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After Dashain Cocktail

After Dashain Cocktail

By Siddhi B. Ranjitkar

Nepalis celebrated the 15-day long festival called Dashain in October 2008. During the celebration of this festival, they drank a lot of various home-brewed drinks, also imported and locally distilled liquors. They sacrificed thousands of different animals and birds to Goddesses and ate the meat as the blessings from the Goddesses. After so many days of boozing and enjoying several meat dishes, Nepalis particularly the political leaders must have wake up with new visions; so, they have started talking differently after Dashain festival.

Immediately after the Dashain festival, the Constituent Assembly (CA) began to discuss various items of the budget presented by the Maoist Finance Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai. Due to the Dashain hangover, Nepali Congress (NC) CA members instead of discussing the budget obstructed the normal functioning of the session putting forward various irrational demands. Their actions have been not quite different from the actions of the Terai Madheshi Democratic Party (TMDP). Both the NC and TMDP neither joined the government nor gave constructive suggestions but always attempted to disrupt the smooth functioning of the CA session and if possible to topple the government, too.

At least publicly, Prime Minister Prachanda has been extending his hands to former Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to pull his NC party to join the coalition government. However, Girija has been running away from Prachanda fearing of falling into the snare set up by the Maoists. He has already been fallen in the trap of the Maoists since he had signed the 12-point understanding reached with the Maoists. The 12-point understanding was a historic event for the Maoists but it was a beginning of an end to the monarchy that the NC had revered so much and risked even its own existence to save it.

Even after so much of drinking punch during the Dashain festival the NC leaders could not refresh their head to understand that the Maoists did not finish off the monarchy but the monarch himself did it. On February 01, 2005, Former King Gyanendra unceremoniously burnt down the Constitution of Nepal of 1990 that had the provision for two main things such as the multi-party democracy and the monarchy that were unalterable. Wisely or unwisely Gyane tore the Constitution of Nepal of 1990 and put the multi-party democracy and the monarchy on the shaky ground.

In April 2006, supporting the 12-point understanding reached between the Maoists and the Seven-Party Alliance (SPA), Nepalese people held up the people’s movement for restoration of multi-party democracy launched by the SPA. After 19 days of the people’s movement, Gyane could not withstand the people’s pressure and bowed down the people’s demand for restoration of the multi-party democracy gave a new life to the House of Representatives he dissolved in May 2002 on the recommendation of the infamous but elected Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba.

It was widely believed that before Girija Prasad Koirala was sworn in as the Prime Minister after the revival of the House of Representatives, he had secretly reached an understanding with Gyane to save the monarchy at any cost. It was a betrayal to the Nepalese people, as they fought for reviving the multi-party democracy that Gyane had buried along with the monarchy but not the monarchy.

So, Girija had never lost the hope of saving the monarchy. Even after the House of Representatives had sidelined the monarchy, Girija had proposed a ceremonial king provoking a widespread protest against it; then he came up with a baby king calling on Gyane to abdicate, again provoking the Nepalese people to protest the call for saving the monarchy. Probably refreshing his head after so much of boozing during the Dashain celebration, Girija came up with a new trick for indirectly saving the monarchy saying if the Maoists did not write a new Constitution of Nepal we had the Constitution of Nepal of 1990. As already said this Constitution had the provision for everlasting the multi-party democracy and the monarchy.

Girija had withstood the pressure of the Maoists to save the monarchy but he could not withstand the Madheshi movement and ultimately give in to the pressure and had to submit the proposal for removing the monarchy at the CA session with a great regret. The CA members except for four voted for ending the 240-year long monarchy. Gyane serenely abide by the people’ verdict and left the palace forever on the time given by the CA. However, his son was not so calm as Gyane was; so he left Nepal for Singapore.

Girija had not realized the consequences he enjoyed of attempting to save the monarchy, yet. Out of twenty-two candidates belonging to his extended family including daughter Sujata Koirala, twenty lost the election for the CA members on April 10, 2008, as they had been campaigning for saving the monarchy against the will of the majority of the Nepalese people that wanted to scrap the monarchy forever. However, Girija blamed the unification of the breakaway NC party with his mother party for the unfavorable election results.

After having sufficient punch and cocktail during the Dashain festival, Girija became emboldened to disclose what had happened between the Maoists and Gyane. Girija said that the Maoists and Gyane had reached an understanding to run a government jointly. Girija could talk about such things only after Dashain festival.

After the Dashain cocktail, the NC members at the CA session had been desperately trying to derail the budget discussion and then opposed the social security programs propounded by the Maoists. First, they obstructed the CA session then boycotted the session and then they had been negatively criticizing the budget. The main fear of the NC leaders was the coalition government led by the Maoist would do something tangible and convinced the people that the government led by the Maoist unlike the government led by the NC was serious for doing business for the fast development in the country, and would assist the CA in crafting a new Constitution of Nepal, and then would win one election after another denying the power to the NC leaders for several years to come almost forever.

