Nepal: ‘April Fool’ Day Turns April Imperative

It took almost 10 years for them to force the king out and almost a year to make a leap ahead for a seat in the government. They did it, but without being erased from the US ‘terrorists’ list.

The story is of the Nepali Maoists who made themselves a part of the responsible state force after being included in the interim government of Nepal headed by octogenarian Nepali Congress leader Girija Prasad Koirala.

With almost a yearlong tussle, the parties in Nepal chose ‘April Fool’ to come together in the interim government entrusted for holding the election to constituent assembly in June this year.

In October last year, the parties including the former rebel Maoists, had made a deal to finalise an interim constitution, interim house and interim government by early November. But as external forces played into political developments, like what the Maoists say, all the processes have been delayed. Initially, the communists blamed the UN for the delay while later pointing at Nepali Congress, which remains superior in Nepali political decision making, amidst communist dominance.

The making of the interim government began as early as March. Despite several rounds of debates, discussion, arguments and tussle, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala succeeded in pushing the process until ‘April fool’. The process took a U-turn when Maoists began disrupting the house proceedings and threatening that they would not join the government.

The Maoists held their central committee meeting to decide whether they should join the government. Reports said party leaders suggested top brass should walk away from the coalition because it is almost impossible to get a ‘respectable seat’ in the interim government and hold constituent assembly polls on scheduled time. In the middle of that, Koirala continued pulling the Maoist leaders closer to government seats like calling a crawling baby showing a lollypop.

The political lollypop of Koirala pulled the Maoist to April first, ironically making them fool ministers. Like they struggled for weeks to get into the seats of parliamentarians, they have to make head-to-head tussle with Nepali Congress for seats in the government. The last tussle was over on Sunday morning when second largest party Nepal Communist Party (Unified Marxists Leninists) agreed to drop its stand for second in command position in the government. Female rights activists criticised the feeble UML withdrawal because UML team to the interim government is led by its female member Sahana Pradhan. Koirala denied giving her second in command. Pradhan is senior to Girija in terms of joining the government and taking political leadership. She is the widow of late Pushpa Lal Shrestha, who established the communist party in Nepal.

Pradhan had led the left group during the people’s movement of 1990 and attended the reconciliation with King Birendra as second commander of the movement, while Koirala was in third position. Considering this fact, UML on Saturday resolved that Koirala’s denial to accept Pradhan as his heir was a dishonour to the party as a whole.

Koirala’s double hat trick

After his swearing-in ceremony, Koirala, who denied sharing important ministerial portfolios with coalition partners including second in command, said the position is not the important matter for him but the duties he has to perform. And interestingly, this is his sixth time taking the oath of prime minister of Nepal within the last 17 years. Koirala also holds the position of party president for the third consecutive term.

The race for the chair is an important part of Nepali Congress’s political history. The party split twice for the shake of getting position in the government. The first was in the late 1950s, the tussle between both senior brothers of Girija and the second in 2001, the tussle between Girija and Sher Bahadur Deuba. Deuba now holds the position of president of the splinter Nepali Congress Democratic, but cocking with Koirala in his effort to grab the opportunity to be Koirala’s heir as the two parties merge.

Lack of confidence among the top leaders in other parties for an alternative makes Koirala a fortunate candidate to lead the crucial peace process in Nepal in the last days of his life. Despite his chronic and deteriorating health, Koirala is active and expected to turn his commitments for preservation of capitalist dominance in Nepal into reality, for which he hopes to get confidence in the upcoming CA poll. The parties concluded they would hold the polls on June 20, delayed by 6 days than they stated in the interim constitution.

Two major communist groups – Maoists and the UML – almost feel penitent to see eye to eye, blaming each other as extremists or royalists. The only means they can come to a consensus is to support the leadership of Koirala. This has become fortunate for India and America working hard to erase communism.

But as Moriarty failed to exclude Maoists from going into the government, he sees his blurred future to be reappointed as envoy to Nepal when his term ends in July this year.

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 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.