colours. For about a week, “You know, I voted for the sickle and hammer” became a loud mantra in every day gossips. It became intense before some NC leaders brought a ‘constitutional logic’ of power-sharing making it confusing for the Maoists to head straight to helms. And some of those ‘friends of heydays’ became even louder that the Maoists had unquestioned right to rule, while many others who were about to declare voting the victors decided to keep quiet. For this latter species, moments of impasses are moments to wait and see – bad weather for colour conversion and skin-ceding.
The new chameleons may get the shelter that has been spared for patriots and nationalists. But it takes an idiot not to know the difference between nationalism and opportunism. Parties perhaps know this better. May the victors check that their new companions, deemed patriots regardless of their former alignments, are not sniffing chances of personal gains. The history speaks it clear that politics in the past failed to fulfill general promises because of contamination and series of antarghat. Mainly in the aftermath of April 1990, political competition took the form of ‘welcoming’ as many new entrants as possible but with little or no regard for disciplining. Parties slacked in their promises, and important actions were chalked off from their to-do lists. This is how the Mallik commission failed to speak. Similar contest recurred after the success of April 2006. We are still waiting with thin hope how the Rayamajhi commission will fare.
The aftermath of April 2008 demands greater patience and tolerance from both parties and people. Obviously, the former are left with no choice but respect the sentiments of the latter. They should not be sentimental themselves. They can accommodate millions, but should not open all doors and windows so that anyone/ anything gets chance to sneak in. If the winners do not take new entries as infiltration, they should at least practice filtering to cleanse themselves from contamination. The euphoria of winning is natural. But the hugs of joy should not be too wide. Equally natural is the pang of loss, but it should not last to the extent of showing antagonism to realities.
Revolutions occur when a proletarian mass rises. Normally, at the outset of changes the mass return to manage their daily subsistence. Then opportunists, especially seasonal elites, begin their mobility to find appropriate camps. Quite late the mass discovers these new entrants devouring the fruits of their struggle. Even worse, they find themselves being ruled by those who had hibernated when changes required blood and sweat. Opportunists usually fail to address the need of the mass. Then general frustration takes roots and question of misrepresentation becomes crucial. People wait to punish such rulers. This is one of the causes of the poor show of UML and NC in the recent elections. But the elections have a message to both victors and losers. May the victors retain both cadres and voters. May the losers preserve their cadres and retrieve the voters. If politics is a game, as the common cliché puts it, every player ought to know that it neither has consistent rules nor definite consequences. Voters are inconsistent when politics of transition continues. Victory depends.
Ironically, the best game is played by old chameleons in new colours, the opportunists who gain significant voice in parties. They are at times more vociferous than the veterans. But I have no intention to challenge their natural right to change colours and find new nests. I believe in liberty. It is for the parties to check the movements of their new inmates to the benefit of the nation. For now we can only hope to see the popular mandate respected and national needs addressed. Let there be two clear missions: writing the much coveted new constitution and laying foundations for prosperity.
Millions of people did not vote for the Maoists in good faith for their own parties and conscience. But many of them are optimistic that good days are ahead and that parties will not betray the country into further power-mongering and chaos. There is no denying that politicians are very particular about victory and loss. But the resultant euphoria and panic should not outlast the moments of practical thinking. Common people only look forward to changes no matter whom they elected. Once the victor, a party belongs to the country as a whole. Victory in politics does not bring rewards but challenges. The losers are not allowed to go out of the field either.
But, victors, beware of the contamination syndrome.