YCL Controversies and The Republic Agenda for Nepal

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Months after the Maoists activated their former militias as the youth wing under the banner of Young Communist League (YCL) to heighten pressure on the Nepali Congress led government to immediately declare a republic through the interim parliament, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala evoked a stern warning of action against the YCLs.

At the end of the four-day national meet of the district presidents of the party in the capital on Monday, PM Koirala said he would no longer tolerate the activities of the YCL. Koirala said the government would henceforth come with a stronger plan to stop the unruly activities of this young people’s body. However, he did not fail to mention that unity of the eight parties would be kept intact despite taking the initiatiative to control the YCL.

The involvement of the YCL members during the tussle between the girl students in Padma Kanya campus last week raised eyebrows of many regarding the intention of this organisation. A number of girl students were beaten up, misbehaved and mistreated at this college by the YCL cadres in accusation of unfair distribution of the scholarship facilities.

PM Koirala said this was undemocratic enough.

The activities of the YCL have become controversial since they prolonged and increased their row over the issue of occupying the house in Sanoshree in Bardiya owned by Cotton Development Committee (CDC). Disobeying the decision of the eight party leaders, which includes the Maoist, the YCL members challenged the administration to clean up the house to establish a security post. The eight party meeting had agreed to set up Armed Police Force security post for border security purposes.

In many public statements last week, Maoist chairman Prachanda couched solace to YCLs over these unruly activities. He had said ‘reactionaries’ have been trying to tag YCL as a ‘terrorist’ group. On the other hand, Minister for Physical Planning and Works Hishila Yami accentuated the cooperation from YCL members in the activities of the ministry.

On Sunday, another influential Maoist leader Mohan Baidya alias Kiran in his interview to Nepal FM, slammed ‘static forces’ that do not want changes in the country, to be biased towards the activities of the YCL. All these gave shelter to the YCL.

The efforts of the YCL to improve their image by valley clean up campaign, plantation, traffic management, capture of the illegally imported goods among others have been derailed with the most criticised behaviour in Bardiya.

While PM Koirala was preparing to announce his intention of stern action against the unruly activities of the YCL on Monday, the Bardiya district administration filed a case of public offence on 38 members of the organisation who were involved in setting ablaze the two government offices in the district. Tying up with the YCLs, Maoist affiliate Tharu body announced a transport strike in five districts in western terai. The YCL, Tharu and police continued to clash finally forcing the local administration to impose curfew orders. The curfew turned out to be ineffective.

In response, the YCL threatened to instigate nationwide agitation. Issuing a statement, YCL accused the police of framing false charges against them and torturing them. The YCL said it would launch nationwide agitation if the ‘atrocities’ against its cadres continue.

In addition, the YCL has posed threats of physical action to at least 12 members of the other parties accusing them of supporting to shelve APF post in the CDC building. The joint statement by Nepali Congress, Nepali Congress Democratic, the UML, Nepal Sadbhawana Party (Anandi Devi), Left Front and People’s Front on Monday said YCLs have threatened former parliamentarian Khaga Raj Sharma, Bed Raj Sigdel of NCD and Tanka Oli of the UML. The statement says that people enlisted by the YCL for action include many other political and student leaders and journalists. Police assured these people of their security.

The tactics to increase pressure on the Nepali Congress to declare Nepal a republic, otherwise they will prepare for nationwide protest at the end of May, is causing the Maoists to lose public support. Although the majority public sentiment seems to be for a republic in Nepal, since most parties declared for that, the bulldozing for abrupt change through unruly activities is diminishing the political standing of the Maoist party. As Koirala said, a republic is not something ‘brought out of a bag’ to be announced abruptly. Instead, it must come through gradual procedures that prepare a good foundation.

I. P. Adhikari is a Bhutanese journalist who writes about Bhutan and Nepal, and is a member of the Association of Press Freedom Activists-Bhutan. He founded Bhutan News Service. A former Bhutanese refugee, he was forced to leave Bhutan with his family in 1992.
in 2001, he started The Shangrila Sandesh, and in 2004 he and Vidhyapati Mishra started the Association of Press Freedom Activists (APFA) Bhutan. In 2007 they started Bhutan News Service. He worked in The Rising Nepal, The Himalayan Times, Nation Weekly and Nepalnews.com while living in Nepal as refugee.

Adhikari moved to Adelaide, South Australia under the resettlement program of the UNHCR for Bhutanese Refugees. There, he founded Yuba Sansar, a weekly Nepali-language radio program on Radio Adelaide.