By Ram Khatry, Sydney
11 January 2017
I will be honest. There was a time when I was one of millions of Nepali youths totally in awe of Prachanda, the rolex-wearing money-loving moustache-waxing Mont Blanc-wielding communist prime minister of Nepal. Over a decade on, not.
There are reasons for his fall from grace in my mind’s eye.
Between 2006 and 2007, I met Pushpa Kamal Dahal on few occasions. Every time I met him, he did not disappoint me. He was articulate and convincing. He spoke his mind precisely, although his English irritatingly riddled with multitudes of redundant “should have to” clauses. On the whole, he had his charisma then.
One evening, in a dingy Kathmandu restaurant frequented by over-worked but under-paid Nepali journalists, a good friend said to me, “Please do not be so awed by him. Let him speak. Let him talk. And he will be exposed for what he really is. He will not be able to hold it long.”
As a seasoned journalist who had in-depth understanding of Nepali politics and politicians, what he really meant to say was this: “He has just gotten out of jungle. He is still fresh and everyone is still looking at him through the enigma he has created around himself for decades. Let him speak, talk to journalists, address rallies after rallies and then you will see his true colours.”
Many things have happened since 2006-2007 including a change in my own ways of looking at things because I am not what I was ten years ago. Needless to say, I am not exactly a Prachanda-worshipper under the current circumstances. The promise he showed has brought about no revolutionising changes to Nepal. He has become “just another Nepali politician”; Singha Durbar has had him. Most depressing was the leaked video in which he showed his lust for money as he secretly planned to maximise funds the Nepali government would have had to release for the management of the then cantonments of the People’s Liberation Army.
More recently, I cringed in disbelief when he likened his chanced meeting (during the BRICS-Bimstec summit held in India in October 2016) with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and Chinese president Xi Jinping to a Nepali proverb dhunga khojda deuta bhetnu, which basically means “finding god while looking for a stone”.
How would the prime minister of a sovereign nation make such childish, emotional and thoughtless statement? Would the heads of governments from India and China be “gods” because those countries are bigger and wealthier than Nepal? As a person of Nepali origin, it was an assault on my self-respect and dignity. It was an extremely disappointing comment made by, out of all Nepali leaders, a communist leader who took up arms against state to establish a nation based on equality and rationality – except, calling someone a “god” just because they are the heads of bigger states is not exactly the way of a leader trying to establish a just world based on equality. So, in the language of my journalist friend from Kathmandu, his “god” comment showed his ‘worth’.
Prachanda’s latest comment on King Prithvi Narayan Shah, the universally respected architect of modern Nepal, is even more preposterous, a completely unbecoming of a person holding high office. Speaking at Bharatpur on Tuesday, he sought to downplay the role Shah played in unifying smaller principalities to form modern Nepal. Local media reported that he told participants of a meeting that the Shah King was merely an agent that history needed to effect a change and that if he was not there then someone else would have done his part.
If gone by the standards of Mr Dahal, anyone can come forward tomorrow and say “If Mahatma Gandhi was not there then any other Indian would have brought freedom to India.” The same can be said then, of Nelson Mandela or George Washington, because surely someone else could have fixed or created whatever they achieved.
Despite trying to downplay the historicity of Shah’s role in Nepal’s unification, the chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) could not help admitting the fact that without him, Nepal would have gone under the British.
Now, how can Mr Comrade be so sure that that “someone else” in his place (if Prithvi Narayan Shah was not there) would have been as effective as he was? If this particular “agent” did not leave Gorkha Palace to unify Nepal some 250 years ago then Prachanda would not have been the current prime minister of a country called Nepal. That too for a second helping.
There should be a limit to being ungrateful.