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Siddhartha Thapa: The End Game

The End Game

By Siddhartha Thapa

"The mere absence of war is not peace", said J. F. Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis. Thisstatement is relevant to Nepal's context today.Despite repeated assurances from the Maoists that they have retracted from violent politics, the reality is vastly different. Clearly, the Maoists have made a travesty out of the peace process and arms management. It has become obvious that the elections to the Constituent Assembly cannot be held in the stipulated time frame for mid June. This unfortunate circumstance is mainly due to the failure of the government to confine Maoist to peacetime politics. This failure consequently led to the rapid deterioration of law and order. The ramification of the postponement of the elections is immense - a fluid political vacuum.

The government still has not learnt from the Maoist war. It is this war, which forced the nation into a grinding halt. It is also the Maoists who have distanced the country from peacetime democratic politics. Deeper understanding is needed to comprehend the issues plaguing the country's transition into a peaceful nation with a sustainable democracy.

Our portly political pundits need to understand that the discontented ethnic groups that have been staging agitations across the country are just now in the initial phase of their revolution. The issues of seclusion and minority rights have the necessary ingredients for the brewing of a greater revolution.

Therefore, the continued dillydallying and delay in addressing ethnic issues, has the potential to push country into further quagmire - with the rise of a series of mini and counter revolutions, which could lead to the disintegration of the nation state. The ethnicity dilemma could and should have been solved at the beginning of its insurrection but unfortunately, the demands set forth by the various agitating groups have soared due to continued negligence from the government. On the other hand the Maoist insurgency has served an ideal benchmarking model for agitating groups to attain political limelight and power through the use of arms and violent politics.

The recent turmoil and continued political unrest in the Terai has exposed that in the absence of

elections, the major political parties are rapidly losing their base; proving that it is only the Maoists, by using force, and indigenous groups that retain some control over rural Nepal. In more recent times the blatant violation of the peace process by the Maoists and the continued intimidation conducted by its cadres has been reciprocated with brute force by agitating groups. The Maoist influence in the Terai has been questioned for the very first time.

It is interesting to note that the Maoist high command has toured the southern belt as a precautionary damage control measure.

Prime Minister Koirala's effort to induct the Maoist into government was based on the thesis that once the rebels are inducted in government, the vantage of being in opposition would no longer be a luxury enjoyed by the Maoist and they would be forced to change and act within the norms of multiparty politics. Unfortunately the violence and brutality perpetuated by the Maoists has not subsided. Maoists are unquestionably the primary political party in the alliance. The revolt by the indigenous groups for equality indicates that confrontation is inevitable. The demands put forward by the indigenous groups contravene Maoist school of thought - radical communism. The ramifications of these developments are critical.

Since Maoists are now a part of the interim

parliament and likely to join the interim government very soon, any attack against the Maoists will be termed as an attack against the government.

It is foreboding that even while in government the Maoists have failed to abide by the peace agreement and renounce violence. As the election date nears, Maoist violence might reach its peak and the Prime Minister be forced to postpone the vote fearing fraudulent and violent elections. Till the time of the elections the Maoist might have incapacitated state organs, political opponents and built a case of public discontent against the government creating an environment for protests engaging in a dual role - government and opposition.

The state organs lack the required leadership to thwart Maoist designs. The Prime Minister has also failed to boost government confidence. Going by the government's lack of policy, the indications are that in any event, the Maoist will capture state power - either through forcing fraudulent elections or by brewing public discontent against the government.


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