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Posts Tagged ‘Baburam Bhattarai’

Nepal Constitution Under the Shadow of the Military

Posted by chimeki on October 5, 2016

Over a week has passed since seven policemen and an infant were killed during a Tharu agitation in Tikapur in nepalworkerNepal. It was followed by riots and army deployment in the area. After 10 years the Nepalese Army is out of the barracks to enforce law and order.

Although Nepal today is a Republic, not a bit seems to have changed in the government’s approach towards crisis in Nepal. It’s still looking south for direction. Instead of making a serious effort to reach out to disgruntled groups the Nepal government seems to be in a hurry to promulgate the Constitution in ‘time’ under the military’s shadow. Suddenly extended Constituent Assembly sittings are being held.

The proposed constitution has opened old wounds which have bled Nepal since the 1950s. Lack of foresight coupled with superficial attempts to resolve it has, like always, only deepened the crisis. The standard crisis management method so far has been: first, suppress democratic aspirations, then negotiate and at the end create a bigger problem to make the first look minor or at least unworthy of any serious attention.

Just a brief recall: to counter parliamentarians, erstwhile King Birendra let the Maoists spread through the country, and even held secret talks with them. Later to control the Maoists, King Gyanendra held secret negotiations with China and other European countries and gave them full opportunity to influence Nepal’s internal politics. Then, to make the King listen, the parliamentary parties struck a deal with the Maoists. And in 2006, to subdue the Maoists, the Nepal government under late GP Koirala extended support to the Madhesi Movement.

The current crisis in Nepal too is the result of a lack of wisdom, and levels of connivance, in the current leadership of the ruling parties. In the last three months the Nepali politicians have made two fundamental errors which have fueled mass unrest. First, arose from the belief that the leaders of the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) and Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar of the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, Democratic still hold credibility in their constituencies. Second, they couldn’t correctly foresee the people’s anger. They believed that with the Maoists and the Forum on their side they would make people accept the constitution without much trouble.

It is a fact that the second Constituent Assembly is hardly as representative of the will of Nepalese people as was the first. The representation of indigenous, Madhesi and dalits-minority has almost come to naught in the present Constituent Assembly. It is definitely a setback.

The parties which had been ruling Nepal for last three decades and were by large responsible for whatever Nepal is today, are in the majority and have forcibly revised several important decisions of the previous Assembly. The unrest today is a result of those revisions. Along with this the Maoists also completely capitulated on every positive issue they once stood for. Such as secularism, ethnic based federalism and land reform. In all, the 2nd Constituent Assembly has given a constitution minus the spirit of the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and several other agreements and understandings with the Madhesi and other ethnic and poor people of Nepal. In fact, it gave the same constitution which had been proven outdated for Nepal long ago.

Hence, when the ruling government of the Congress and UML bet on Prachanda and Gachhadar to make people believe their intentions they made a very poor choice. Prachanda and Gachhadar have long lost their credibility. The Madhesi people don’t see Gachhadar as their representative leader. Similarly, Prachanda too doesn’t have the support of people beyond a tiny faction in and outside his party. The parties should have considered the fact that Prachanda lost the election from Kathmandu and marginally won from Siraha. It is only a ‘miracle’ that for the last three years he is at the helm of the UCPNM leadership. For long he has managed to remain at the top only as a compromised choice of rival factions in the party. Both Gachhadar and Prachanda are the leaders who everyone in their parties want to see fail. Their failure guarantees survival as well as resurrection of many other leaders.

Hence, the stamp of these two leaders on the new constitution was not acceptable. Their agreement on the draft only justified people’s fear that they were about to be fooled once again. The result: for the last two weeks Nepal is shut. Curfew is imposed in several parts and gradually the military is taking the lead role. Can a constitution promulgated in this situation give the lasting peace Nepal has been looking for since the 1950s?

(Published in the Citizen, 2 September 2015)

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नेपाल का संविधान और 40 सूत्रीय मांग

Posted by chimeki on August 3, 2015

Constitution-nepal4 फरवरी 1996 को तत्कालीन संयुक्त जनमोर्चा (नेपाल) की ओर से डाॅ बाबुराम भट्टराई ने प्रधान मंत्री शेर बहादुर देउबा को 40 सूत्रीय मांग पत्र सौंपा। संयुक्त मोर्चा ने यह भी घोषणा की कि इन मांगों पर यदि सरकार की ओर से कोई जवाब नहीं आया तो वे ‘राज्यसत्ता के विरोध में सशक्त संघर्ष के रास्ते में जाने के लिए बाध्य होंगे’। 14 फरवरी 1996 को नेपाल की कम्युनिस्‍ट पार्टी (माओवादी) ने नेपाल की राज्यसत्ता के विरुद्ध जनयुद्ध की घोषणा कर दी।

नेपाल के नए संविधान (मसौदा) की 1996 के उपरोक्त मांग पत्र के साथ तुलना करने पर यह साफ हो जाता है कि नया संविधान उन मांगों को संबोधित करने में पूरी तरह विफल साबित हुआ है जिसने नेपाल को 10 साल के लिए अनिश्चय, अस्थिरता और अशांति के रास्ते में डाल दिया था।

माओवादियों की 40 सूत्रीय मांग नेपाली समाज में व्याप्त उन अंतरविर्रोधों का लघु मानचित्र है जिनके हल न होने से नेपाल हमेशा एक ऐसे ज्वालामुखी के समान बना रहा है जो छोटे-छोटे अंतराल में फटता रहता है और सामाजिक और राजनीतिक उथल-पुथल का कारण बनता है।

