Nepal: Volatile Politics Might Take A New Twist
Nepal: Volatile Politics Might Take A New Twist
By John Lama
Gyanendra, supposedly the last king of Nepal, is not contrite. He seems as confident as before when he was equipped with ample state powers and privileges. He still lives in the Narayanhiti Royal palace and oversees the classic drama of conflicts and contradictions unfolding in Nepalese politics. The cacophony emanating from conflictual relations among various political forces is a melodious music to his ear. He feels immensely delighted when political parties get embroiled in internecine tensions. Growing popular disaffection and disenchantment toward so-called democratic leaderships makes him exalted. His elation will touch a new heigh when popular democratic forces face an ignominious drubbing in the impending Constituent Assembly elections at the hands of Maoist terrorists. Probably, the king believes that the resounding electoral victory of the brutal terrorist outfit will herald potential groundswell of international support for the institution of monarchy as a traditional force capable of exorcising communist/terrorist ghosts. However, it is not implausible given the stupendously growing influence of radical leftists in Nepalese politics that has been experiencing an inverse relationship between the power of terrorists and that of democratic forces.
It is ubiquitously believed that Maoists were the Frankenstein created by king Gyanendra himself with a view to enervating democratic forces that were in the ascendant following the successful mass movement of 1990. Interestingly, when it comes to eliminating the parliamentary constitutional dispensation, strategic interests of both Nepalese monarchy and the Maoists converge. The cusp between these two extreme forces has always been taken as a formidable threat to the progressive development of a democratic order in the Himalayan kingdom. No less pernicious is the grotesquely unconstitutional character of major democratic forces whose involvement in scurrilous activities has helped the king and terrorists to sore up their Robin Hood image among the illiterate masses.
A large section of the populace had expected a lot from king Gyanendra especially in the aftermath of royal massacre that killed king Birendra along with his entire family members. It is not that people had not pointed their fingers at him for the worst royal tragedy. However, history had also bestowed upon him a great opportunity to serve the country and its people. But Gyanendra, out of his atavistic hubris, not only squandered the entire opportunity. He tried to utilize that interlude for enhancing himself both financially and politically. In what is interpreted as the height of unabashedness, he did authorize himself to ‘steal’ as much money as he wished from the national exchequer. Even worse, he usurped the state power by dumping the duly elected government. The more he was immersed in the lust for power the more he was seen to have forfeited the ‘shady privilege’ of utilizing Maoist terrorists for displacing democratic forces in national politics. Presumably, at the behest of neighboring India, democratic forces in collaboration with Maoists embarked on mass agitations that culminated in the unexpected evaporation of king’s entire powers and privileges. The same process has been stretched, at least in theory, to the extent of declaring Nepal a Federal Democratic Republic. However, the political course to be pursued by Nepal has yet to be officially sealed by the Constituent Assembly elections slated to be held on 10 April, 2008.
Amidst suffocating tensions and confusions, the impending Constituent Assembly election has been a subject to invasive skepticism. That it had been postponed twice in the past has also added to widespread distrust. Besides, much to the disdain of all, Maoists’ obstinacy and stubbornness has already crossed the limit. They seem to have considerably ratcheted up terrorist activities obviously with a sinister view to intimidating general populace into supporting them in the coming election. The incumbent government which is nothing more than an obsequious shadow of the Maoist terrorist outfit, has abjectly failed to uphold law and order. Anarchy is all-pervasive. Under the de facto rule of terrorists, democratic forces’ campaign activities have been drastically circumscribed. Surprisingly enough, the plaintive wailing and moaning of the political parties that believe in democracy and rule of law has fallen on the deaf ear of Prime Minister Girija Koirala, who is also the President of Nepali Congress, a centrist organization.
The octogenarian, whose recent revelation regarding his past life as a political exile in India had caused unimaginable opprobrium, seems completely impervious to almost open-ended enormities committed by the communist ultras. In what is taken as a developing part of his autobiography published in ‘Nepal’, a noted vernacular weekly of Nepal, Koirala categorically admitted to having been involved along with his elder brother BP Koirala in the printing of counterfeit notes and smuggling of gold. Even more than that, he has explicitly boasted of having engineered in the early 1970s the hijacking of a Nepalese airliner at the behest of Rameshwar Kawa the then chief of Indian Intelligence Agency RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) and seized a hefty amount of money belonging to the Nepalese government. However, following the obloquy generated by his revelation, Koirala is reported to have tried to recant.
Maoists’ obduracy appears to have of late incensed the Nepal Army (NA). Issuing probably the strongest ever statement, NA has expressed its determination not to bow down before the ‘elements that believe in terrorism, extremism and radicalism and that want to seize state power based on such beliefs’. In response, PK Dahal, the conceited chieftain of the Maoist terrorist outfit, has spewed venom against the military, on the one hand. And one of the Maoist leaders Matrika Yadav, who is also a member of the Koirala-led cabinet, has once again invited public jeers by his characteristic eccentricity. Against the backdrop of perceived snub, Yadav is reported to have ordered NA personnel stationed for his security to leave his residence. Political pundits believe that the escalating tensions between NA and the terrorist outfit might give a new twist to the already volatile politics of the hapless kingdom. Added to it is the possibility of regional and international stakeholders opting for a turnabout in their approach to monarchy that has been reduced to a pariah following King Gyanendra’s suicidal hubris and imperiousness.