The bomb blasts in Kathmandu last week prove that the law and order situation of the country has taken a nose dive. Contrary to the fact that government authority is virtually non-existent throughout the country, the government is still adamant about holding "timely" elections. The Home Minister during his parleys in parliament conceded to the fact that the government would need to recruit an additional 30,000 troops for the Nepal Police to ensure security for the polls. Where are these bodies to throw at the election challenge?
In the past, it was always the Nepali Army that provided the backbone for security arrangements during elections. However, the present peace agreements prohibit the deployment of the army for any purpose. The same agreement also prohibits Maoist combatants from leaving their camps but this is a topic for another time. How the Prime Minister envisions conducting timely elections with the Army in its barracks, a gaping hole for 30,000 security elements and the Maoist combatants conducting their "election campaign" as YCL is still a mystery.
To add to the PM's worries, CPN-Maoist - one of Koirala's major allies - has now stated that elections are impossible given the deteriorating law and order situation of the country. Although the legal aspects concerning the elections have been completed, the administrative work is still incomplete and political will is lacking among all parties to forge consensus to conduct timely polls. The only person pushing for elections is the PM and the international community, while the others are ranting hollow rhetoric.
The Maoists actually do not want elections. After their fifth plenum, the Maoist leadership came to a conclusion that holding elections would severely damage the party. The Maoist leadership has come to realise that their position in the Terai is extremely weak and their position in the hills is no better. Therefore, the leadership has decided to explore alternative avenues to end the institution of monarchy and create disturbances to sabotage the polls, while they continue to weild power through the government.
Also discussed during the fifth plenum was that the King is a spent force and the probability of the resurgence of the King with the backing of the army is nil. The Maoist know that electoral victory for them can only be had through forceful and fraudulent elections. They also know such elections will be condemned domestically and internationally, and so now the Maoists are forced to accept that going for elections will prove to be a political suicide. Elections would also decrease their numerical strength in the parliament. They also know that an electoral loss would tear their party apart and so the Maoists are unwilling to make ideological concessions to enter the political mainstream.
The international community has conducted endless surveys that all humiliating losses for the Maoists in the polls. Therefore, the international community has increased their pressure on all political parties to conduct polls this November. Some diplomatic missions have gone one step further to broker an electoral alliance. For example, Gunther, the Swiss diplomat, who has been busy trying to broker an alliance between ethnic groups and the Moaists - particularly with the Madhesis.
The Norwegians and the Swiss for long have been cultivating the Left ever since the restoration of democracy in 1990. They have been doing so because they have come to realize that the democratic forces will always work closer with India and this they can not digest. Therefore, Günter's attempted bid to unite ethnic groups and the Maoists is a ruse to help the Maoists recapture the lost ground in the Terai.
PM Koirala will inevitably yield to the pressure tactics of the Maoists. Hence, there is a very slim chance that elections will take place on time in November. Over the last year, political observers have been taken back by the PM's inability to confront the Maoist on fundamental issues. Time and again, he has conceded to the Maoist demands and on some occasions has been forced to backtrack.
Koirala has embarked on a trend where he has inevitably succumbed to the pressure of the Maoist leadership. Therefore, to ignore Koirala's trend in surrendering to his coterie and the Maoists will prove disastrous. The truth is that Koirala's coterie and the Maoists are bent on pushing Koirala for the immediate declaration of a republic and exhausting the means to hold elections. But there is also a genuine case of deteriorating law and order situation that needs to be considered.
The Maoists fear an electoral loss. The international community is confident the democratic forces will prevail and Koirala has already begun to yield to the Maoists. However, the question regarding the possibility of elections should be left to the people to decide. If Koirala holds the elections in haste – the electoral process will prove futile. Just like Prachanda and Baburam remind us from time to time, hurried elections will be the king's elections (when the Maoists assassinated countless candidates) and during the panchayat years (when elections were held with only one party to vote for).
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