नेपाल में एक नए संविधान का बन जाना कोई ऐतिहासिक महत्व की घटना नहीं है। 1950 के बाद से नेपाल के वर्तमान संविधान को मिलाकर कुल छह संविधान बन चुके हैं। नेपाल का सबसे पहला संविधान 1951 (अंतरिम) में बना, उसके बाद 1959, 1962, 1990 और 2007 (अंतरिम) में नेपाल में संविधान जारी हुए। इस अल्प अवधि में इतने संविधानों का जारी होना यह बताता है कि नेपाली समाज में व्याप्त अंतर्विरोधों का समाधान किए बिना शांति, स्थिरता और विकास की आशा नहीं की जा सकती। संविधान का निर्माण भावनाओं में बह कर नहीं किया जा सकता। यह किसी के अंहकार की तुष्टि का साधान नहीं है। संविधान का निर्माण वस्तुपरक स्थिति के ठोस मूल्यांकन के आधार पर ही हो सकता है। नेपाल के वर्तमान संविधान में इन सारे मूलभूत सिद्धांतों की अवहेलना की गई है। अंततः उसने उन कारकों को पुनः मान्यता प्रदान कर दी है जो नेपाल को बार-बार अराजकता, अस्थिरता और अशांति की ओर धकेल देते हैं। नेपाली समाज का छोटा मध्यम वर्ग और सम्पन्न वर्ग चाहे जितना ही ईमानदारी से शांति, स्थिरता और विकास की बात करता रहे, यह तब तक संभव ही नहीं है जब तक यह वर्ग व्याप्त अंतर्विरोधों को हल करने की दिशा में कोई ठोस कदम नहीं उठाता और बहुसंख्यक गरीब आबादी को यह अहसास नहीं दिलाता कि देश हित की उसकी दलीलों में उनका भी हित शामिल है।

नेपाल को एक स्वतंत्र देश से अर्ध-उपनिवेश और अब नव-उपनिवेश की स्थिति तक पहुंचाने में नेपाल पर समय-समय पर लादी गई असमान संधियां एवं समझौतों की बड़ी भूमिका है जिसमें सबसे प्रतिक्रियावादी संधि भारत और नेपाल के बीच 1950 में हुई शांति और मैत्री संधि ही है। इस संधि ने नेपाल के अर्ध-औपनिवेशिक चरित्र को मजबूत किया।[1]  इसलिए 1950 के बाद नेपाल में जितने भी छोटे-बड़े आंदोलन हुए उन सबकी प्रमुख मांग इस संधि को खारिज किया जाना था। 1996 में माओवादी द्वारा प्रस्तुत 40 सूत्रीय मांग की पहली मांग इस संधि को निरस्त करना था। वर्तमान संविधान में इस दिशा में कोई ठोस आश्‍वासन नहीं है।

एक अध्ययन के अनुसार, नेपाल की 65 प्रतिशत जमीन पर 10 प्रतिशत सम्पन्न सामंत वर्ग का अधिकार है। नेपाल में 8 प्रतिशत लोग पूरी तरह से भूमिहीन हैं और 65 प्रतिशत गरीब किसानों के हिस्से में मात्र 10 प्रतिशित भूमि है।[2] इसलिए नेपाल की बुनियादी जरूरत ठोस भूमि सुधार कार्यक्रम को लागू करना है। भूमि सुधार कार्यक्रम को सख्ती के साथ लागू किए बिना बहुसंख्यक जनता के हित में भूमि संसाधन का दोहन नहीं हो सकता। वर्तमान संविधान में वैज्ञानिक भूमि सुधार करने की बात तो है लेकिन भूमि के वितरण पर खामोशी है। साथ ही अनुपस्थित भू-स्वामित्व को केवल निरुत्साहित करने की बात की गई है। इस संबंध में स्पष्ट दृष्टिकोण का अभाव बहुत भ्रामक है। साथ ही 40 सूत्रीय मांग में गरीब किसानों के लिए पूर्ण रूप से कर्ज माफी की बात की गई थी लेकिन संविधान ने इस पर आंखें बंद कर ली हैं।

40 सूत्रीय मांग में गोर्खा भर्ती केन्द्रो को बंद करने की मांग की गई थी। इसका उद्देश्य उस घृणित परंपरा का अन्त करना था जिसके कारण नेपाली जनता को दूसरे देशों की जनता के आंदोलनों को कुचलने के लिए इस्तेमाल किया जाता है। यह असभ्य और मानवता के खिलाफ है। आज ही नहीं ब्रिटिश उपनिवेशवाद के दौर से ही ऐसा हो रहा है। 1857 में भारत में हुए अंग्रेज विरोधी संघर्ष में नेपाली सैनिकों का प्रयोग किया गया। इसके अतिरिक्त पंजाब, कश्मीर, अफगानिस्तान, लैटिन अमेरिका में भी नेपाली सैनिकों ने सक्रिय रूप से भाग लिया। वर्तमान संविधान इस पंरपरा को बनाए रखता है।

2005 के अध्यन के अनुसार मात्र काठमांडू में 31 हजार से अधिक संपत्तिहीन लोग हैं जो झुग्गियों में रहते हैं। पूरे नेपाल में यह संख्या कई गुणा अधिक है। 40 सूत्रीय मांग में इन लोगों के लिए उचित व्यवस्था की मांग थी। साथ ही यह भी उल्लेख है कि बिना विकल्प के इन लोगों की बेदखली नहीं होनी चाहिए। लेकिन मसौदा संविधान कानून के अनुसार बेदखली को वैधानिकता प्रधान करता है।

