On July 4, Physicists worldwide were celebrating an experiment that confirmed a particle that was “consistent with” an elusive thing called the Higgs Boson – long hailed as the ‘God Particle’. Apparently, the celebration ensued as the particle is considered very important because it gives matter mass, while it made a ‘brief’ appearance during the experiment for less than a nanosecond before it returned to oblivion (as of now, scientists have not conclusively identified it as the Higgs boson).
The world followed the celebration along with the scientists. And in jest yours truly tweeted, in humor: “Heard they found God particle in some lab… Wonder when Satan particle is found… #Higgs #Boson”
More than a few nanoseconds, or maybe a minute later, there was a reply: “The Satan particle is alive and well in the White House. Obama IMO is the closest thing to Satan we have. #Romney12”. Now the sender of the reply was named ‘PolitixGal’, from California, with 16 thousand followers, and her (?) bio said: Anti-socialist, Anti-statist, Libertarian, Free Market capitalist, and Anti-Obama.
It doesn’t take a genius to understand that the lady’s remark shows how polarized politics can become. As Barrack Obama and Mitt Romney prepare to fight for the American Presidency, it is unlikely that they would really consider each other ‘Satan’. But their followers, often due to their leader’s stand, go to that extent. That’s the flip side of politics. That’s what politics can do. It can divide people and divide them really bad. Sometimes to the extent that people cannot look at each other eye-to-eye. In such cases, often, it becomes vengeful and spiteful.
While conservatives and liberals try to divide people in US, for the sake of increasing the size of their vote banks, Nepal sees another round of posturing from political parties and politicians.
The latest addition to posturing is remarks by a former Prime Minister and a senior leader of CPN UML, Madhav Kumar Nepal. Nepal, while reacting to statements from former King Gyanendra Shah, said that the former monarch got the opportunity to play with the sentiments of the people because of the worthlessness of Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and his government. He was suggesting that Bhattarai has no morality to be in the position.
Now that is an interesting statement, because, at the same program Nepal also said that he had prepared the draft of the last speech given by the then King, when he restored the parliament. This speech was the one which paved the way for constituent assembly election.
It is interesting to see how various leaders have reacted to the last monarch (so far) of Shah Dynasty. Reacting to the deposed King’s television interview, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai had said, “The former king does not seem to have learnt any lessons. He will lose whatever facility he is getting.”
Chairman of CPN UML, Jhalanath Khanal accused the former King of trying to fish in troubled waters. Statements were issued by various leaders, across the political parties, rubbishing claims that any agreement was signed by the then King and political parties on continuation of monarchy. Editorials were written in broadsheet dailies and columns were spent criticizing Shah.
A question arises: Why such a big hullabaloo?
If the former monarch said he wants to be a King again, what’s wrong with that? Anybody can wish to become so. What’s wrong in wishing? What’s wrong in dreaming? Now that we have republican order – which by virtue of what it is – it gives people a right to dream to become head of the state. So, his want of becoming the king again, should not even be criticized.
Criticism it will need, perhaps more than that, if he’s found plotting his way to become a monarch again. That too, if it is against the people’s wishes. So far there’s no credible evidence of that.
It is interesting that the political parties, who sounded united, when they rebuffed Shah’s claims of agreement to continue monarchy, seem to have parted ways again. Former Prime Minister Nepal saying ‘it is all fault of Baburam Bhattarai’s government’ is an example of that. Would it be wrong if we say that whatever support Shah seems to have is a result of disenchantment caused by inefficiency of the four Prime Ministers we’ve had since the country went to polls to elect Constituent Assembly?
People did not see their future with monarchy in Nepal, because of authoritarian system that Gyanendra Shah wanted to impose. People had lesser trust in his son Paras Shah, who’d proved notorious already. People did not have patience to wait for Gyanendra Shah’s grand-son to become the King. It was a long shot and Nepal needed positive action sooner. That is one reason why monarchy was given up by people. The deposed King, of all the people, should be aware of that. His institution lost its charm because it was tainted and he had no one in immediate future to clean it.
Now, by the same logic, people will not have patience for too long, if the parties continue squabble and keep their polarized positions. They do not need to react to what former king says, but rather think why he says so. It would be smart to keep a tab on how many people are actually supporting him and whether they’ve been charmed by him. Or, if the parties have lost their charm and as a result people have changed camps? Introspection and not loud criticism is the need.
The former monarch, who’s been reduced to a citizen now, can dream. The parties should be careful not to fuel it. For, if people want, any system can change.
Like the Higgs Boson, which is an infinitesimally small particle, people are the real ‘God Particle’. Tiny, but powerful.
The write-up appeared in a fortnightly published from Australia – The Kantipur Times – on 18 July 2012