Nepal: How Can This Possibly Be Called Democracy?

One of my friends told me other day that one of his relatives was looted a couple of days ago by a group of Maoists.

Initially the Maoists entered his private residence at night for the purpose of intimidation. But when they found the environment favourable, they showed their guns and threatened to kill him if he did not provide all valuables. Before the looters (Maoists) left the scene, they threatened the victims not to publicize the matter or to face the consequences if they did so. Such types of incidents are quite common in Kathmandu but people are reluctant to report to the authorities due to fear and terror of the Maoists. Hardly any actions are taken by the government even if the incidents are reported – probably the government considers that such actions will hamper the fragile peace process.

In the heart of Kathmandu city center in the middle of the day a group of Maoists were forcefully asking a small scale financial group to provide one hundred thousands rupees. Some of them were in combat dress and others wore red head bands. I do not know finally how much they agreed to give but I could see fear and unwillingness in the face of employees of that organization.

After a while I was at the main road and faced another group doing the same, asking all two and four wheelers at the street to provide money for their party. I refused to give them money by saying I just gave to another group thereby unable to give them again. They gave me nasty looks and turned towards another vehicle. This is all happening in the capital city. One can imagine the real situation outside of the Kathmandu valley mainly in remote areas where the government has no reach.

On the same day I drove around the city to watch the reality in other areas. Traffic in the city was not so heavy compared to a normal day since most of the vehicles were standing in long queues at gas stations due to fuel shortages caused by the Terai crisis. I saw similar groups of Maoists in several places wearing red bands on their head with the star sign on their forehead. The other most unusual thing that I saw was the entire city covered by posters with the Maoist Supremo Prachanda’s picture with different kinds of radical propaganda.

Almost all walls are full of communist revolutionary slogans. I could not see a single wall painting or poster representing democratic groups. It was just like you are walking in a street of the former Soviet Union in the forties or fifties. Prachanda’s posters with moustache remind me of the poster of Stalin of that time. Both have similarities not only by moustache but also their deeds by killing thousands of fellow citizens for their vested interests.

Then I remembered the face of Mr. GP Koirala, Prime Minister of Nepal, lean and thin and lanky old man. He considers himself a pillar of democracy. He looks very happy with his present achievements and he is very grateful to the Maoists for providing an excellent opportunity at his age. The Maoists decorated him with two most important hats, the hat of the head of the government as well as the interim head of the state.

Last year, in a crisis situation when a ruling King as the head of state assumed the head of government’s authority on the basis of constitutional framework for specific periods, that was condemned by alleging it as an autocratic move. Now, in a similar crisis situation how can we consider it as a democratic move when the Prime Minister is wearing double hats in the presence of the traditionally ruling King for indefinite periods with the backing of fundamentalist elements. As a student of political science I really do not understand the dilemma of condemning acts of the Monarch as absolute King and accepting the Prime Minister as absolute PM.

I remember the days when the Maoists abandoned the parliament and started the armed revolution against the constitutional regime. At that time PM Koirala used to say communist is the most hated word for him. During that time he was physically assaulted by the communists at the so called capital of the Maoists in the mid western region of Nepal. Surprisingly, with the influence of vested interests, PM Koirala become respectful to the communists and the Maoists become a most friendly element towards PM Koirala. At this juncture one can easily predict the reason why the Maoists are putting PM Koirala in such a platform. It is obviously because of Mr. Koirala’s ill health and old age. The Maoists are hoping that when the old man dies, the ball will automatically fall into the Maoist court. It is an open secret that the Maoists are creating and manipulating an environment to make the situation go as per their game plan.

Democratic political Parties, including Mr. Koirala’s Nepali Congress are not in a position to organize a political rally or any sort of mass oriented programs anywhere in countryside other than district headquarters due to Maoist obstruction. At least I have not heard of any, even since April. NC leaders are merely attending programs organized by the Maoists or their various pressure groups to justify the voice raised by the Maoists in different forums.

If Nepali Congress is not in a position to organize such programs in the capital city, how can we expect them to launch a political campaign for the election of constituent assembly in any other parts of the country?

The rightist political groups are unable to exercise their political rights. They attempted in certain areas but they were badly attacked by the Maoist cadres and local administrations virtually act like silent observers. How can we call it democracy, when the main democratic groups can not exercise their political activities in a peaceful environment? The targeted date for elections for constituent assembly is not far away but the situation in the country is like this. In such circumstances how can we expect free and fair election? Even if the election is held anyway, the result of the election will not be free and fair.

Realizing the fact of the recent Terai upsurge, everyone should learn lessons that if any elements of the country are neglected, the situation may turn in a very nasty direction. So still there is time to adopt an inclusive approach; none should be kept neglected and isolated. Otherwise the country will face dangerous consequences. Enough is enough we can not face more bloodshed. Peace for Nepal and Nepali citizens is paramount.

The Maoists continue to stick to their desired ultimate objective, i.e., to make Nepal a totalitarian communist regime. Presently the drama portrayed by them is just to create a conducive environment for them to launch their main campaign to achieve their ultimate objective. In fact, fundamental radical one party regime is not the end result perceived by the people of Nepal, which will further push our country to the brink of another seemingly endless bloody civil war. In the present context if we want to see Nepal as a peaceful independent sovereign country we require endurance and unity among us to safeguard our national interest.

The most viable choice for us now is all-inclusive full fledged multiparty democracy with inclusion of Monarchy in undisputed as well as respectful forms.