इसके अलावा भारत नेपाल बीच की खुली सीमा को नियंत्रित एवं व्यवस्थित करने पर भी संविधान में कुछ नहीं कहा गया है।

40 सूत्रीय मांग की ऐसी अनेक बातें हैं जिसे वर्तमान संविधान में पूर्ण रूप से निषेध कर दिया गया है। 40 सूत्रीय मांग में नेपाल की सभी भाषाओं को समान अवसर और सुविधा देने की बात है लेकिन वर्तमान संविधान में नेपाली को ही सरकारी कामकाज की भाषा का दर्जा दिया है। इस तरह लाखों गैर-नेपाली भाषाई नागरिकों को हाशिये पर धकेल दिया गया है।

माओवादियों की मांग थी कि नेपाल के सभी नागरिकों के लिए निशुल्क और वैज्ञानिक स्वास्थ सेवा एवं शिक्षा की व्यवस्था होनी चाहिए। वर्तमान मसौदा संविधान शिक्षा और स्वास्थ सेवा के निजीकरण को संवैधानिक अधिकार के रूप में मान्यता देता है। इस तरह यह शिक्षा और स्वास्थ्‍य के नाम पर होने वाली लूट को चुनौती देने तक को आपराधिक अथवा गैरकानूनी बना देता है।

यह कहना अतिशयोक्ति नहीं है कि 1996 में प्रस्तुत माओवादियों की 40 सूत्रीय मांग को अंततः यह संविधान खारिज कर देता है जो जनयुद्ध के शुरू होने और विस्तार करने का महत्वपूर्ण कारण था।

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[1] संधि को ठीक से समझने के लिए नेपाल के तत्कालीन प्रधान मंत्री मोहन शमशेर और भारतीय राजदूत सी पी नारायण सिंह द्वारा हस्ताक्षरित ‘लेटर आॅफ एक्सचेन्ज’ का अध्ययन आवश्यक है।

[2] बाबुराम भट्टराई, पोलिटिको-इकोनोमिक रैशनैल आॅफ पीपुल्स वाॅर इन नेपाल

वि.श.

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Narendra Modi in Nepal

Posted by chimeki on April 29, 2015

Courtesy: Business Standart

Courtesy: Business Standart

It takes centuries to build a national identity and less than few months to lose it completely. This is a lesson that the people of Nepal are to learn very soon. Nepal, because of its geo-political location, has been always a place of political and diplomatic maneuverings for the regional powers but never before was it done so openly and brazenly as it is being done now.

Under Narendra Modi India has become dangerously assertive in Nepal. Since he took over as the prime minister of India he had made it clear that India would actively involve itself in the affairs of South Asia. The method would vary country-wise. In Nepal, he is trying to launch a powerful assault on the Nepali identity by evoking the Hindu identity. Interestingly, there is a complete lack of concern among the Nepali politicians and academia who, until recently, would jump the gun over anything they perceived as a threat to Nepal’s sovereignty and nationality.

While he talks Gandhi and secularism to his Western audience, his regular conjuration of the Hindu identity in Nepal has become a matter of serious deliberation among the concerned Nepal watchers. Post 2002 Gujarat communal carnage, Mr Modi projected himself as the man of development in India and abroad, but for Nepali people, he has become a religious zealot, a crusader who felt it his duty to make them conscious of their religion.

Mr Modi has betrayed his obsession with Nepal quite often in the last few months. His fixation with Nepal is hardly a secret now. In his first visit to Bhutan he mistakenly referred the Bhutanese parliamentarians as the Nepali law makers. Later he praised Nepal in his maiden Independence Day speech to the nation.

In between these two references he toured Nepal and offered prayers in the Pashupatinath temple. The photograph where his forehead is smeared in the temple’s holy ash created a sensation in the country. Even the hardcore nationalists saw it as a signal from India to have a good relationship. When he spoke in the Nepal’s Constitution Assembly, the first head of any state to do it in recent memories, he repeatedly evoked shared Hindu identity by the people of the two countries.

Taking the step further, he planned a road trip to Nepal in November this year to attend the 18th SAARC Summit. Thankfully it didn’t happen. Mr Modi’s itinerary included Janakpur, a town considered to be the birth place of Ramayan’s Sita, Muktinath and Lumbani. He had plans to address the people in all the three places.

Nepal and Identity:

Birth of Nepal as a nation-state coincided with the expansion of the British Raj in India. In the south of Nepal, the two powers constantly disputed over trade and border issues in the last and the first decades of the 18th and 19th centuries. Finally, in 1814 the more than two-decade-long tension culminated in a fully fledged war. The Anglo Nepalese War of 1814-16 in which Nepal suffered a humiliating defeat sealed the fate of Nepal for more than a century and a half. That defeat also made Nepal extremely conscious of its existence. Over the years Nepal’s foreign policy and relationship were moulded with a specific aim of protecting its existence. That was the reason, many believe, Nepal whole heartedly supported all British moves in Asia and the world.

During the first war of Independence in India in 1857, Nepal played a very crucial role in reestablishing English supremacy in the region. Then Prime Minister of Nepal Jung Bahadur Rana, who established the Rana autocracy or Ranacracy in Nepal, personally led the Gurkha army to crush the armed uprising in Lucknow and other parts of Northern India. Karl Marx called Jung Bahadur Rana ‘the English dog-man’. Even after the rebellion was thoroughly crushed, the Rana regime continued to aid the British establishment in India. Thereafter, the Ranas would not allow any anti-British activities from Nepal. In the following years Nepal was the source of a large number of Gurkha recruits and slaves for the English rulers. The successive Rana rulers continued to aid the British with Gurkha soldiers in the missions in Burma, Afghanistan, China, Malta, Cyprus, Malaya and Tibet. In the two world wars more than 2 lakh Gurkha soldiers fought along the British lines. During World War II there were 112000 Gurkha soldiers in the British Army, the highest ever.

