It is not for anyone to suggest on what will follow in the next few weeks, should the current political crises in Nepal turn into a fist fight between the Maoists and the CPN-UML with NC poised as an emergent winner. The Maoists claim absolute power of the state. Sharing a berth within the UML front is not enough to turn their dreams of fielding their own Premier or going against the President’s perceived undermining of civilian supremacy.
Overall, Prachanda thinks Madhav Kumar Nepal has had enough as PM, given the sympathies of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the UNMIN Head, both of whom have called for a national unity government of sorts that favors Maoist inclusion. The odds are, Prime Minister Nepal will listen to neither, and Mr. Nepal’s top political advisor, the canny Raghuji Pant, a noted Nepali fourth estate walla cum CA member, has suggested the UN remain away from Nepal’s internal affairs, neither it being the prerogative of Ban nor UNMIN to suggest what kind of government will best serve the Nepali people. India wants stability in Nepal which was recently reinforced by Ambassador Mr. Rakesh Sood, a veteran on South Asian political affairs as much as an internationalist who views Nepal in the context of India’s burgeoning global diplomatic responsibilities. China too wants stability in Nepal, though it seeks a more neutral Nepali government. The US and G8 which have watched Nepali affairs closely since the Maoist threats of toppling the government started pre-Dashain, want a consensus approach on national affairs, that does not disturb civilian peace, or the people’s daily lives for that matter.
But what does Prachanda want? Prachanda wants a government run by the Maoists, be it Sujata Koirala or anyone else for that matter(that will be decided later). This in turn has angered the Sher Bahadur Deuba bloc in NC which desires Prachanda’s political gambit be declared the ultimate nuisance in Nepali national democratic game play. Foreign diplomats stationed in Kathmandu are all caught up in the difficult posse, no one knows what the predictable outcome will be and who will emerge the victor: the UML or else the Maoists, with the NC playing middle fiddle. After all, the Unified Communist Parties of Nepal led by Prachanda is not in a negotiating position or ready to be led by Madhav Kumar Nepal from CPN-UML, as expressed by various tiers of its leaders. Neither does it want to breach its current friendly build up of relations with the security forces or Nepal’s northern neighbor, China. Prachanda for some reason, after his Hong Kong trip has been all too eager to push forward what he describes as Jan Andolan III this time asking the Nepali people to voluntarily join in the peaceful movement, no coercion intended.
The latest political crises has left Nepali political thinking garnered on a major dilemma: what next or ‘ke garne’? Is this dreadful political quagmire, not a reminder of the past, a leftist mutiny of sorts in democratic state power capture, some reckon in their party offices. Others suggest, there is a definite plot being hatched somewhere to uproot the democratic political system, this time by those democratically sidelined within the major parties. The leftist interplay to them is only a surfacial placebo. Unforeseen things have happened in Nepal in the past decade, much of it unimaginative, and better forgotten. State power has floated from the left to right and back to the left, with a brief interlude of direct Monarchial rule under ex-King Gyanendra, which many now consider not a regrettable decision, given the circumstances under which he had to balance both popular and unpopular options.
Here is the truth: Madhav Kumar Nepal (as much as any future aspiring Prime Minister) wants to rule from Baluwatar like Junga Bahadur but using the word DEMOCRACY, despite everyone knowing the times have changed. Add to it, the mini coterie, the puppeteers of sorts, who are always in tow providing the kind of ill-advice a Nepali prime minister might not wish to avail in a crisis. Usually, the end request is for some ambassadorship, a political appointment or a special favor such as requesting one’s closest relative to be appointed as a World Bank or UN staff. It might seemingly not be difficult since Madhav ji himself has appointed his younger brother as the new Nepali consulate general in Hong Kong and Nepalis are in demand globally given the country’s elevated stance in global peace keeping as the world’s fifth largest contributor. Having hobnobbed with Nepal’s elite political chukra at a very personal level, I have witnessed many instances of these, but I will spare from quoting any.
