Any meeting or interaction with politicians presiding and speaking – is quite an entertainment. You get to see “up close and personal” the beloved leaders and it startles one’s mind into thinking -“these are the ones who will lead our nation into peace and prosperity”. One might even feel extremely blessed to be able to breathe the oxygen the leaders are breathing.
The place was the meeting hall of Radio Nepal. The occasion was the 6th anniversary of Federation of Nepalese Journalists’ Radio Nepal chapter. The program was about the “constituent assembly election and the role of Radio Nepal”. Present (initially) were – the speaker of the interim parliament – Subash Nemwang; leader of the Nepali Congress (NC) – Prakash Saran Mahat, leader of the CPN UML – Raghu Pant, leader of Rastriya Prajanta Party (RPP)- Parashu Ram Khapung, one leader of the CPN Maoist (can’t remember the name) and some other politicians. Some 200 journalists, reporters and staffs of the Radio Nepal.
So, like I said earlier, these types of interactions turn out to be a pure entertainment. NC leader Prakash Saran Mahat was the first one to speak. He stated how his party (Nepali Congress) is always in the favour of “autonomous state media” and tried in length to describe the meaning of “autonomous”. He also illustrated (tried to) how his party has never put any political pressure on the Radio Nepal.
Few people in the audience nodded. Some said “hmm”, some were receiving calls on their cell phones, some were talking with themselves.
Now, one would be a fool to assume that the leaders will talk only about the subject. So, in a typical fashion, Mr Mahat started drifting off the topic and talked about how other political parties are not really committed towards holding the constituent assembly elections.
Mr Mahat has a really resonating voice – commanding, they say. I took some pictures and by the time I came back to my seat, he already finished his speech.
Some dudes from the audience were constantly busy getting out and coming in – every time. There were constant squeaks and screeches of chairs, and on top of that, some one’s cell phone always kept buzzing off. The National Anthem ring tone is hot, it seems, among the reporters and other RN staffs.
Everyone must have thought it was an exhibition of ring tones. The next speaker, Nepal Communist Pary UML leader Raghu Pant was getting ready on the stand. But the cell phones just would not stop ringing. The cell phone companies should remove the “Silent Mode” function from cell phones; everyone has “right to ring tone”, right? My favourite one was a strange modulated sound of a cat meowing! It was creepy and everyone were turning their heads left, right and behind to acknowledge the winner. Glorious.
So Mr. Pant started his speech. “People pay tax to the government, Radio Nepal a government run media and thus RN is liable to the people”, he started mellow and cool. “It can not be a mouth piece of just the government, it has to be fair..” and thus he went on.
His pitch started picking up, his voice stronger. It was just a small freaking hall, but out of habit, he started shouting.
“We have Loktantra in the country; there should be Loktantra in media as well.” No denial, he was right. He added, “In Loktantra, everyone should be able to speak out their conviction, opinion and belief”. Absolutely, he nailed it perfectly again.
Suddenly, our leader of the Nepali Congress Prakash Saran Mahat must have realized he needed to be somewhere else, so he got up and went out of the hall.
The oxygen, which was so glorious earlier with the presence of our leaders, started stinking. Some dudes, who were constantly going in and out, had just smoked outside and came in with glorious smell. Believe me, it was a really glorious moment.
In the meantime, leader Pant, all puffed up and super animated, was almost at the end of his speech. He talked about how some parties and their activists were “out of their line” and were trying to derail the constituent assembly elections. I could see the Maoists leader deep in meditation. And at last, Mr. Pant “thanked” the organizing committee for inviting RPP leader Khapung, as he re-stressed on the point – “In Loktantra, every one must be given opportunity to speak up, even the smaller parties outside the Seven Party Alliance”. In returned, the audience clapped a little louder.
I wanted to get out. The oxygen was killing me. I stepped up from the chair, stooped and tried to sneak as fast as I could but one “senior” reporter noticed me. I was like -“he he he he” with all teeth, he was like “No, No, No, No”. His eyes commanded – Sit your ass down Umes.
So I sat. I had to be at a party later in the afternoon, my friend got married and I would be meeting a lot of guys from my school days. I had not seen some for 10 years, some were also here from London and New York. We had planned on getting gloriously drunk till we got completely knocked out.
So while my mind wandered off to Whiskey and Coke, I completely missed what our next speaker, RPP leader Khapung, was talking about. Slowly and modestly, he was then clearing out that his party was not a pro-King party. That RPP was also one of the parties which denounced King Gyanendra’s take over. And he praised UML leader Raghu Pant for his earlier statement.
However, leader Pant had also left the meeting hall, just like leader Mahat did. Something really important must have come up.
Tea time. And suddenly the hall seemed to have come alive. A guy from the Radio Nepal canteen started bringing in tea to everyone’s seat one by one. Those on the back, started counting and calculating their turn.
The MC invited the Maoists leader (who’s name I can’t recall) to the podium – and, he had issues. First he praised leader Raghu Pant for defining “Loktantra” as an opportunity for everyone to speak. Then he turned vicious. What about the “hearing/listening” part?
Everyone was like huh? He yelled – “Where are Mahat and Pant now, they blabbered and then went off”. Quite right! They blabbered, poked, accused, sweetly talked about glorious things and went off.
Yes, we talk but we hardly listen. We are the people of one glorious nation, leaders and people, all alike.
Snacks time. Wow, tea earlier, and snacks now – made me want to attend these types of “interactions” more often in future. Tea and snacks! I just looked around the hall for the last time. Some were there – some wanted to, some had to, some did not know why, some were there for snacks.
And this time, I had enough. I felt my ass getting cramped and I needed to smell the fresh oxygen outside. The samosa was good but the potato chips were cold. As I walked out of the hall, least bothered with some “questioning” stares, I thought about the evening, the whiskey and coke.
Echoes from the hall still managed to force outside.
Loktantra = Democracy
Glorious = this is the current glorious catch phrase in Nepal as in glorious people’s civil war, glorious future president, etcs.
The CPN Maoist leader was Narayan Sharma