Post British rule in Asia, precisely after India got freedom, when India’s new rulers set the task of assimilating as many independent states as possible into India’s fold, Nepal had to wake up to the new political reality. The hastily concluded Peace and Friendship Treat of 1950 with the new Indian government has signs of a desperate attempt by the then Nepali rulers to switch loyalty. Although the Rana rule ended soon after the treaty was signed, the treaty remained in effect. It still is. Since then this treaty is the core around which Nepali politics moves. The political trend in Nepal is that every political party would criticize the treaty when she is in opposition or leading an armed movement and go mum as soon as it would come to power or become part of the system.

The suspicion for India grew after Sikkim became the 22nd state of India in 1975. Many in Nepal saw it as a forceful annexation. This event added a new word in the Nepali political lexis, Sikkimikaran or Sikkimization. The merger made Nepali people more attached to their Nepali identity.

In the coming years, this attachment to identity first developed into cynicism and then transformed into socialism. The socialists in Nepal become the flag bearer of sovereignty and Nepali identity. This transformation happened due to the recognition and support Nepal got from the socialist China. China offered Nepal an olive branch to stand on its own, for itself against its mighty southern neighbor which, for many Nepalese, had followed the British legacy of expansionism and assertion.

Since 1950, there have been many attempts, deliberate or unintentional, to dilute the Nepali identity by the Hindu fundamentalists from the both sides of the border. Like today many Indian leaders had tried to influence Nepali masses by evoking common religious belief in the past too. However, Nepal for long remained unmoved from these assaults. In the last 60 years, Nepal has successful defied the Hindutva agenda of blending Nepali identity with the larger Hindu identity. Nepali people had always challenged the hegemonic rhetoric of its southern neighbor. Also, whenever they felt that the leaders or the kings couldn’t be trusted in safeguarding the sovereignty of the country they had come out to protest. Often these protests have led to big political changes.

On the other hand, the kings too found it necessary for their own survival to keep the Nepali identity separate from the broader Hindu identity. Often they fuelled nationalistic sentiments to check growing Indian interventions in the country’s sovereign affairs. The first king of Nepal Prithvi Narayan Shah warned his subjects from crossing the border and mixing with the Indian population. Later, the Rana rulers consciously chose not to be seen as an extension of India. However, from the second half of the 20th century, the idea of state-sponsored Nepali nationalism was challenged by the new and more inclusive form of nationalism i.e. socialist nationalism.

Nationalism(s) in Nepal

From 1950, there emerged contesting views of nationalism in Nepal. One view reflected the state sponsored top-down nationalism based on national pride centered on the Shah Monarchy and Hindu (not Hindutva) ideals while other view advocated bottom-up nationalism based on class unity of the marginalized and toiling masses. The former was intrinsically anti-woman, anti-dalit, anti-religious minorities and also against the people of Tarai (plains) known generally as the Madheshi. The latter view defined nationalism in Nepal’s context as the unity of all the exploited people and demanded restructuring of Nepal based on the principles of socialism and democracy.

After a prolonged struggle the people of Nepal succeeded in uprooting the monarchy in 2008. The first Constituent Assembly saw the largest number of representation of hitherto suppressed minorities, nationalities, gender and castes. It looked as if Nepal was on the threshold of resolving the contradictions it had been in since the emergence of modern Nepal. However the first Constitutional Assembly failed to write a constitution in the stipulated time and had to be dissolved. The second Constitutional Assembly, which came into existence in November last year, is not as representative as the first. The number of women, dalits, Madheshis and other marginalized communities and minorities has come down to one third of the previous number. Nevertheless, the people still hoped for a better Constitution than they had previously.

However, things have been changing fast in Nepal since the Baratiya Janta Party came to power in India. This has also coincided with the weakening of the nationalist consciousness among the Nepali people. Nationalistic feeling subsided because people feel cheated by the nationalist leaders. There is a feeling that the leaders cultivate nationalistic sentiments to further their self interests. It is not long ago when the Maoists were seen as the watchdog of national sovereignty. But they too proved to be the same old wine with a new label. It was during the premiership of the Maoist leader Dr Baburam Bhattarai that Nepal signed the worst bilateral trade agreement, the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA), with India. Several studies have already proved that these agreements have always harmed the interests of the weaker economies. Besides, the Maoists have shown reluctance to speak on India’s growing intervention in Nepal. In the name of pragmatism, they dared not offend India’s goodwill.

Not long ago the Maoists would stop Indian motor vehicles from crossing to Nepal calling it the right of sovereign people. There were nationalists who burnt posters of Indian film stars and politicians they thought had hurt the Nepali sentiments. These leaders are now completely silent over the most ill-timed intervention by the head of India. The passivity is bound to cost Nepal very much.

The question of nationality is still relevant for the neo-colonized countries and nationalities. Although, it is considered an obsolete idea to emphasize on nationality and identity at the cost of the larger class question nevertheless the weakening of socialist movements across the world and rising assault of capitalist imperialism has made it inevitable to fall back to the Marxist line which, along with the class question, addresses the question of nationalism in the newly colonized or neo-colonized countries of the world. For these nationalities, as Lenin would see in various forms of struggles, the nationalist or identity struggle is a process of crystallizing the class struggle. In the last decades of the last century, the socialists in many countries of the world creatively blended the Marxist class line with the issue of nationalism and were not only able to win over the large masses of people but also sustain their power for a longer period.

