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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Red October

The latest threat that Nepal faces is from Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”,chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists(CPN-M).

Written by Yubaraj Ghimire | October 3, 2009 2:58:48 am

The latest threat that Nepal faces is from Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”,chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists(CPN-M). “Come Deepawali,we will launch a fresh wave of revolution. And even the United Nations will back it,” he declared during an informal chat with ‘comrade journalists’ recently. His other,more aggressive,comrades in the party have warned that if peaceful methods fail to get power back to the fold of the Maoists,“we will go for other options”. A powerful leader of the Young Communist League (YCL) even declared that the party would physically target its enemies.

While Prachanda’s latest threat,if implemented,will mean unilaterally calling off the peace process,it has visibly embarrassed the United Nations,especially its two agencies,the United Nations Mission to Nepal (UNMIN) and the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner (OHCHR) — often accused by other parties of being lenient towards the Maoists. UNMIN said it will only be acting in support of a peaceful democratic movement. OHCHR issued a statement asking the Maoists to hand-over its leaders,wanted in cases of individual and mass murder,to the police for trial.

But now,it is not only about how fair UNMIN and OHCHR have been to the role assigned to them. It’s more about the ineffectiveness of the UN in circumstances where other key actors are more power hungry,less committed to democracy and less committed to long-term peace. 85-year old G.P. Koirala — his body and stamina almost comparable to Morarji Desai’s,but his lust for power unparalleled — wants his daughter Sujata Koirala elevated to the rank of deputy prime minister (she is currently minister for foreign affairs) in lieu of his cooperation in the constitution-making process. He also said recently that he would go to the extent of sacrificing himself to save the country from disintegration. But Koirala’s words hardly enthused any hope among the people since he — in close company of and support from the Maoist chief — has rightly been blamed for the current impasse. Maoists have been demanding the creation of provinces on the basis of language and ethnicity with the right to self-determination. Not on one occasion in the past did Koirala,as the prime minister of the Maoist-backed coalition,warn Maoists that their policy was wrong and may lead to the disintegration of the nation. Koirala,like the Maoists,has of late,also tried to invoke “nationalism” by blaming India for much of the current mess that the country is in.

According to Kamal Thapa,president of the pro-monarchy Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal (RPP-N),at least two million foreigners (read Indians) have been given Nepali citizenship,and a million Hindus have converted to Christianity during the past three years since G.P. Koirala took over as the prime minister following King Gyanendra’s surrender to the political parties as part of an India-mediated settlement. Nepali Hindus,some of them clearly backed by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)’s Nepal chapter — Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh — are regrouping against the spate of alleged conversions. Even ordinary Hindus feel that Maoists and G.P. Koirala — a self-declared atheist — are anti-Hindu. The proof: his silence during the assault on priests of the Pashupati temple by the pro-Maoist groups recently,the second time in less than seven months. In fact,Maoists have been the cause of most of the problems,and are its beneficiaries. The absence of visible authority of the state has given Maoists,especially its leadership,the space to say or do anything and get away with it. Prachanda’s threat of imminent revolt by the people in less than three weeks,and his aide Baburam Bhattarai’s assertion that Kathmandu would be the laboratory of renewed bloodshed,can no longer be dismissed as a Maoist bargain for a hand-over of power to a government led by it once again. These are messages,loud and clear,that they may try to snatch power through the barrel of guns,silent and idle for the past three plus years.

Should the violence erupt in Nepal afresh,the country will have no dependable friends and international agencies like in the past. India’s mediation that brought seven pro-democracy parties and the Maoists together,is being seen as a failure. And UNMIN or the UN are also being seen as equal failures. Privately,Maoists say that trusting external forces including India was a blunder on their part. But whether they are going to sincerely pursue a politics of consensus,or continue with their politics of divide and demolish,needs to be seen.

yubaraj.ghimire@expressindia.com

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