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The Pros and Cons of Prachanda’s Call

The Pros and Cons of Prachanda’s Call


By Siddhi B. Ranjitkar

‘When the monarch is gone then the monarchists become the nationalists’ probably this is what the CPN-Maoist chairman has in mind when calling for the coalition of all three forces such as the democratic forces, the Maoists and the royalist nationalists to fight against the external interferences in the national affairs and against the ongoing violence in different parts of the country. Different politicians and leaders have interpreted the Prachanda’s call to suit to their self-interest and to their respective parties.

The unity of all forces including the ethnic and Madheshi communities would be possible only when all the Nepalis would have an equal role in building the nation. The unbalanced development caused by the Shah dynastic rule for about two and a half centuries was the main reason for ongoing violence in terai and the peaceful movement of the ethnic, Madheshi, and other underprivileged communities for their rights to have a say in the nation-building. When all Nepalis would have an equal opportunity of making Nepal a prosperous country, no external forces could interfere in the national affairs of Nepalis, as all Nepalis would have a feeling of belonging to the same family.

On Wednesday, December 05, 2007, a day after CPN-Maoist Chairman Prachanda called for forging a tripartite coalition among the royalist nationalists, the Maoists and other democratic forces, interim legislators of NC, CPN-UML and People's Front Nepal (PFN) raised serous objections at the winter session of the Interim Legislature against the statement and warned that such overtures could impede the peace process. They also demanded Prachanda to furnish clarifications on what they described as a controversial statement. They claimed that the Maoist Chairman's statement could result in a new political polarization, which could adversely affect the peace process. However, Legislator Nanda Kumar Prasain of the CPN-Maoist defended the Prachanda's statement and criticized other legislators for distorting the essence of the statement. He said, “If anyone attacks our sovereignty, we may have to defend such attacks by forging alliance with a citizen king." [1]

“The appeal for an alliance with the force opposed to Loktantra (rule of the people) by the force that had fought for Loktantra cannot be taken normally no matter what logic is put forward to defend it,” said influential CPN-UML leader Amrit Kumar Bohara. “This kind of remark, which is apparently triggered by the Maoists’ consumerist ideology, only weakens the seven-party unity and our collective efforts to institutionalize democracy in the country.” [2]

“This statement coming from the top leader of a party which claims to be the most revolutionary and most genuine republican is definitely surprising,” said NC spokesman Arjun Narsingh KC. “This (statement) has come at a time when the CA polls have been postponed and that too purely because of the Maoists. It’s known to everyone that both the Maoists and the king do not want the elections.” “It’s been a strategy of the Maoists to create division in different forces and take advantage. Prachanda’s latest remarks appear to be quite in line with this strategy,” KC added. “I remember that Sharad Chandra Shah and Panchayati Prime Minister Marichman Singh—we all know both of them are hardcore royalists—once said that you could either be a royalist or a Maoist. There’s no third option,” he further said, “And now what Prachanda has said has made many worried.” [3]

Talking to reporters in Chitwan district on Thursday (December 06), Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula said that the royalists could never be nationalists as they were the “mentors of dictatorship”. Reacting to the Maoist Chairman Prachanda’s statement that the parties should forge unity with the “nationalist royalists”, he said that it was a dangerous mistake to consider the royalists as nationalists. [4]

Maoist leader Barsha Man Pun ‘Ananta’, however, said that such a unity was needed to protect the national unity, which was being endangered due to the “unprecedented violence in Terai and the growing foreign interventions.” He also revealed that the Maoists have in fact already started approaching the “nationalist royalists” in the political circle, bureaucracy and security wings to forge such an alliance. “With the King sidelined, where will the genuine nationalist forces go?” he said. “We need to give them a space. Asked why the king himself could not be taken on board if the national unity was under such a grave threat, Ananta ruled out the possibility “because the monarchy itself is a threat.” [5]

Co-chairman of the Rastriya Janshakti Party, Dr. Prakash Chandra Lohani cautiously welcomed the Prachanda’s statement. “If it (the statement) is about political tolerance then it is welcome,” he said. “But we still have to wait and see. The Maoists have made similar statements in the past only to forget them later.” He nevertheless said, “mudslinging is not going to help bail the country out of the current quagmire and that an alliance of the democrats and the forces in favor of national unity, including the Maoists, is the need of the hour”. He went on to claim that if such an alliance could be forged then no foreign elements would be able to interfere in the Nepal’s internal matters. [6]

On Saturday, December 08, 2007, speaking at a program in Kathmandu, Vice-president of NC and Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Ram Chandra Poudel said that Maoist chairman Prachanda's statement on the need for forging an alliance with the "nationalist royalists" could just be the part of a conspiracy against the allies. He said the Maoists have been cultivating ties with the royalists in their attempt to scuttle the constituent assembly polls. "It is not clear if Maoists really want to side with the King. Nepali Congress will raise this issue in the next seven-party meeting," he said. He also said that the Maoists had always served the interest of the royalists than the democratic forces. [7]