The Maoists in Nepal must remember Lenin’s warning when he said, “The bourgeoisie ‘want’ to curtail the class struggle, to distort and narrow the conception and blunt its sharp edge.”  Narendra Modi seems to be doing exactly this. He is trying to blunt the edges of the volatile class struggle in India and Nepal with a narrow nationalistic sentiment based on Hindu supremacy. The nationalists in Nepal, including the Maoists, must remember that nationalism is ultimately an idea. It cannot be saved, by stopping foreign goods and vehicles from crossing the border, shutting cinema halls playing foreign movies and other such rituals, useless the idea itself is saved.

V.S.

(Published at Sanhati.com on December 13, 2014)

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Nepal Peace Process on Track

Posted by chimeki on April 29, 2015

Nepal Peace ProcessIn Nepal, the constitution writing process is back on track. On September 2, the big three parties, Nepali Congress, UML, UCPN-Maoist, have agreed to engage with Mohan Baidya ‘Kiran’ led Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist. The CPN-M is the biggest party outside the Constituent Assembly and has been proposing an all party conference to resolve the contentious issues of the Constituent Assembly. It has warned of consequences for the government if it tries to ignore its alliance.

The breakthrough has come just four days before the deadline set by the working calendar of the Constituent Assembly to build a consensus on all disputed issues. On 5 April, the Constituent Assembly had formed the Constitutional Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee under UCPN-M leader Dr Baburam Bhattarai and mandated it to underline the bone of contention among the parties in and outside the Constituent Assembly. On May 16, the committee sent a list of 145 points related to the constitution writing process that, it said, needed addressing. Accordingly, the committee held talks with 45 parties outside the Constituent Assembly on 7 and 8 July to put on record their demands. However, the CPN-M, which, along with 33 other parties, had boycotted the second Constituent Assembly election held in November last year, refused to sit for talks saying that it didn’t recognize the new Constituent Assembly. It demanded a direct talk among the parties and all the stakeholders in Nepal.

Since then the writing process had stuck in limbo. It looked as if the Sushil Koirala government had made up its mind to bypass CPN-M and parties outside the Constituent Assembly while working on the constitution. Had it happened it would have set a wrong precedent.

Since last November, the political landscape in Nepal has completely changed. There have emerged alternative voices in every major political party. In the CPN-M, one strong voice is represented by Netra Bikram Chand ‘Biplab’, a charismatic young leader with an influencing following. The party which, till recently, had claimed to be above factionalism is facing an existential crisis. Biplab has serious reservations on the line taken by the party leadership since the second Constituent Assembly election. He has attacked the leadership for not being able to formulate concrete line in the changed scenario. He believes that the line of the party chairman Kiran and other senior leaders, which tells that the Constituent Assembly is still relevant, has exhausted and the party should change its course of action. In a recently concluded meeting of the central committee, Biplab had presented an alternative proposal challenging the Chairman’s.

Biplab’s proposal to the party is: go back to the People’s War. His emphasis is on getting out of the peace process and going underground. He has strongly rejected Kiran’s argument for a peaceful struggle until the time is mature for a ‘people’s revolt’. He is of belief that there is no scope for peaceful struggle for Socialism in Nepal and that line of ‘People’s revolt’ is the excuse of the status quoist forces in the party! Biplab seems ready to say goodbye to fellow comrades if they don’t make amendments in the party’s present line. If this happens, the peace process in Nepal will certainly collapse. The leaders must understand that the consequences of the collapse will not be Biplab’s sole doing instead more responsibility will be of the government.

For better part of its term, the government had seldom shown seriousness in fulfilling its commitment to the Nepalese people of giving them a new constitution. The peace process which began 8 years ago often looked an unending exercise. The Constituent Assembly is yet to present the first draft of the constitution! Experts believe that the real process will begin after the first draft is made public because only then people will actually join the debate which has been going on behind the curtain for all these years.

The agreement to hold talk with the CPNM is a welcome step. It sends a clear message that the government is serious for a meaningful and constructive dialogue with all the voices without caring much for their size and standing. It is also a message to Biplab and his supporters that their fear that there is no scope for peaceful and democratic solution of Nepal’s problem is without merit.

V.S.

(Published in The Citizen)

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In Nepal PM Modi failed to break with the past

Posted by chimeki on August 6, 2014

Courtesy: Business Standart

Courtesy: Business Standard

Despite beginning his speech in Nepali, acknowledging Lumbini as Gautam Buddha’s birthplace and reuniting Jeet Bahadur with his family, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Nepal visit was an absolute failure in terms of everything India wanted to see him achieve. People in India as well as Nepal expected from PM Modi that he would break with the old tradition in India-Nepal relationship where Nepal always has to play younger brother role and usher it in an era of equality opportunity. Sadly, as at home he couldn’t deliver abroad.

His maiden speech in the Constituent Assembly of Nepal was worst ever speech by a visiting head of any country in any host country. It was more of a sermon than a clear cut diplomatic statement, which every one rightly expected.

PM Modi was expected to fill the holes which consecutive Indian governments had dig in in Indo-Nepal relationship but he, like his predecessor Dr. Manmohan Singh, ended up adding more!

Narendra Modi did well to begin his speech in Nepali but failed to keep the momentum. Initially it appeared that he was one who was free of big brother syndrome, which Indian leaders generally carry, but two-three sentence later he shed his mask of humility and started coaching Nepali parliamentarians on his favorite topics: religion, history, management and mostly importantly himself!

