The recent India-sponsored, Delhi-based misalliance of the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) led by the NC and CPN-UML, and Maoists (M), deserves the acronym of SPAM! Has Delhi become the proverbial “Island of Doctor Moreau” where crazed minds like just disgraced External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh, with his allies in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), assisted by intelligence gnomes of RAW (Research and Analysis Wing), produce bizarre creatures through grotesque mating?
Is SPAM not such a bizarre thing?
What will come of the misalliance in Delhi between the Seven India-dependent Party Alliance (SPA) led by Girija Koirala of the Nepali Congress (NC) with Madhav Kumar of the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) as deputy, and Maoist insurgents cum declared terrorists led by Puspa Dahal (Comrade Prachanda) and Baburam Bhattarai? Has India again produced the proverbial mule for Nepali politics!
Girija Koirala’s “Nepali” Congress, and the Communist Party of “Nepal”-United Marxist Leninist of Madhav Kumar “Nepal,” have shown in Delhi that whatever they did, it is not Nepali. No self-respecting leader, and no party claiming to be a natural and national party of government, would go to a foreign country under foreign sponsorship, to discuss and to decide the future course of action of their country, in negotiations with an outfit like the Maoists that they themselves have repeatedly called terrorists while in government, that is also labeled terrorist by their Indian and U.S. sponsors, and whose leaders are still so tagged by the government and Interpol! If Nepal were not the seemingly “soft” state that she is today (which state of affairs leaders of the NC and CPN-UML, Maoists, and Indian sponsors contributed to), then what happened recently in Delhi would have been considered an act of political betrayal at the very least, and serious illegality at the worst.
Unlike their new-found NC and CPN-UML bed-mates, the Maoists have never been in government; indeed, they owe their genesis and growth to the long periods when these parties led the government, and they went underground to oppose it. If Maoists are true to their ideological marbles, then they are opposed to the “state” in any given sense that we would understand (but not apparently the pyromaniacs of the PMO and RAW in Delhi).
But Maoists did have the cachet of being “nationalist” and “Nepali,” even “anti-Indian,” in the eyes of their own cadre, and of many Nepalis who did not otherwise agree with their ideology, or see the relevance of their movement to modern times. SPAM, or the union of the Seven Party Alliance and Maoists in Delhi, shows that the Maoists are just as susceptible to Indian sponsorship and direction as the NC and CPN-UML. So now the Maoists have lost “innocence”, and their cadres and armchair admirers will feel betrayed.
What are the characteristics of this SPAM, with which India seeks to infect the Nepali body politic? We have already suggested that it is essentially Indian, and like a “Trojan Horse” designed to breach the sovereignty of this country while ostensibly performing the function of promoting “total democracy” of the NC and CPN-UML or “totalitarian democracy” of the Maoists.
The “democracy” that SPAM and Indian sponsors want is fundamentally flawed, because it is self-centered and self-serving. The NC and CPN-UML have not shown any commitment to elections that are periodic and open, free and fair, in an evolving series of choices in which the sovereign people get to choose and change representatives and policies, in a process marked by openness and evolution, rather than dogma and fix of revolution. It is at the core of parliamentary democracy. This is government by the people, of the people, for the people. But the NC, CPN-UML, and Maoists leaders want to have government by the parties, of the parties, for the parties.
The constituents of SPAM believe in political oligarchy, not parliamentary democracy.
To them the people are less a sovereign entity than a political mass to be mobilized at carefully selected periods of convenience to produce predetermined results that will be preserved with the rigidity of revolution rather than the flexibility and flux of evolution. For the Indian sponsors of SPAM “democracy” means a process of political engineering by which Sikkim was shepherded into the Indian Union through orchestrated elections and a constituent assembly from whose fateful decision there is no turning back. It is a classic case of “democracy” as a facilitator of hegemony then imperialism, only in this case the little fish and the bigger one that devoured it were both Asian. South Asian too!
SPAM cannot be said to be consonant with the rule of law either. One of the principal planks of SPAM is the demand for reinstatement of the House of Representatives that was elected in 1999, and dissolved three years later by the then Nepali Congress Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba in accordance with his prerogatives under Article 53.4 of the Constitution. This was mainly due to factionalism within his ruling party, led by his personal nemesis Girija Koirala as Party President.
Deuba’s dissolution was subsequently held to be valid, and according to the law and constitution, by all eleven judges of the full bench of the Supreme Court. Despite this Girija Koirala and his NC, now joined in cynical accord by the CPN-UML, and the Maoists, have insisted on recall of the House, whose full five year term would also have expired in 2004. They have been persistent in opposing the holding of general elections for a new House of Representatives, as called for under Article 53.4 of the Constitution. This is gross contempt of the Constitution and the Courts. It shows disregard for the rule of law by the NC, CPN-UML, and the Maoists.
The Maoist demand for a constituent assembly, which the NC and CPN-UML have now adopted, is the antithesis of constitutionalism and the constitutional process. It shows how SPAM leaders like Girija Koirala (NC) and Madhav Kumar (CPN-UML) are so lacking in the constitutional culture that is the necessary ingredient of parliamentary democracy.
Otherwise they would have insisted on holding the long overdue elections to parliament under Article 53.4 of the Constitution, as the King himself has repeatedly demanded as constitutional monarch and King-in-Parliament. Then, with the mandate of the people, they could address constitutional changes under Article 116. The 1990 Constitution is as good a document as Nepal is likely to get, and better than many in the developing world.
Like other constitutions, it is capable of improvement through due process laid out in the document itself, with parliament as the effective and ongoing constituent assembly. By treating the 1990 Constitution like a rag doll to be discarded when convenient, and by advocating the bypassing of parliament as the basis for constitutional amendment and continuity, the SPAM leaders have shown that they do not believe in the constitution as supreme law of the land. To them constitutions are paper for dustbins of convenience!
The Maoists have very accurately identified the constitutional monarchy and the Royal Nepal Army as the two institutions that stand between them and takeover of the country.
The Indians know this also for purposes of their own takeover, as in Sikkim. That is why they are happy to see the Maoists chip away at the integrity of both institutions. Maoists also know that they could never impose their will on the country if they have to operate within the framework of the 1990 Constitution, with its culture of constitutionalism and the rule of law, independence of the judiciary, constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, and its quintessential process of elections that are periodic and open, and free and fair.
The novelty of SPAM is that India has joined Maoist insurgents and declared terrorists, and the so-called Seven Party Alliance that they sponsored, to oppose and to undermine these basic institutions. They each have their own reasons for doing this. One is reminded of the proverbial cartoon of the smallest fish being about to be swallowed by a bigger one, which is itself about to be consumed by an even larger fish! Think of the Seven Party Alliance (SPA), then the Maoists, then the Indians, and you have the picture!
The formation of SPAM can be a setback or godsend. It will be a setback if government simply sits back and sulks and complains of Indian machinations, and perfidy of “netas” who have joined Indian sponsors in producing the bizarre and alien thing that is SPAM. But it will be a godsend if the government is proactive in showing why this hybrid animal from India is better suited as a beast of burden in the corridors of power in Delhi, than to be a movement to lead Nepal as a sovereign and separate nation into the 21st century.