After the Dashain festival, NC leader Ram Chandra Poudel dared to launch a movement or a revolt at the CA and on the street. However, nobody knew whether it was for the benefits of the people or for harassing the people. He must be looking for a job after losing his ministerial position to the Maoist leader Janardan Sharma despite the fact he was still in the payroll of CA members but it was not as lucrative as a ministerial position. That might be the reason for launching a revolt. Maoist CA member Jhakku Prasad Subedi challenged Mr. Poudel to launch a revolt. He even made it clear that the NC leaders would know the grassroots level support they enjoyed if they launched a revolt.

Everybody knew that launching a movement or a closure or even a revolt was an easiest thing to do in Nepal then. Nepalese people had been indulging in a closure of bazaar and traffic for getting compensation for the loss of their loved ones killed by accident or otherwise, for the benefits of laborers or even for the benefits of the businesspersons or for the benefits of the civil servants and so on. It was an easiest thing to close traffic and bazaar in Nepal.

Acting President of the NC party Sushil Koirala said that the government should not integrate the Maoist combatants into the Nepali Army. Most probably, after the Dashain boozing, the junior Koirala must have come back to senses he had lost after the defeat in the election for the CA, and then have missed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement the Government of Nepal had reached with the Maoists and the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 that had the provision for integration of the Maoist combatants.

Another political leader Surya Bahadur Thapa of the fringe political party called Rastriya Janashakti Party must have lost the balance of thinking after the Dashain cocktail. He said that the Maoists had been for grabbing the power. His saying indicated that he had no knowledge of the Maoists had been already in power. In fact, the Maoists had already grabbed the power that Surya did not understand after boozing so much during the celebration of the Dashain festival.

Maoist hardliner Mohan Vaidya after the Dashain festival went to the Chairman of the CA and submitted his resignation from the CA member apparently to free him from the duty on attending the CA session for making sufficient time to devote to the party affairs. He had been campaigning for People’s Republic in place of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal and for people’s dictatorship instead of a democratic system of governance. So, he had been a great embarrassment to Prime Minister Prachanda and his Finance Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai that had been for multi-party democracy, human rights, press freedom and liberal economic policy. Mohan Vaidya and his colleagues such as CP Gajurel and Matrika Yadav charged Prachanda and his colleague Dr. Baburam Bhattarai that they had been on the revisionists’ path.

Prime Minister Prachanda must have drunk punch or cocktail a lot during the Dashain festival confusing him. He said that he had made too many foreign trips since he became the first elected Prime Minister of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal to convince the members of the international community that they were serious politicians and they would do business seriously; so, he had not much time to devote to the domestic affairs; however, he had planned to visit India again in the near future.

Nepalese Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav shed ‘kurta’ for suit and tie. He looked very smart in suit and tie and must have impressed his counter parts foreign ministers in New York. However, he has not shed the demand for ‘one Madheshi Province,’ and strongly demanded the government of which he was a foreign minister implement the ‘Eight-Point Agreement’ United Democratic Madheshi Front (UDMF) reached with the coalition government led by Girija. Foreign Minister Yadav must have indulged in too much boozing during the Dashain festival otherwise he would not make a strong demand for implementation of the agreement but would implement it, as he was a member of the Council of Ministers. Nepalis in general and Madheshis in particular were very smart to understand such a gimmick of politicians.

After Dashain cocktail, some Maoist leaders had openly said that their Communist Party did not need the label of the Maoist; they would opt for making their communist party simply a Communist Party of Nepal (CPN). The Maoists had amply discredited the Mao during the conflict and even thereafter and had been successful to grab the power in the name of Maoists but the time had come for them to earn credit then they wanted to shed the name of Mao. Similarly, the Unified Marxist and Leninist leaders also wanted to shed their identification label of Unified Marxist and Leninist, and make their party also a simply Communist Party of Nepal (CPN). Was this a Dashain hangover or indirectly unifying all communist parties of Nepal remained to be seen.

The Dashain cocktail had made effect on the thinking of the political leaders. Some leaders came up with the idea of cutting off the tail-name of their political parties while other threatened to revolt at the CA and on the street. Girija himself seemed to be stupefied with the loss of power to the Maoists (soon-to-be non-Maoists). Maoists might be splitting into a hardliners’ camp and revisionists’ camp. Revisionists might shed the label of Maoist whereas the hardliners might stick it to their chest. Madheshis might loosely unite again to demand ‘one madhesh one province’ even though they knew that they would not get it. The Unified Marxist and Leninist leaders also might shed this tail of their party and would take the position vacated by the NC leaders.

ENDS

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