What India badly needed in Nepal was an image makeover. For whatever India does in Nepal is always seen with suspicion. Suspecting everything India does in Nepal is the default setting in a Nepali mind. So PM would have done better if he would have come out of his election mode and talked business. After all he wasn’t there to influence voters!

The first blunder that Modi made was to unnecessarily evoke gods to describe Nepal’s relevance. Doing that, he ignored the feelings of non-Hindu population of that country. He wasted many minutes of his 45-minute long speech to explain how his coming from Somnath and winning election from Kashi (Varanasi) brought him closer to Pashupati (Nepal)! Further he wrongly claimed that 125 crore Indians want to visit Pashupatinath temple!

In his enthusiasm to impress or impress upon Nepali parliamentarians, half of whom are Communists, he forgot to minus Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits and other minorities of India and Nepal from that number who are barred from entering the elite temple. In the gate of the temple it is written in bold, ‘Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple premise’! Moreover, even Nepalis do not relate themselves to Pashupatinath. It is Gautam Buddha who is the real national symbol in Nepal. Ask any Nepali there, the first thing he would like a tourist to see in Nepal is Lumbini, the birth place of Buddha. PM Modi would have done better by congratulating Nepal on becoming a secular democratic country.

It is again a diplomatic blunder to try teaching leaders of host countries what they should be doing. In half of his speech he did this. To add on to it, he told the members of the Constituent Assembly that they didn’t know what they were actually doing! He spoke as if those men and women didn’t understand the meaning of constitution writing. Once he even said, ‘you think you are doing this but actually you are doing that’.

The PM would have really done well had he talked about the process of Indian constitution writing. It was an opportune moment to remember Dr BR Ambedkar, the architect of Indian Constitution, and the challenges he had to overcome to write it. And, also what features of Indian constitution played important role to keep India stable and on the path of social justice. It would have definitely given the Nepali law makers some food for thought. But our PM ignorantly mixed modern constitution with the ancient Hindu texts! Rather suggesting them to have saintly and priestly mind, he could have suggested them to have scientific and rational attitude.

It makes one wonder if our PM really don’t know anything beyond the Ganges, gods, Hindu religion and of course himself. He didn’t once mention any great Nepali leader or literary figure. Compare his speech with the US President Barak Obama’s in the Indian Parliament and readers can easily spot the differences. President Obama spoke about Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. He evoked both to highlight the importance of equality, human dignity and social justice. In contrast PM Modi could only stereotype Nepalis as shedding blood in India’s wars and belonging to the country of Lord Pashupatinath. President Obama genuinely recalled the roles of his predecessors in building relationship with India. PM Modi, in contrast, negated the roles played by the likes of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, IK Gujral and others in bringing India and Nepal closer. It wouldn’t have left bad a taste had he talked about Jayaprakash Narayan, Chandra Shekhar, VP Singh and other Indian leaders who always associated themselves with Nepal’s democratic movements and who Nepali people still fondly remember. But no, Modi can’t do this. His ego is too big to see anything beyond himself. With this attitude, Modi will never achieve what he intends to achieve. He can never be the South Asia’s leader he aims to become and who the region badly needs.

V.S.

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Nepal’s Maoist will not take up arms

Posted by chimeki on May 13, 2014

Communist Party of Nepal- Maoist will not take up arms and focus more on the issue of livelihood, health and education of the people. It has also decided to mobilize people to put pressure on the lawmakers to write a pro-people constitution. The immediate focus of its leaders is to put the party structure in order, which had shattered during the election boycott programme.

A senior politburo member said, “although our boycott programme was successful, nevertheless, we have also learnt about our weaknesses. One of those is that our party has become like an umbrella. It has a weak base which cannot hold the ‘top’. We have more leaders than cadres. Post election, the party is focused on giving it a shape of a pyramid.”

The party, which is led by Mohan Baidya aka ‘Kiran’, is gearing up for its General Convention which is scheduled around May this year. The Convention is called to chalk out a framework for its activities in current situation. The leader, who is was in India to review the party’s functioning here said, “our party still thinks that an all party round table conference is the best way to move forward in the direction of constitution writing.”

Refuting the claim that more than 70 per cent people voted in the election he said, the Election Commission changed its facts thrice in a matter of hours and has still not come up with the exact figure. There was not more than 45 per cent voting across Nepal. He said, “those who claim that the election to the second Constitution Assembly was a success should consider the facts that there were more than 4 thousand incidents of bomb blasts during elections and the government was not able to stop or arrest anybody. Ambassadors and High Commissioners of 20 countries warned all the boycotting parties with dire consequences but we carried on with our programmes. Even the Supreme Court intervened and called the boycott unlawful but we didn’t abide.”

Claiming that the Prachanda led Maoist has no future in Nepal the leader said that after the election the ‘two Maoist parties’ situation has ended and his party has emerged as the real pro people force. “We have led the 10 year long People’s War in Nepal to uproot the Monarchy and establish Socialism. The second task remains unfinished due to the betrayal of Prachanda and Baburam clique however now that we have ousted them the party leadership is committed to complete the left task”, he said.

The leader claimed that post 2008 Nepal has lost its strategic importance. It has become an Indian Colony. Previously, the party had viewed Nepal as a semi-feudal semi-colonial country but now it sees Nepal as a semi-feudal and neo-colonial country. “Hence, we have also changed our political strategy.”

He said that there was no question of taking up arms as situation had thoroughly changed inside and outside Nepal. The world has become multi polar and the situation is favourable for peaceful struggle.

