Dance of the Vampires

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

There is no end to the political turmoil in our country. Yet the people who call themselves our political leaders of the various political parties, above all the infamous Gang of Eight ( the Seven Party Alliance/SPA and the Maoists) are going about their business as if there is no care in the world. We are nowhere near the elections to the Constituent Assembly (CA), the only way to give legitimacy to the political system.

We have become a laughing stock in the international arena. The foreign powers that were instrumental in installing the current unholy alliance seem to have lost interest in the unfolding Nepalese tragedy. And the Nepalese people can only watch the danse macabre of the parasites, carpetbaggers and blood-suckers helplessly.

The image of the present government is in precipitous decline. However, the self-annointed leaders come up with various schemes to retain political power by avoiding the people’s mandate. The Maoists continue to operate by issuing veiled threats and applying pressure tactics. Last week, Maoist honcho Prachanda (‘the Ferocious One’) threatened that the government leadership (he meant of course PM Girija Koirala) would be changed if a so-called consensus was not reached with regard to the interim parliament’s “instructions” for declaring the state a republic, and for adopting a fully proportional electoral system.

Apart from the fact that this statement clearly shows the good comrade’s deficit in understanding of democracy, the real richness of the statement per se lies in the fact that the Maoists are not even a part of the government. But they feel that they have the right and the clout to control the government at every twist and turn of Nepalese politics.

Even more sinister was the fact that the statement was made after a meeting of the three main ‘left’ parties, the CPN-Maoist, CPN-United Marxists-Leninists (UML) and the CPN-Unity Centre-Masal. Of course, ways and means were explored to put pressure on the Nepali Congress (NC) to agree to the Communist/Maoist demands and to forge leftist unity.

As Maoist leader Mohan Baidya (aka “Kiran”) put it, the meeting focused on the need to “persuade” the NC to consider the “seriousness” of the House resolutions on republic and proportional representation. The NC was also criticized for its “unilateral” way of functioning in the government. On another occasion, Baidya openly urged leftist unity to form a new government as the NC had failed (to hold CA-elections and implement the House resolutions). It was also significant that on the same occasion, the UML General-Secretary, Madhav Kumar Nepal (aka “Makune”) – with strong ambitions to capture the PM’s slot-stated that the leading role of the leftist parties was the necessity of the times.

However, to all intents and purposes the NC has capitulated to the Maoist/Communist demands so as not to be caught out in the cold. Their leaders – above all Koirala and home minister Sitaula – have proven themselves to be gutless, spineless and sans democratic principles. On Saturday, a NC central committee member, Prakash Sharan Mahat declared at the Reporter’s Club (Kathmandu’s talking shop) that his party was indeed ready to declare the country a republic. Simultaneously, he made the nonsensical proviso that this would, however, only be “implemented” after the CA-elections. This begs the question as to why to go through this illegal exercise right now. As has been stated in this space many times before, for a caretaker government to preempt a constitutional assembly in such a way is unconstitutional at best and outright idiotic at worst.

At least Mahat did, after all, also state that since the people were supreme and the ‘interim parliament’ had not received the direct mandate of the people, it was in no way entitled to enforce anything. However, for the Maoists and Communists this obscure and obfuscatory way of argument does not hold water, nor do they care a damn about non-existent legal niceties.

It is quite astounding that normally intelligent and nominally democratic politicians cannot see through their game plan. Prachanda also stated last Saturday that “the major political parties” (apparently the other parties, civil society and, above all, the people don’t count for much) had already agreed in principle to declare the state a republic, and that the announcement would be made “within the next few days.” He implied that this would bring a sea-change in the nation.

At the same, as is his wont, he made the dire warning that if this did not happen, “the country would face a terrible accident.” The government mouthpiece “The Rising Nepal” thought it necessary to add that the Maoist supremo (some political pundits consider him a toothless ‘Paper Tiger’) did not specify who or what would cause this “accident” or its nature. Does he really have to specify what this accident might be or does the term ‘Machtergreifung’ perhaps ring bells to anyone?

Having achieved their aim of declaration of a republic, the Maoists and the Communists would also accomplish their supreme end-game of abolishing the monarchy at one stroke without the people having a say at all. This will be akin to a fait accompli, and the CA-elections will recede even further, and at last they will be declared to be unnecessary. State restructuring under an authoritarian regime will then begin. Resistance will be crushed mercilessly. As Lenin stated conclusively, dictatorship is state power which is directly bolstered by force. We are already experiencing a taste of what is to come.

It is a sad fact that former US President Jimmy Carter only strengthened the hands of the Maoists and Communists with his ill-advised and ill-timed initiative to broker a breakthrough in the Nepalese imbroglio (vide last week’s Review). Considering the pathetic state of the nation, Carter’s failed endeavour to bring the unruly ‘leaders’ to order, and the ‘leaders’ themselves downplaying his efforts, it is surprising that some observers and commentators have made pathetic attempts to highlight Carter’s statesmanlike contribution. Thus, Khagendra N. Sharma writing in “The Kathmandu Post” sees in Carter’s view “a gesture of the policy change in the US government.” In this and most of his other conclusions, Sharma is quite presumptuous. When he states that the previous US policy supported “the autocratic royal government”, it is a downright falsehood. Madhav Shrestha’s piece in “The Himalayan Times” paid glowing tributes to Carter, his “unflinching pursuit to work for peace and human rights” and his “unabated dedication to resolve political crises in various parts of the world.” However, in concrete terms, Shrestha failed to pinpoint Carter’s flawed suggestions.

The SPA, with or without outside help from the Maoists is just not able to confront the major problems facing the country. We need a complete change of leadership: a new broom sweeps clean. In such a situation, it is highly regrettable that the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Ian Martin has overstepped his mark and given a clean chit to the failed SPA-government. After more than a year of (mal)functioning, the so-called Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) lies in tatters. Now Martin had thought it fit to state that the unity of the SPA “remains fundamental to the success of the peace process.” The Maoists have broken every agreement that they have signed, and the SPA is at their mercy.

Conversely,Martin seriously expects the political parties to complete a frank assessment of the experience of the past year in order to develop a new sense of common vision and above all a realistic and effective road-map of actions to successfully hold the CA-elections. If Martin genuinely believes that this will happen, then he probably expects Father Christmas with his sledge pulled by Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer landing at Tribhuwan International Airport in the next weeks.

Lets face it, our political leaders just developing common sense, embracing democratic values or simply committing to CA-election dates is just as likely.

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