Enough of it
- Parties can do better than resort to a banda to fulfil their demands
Apr 9, 2015-
The Nepal banda called by the opposition on Tuesday was similar to numerous other strikes in the past in all kinds of ways. Public vehicles stayed off the road; the main roads and highways turned into playgrounds for children; political party cadres torched vehicles; and the people had no option but to walk to their destinations. And as in the past, many expressed their frustration on social media.
The economic cost of such closures were reiterated and so were their impact on the poorest, whom all political parties have claimed to represent at some time or the other. The only difference this time around was the intense arguments between those supporting the strike and those opposing it on social media. Groundbreaking political achievements, after all, have all been an outcome of such bandas—the 19-day strike that toppled the monarchy, for instance—ran the argument. Supporters of the opposition’s demands linked the strike with the ‘future’ of the nation and circulated a picture of the CPN-UML’s banda during the 1990s.
The 1990s are long over. Since then, Nepal has emerged out of a decade-long-conflict, voted the rebels into power, elected two constituent assemblies. But still, there seems to be no end to the political transition. Each day, around 2,000 young people leave this country to toil abroad because they do not have a job nor do they see a future here. The Positive Experience Index released by Gallup, an American research company, in March, placed Nepal on a list of the 10 saddest countries in the world. This reveals the mood of country. In such a situation, imitating the bad practices of political parties in the 1990s cannot validate bandas in any way.
Political protests are no doubt an integral part of democracy. Bringing the country to a complete halt to be heard, however, is not the way to go about it. And make no mistake, the Maoists or Madhesi parties are not alone in doing so—the UML and Nepali Congress have their fair share of baggage. There is an urgent need to put an end to this unsettling practice of seeking political gain by making the people suffer. For that, the parties should agree on a designated area and only hold protests in that zone, like in Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. They need to realise that bandas, instead of galvanising the non-partisan crowd in favour of the organisers, push them farther away. Parties should learn from Dr Govinda KC, who single-handedly united the people against malpractices in medical education and brought the government to its knees. Mahatma Gandhi’s path of non-violent resistance is still as powerful as it was during the Indian Independence Movement and South Africa’s fight against apartheid.
Published: 10-04-2015 08:40