Of the simplest things to do is to create an enemy that doesn't exist. More radical proponents of ideology do this all the time. Seeing the elite class as an enemy of the common man is a classic example. On the other side are the elite that are unable to see their own acts of exploitation, who deny discrimination, who defend and deliberately attempt to retain the power structure that keeps them on top.
We have seen both sides at loggerheads recently in Nepal's politics. The "elite" who ignore their own faults completely and the "common people" who are blindsided by the idea that the elite are the enemy. Both, therefore, attack all who do not appear fully sympathetic to their cause. A neutral voice asking for an understanding of grievances, but questioning the goals of both "victim" and "perpetrator" is never popular with any side.
But recently, after India's forced intervention, something radical has happened in Nepal. This middle -- the group of people whose only concern was to fight for equality and the moderates who'd get attacked by both sides of the debate -- have now turned more extreme. And this is true for all sides.
India's attack on Nepal's sovereignty came with multiple messages -- the last two came within 24 hours, one simply "noting" Nepal's new democratic Constitution that came after 65 years (using a constituent assembly that voted in favour of the Constitution with an over-whelming majority), and another hinting at blocking of trade routes if the Madhes-based parties' demands were not met. A history of this sudden resentment can be explored in some great pieces, here and here.
"[T]he ones to lose most are the groups that do truly feel marginalised. Their agendas are being mixed with India's agenda and the separation of these two seems impossible to a large majority. "
India's messages made conspiracy theories come to life. The rumours that Madhes-based parties were using India to stall half of the nation by using violence as a means of protest seemed truer than before. Many started seeing these parties as pawns to India's bigger plans. How could small minority groups (not the entire population of the Terai) with weak leaders who showed no signs of promise during the last elections halt half the country, thought many. And when India tried to force the government to incorporate the demands of these small parties -- instead of asking them to stop violent protest -- the fears of many Nepalis began to come to life. It didn't help that Madhes-based leaders had threatened, "Let's see how you draft a Constitution."
Conspiracy theories abounded: "India doesn't want Nepal to remain a sovereign nation. India wants to control Nepal and treat it like a state rather than an independent sovereign country. India's final plan is secession and control of the government. India has been lying about its intent all this while."
With this came hyper-nationalism, the "imagined enemy" that the radical Left had been creating for a long time. The "hyper-nationalist" who puts the sovereignty of his nation before humanity, the hyper-nationalist that defends ideals of unity without considering that the grievances of the marginalised may truly be real and important to address. The hyper-nationalist that sees the grievances of the marginalised as an excuse.
Unfortunately, in this process, the ones to lose most are the groups that do truly feel marginalised. Their agendas are being mixed with India's agenda and the separation of these two seems impossible to a large majority. When the new majority in the radical Right now says, "your demands for rights are not legit," the truly hurt and marginalised feel more alienated and may turn more radical.
But with that comes another lurking danger. While the nationalist majority is a boastful bunch, they have showed little signs of violence. They have mostly poured their outrage on the Internet and amongst friends. A hashtag called #backoffindia caught the eyes of most major publications.
But the ones truly in danger are the marginalised and those fighting for the marginalised, the ones who lean more towards the Left, but haven't sided with extreme factions that call for secession and more violence. Extremism breeds extremism and while a rising nationalism may multiply the radical Right, it also multiplies the radical Left.
This is not healthy or good for peace, stability or the sovereignty of Nepal. The radical Right, which holds more power than minorities, must refrain from attacking or hurting those on the Left when emotional agitation is at its peak. The Left, too, must consider the hurt and betrayal felt by the Right. Both extreme sides, as always, must consider dialogue not radical polarisation.
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