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Nepal: Exorcise Evil Spirit Before It Is Too Late

Nepal

Exorcise Evil Spirit Before It Is Too Late


By John Lama

Nepal appears to have embarked upon a new course in the aftermath of popular movement, 2006, that marked, among other things, a body blow to the Nepalese monarchy visibly predisposed to acquiring authoritarian powers. To begin with, the Maoists, major backer of the recently launched resistance movement, had rejected the reinstatement of parliament as ‘a mercy of the King’. But once the seven party alliance readily decided to accept it, they had no choice, at least for the time being, but to accept it. This sort of move on the part of Maoists is generally interpreted as a ploy aimed at berating other political forces at least in public eyes.

It is really an irony that after the success of the democratic movement we have found ourselves thrown from frying pan into the fire. Now the royal tyranny seems to have been replaced by Maoist terror. As per the diktat of Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), seven party alliance has unanimously passed a resolution relating to the holding of elections for the constituent assembly. It was a direct function of the Maoist threat to impose blockade on major urban areas including Kathmandu if the SPA failed to toe their line in the first session of reinstated parliament. However, in order to cover up their pusillanimity SPA leaders are seen to have invoked the 12-point agreement they had reached with Maoists in New Delhi last year, while playing second fiddle to what is internationally known as a ‘terrorist outfit’.

To the outsiders, Nepal’s problems seem to have been almost settled once the king has been sidelined and the Maoists have demonstrated their willingness to join the democratic mainstream. But for those who are well conversant with the ground realities of Nepalese politics, their understanding amounts to nothing but sheer naiveté. The recent movement was essentially engineered by the Maoists from behind the scene – a bitter truth that they have been constantly reiterating contrary to what the SPA leaders prefer to contend. The alliance, under the leadership of NC president Girija Prasad Koirala, had been trying to agitate people against the institution of monarchy for more than three years, but to no avail. The moment they joined forces with the Maoists, there was groundswell of opposition to the royal authoritarianism and King Gyanendra’s ambition for emerging as an absolute ruler had shattered into a million small pieces.

Can anybody believe that the Maoists had put their own gravity at risk only to make Girija Koirala, who had once earned in the past the reputation of being diehard anti-communist, one of the most illustrated heroes of Nepal’s democratic movement? In a similar vein, can anybody believe that Maoists had jettisoned Koirala to the coveted position of premiership only to be ordinary members of his cabinet that abides by simple rules of a peaceful democratic dispensation? Indisputably, Maoists have something else in their mind. They have used Koirala and his alliance as a stepping stone in their journey towards a communist republic. In the meantime, riding the tide of popular movement they have become successful in entering the capital wherefrom they can expedite their specious maneuverings more efficiently.

However, it is not the intention of this scribe to demean the popular spirit that exploded during the 19- day-movement that has taught a fitting lesson to the Nepalese monarchy. Once a revered institution commanding the confidence of majority of the Nepalese, monarchy under the leadership of king Gyanendra, has lost both its relevance and legitimacy. What this scribe is sincerely concerned about is the possibility of genuine democratic forces being savagely bullied and replaced by nihilistic elements that seem determined to impose a Nepalese version of Polpot regime in an otherwise tranquil ancient land. The way the democratic forces have now found themselves reduced to insouciance when it comes to kowtowing to the evil diktats of Maoists, smacks of a sordid conspiracy that might result yet in a series of untoward incidents leading to interminable bloodshed and chaos. It is likely to be further exacerbated by party official’s atavistic lust for power that has of late been clearly evident in the entire episode surrounding UML leader’s resignation from the party Standing Committee.

In what is taken as a conciliatory gesture the government headed by Girija Koirala announced an indefinite ceasefire and removed the Red Corner notice and terrorist tag on Maoists. It was immediately reciprocated by the Maoists who agreed to sit for peace negotiations, however, on their own terms. The Maoist supremo, in a statement, has not only emphasized the 12-point understanding but also tried to impose so-called code of conduct – ‘to be observed by both sides’ – apparently prepared unilaterally by his party. In the meantime, the Maoist leader has warned that his party’s decision to sit for negotiations is neither driven by ‘war wariness’ nor by ‘hurry to join the open politics’. In what is widely taken as a patent sign of failure to reconcile oneself with the realities of peaceful democratic transition and competitive representative politics, Prachanda, alias Pushpa Kamal Dahal, has embellished his statement with a somewhat discordant caveat: ‘We are prepared to fight in any front till the end for the sake of Nepal and the Nepalis.’

Just a few days ago, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Richard A. Boucher visited Nepal. Interestingly, while commenting on the lifting of terrorist tag from the Maoists, he said: “I don’t think we can forget the history of Maoists and the group; what they have done to villages, what they continued to do in the villages even when there was ceasefire in Kathmandu.” Further exhuming the brutal realities of the past, the high ranking US official commented: “They killed people, they extorted money from people, so, our removing them from any terrorist list is not going to happen until they stop such behavior. It’s not the question of what they say in the press or what they do temporarily. The only way to be sure of that is to lay down their arms, join in the political process and present themselves to the people of Nepal as the other people, other candidates do. It is really the change of behavior we are looking for.”

Richard A. Boucher was right when he painted a surrealist picture of the Nepalese Maoists, who are a few steps ahead even of Nazis when it comes to ruthlessness and brutality. Predictably, Prachanda has accused the US government of having tried to push Nepal towards eternal war and conflict – a ludicrous outburst aimed at camouflaging scurrilous treatment they have meted out to Nepal and the innocent Nepalese. In the present context, it seems imperative that the democratic alliance and Prime Minister Koirala in particular, come to senses, so that the evil spirit can be exorcised before it is too late.

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(Mr. Lama can be reached at johnlama29@hotmail.com)

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