On December 06, 2007, talking to the reporter of “The Rising Nepal”, Senior Maoist Leader Mohan Baidhya 'Kiran' said that his party was willing to forge a broad nationalist front with the royalist nationalists turned into the republic nationalists and not with the royalist nationalists as such. He clarified that in the context of institutionalizing republic in the country there was no possibility of forging any front with those parties, which still uphold the idea that the monarchy was the pivotal of national unity, sovereignty and integrity. “We have for a long time been focusing on making a broader alliance of the nationalist force among the nationalists, Lokatantrik and leftist forces," he said, adding, “Our present focus is on the nationalist force that roamed around the monarchy (wrongly) believing it the savior of the nation." He claimed that his party chairman Prachanda's expression in this line was distorted by some media that went on to say that the Maoist party was even interested in forging alliance with the force which is struggling for keeping the monarchy and put the clock back. He noted that nationalism was in crisis with foreign powers dictating the course of national politics at a time when the nation was undergoing a period of political transition. “The country has witnessed attempts of foreign powers to impose their vested interest in the name of boosting democracy in the country," he said. He added, “Two negative political tendencies of thinking the monarchy as a symbol of nationality and ignoring the national interest that have bowed before international interference in the name of democracy must end now." The alliance of the nationalists would form a new political equation but it will not undermine the unity of the seven parties, he said. Such an alliance is needed to bring into the republican fold the huge mass that is still around the monarch, he pointed out. [8]

On Saturday, December 08, 2007, speaking at a press conference held by the Banke Chapter of Press Chautari Nepal, Standing Committee Member of CPN-UML Bam Dev Gautam said, "I consider the statement of Prachanda the right one. He might have meant that those nationalists outside of the seven parties should be included. If those persons, who were followers of the king, come to join hands with the seven parties by abandoning him, we can move ahead by including them." [9]

Addressing an interaction held by the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) in Kathmandu in the first week of December 2007, CPN-Maoist Chairman Prachanda had said that with the king pushed to the periphery, there was no alternative to a unity among the parliamentary parties, Maoists and the nationalist royalist forces to resolve the lingering political problem. A few leaders of Nepali Congress (NC) have viewed the Prachanda's statement to be serious and sensitive. The leaders of other political parties and civil society representatives were of the opinions that it was pragmatic to give a due place to everybody under the republican setup; however, NC leaders twisted the Prachanda's statement. [10]

Senior CPN-Maoist leader C P Gajurel said that the Prachanda's statement was for bringing the army, security personnel, bureaucrats and politicians close to the king under the fold of republicanism, as the country virtually transformed into a republic; therefore, it should not be taken otherwise. “However, those wishing to retain the monarchy are the enemies of the country and its people and there is no chance of an alliance with them." [11]

Member of the Interim Legislature, Kumar Phudung said that the Prachanda's expression held the strategic importance, and it was meant to check the foreign interference in the Nepalese politics and usher the country to republicanism smoothly. He said that the Prachanda's statement was a big challenge to the forces wishing to interfere in the Nepalese politics as well as to the current government. He said the Maoist plan to forge an alliance with the republican oriented royalist forces was not at all anomalous. [12]

Professor Maniklal Shrestha said that Prachanda proposed for an alliance with the once royalist forces at the critical juncture to keep the national sovereignty intact. Professor Shrestha said that all the army personnel and those labeled as royalists were far from being the king's cronies and it was nothing wrong to forge an alliance with them. He said that it was pointless for the NC of B. P. Koirala who did not hesitate to say that his neck was conjoined with that of the king, and its leaders to criticize Prachanda for his candid statement. He also said that the latest reactions of NC leaders were attempts to defame Prachanda although everybody was aware of how Maoists treated the monarchy in the past and how they see it at present. [13]

Unity of all Nepalis is necessary to stop the foreign interferences in the national affairs, to curb political violence in any part of the country, to keep the country from the possible breakup into the ethnic and linguistic regions, and to ensure a lasting peace in the country. This sort of unity might be called alliance. However, the monarchy is not the institution of such a unity at all.


Footnotes:

[1] The Rising Nepal, December 06, 2007, “Prachanda's remarks on royalists draw criticism”

[2] Ekantipur.com, December 06, 2007, “SPA leaders smell a rat in Prachanda’s call for alliance with ‘nationalist royalists’”

[3] Ekantipur.com, December 06, 2007, “SPA leaders smell a rat in Prachanda’s call for alliance with ‘nationalist royalists’”

[4] Ekantipur.com, December 06, 2007, “SPA leaders smell a rat in Prachanda’s call for alliance with ‘nationalist royalists’”

[5] Ekantipur.com, December 06, 2007, “SPA leaders smell a rat in Prachanda’s call for alliance with ‘nationalist royalists’”

[6] Ekantipur.com, December 06, 2007, “SPA leaders smell a rat in Prachanda’s call for alliance with ‘nationalist royalists’”

[7] Nepalnews.com mk Dec 08 07 “Maoists cultivating ties with royalists to scuttle polls”

[8] The Rising Nepal, December 07, 2007, “Maoists for broad nationalist front, clarifies Baidhya”

[9] The Himalayan Times, December 09, 2007, “Bamdev Defends Prachanda on ‘Ties with Royalists’”

[10] The Rising Nepal, December 10, 2007, “Alliance with all nationalist forces imperative: Leaders”

[11] The Rising Nepal, December 10, 2007, “Alliance with all nationalist forces imperative: Leaders”

[12] The Rising Nepal, December 10, 2007, “Alliance with all nationalist forces imperative: Leaders”

[13] The Rising Nepal, December 10, 2007, “Alliance with all nationalist forces imperative: Leaders”

*************

Please visit “Kathmandumetro.com” for more information and news on Nepal.

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