In Nepal we regularly see the faces of the Maoist leaders almost in all means of Media everyday. In the past, when then Prime Minister Sher Bahahdur Deuba announced price of the head of alleged terrorist (Maoist), those faces were known very little. Imaginary pictures or sketches created by security forces used to display in the “Wanted” list. People were very curious to see the faces of those culprits. Initially when they came out of underground life, people were very eager to see them with keen interest. In fact people were trying to figure out a face of the so called charismatic leader vying to lead the country. But over a period of time normal people started to become so pessimistic by their rockiness. Now, truly speaking, people have no interest in them and are rather irritated because of too much exposure in the media and from misleading behaviors. It is really ridiculous to hear the same indoctrinated views repeated like parrots no matter which forum they speak in, what topics are covered or what questions they deal with.
Personally, I rarely give attention to their activities unless that affects my day to day life. Recently, I am attracted to two major issues which are hot topics in Nepal. Those issues are a) The Maoist Chairman Prachanda’s claim of conspiracy by the palace to assassinate US officials in Nepal and place the blame on the Maoists, and b) formation of an interim government.
When the US embassy expressed deep concern over Prachanda’s claim of a plot of pro-palace elements assassinating US officials in Nepal, my attention was obviously drawn to the media. The US Embassy asked the Maoist leader to provide evidence if they have any. The US statement further warned if the Maoists cannot provide proof, then such remarks were irresponsible and dangerous. Prachanda’s statement came when the Under Secretary of State for Management Ms. Henrietta H. Fore was paying an official visit to Nepal.
This may be a coincidence or a well designed “game plan” that the day he made such remarks at Pokhara, some unidentified elements planted a “pressure cooker bomb” and Improvised Explosive (Sutali bomb) at the residence of two prominent civil society leaders – Devendra Raj Panday and Krishna Pahadi respectively. Both the bombs were found unexploded and were defused by police (the army is usually involved as they have better expertise to dispose of bombs) before they could go off. Interestingly, on the same day the Maoists together with their affiliated leftist party registered a proposal for a republic state at the parliament.
As per the poorly orchestrated game plan the Maoists plotted to create a big misunderstanding between the US authority and the Monarchy whom they believe are the biggest hurdles in their path. The same day, the Maoists laid a pressure cooker bomb at the residence of two civil society activists. Neither are US citizens and neither works for American interests.
There is an allegation that both activists together with some others are anti-monarchist and covertly working for the Maoists under the cover of civil society. They acted against the Royal regime in the past and are now pressuring the Prime Minister in support of the vested interest of the Maoists. Pressure cooker bombs and Improvised Explosives are indigenous products of the Maoists and planted in selected targets which could mislead people.
In the meantime, Sitaula also did not call a properly trained and fully equipped bomb disposal squad from the army and formed a police team to investigate the incident. This drama might be effective to mislead the innocent Nepali people but they couldn’t mislead US authorities. The US authority understood the reality very clearly and expressed deep concern about the irresponsible remarks from the Maoist leadership. They also challenged them to provide evidence.
Prachanda reacted by saying that they are in the process of collecting evidence. Prachanda’s reaction is a big joke that, how can a so called national level leader make public remarks without having enough evidences? Some time ago, the Maoists made a similar allegation that a group of people were mobilized by the palace and Nepalese Army to assassinate the Maoist leadership. Later on it was revealed that they arrested and tortured their own activists who broke away from them together with Rabindra Shrestha and Mani Thapa, who had no plot of that kind and no evidence was found that they were mobilized by the palace or army. One of the activists released from Maoist custody gave a detailed account of how he was treated and tortured to falsely admit his involvement in such activities. When he refused to take cooperate, the Maoists had to finally release him.
Prachanda is likely to create another story as he claimed that he will furnish proof to US authorities. It is not the time to create conspiracies which will further create chaos and uncertainty. He needs to be serious to make the peace process successful. If the Maoists have faith about the peace process, they ought to have the guts to face election and promulgate their prime agenda in a legitimate manner.
The Maoists initiated the idea of elections for Constituent Assembly in Nepal, and the other seven parties accepted that agenda when they signed the eight point agreement in New Delhi. As the situation developed in Nepal, the Maoists realized that the proposed election will not be in their favor. The Maoist’s Central Committee has already decided to disrupt the election indirectly. Some local cadres of Maoists mentioned that they have already received a secret circular from their high command to create an environment unfavorable for the election, whilst, they are trying to fool the world by blaming others, particularly royalists, for trying to disrupt the election.
