Introduction To Nepalese Politics: The Right / by Thomas-Xavier Christiane

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After an experience with the left-wing of Nepal, I had found my ways to the right. But first, I had to reach them. Every destination in Kathmandu had its own paths and adventures. The one to Kathmandu Area Nr. 7 in Banasthali was a journey. There, I was supposed to meet Mr Bikram Bahadur Thapa, Minister for women, children and social welfare of Nepal.

To reach there, I had to take a forty minutes taxi. I arrived on a big dusty city road. No flags or minister around here. So I entered a tea shop and asked for help. One of the tea drinkers took my phone. He called the number. It didn’t replied. I called Mohan to ask how to reach the group. « Call him repeteadly and he will reply. » The man with the tea asked me to have a seat and a tea. He started to call the number repeatedly. The fifth try was the good one. The man on the phone gave an address. But I had to finish my tea. « Have a seat please. »

I walked for 20 minutes and I found myself in another Kathmandu. This one was made of houses for single families. In a street, I joined a big crowd carrying flags. One was red, yellow and blue with a cow. Another one was a tree with a swastika. The people were wearing nice clothes. Some of them a suit. Some of them a shirt. But mostly North Face's vests. In the crowd, there was an orchestra with trumpets, horns and drums. This was the right wing alliance door-begging-procession for Mr Bikram Bahadur Thapa.

I quickly discovered that I was attending the same process I had attended one week before with the left-wing. But in a different neighbourhood with different peoples. So I asked why they were putting red paints on folks’s head. « This is name Tika. Red is for victory. No religion purpose. ».

After a brief moment with them, I shaked the hand of Mr. Thapa. « I’m the minister  for women, children and... social... welfare of Nepal » he said. We continued in the streets and the process went on. The crowd was knocking on doors and people were distributing folders. Sometimes, they stopped for dance. Nothing was knew to me. Someone asked me if politics was the same in Europe. I answered that European politics were boring and he said: «  Nepal election is more funny, more romantic. ». It was indeed…

At a moment, the crowd stopped in the alley of a home. The landlord had provided bottles of soda for the processors. A man who’s name was Sita Ram KC told me « This is the house of my family. The man at the door is my father ». Sita Ram KC was also a candidate. All the people enjoyed the drinks and the biscuits. The landlord was sitting on his chair watching. When all the soda was gone, the crowd left with music and some more dances to celebrate the Coca-Cola and the biscuits.

After a few more houses, it was lunchtime. The minister sat on a chair to have some water. The crowd started to exercise a very Asian thing: queuing. At the end of the queue there was a Dal Bath. Everybody, even the policemen, were invited to share the rice.  At the end of lunchtime, I asked the minister if I could make a portrait of him. «  Yes but quickly ». Then, he left in a SUV driven by a soldier.

My time with the minister was done but I hadn’t enough of the right wing of Nepal. I wanted to see more. I asked Prabesh if he knew where I could go in the afternoon. He replied that «  Gagan Thapa, big NC leader » was not far from my location. I called Mr Thapa’s number. «  We meet in three hours ». So i went for a nap in Thamel.

Three hours after I was on my way to a «  Big NC leader ». But the taxi got lost and we turned around for thirty minutes. After some time, the driver called the number and they settled for a location. I was waited somewhere by a man with a motorbike. «  You want to meet Gagan Thapa? - Yes! » The driver began to ride in the suburbs with me on the backside. Going left then right, then left again, asking the way, left-right-left-right again. We were lost but after a brief time, we saw a very small crowd.

This crowd was not like the one I was used to. It was small and practically nobody was looking enthusiastic. The candidates were looking like they had enough of this. It was getting dark and I decided to leave before dawn. 

Two days after, Mohan, my contact for the right connected me to Mr. Buddhinam Tamang. I had no idea of who that was. I tried to call repeatedly to have a meeting but the man was not really good with English. So I went into a tea house and gave my phone to the waiter. The waiter tried to call a few times before the man replied. He then gave the phone to everybody in the tea shop. All of them were trying to set up a meeting. After a long time, one of them came back to me with my phone and said: «  You have meeting tomorrow at 2pm with him. He say meeting in tea shop but I don’t know where. ». The next day, I wanted to find the location and the man told me «  I can’t meet you at 2, come at 5. ». At 3, he send me a message «  I can’t meet today. Tomorrow breakfast at 9 at Regency Hyatt. Please join. ». 

The next day, I woke up and I went on my way. I arrived with only fifteen minutes of delay since I was impatient to see if this was not a joke. It wasn’t. At the reception, I was welcomed by a bodyguard. He showed me the way to meet Mr. Tamang. The man was waiting for me in the lobby. We shaked hands and headed to the restaurant. After I filled my plate with food from the buffet, we began to breakfast on the terrace with a bodyguard watching us.

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In the beginning, he started conversations with local politnesses. «  First time in Nepal? How many days you stay? You have girfriend? ». After that I could finally ask the man who he was. «  I was the first of my cast and my district to have school certificate. At the age of 25, I became youngest parliament member of Nepal. At the age of 26, I became youngest member of government from Nepal. Now I’m the senior vice-chairman of RPP (RaPraPa). It’s the second most important office in RPP. I was minister 7 times in my life. I’m sixty-four and I’m continuing politics as candidate. No Nepali politician knows how people live but I know. I come from remote areas. » The man had been in politics for forty years in a country that had changed many times of political system in the last century. A man who’s career had survived big political storms such as the civil war. «  I have seen many system. King system, multyparty system, Panjab etc… ».

After this introduction, I went inside for some bacon. After filling my plate again, I asked him questions about politics in Nepal. First, I wanted to know how it was to be a very small country stuck between China and India. «  We have very good relations with India but India pressures everything. Everything in Nepal politics: India involved. China: a little bit. Our culture is very close to India. » He then explained me that since China was a communist country, they were supporting the communists. «  Maoists and CPUML are very far from each other. Like East and West but they’re same side as China government. China wants unified communists. The alliance is to be friend with China. » 

Another tour of bacon and croissants and I came back with another question. A difficult one this time. Nepal had been hit by a big and devastating earthquake in 2015. I wanted to know if this would influence the elections and if he thought the Nepali government did good with the situation. I had just touched the man with a difficult and sad question. His eyes changed. «  Not good. The government don’t support reconstruction enough. People think about that when they vote. ».

We had enough discussed about politics at this moment and I decided to become more personnal. So I asked the man a very typical question. «  You have girlfriend? - No, I have wife. Married. One daughter, one son studying in the UK and one son in hydro-project ». 

I had already been there for three hours. We decided to have a walk in the garden of the hotel. «  Here you have parks like you have nowhere else in Kathmandu. » We continued walking while sharing about our personal lives. Like two friends. Then I had to leave. He dropped me at a taxi station and we promised we would see each other again soon.

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