Intolerance Jeopardizing Nepal’s Peace Process
Ideological Intolerance Jeopardizing Nepal’s Peace Process
Through their decade-long armed struggles with nationwide escalation, Nepal’s Maoist insurgents have succeeded in establishing their agenda of the abolition of monarchy with the establishment of a federal republic, the production of a timely constitution through the elections of the Constituent Assembly and state restructuring with inclusive characteristics relevant for all communities within the country as the agenda of the whole nation. Their active participation in the peaceful April movement of 2006 against monarchy reconsolidated their agenda. One valid proof of their success is the unprecedented participation of millions of grassroot people from every nook and corner wholeheartedly supporting their agenda. The Seven Party Alliance (SPA) had never been able to gather more than 500 people against the regressive move by King. It was the situation before the SPA went into collaboration with Maoists as to moving the nation against the king’s autocracy. Even when the SPA signed a memorandum of understanding with the Maoists, their demand was very vague: return of democracy from the hands of the king. Could democracy be taken and returned by the hand of king time and again? The SPA never defined their democracy. They ruled more than 12 years and their period was marked by all-pervasive corruption, ill-governance, skyrocketing market prices and the criminalization of politics. They developed apathy in people towards politics and political parties. But once the Maoists joined the peaceful movement against monarchy with their clear-cut agenda of republic, the participation of people was incredible. It was the agenda of republic that the Nepalis loved to die for. Thus, the April mass movement proceeded with millions of people prepared to die for republic. Nobody chanted the slogan of the restoration of the House of Representatives.
The ebbs and tides of the mass movement were entirely against monarchy. The House reinstitution was not at all the expectation of people, who were confident in the declaration of republic. But the House reinstitution stood as the principal barrier to republic.
However, Maoists have stood as the most ardent advocates for republic. The frequent pronunciation of Maoist agenda by all other feudalistic, rightist and moderate political forces as their own has given a further basis for Maoists to justify the rationale of their party.
As to the change-resisting political forces, they mainly include the Nepali Congress headed by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, the Nepali Congress (Democratic)—a split—led by Sher Bahadur Deuba, the Emalay headed by Madhav Kumar Nepal, Rastriya Janashakti Party headed by a soft-cornered Royalist Surya Bahadur Thapa, Rastriya Prajatantra Party led by a royalist Rana elite Pashupati Shumshere Rana and the Nepal Sadbhawan Party run by the Terai landlords with a tilt towards India. No matter how hard they have been working to tie the country to status-quoism and traditionalism for the sake of giving continuity to their existing enjoyment, they have at least accepted in appearance these national agenda. Civic figures and other intellectuals have powered these Maoist agenda that have now become every Nepali’s agenda.
Maoists have admitted that their agenda are the people’s agenda. They therefore have enjoyed the nationwide approval of them. While they have been boasting of the increasing support to their party, continuously increasing in size with the entry of thousands of members into their party from other parties, they have also been facing a unified media war. The media war launched against them seems to be well-coordinated among the major status-quoist parties with Defence and Home portfolios, Treasury, and International Relations. Similarly, the infiltration of salaried intelligence and muscle workers into the Maoist sister wings has been matched with the mission of media war. Especially, prominent media houses of the country have invested a substantial amount of money in searching for personal quarrels between Maoist supporters and their opponents for the purpose of national glamorization of so-called Maoist involvement in incidents. While the mass media are highlighting any speeches and events against Maoists with a clear purpose of downsizing and isolating Maoists, the state’s inaction in relation to taking action against gross human rights violators, murderers and other criminals has been overshadowed, with the creation of convenience for any evil forces. Media have not been able to pressurize the political leaderships to remove any gross human rights violators from power; they still enjoy decision-making roles. This situation has created more contradictions between the Maoists and other political forces, who have been defending monarchy this way or that way.
Maoists’ mere entry into the interim government does not seem to guarantee the expected level of change in the national situation as the status-quoists and self-capitulationists occupy the key state positions controlling every decision. But it is true that the Maoists have been successful in dragging the status-quoist forces to this stage of at least reciting their agenda.
As the leadership crisis continues, change-seeking masses will have to remain helpless and more frustrated. Undoubtedly, they have sacrificed a lot and have gone through lives full of struggles. But they have been misguided and divided most of the times, especially when sensitive national issues such as treaties with India arise.
