UCPN (Maoist) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s gift of the gab often lands him in soup. While addressing the public, he is known to throw caution to the wind as he bears down on his political opponents, the pitch of his voice rising with each passing minute, the bulbous head jerking left and right, as he tries to hammer home his points. It was during one of his rambling sermons in 2010 that he lambasted the ‘neat and clean’ class of Kathmandu—in what was a very crude amalgamation of the complex class structure of the capital—that tended to ‘thumb its nose’ at the people from the lower economic rungs and the hinterlands. In another and perhaps his most notorious of all speeches delivered the same year, Dahal tried to impress on party cadres how the leadership managed to dupe the international community by artificially inflating the number of ex-combatants. According to his own admission, he tends to ‘get carried away’ when he sees a sizable crowd in front.
He is at it again. This time, Dahal has challenged the opposition parties (NC and CPN-UML) that he is ready to take them on out on the streets if that is what they wanted. Speaking in Pokhara on Sunday, he also seems to have hardened the Maoist position on agreements on crucial constitutional issues before the resignation of PM Bhattarai. Terming his 2009 resignation following the reinstatement of former army chief Rookmangud Katawal by the president a mistake, he said the Bhattarai government would not repeat the same mistake by making another hasty exit from the scene. In our view, it does not behoove the most important player in current Nepali politics to air views that could hamper successful end of the twin process of peace and constitution, on which he has staked so much political capital. As the country’s preeminent leader, we urge Dahal to exercise more restraint and to desist from making controversial and potentially divisive statements in these sensitive times.
Not that Dahal is the only top leader capable of such bombast. Reacting to Dahal’s threat that NC might not be given the chance to lead the election government, NC President Sushil Koirala seemed to lose it during a rally in Narayanghat on Sunday, as he recalled urging Dahal at one point “to take up arms and kill me.” CPN-UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal and UML senior leader KP Oli are no less adept in coming up with catchy and inflammatory remarks. All our top leaders should realize that their words carry great weight and could sow seeds of prolonged discord among the prime political actors, thereby jeopardizing all the major achievements post-2006.
Neither Dahal nor PM Bhattarai can get around the fact that the easiest (and the most suitable) way to resolve the current constitutional and political impasse would be for the caretaker government to make way for a consensus government. To try to fool people into believing otherwise on the strength of their vocal cords is disingenuous