We did not raise arms simply to be a part of the parliamentary system, says C.P. Gajurel,secretary of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (UCPN-M). The Maoists insist Nepal must have an executive president directly elected by the people and a prime minister elected by parliament and close the debate on the model of governance future Nepal should have.
The Maoist response comes after the Nepali Congress,once the principal democratic party,has said that a parliamentary form of government with a ceremonial president as the head of state and a PM elected by the House would be the best political system for the country to adopt. Yet another major party the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) says enough care must be taken to ensure political stability and curb any possibility of the emergence of a dictator. Ist favours a PM directly elected by the people,and a ceremonial president.
The form of future governance is not the only contentious issue that divides the political spectrum with what appears like an unextendable deadline for the delivery of the new constitution. Maoist Chairman Prachanda has been able to rally the party behind him,and he is hopeful he stands a good chance to be the first executive president. But he is under pressure from a powerful faction led by the partys senior vice chairman,Mohan Baidya,to axe Baburam Bhattarai from the PMs post as a pre-condition for support. Baidya is even willing to put on hold his line a mass revolt to capture state power until May 27,if Bhattarai is ousted immediately. Prachandas choices are not easy. Bhattarai is still the favourite of external stakeholders,mainly the US and India,whose representatives have cautioned the Maoist chief that a change of leadership now may derail the peace and constitution-making processes.
However,there is not much enthusiasm at home,partly because of differences among the big three,and also because of the reluctance on the part of Maoists to fulfil any of their past promises. The UCPN-M has firmly protected its supporters wanted in human rights violation cases,refused to hand over property captured during the conflict and let its frontal organisations continue as militant outfits. And of late,it is insisting it would not send off its combatants from the cantonments including those who have opted for voluntary retirement and reintegration in the Nepal army as agreed earlier.
Maoists,as a matter of tactic,have always backtracked at the last minute,citing one or the other excuse while taking every concession from the other side. While Baidya talks about state capture through mass revolt,Bhattarai apparently believes in the same goal,but adopts a different tactic. He moves towards destroying institutions of the state. On the one hand,he has done many things to weaken the Nepal army. He is at the same time moving systematically towards distorting history and undermining major democratic achievements of the past.
On January 10,the supreme court stayed a decision of the cabinet to remove the statue of the late King Tribhuvan from the Martyr Memorial to a museum. King Tribhuvan,risking his life and throne,had fled to India in 1950 to join the Nepali Congress in establishing democracy in Nepal successfully. Upon his death five years later,he had been declared a martyr and Father of the Nation,and thus his statue found a place in the Martyr Memorial. While the 1950 movement for democracy was led by the king and the Nepali Congress,the 1990 movement for restoration of democracy (King Mahendra took power in 1960 and remained until 1990) was led by the Nepali Congress. The 1990 constitution that stood for multi-party parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy became the first casualty when the Maoist-Nepali Congress joint struggle succeeded in April 2006. The Maoist decision on King Tribhuvans statue and earlier scrapping of the 1990 constitution coupled with stripping King Prithvi Narayan Shah the architect of modern Nepal of the status of National Hero,many fear,are part of a deliberate design to ensure history produces no heroes other than the Maoists. The Maoists have quietly made it clear that neither political tolerance nor pluralism is their way,no matter whether the constitution is delivered or not.