This winter is getting doubly chilling. Our ruling comrades – at least a dominant faction of them – are itching to impose harsh punishment for people for posting anti-government contents on social media.
In a menacing preemptive move, folk singer Pashupati Sharma has removed his ditty on graft from YouTube, ostensibly in response to pressure from the student wing of the ruling Nepal Communist Party.
The fact that we don’t have the relevant laws in place yet doesn’t seem to matter. The Nepali Congress and other groups and individuals across a wide spectrum of society are understandably outraged. How they push back – and to what effect – remains to be seen.
For now, the government is behaving like a wounded tiger. Maybe it feels its yearlong existence itself is an accomplishment. In a way, it is. The ruling Nepali Communist Party (NCP), enjoying an absolute majority in parliament, and leading six of the seven provincial administrations, hasn’t been able to get its house in order. The co-chairs were supposed to amalgamate the erstwhile Marxist-Leninist and Maoist streams into a coherent association. But they can’t even agree on what to say something as peripheral as Venezuela.
In the past, NCP co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal has lamented that Nepali communists could be doing so much more if they had the free hand Stalin and Mao enjoyed. Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli, to his credit, has desisted from such dark reflection. There is of late a palpable strain of intolerance that has been creeping into his public statements. It is perhaps no coincidence that this parochialism is becoming more pronounced as his wisecracks are beginning wither.
It’s exasperating, to be sure, when ambitious government projects like high-speed railway in mountainous terrain and maritime transport in a landlocked country prompt more derision than admiration. Especially so when they seem to be technically more feasible than ever before. But, then, the people focus on immediate things, like solving the murder of a schoolgirl who could have been your daughter or sister.
You shouldn’t have rushed into the outstretched arms of faraway friends if you were so unprepared for punitive punches of immediate neighbors. Nobody likes to see the strong pick on the weak. But that doesn’t give you the luxury of using Venezuela to settle extraneous scores without weighing your words.
To be fair, Nepalis may need to be a bit more charitable here. Communists are communists first. If our comrades are acting so democratic, it’s not because they like playing the role. It’s merely a concession to the times. Like most contrivances, there’s a heavy toll on those contorting themselves out of shape.
How about giving our comrades a reprieve for the next four years? Nepalis won’t make fun of our communist leaders provided they fulfill the pledges they made during the election campaign. We’ll bite our lips, pinch our cheeks and do whatever it takes to suppress our leers and laughter.
If they keep their promises, we’re even. If they don’t, we’ll erupt into collective howls of hilarity against the assault of which little could stand.