Seemingly, things were going pretty well for Prime Minister Nepal until last month. He had managed to build a good image of himself by heli-ferrying to Kathmandu a pregnant women with delivery complications from a remote hilly outpost. He even rode a special Sajha bus to view Kathmandu’s filth and degradation with the entire cabinet in tow, something which no ex-PM had ever done. While he might never put himself in the middle of Tundikhel doing the Deuda dance like Mr. Sher Bahadur Deuba, he is still contemplating on putting Nepal in the Guiness Book of Records for the highest cabinet meeting ever hosted, namely the Deepak Bohara managed environmental meeting at Everest Base Camp. In the next few months Mr. Nepal has other savvy plans as well, but certainly, it might not be prudent on his part at this moment, try pitting the national disciplined forces against the Maoists, should the Maoist Andolan transcend the next few weeks ending with the so-called Kathmandu bundh. On the other hand, it is equally important Prachanda think about more Gandhian ways to pursue his people’s revolution, which has already lost much of its steam since many enlisted Maoist cadres opted for foreign employment when he was Prime Minister.
In the end, both PM Nepal and Prachanda must understand that the current imbroglio will benefit no one except Mr. Girija Prasad Koirala, as he wittingly manages to give pointless advice to anyone who cares to listen. Mr. Koirala has nothing to lose, while NC has pretentiously assumed a new stance. Namely, that it is seriously studying the situation, knowing a leftist rift could give it that much desired surge. This all comes at a time when the Madhes parties are lost in a jungle of political cooing, confused on whether they should join the left or the right.
Prime Minister Nepal too seems a bit nervous given the statement from the government’s spokesperson, Mr. Shanker Pokhrel that the security agencies could be deployed anytime should the Maoists andolan turn unruly. The end truth is: UML finds UNMIN biased against it and is not willing to share power with the Maoists. Mrs. Bidya Bhandari, as Defence Minister has already called for the review of the Comprehensive Peace Accord given the Nepal Army’s constraints felt in arms and essentials procurement due to CPA restrictions. Many within UML see the UN favoring only the Maoists, something which might not be wholly untrue given Prachanda’s assertion that the movement which he calls the third Jan Andolan will be a peaceful one, not something that will disturb the people’s lives, music to UNMIN’s ears. But then again, given Prachanda’s decision making style, things could all be quiet one fine morning when he pulls out of the movement after his basic demands have been met, though he asserts he has no wish to become PM again, here again UNMIN might play a surprising role! Meanwhile, the Maoists have already ‘captured’ the Dhankuta Municipality declaring their own mayor and deputy mayor which is worrisome to all political parties. They eventually pledge to free all local bodies replacing with their own autonomous structures.
In the end, this all leaves much to be said on what kind of ‘national unity government’ is desired to replace the Madhav Kumar Nepal government. The problem of the leftists fighting each other solely based on the ego differences of various leaders, for instance, can be solved if UML stops acting like a big brother to the Maoists and treats them with more compassion and the young ex-Militia with more social and economic justice. The Maoists too must stop questioning the Peace Accords and discuss the President’s move in a constitutional manner, since President Ram Baran Yadav himself has expressed his grave concern on the current situation. It is their moral imperative to do so, since the Maoists are part of the Constituent Assembly.
Meanwhile some astute Nepali media wallas expect that the Nepal Army will be deployed and the situation will become calm soon. This situation should not transpire. Nepal Army will never politicize itself under any government. As the new Chief CMS Gurung stated in his first week in office, NA is already under the command of civilian supremacy, namely, the President and the Prime Minister. The Maoists need to be convinced on this, and Bhim Rawal as Home Minister has to move fast to make the right decision on restoring public confidence in the government by viewing law and order in the context of the forest and the trees, Nepal Army serves everyone, including all those in the Constituent Assembly. It is after all the guarantor of national security and peace.
The current difference of opinion can be best solved at the negotiating table in Singha Durbar, not in the streets of Kathmandu. This is a civilized outcome which all friends of Nepal and the entire donor community desire of Nepali political leaders at the moment.
(Surya B. Prasai is an independent global strategic communications, media and international development resources consultant based in Washington D.C. His views have appeared globally on Google, Yahoo and American Chronicle News Nets on international affairs, development, public health, immigration, and climate change issues. He can be contacted at email@example.com)
Note from the Nepal Horizons Editorial Team: The views and opinion expressed in this article are that of the author and not of NHC. We request individuals with interest in Nepal to submit their views on contemporary Nepalese issues to the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Pictures of contributors or images that relate to submissions are welcome)