Calling the news of differences in his party ‘rumour’, he said, “we are the only party in Nepal which is united politically and ideologically. Soon we will emerged as the biggest power centre in Nepal”.

(First published in the Citizen on 6 March 2014. Click to read the article as it was published)

V.S.

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Bhattarai Defeated, Prachanda In Full Control Of UCPN(M)

Posted by chimeki on May 8, 2014

baburamThe national convention of the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) held in Biratnagar ended in a humiliating defeat for its influential leader Dr Baburam Bhattarai. The convention, which was aimed at strengthening the party by resolving the differences between its two big leaders Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai only aggravated the situation and exposed, once again, fissures in the party. Bhattarai has been completely sidelined and it is now certain that Prachanda will continue to enjoy the absolute authority in the party.

Many of Bhattarai’s old friends and associates left him in the lurch to join the ultimate winner of the years’ old battle for party’s control. Prachanda once again proved that when it comes to settling scores with his rivals he is as merciless as his idol Jung Bahadur Rana of Nepal.

After the second Constituent Assembly election last November, in which the party performed poorly, Bhattarai’s loyalists have been pressurizing Prachanda to step down from the top post. Often Bhattarai used public space to make his point.. His opinion that there was a need of new force, expressed in Kantipur Daily, was seen as a direct challenge to Prachanda’s authority.

Bhattarai also tried to forge alliance with another powerful but disgruntled leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha to win majority in the party’s central committee. Had he succeeded the alliance would have balanced the power and forced Prachanda to heed to Bhattarai’s demand. But Shreshta, a newcomer, proved himself to be too weak to keep a check on his loyalists.

In the convention Prachanda proposed the Central Committee, CC, that he will always keep him in majority. In the new 99 member CC there are less than 30 members from Bhattarai and Shrestha factions! After a long time Prachanda has gained an upper hand in the party. This is reflecting in his body language too. In a press conference after the convention, he spoke with the confidence of a supreme leader. He told journalists that ‘he will give important position to Bhattarai’.

Later, speaking at the inaugural ceremony of party’s mouthpiece Prasthan, Prachanda told the gathering that he had promoted Bhattarai to the party’s highest committee with the view that it would benefit party but it proved to be a mistake. Prahanda further humiliated Bhattarai by telling people that the old communist leaders and cadres had advised him not to elevate Bhattarai beyond district committee!

The sudden turn of the event had come as a shock to Bhattarai and his loyalists. In June 2012 the UCPNM split vertically. The party watchers thought that the development would make Bhattarai stronger for had long represented the line of multi-party democracy and peaceful struggle for socialism against hardliners’ line of ‘people’s revolt’ to establish socialism.

Initially both Prachanda and Bhattarai saw the split as a boon as it gave them the opportunity to take party out of the ‘People’s War’ mode. The immediately held Hetauda convention endorsed the line of ‘peaceful road to Socialism in Nepal’. The party declared that its basic goal was to promote economic growth.

The convention also led to the formation of Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi’s caretaker or impartial government to hold Constituent Assembly election. The party had imagined a bigger victory in the election. However the result showed that it had exaggerated its strengthen. The party lost badly and ended up being the number 3 party in the Constituent Assembly.

Since then Bhattarai and Prachanda never saw eye to eye. Bhattarai never missed opportunity to show Prachanda his place. Bhattarai thought that Prachanda had lost his appeal amongst the cadre and it was matter of time when curtain would fell on him. However Bhattarai poorly judged his own strength in the party. No doubt he is more acceptable to the urban population of Nepal than Prachanda but organizationally he is very weak. He failed to realise that the split has weakened him further for there was no one to support him organizationally. Previously, Mohan Baidya ‘Kiran’ had come to his rescue whenever Prachanda wanted to ‘penalize’ him for his ‘mistake’.

Wisely, judging the way the wind was blowing his known loyalists like Dinanath Sharma and Ram Karki left him to side with Prachanda.

By reading Bhattarai statements after the convention it can be said that he understands that his is the lost case. There is no way Bhattarai can challenge Prachanda. Even if he tries, it would not be consequential and only make Prachanda’s work easy. He must have realised that hitherto Prachanda kept him in good term to resist hardliners. With the hardliners, Bhattarai’s relevance in the party too had gone.

V.S.

(First published in the Citizen, 8 May 2014)

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क्यों हारे माओवादी

Posted by chimeki on March 8, 2014

Courtesy: BBC News

Courtesy: BBC News

नेपाल संविधान सभा चुनाव 2013 के अब तक आए परिणामों से यह बात तय है कि पिछली संविधान सभा की सबसे बड़ी पार्टी एकीकृत कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी (माओवादी) को तीसरे स्थान पर संतोष करना पड़ेगा. हालांकि माओवादी पार्टी अपनी ‘हार’ को स्वीकार करने से कतरा रही है, लेकिन अब वह उस स्थिति में नहीं है कि दवाब डालकर कोई समझौता करने के लिए दूसरी बड़ी पार्टियों नेपाली कांग्रेस और नेपाल कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी (एमाले) को मजबूर कर सके.