The Terai upsurge is an incredible victory for the rebel factions of the Maoists and big setback to The Maoists. The Maoists are losing confidence in the Terai to win the election whereas with the new arrangement, the Terai becomes a decisive factor in gaining a majority in the election. For the Maoists, other cities in the middle hill are also not fully in their grip. Though one of their leaders (CP Gajurel) time and again claimed to capture booths, but, it will not be as easy as they thought to capture the electoral booths due to international involvement in the peace process. A few seats from the remote electoral constituency of the mid-western region will not be enough to gain a majority in the constituent assembly. As per their analysis they have understood that, if the election will be held free and fair, they will be in the minority and their grand design to make Nepal a totalitarian communist regime will be jeopardized.
For the first time in the history of Nepal, the parliament is dominated by leftists. For the Maoists, probably this is the most favorable time to impose their ill-ideas ever since they started their campaign 12 years ago. In normal life, fears and atrocities from the Maoists are even worse than during their insurgency. If the Maoists joins the government, they can directly influence every facet of life throughout the entire nation.
Formation of Interim Cabinet
It has been said that there are two main hurdles in forming the interim government. First of all, there is tremendous pressure that the Maoists should not be included in the interim government before they renounce violence and show the character of a real political party. Second of all, there is a rumour that most of the parties including Maoists want to have attractive ministries. The Maoists are going all out to grab the Deputy premiership with home minister for their party and to appoint Krishna Prasad Sitaula, the present home minister, as defense minister in the interim cabinet. For the Maoists, appointing Sitaula as defense minister is more favorable than appointing their own man in that portfolio. Because it is already known to all that Sitaula works for the interests of Maoists instead of national or his own parties’ interests. Because of that, the Maoists are protecting him, despite pressure for him to step down on moral grounds for the loss of life and property in the Terai. The death toll in the Terai uprising is almost double the number lost during Janandolan II.
Dialogue with Madhesi stakeholders is deadlocked due to the attitude of Sitaula. The Maoists are covering Sitaula even when the parliamentarians from Nepali Congress are demanding his resignation.
The Prime minister is reluctant to do anything against Maoist wishes for unknown reasons. Minister Sitaula as a Home Minister and coordinator of government’s dialogue team has done enough damage to national interests by safeguarding Maoists interests. Following the formation of the interim government, the focus of peace process will be shifted to security sector reforms along with demobilization and reintegration of the Maoist combatants. The Maoists will certainly want to plant “their man” in the Ministry of Defense to serve in their favour.
Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai mentioned in Dang, in a public speech – that for them other political parties are nothing and their battle is with the Monarchy only. They have decided to take advantage of the present fluid situation. The Maoists know that if they evict the monarchy from Nepal that will open easy access for them to achieve their desired objective – to declare Nepal a one party totalitarian communist regime. Earlier they announced that they will declare a republic in the month of Baisakh (second half of April) if the CA pole is postponed for any reason.
In the course to fulfill their dream it is revealed that the Maoists have designed a new “game plan”. According to that plan they have decided to declare a republic through the leftist-dominated parliament. They know implementation of such a plan will be very complex due to opposition from the palace, international community and some key parties within the parliament, because the present parliament is just an interim and not elected.
Consensus has already been reached that the decision about the monarchy will be as per the people’s verdict through the election of the constituent assembly. Such an arrangement is well acknowledged by almost all concerned international powers. According to the Maoists plan, they want to give the impression that they enjoy the people’s support by mobilizing hundreds of thousand of people forcibly in the streets of Kathmandu as they did together with the seven parties during the time of Janandolan II. For this plan they know that the majority of Nepali people and the international community, mainly USA, will not support their unilateral decision. They may have to face strong pressure from the USA if they resort back to violence. The Maoists must realize that the USA has perceived their (Maoist) grand design correctly and will always oppose them to safeguard democracy in Nepal.
This time the Maoists have exposed themselves very badly with improperly orchestrated propaganda which is ultimately unproductive and has defamed their image (whatever image they have). No matter how much the people of Nepal express serious concerns about the violations of the peace process, the Maoists are still rigid in their outdated philosophy and want to impose everything they want. If their hidden motive remains unchanged no one can avoid another crisis in Nepal. Such crisis will certainly wash away the real culprits, whether it is Maoists or any other anti-national elements.