In this context, Nepal’s media have to re-think their role. They had stimulated and helped to mobilize masses during the people’s mass movement in April 2006. Now it is not unnatural to seek a more transformative role of national media as to the necessity of ending the major irony in Nepal’s peace process—those who initiated and nurtured the prominent agenda have been de-powered while those who opposed the agenda life long have been in the top decision-making positions. Equally ironical is the fact that who have always adamantly fought against the Constituent Assembly, federal republic, state restructuring and inclusive democracy have today become the noisiest preachers of these agenda.
In fact, the obstructionist role played by these change-resisting political forces during the one year of the House restoration has proved that these status-quoist political forces have no intention at all to go for changes in the country. It shows their nature and instinct. More important is to note the differences between what one says and what one does. In Nepal, all have preached well and tirelessly while most of them have failed in their actions.
The problem, mainly, is not with the people. They have always sacrificed. They have unnecessarily rewarded the corrupt leaderships. They have remained extremely tolerant towards the betraying forces. They have shown their peaceful nature. But they have been misused mostly for fueling ideological intolerance that can even bring about physical confrontations.
Ideological analysis and synthesis are the most needed today; however, the reality is quite the opposite. Based on ideological intolerance, man-eat-man enterprises are getting more attention than the genuine need for ideological analysis and synthesis that could further enrich human wisdom and culture.
Although universally recognized ideologies are human tools to achieve their ideal purposes, they can prove extremely disastrous when misused for petty interests and evil intentions. Petty interests and evil intentions can be found even among international forces.
The international forces, mainly India and America, have been found heavily reliant on Nepal’s status-quoist political leaderships with semi-feudal bent. This is not surprising as far as their own national interests are concerned. However, this does not go with the vanguard aspirations of the Nepalis. In the current political scenario of Nepal, one can see an obvious marriage between the neocolonialist forces from outside and semi-feudalist forces from within the country. This unhealthy copulation has resulted in the disruption of the Nepalis’ self-moves towards the goal of political, socio-economic and religious-cultural transformation. The ideological intolerance maintained by the ruling classes of USA, India and Nepal may jeopardize the very peace process. Especially, Nepal’s Nepali Congress and Emalay, because of their ideological intolerance against the Maoists, are likely to collaborate with the US Administration and the Indian ruling forces, which are very prejudiced against Maoists. India and USA are determined not to let Maoists lead Nepal while the Nepalis never hope to achieve a new Nepal through the already corrupt and rotten forces that still remain the favorites of the World Bank, the IMF and the Asian Development Bank.
Shifting from the semi-feudal state to the citizen-based rule is the soul of the Nepalis’ struggles so far. But the international forces, based on their own perceptions and communication input, do not appear to have understood the exigencies of the Nepali society—overall transformation—political and socio-economic restructuring.
The prevailing ruling quarters, obviously change-resisting forces, be they royalists or status quoists under the disguise of democrats, are the major carriers of Nepal’s messages to the international arena. Depending on their own political and socio-ideological backgrounds, they communicate to the international community so as to earn the world’s trust for them to be in power of Nepal. In this context, the perception of the international community seems to be based mainly on the information supplied to them by some Nepal’s national mainstream intellectuals and international think tanks. Such think tanks gather information almost entirely from elite sources, e.g., cabinet members, prominent leaders, Chief District Officers (CDOs), Security Chiefs, all contributing to the unchanging establishment. Such type of information differs from the ground realities faced and experienced by the majority of the grassroot people. This creates a situation of ideological hostility between the international forces and the change-oriented political forces that actually represent the grassroot people of Nepal. This is what is happening now.
No other forces from outside Nepal have played a more detrimental role than the still-untransformed political leaderships of Nepal to tie the Nepali society to the chasm of status quoism. So long as the existing change-resisting political forces, founded on self-centered psychological molds, continue leading the nation, the overall transformation of the Nepali society appears to remain an empty dream. Imposition of violence on the Nepalis by ideologically prejudiced and change-resisting forces will not but jeopardize Nepal’s peace process. Nepal’s national unity based on progressive agenda and the continuous mobilization of people against regressive and status-quoist forces can foil any criminal efforts to create civil war.