The Party’s (Nearly) Over in Nepal – Collapse Imminent

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By Shashi P.B.B. Malla & Chandra Bahadur Parbate

The imminent collapse of the Seven Party Dictatorship

In spite of being shored up by foreign vested interests, the gradual disintegration of the dictatorship of the Six Party Alliance and the Maoists (SPAM) is in plain view.

This is not a self-fulfilling prophecy, but real-time possibility indicated by the antics of various would-be principal actors and the perceptions of several political pundits. It is a question of future events casting their shadows in advance. The process of decomposition is being sought to be halted by the very foreign actors that brought SPAM into existence and toppled the Royal regime.

However, the cancer is too far advanced, the rot has spread inexorably into the whole body politic, and a deus ex machina most unlikely.

For the record, let us recapitulate the litany of mortal political sins committed by the infamous ‘Gang of Seven’.

First and foremost is their ideological belief that the end justifies the means. It should not be forgotten that in the beginning, the Royal regime had the support of the Nepalese people because King Gyanendra had promised the thorough cleansing of the Augean stables – the utterly corrupt and inefficient political system, a kleptocracy under the guise of parliamentary democracy.

Unfortunately, he overestimated his own prowess, and underestimated the unmitigated damage wrought by his incompetent and unskilful minions, advisers and ministers. They succeeded not only in undermining the King’s standing but even the role of constitutional monarchy as an institution. Thus he lost ‘the mandate of heaven’.

Under the guidance of India, the opposition political parties and the Maoists forged an alliance of convenience that was perfectly willing to sacrifice the country’s independence and sovereignty. SPAM is now fully controlled by the Indian hegemonists.

The SPAM Gang applied every possible means, democratic or otherwise, to undermine the Royal regime which itself was completely out of its element and impervious to sane advice from well-wishers. It threw caution to the winds.

Thus, if the constitutional monarchy is to be saved, it will not be by the ‘royalists’, but in spite of them. The bloody attack by the Maoists on the police post in Thankot on the outskirts of the Kathmandu Valley was fully coordinated with the opposition parties and was a classical case of betrayal and undermining of the security forces by these anti-national elements.

The heinous and murderous attack on innocents in a bus in Madi has earned the Maoist leaders the ignominious epithet of ‘the Butchers of Madi’. Foreign advice and massive funds, the total mobilization of Maoist cadres and supporters from outside the Valley and media support to marshal support from the so-called ‘international community’ were the keys to success for the violent street agitation of April 06.

If this kind of staging was necessary for this agitation, then by no stretch of the imagination can it be epitomized as a ‘people’s movement’.

Nor can what followed be termed a people’s or total democracy-the state that emerged after the dust of Jana Andolan II settled, only used these terms as euphemism for an oligarchy of the failures. With its inherent contradictions, the ‘loktantra’ of the shining ‘New Nepal’ has evolved in its short span of life into a veritable show-case of a failed or failing state-or a Potemkinian state.

A bloated, sham ‘interim parliament was nominated which enacted illegal and unconstitutional ‘laws’, among them the de facto abolition of constitutional monarchy. A so-called ‘interim constitution’ was also promulgated, which does not fulfill any international norm of constitutionality and is ipso facto defunct.

Now, the ‘interim government’ which has failed to supply any semblance of good governance or maintain law and order and protect ordinary people is plundering the state exchequer. It has now granted – believe it, or not – the enormous amount of NPR 1 million to each MP for a job well done (for these payments to do any good, they would better be golden handshakes!).

In a country where 40% of all Nepalese live below the poverty line, this is indeed scandalous, but interestingly all international donors, including the World Bank, are keeping mum. No wonder that the popularity of SPAM has plummeted.

Their recent ostensible mass CA-election rally in Janakpur in south-eastern Nepal took place in a tense atmosphere inside a massive security circle – or Lakshman rekha – of 4,000 police and armed police. In the periphery there were several bomb blasts. In the next mass-meeting at Nepalgunj in south-western Nepal, there were even three circles of heavy security personnel to protect the unpopular ‘leaders’. If the King was so unliked, why did he not require such protection? Can CA-elections be contemplated in such an atmosphere?

PM Girija Koirala, the one person holding SPAM together is in a most critical condition health-wise-no longer able to conduct affairs of state and tied down permanently to the oxygen bottle. An acting-PM should have long been named. But as the authoritarian leaders of this syndicate have underlined time and again, there is no necessity even now to change the apex leadership of the conglomerate and the government at the present juncture.

In plain terms what they actually meant was that it was too dangerous to change horses mid-stream. Even if dire necessity arose, there could be no consensus on a change of leadership; there was no outstanding personality to inspire the rest. The SPAM-carriage and exhausted horses have, therefore, been condemned to flounder in the flood waters and can never reach the further river bank. As argued in these columns, the attempt to catapult daughter Sujata K. as PM-in waiting is highly questionable, more so the miserable venture to establish a political dynasty-a castle in the air.

The nation’s attention is artificially being shifted to the holding (in time) of the constitutional assembly (CA) elections. This is now looked upon by the SPAM constituents and their foreign masters as a fool-proof method of cementing their rule and giving it a veneer of legitimacy. It is, therefore, of no consequence that even outgoing US president George W. Bush has called upon SPAM to conduct the elections as scheduled. Thanks, but no thanks. We have made the experience that the international community is an ass. In actual fact, even before very recent developments, it was crystal clear that the Nepalese people were not being given a clear and democratic choice.

At second best, the question of constitutional monarchy or republic should have been resolved by the constituent assembly, after free and fair elections duly monitored by international observers. At best, this question, of course, should have to be decided directly by the people in a referendum even before the CA-elections. SPAM is taking a short-cut to state restructuring, thereby hoodwinking the people in the process.

The so-called ‘interim parliament’ has already de facto illegally and unconstitutionally declared the country a ‘democratic, federal republic’, and the CA is only to be elected to put its legal stamp on this colossal hoax. It now remains to the people to boycott these elections which will only be a farce. As Lenin said in another context, the people will have to vote with their feet.

The state propaganda machinery under the direction of the Maoists has launched a massive campaign. The Rising Nepal (now Maoist controlled) had the audacity to pontificate that the political atmosphere was now very conducive for the CA-elections, and that the political parties in power would not tolerate any postponement. Concurrently, the leaders of the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum (MJF) in the Terai have unmistakably threatened to disrupt the CA-elections, if the SPAM leaders do not mend their ways.

And, of course, the youth organization of the Maoists-the Young Communist League (YCL)-very well-known for intimidation, extortion and violent activities, and famously condemned as “the Young Criminal League” by none other than Girija Koirala himself, have also announced that in the forthcoming elections, the YCL would dispatch 200 volunteers to each polling booth across the country “to help people exercise their voting rights freely and to prevent untoward activities”. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

The writers can be reached at: [email protected]

Shashi P.B.B. Malla writes incisive political opinion about the politics and politicians of Nepal. He sometimes writes with fellow contributor, Chandra Bahadur Parbate.

Educated in Darjeeling, India, with a certificate from Cambridge University, he went to College and university in Calcutta: I. Sc./St. Xavier’s, B.A. (Hons.)/ Presidency, M.A. (International Relations)/Jadavpur, India. He was Assistant Editor: The Rising Nepal, Kathmandu.

He is or was the Country Representative, DAV Summit Club, Munich (Germany’s leading adventure tour operators in mountaineering and trekking)

He is a Senior Lecturer, Conflict, Peace and Development Studies, Tribhuwan University, Kathmandu