चुनाव में धांधली का आरोप लगाकर हार के गम को गटका तो जा सकता है, लेकिन पार्टी के भविष्य को लेकर उठने वाले सवालों से बचा नहीं जा सकता. यदि धांधली का उसका दावा सही भी है, तो भी कम से कम माओवादी पार्टी को परिणाम को खारिज करने को कोई नैतिक अधिकार नहीं है. इस बार के संविधान सभा चुनाव की जल्दबाजी माओवादी पार्टी को थी. पार्टी के प्रधानमंत्री ने पिछली संविधान सभा को भंग किया, पार्टी के ही अध्यक्ष ने मुख्य न्यायाधीश की अध्यक्षता में चुनावी सरकार के गठन में सबसे अहम भूमिका निभाई. यहां तक कि इस सरकार के गठन का प्रस्ताव प्रचण्ड का ही था. इसी पार्टी ने चुनाव बहिष्कार करने वाले समूह की हर मांग की अनदेखी कर उन्हें चुनाव में शामिल होने से रोका. पार्टी की मान्यता यह रही कि यदि मोहन वैद्य ‘किरण’ के नेतृत्व वाली पार्टी ने चुनाव में हिस्सा लिया, तो उसके वोट प्रतिशत में सेंध लगेगी.

चुनाव परिणाम को जितना अप्रत्याशित दिखाने का प्रयास किया जा रहा है, उतना अप्रत्याशित वह है नहीं. माओवादी पार्टी की आंतरिक बैठकों में बार-बार यह बात होती रही कि पार्टी पहाड़ी क्षेत्रों में अपने पुराने प्रदर्शन को नहीं दोहरा पाएगी. पार्टी कार्यकर्ताओं की रिपोर्ट के आधार पर ही यह तय किया गया कि पहाड़ी क्षेत्र से अधिक तराई पर केन्द्रित होकर चुनाव लड़ा जाए. इसकी वजह यह थी कि पिछले पांच सालों में तराई का मधेस आंदोलन छिन्न-भिन्न हो गया था या कहें कर दिया गया था और पार्टी खुद को मधेसी आंदोलन का जायज उत्तराधिकारी मानकर चल रही थी. पार्टी के कई दिग्गज नेताओं ने पुराने क्षेत्र को अलविदा कहकर तराई से नामाकंन भरा.

अति उत्साह में वह भूल गई कि 1990 से तराई नेपाली कांग्रेस का मजबूत गढ़ रहा है और मधेस आंदोलन के अधिकांश नेता कांग्रेस से ही निकलकर आए हैं. जनयुद्ध के काल में भी तराई में माओवादी पार्टी अपनी तमाम कोशिश के बावजूद कभी पैर नहीं जमा सकी थी. इसलिए मधेस आंदोलन के खत्म हो जाने पर वहां कि जनता ने पुरानी परखी हुई पार्टी को ही वोट देना उचित समझा.

उधर पहाड़ी क्षेत्र में जो जनयुद्ध का आधार था, माओवादी पार्टी की लोकप्रियता तेजी के साथ कम हुई. जनयुद्ध के क्रम में शहादत देने वाली इस क्षेत्र की जनता ने बहुत जल्द ही यह समझ लिया कि पार्टी का नेतृत्व नेपाली क्रांति को संविधान सभा से आगे ले जाना नहीं चाहता. पांच सालों में पार्टी के नेतृत्व ही जो तस्वीर उस के सामने बनी वह उस तस्वीर से बिलकुल अलग थी जो उसने जनयुद्ध के समय देखी थी.

साथ चलने, खाने और हंसने-रोने वाला नेतृत्व जनता के समीप जाने से भी कतराने लगा था. नेता सिर्फ उन्ही दुर्गम क्षेत्रों में जाते थे, जहां तक उनका हेलिकाॅप्टर उन्हें ले जाता. अपने संसदीय क्षेत्रों से अधिक नेताओं ने विदेशी भ्रमण किए, जहां वे हमेशा सपरिवार ही जाते थे. इसी जनता ने ऐसा दवाब बनाया कि पार्टी दो हिस्सों में विभाजित हो गई.

जनयुद्ध के लक्ष्य को हासिल करने के दावे के साथ पार्टी के एक बड़े हिस्से ने प्रचण्ड की अध्यक्षता वाली पार्टी को त्याग दिया. इस विभाजन ने पहाड़ी क्षेत्र से एकीकृत माओवादी पार्टी के पैर उखाड़ दिए. पुराने दौर में पार्टी का गढ़ माने जाने वाले रोल्पा के थवाग गांव में एक भी मत न पड़ना पार्टी के कमजोर हो जाने का सबसे बड़ा सबूत है.

इन दो कारणों के अलावा पार्टी की हार का एक और कारण भी है. पिछले समय में पार्टी में आंतरिक लोकतंत्र को पूरी तरह समाप्त कर दिया गया था. पार्टी के महत्वपूर्ण निर्णय दक्षिण के पड़ोसी को ध्यान में लेकर लिए जा रहे थे. प्रधानमंत्री पद पर बाबुराम भट्टराई के कार्यकाल में भारत और अन्य देशों के साथ ऐसे समझौते हुए, जो खुद पार्टी की लाइन के विपरीत थे. ये सभी समझौते पार्टी में बिना चर्चा किए लिए गए. कई निर्णयों का पार्टी की मीटिंगों में व्यापक विरोध भी हुआ. जनसेना के शिविरों को नेपाली सेना को सौपें जाने के निर्णय के खिलाफ तो स्वयं पार्टी के कार्यकताओं में मशाल जुलूस निकालकर विरोध किया था.

चुनाव से ऐन पहले पार्टी के टिकट बंटवारे की प्रक्रिया में भी पार्टी के नियमों का पालन नहीं किया गया. पुराने कार्यकर्ताओं की कीमत पर पैसे और रसूख वाले नए लोगों को टिकट दिए गए. सैकड़ों पार्टी कार्यकर्ताओं को चुनाव से पहले ही पार्टी ने नाराज हो गए और चुनाव में किसी भी तरह की सक्रिय भूमिका से खुद को अलग कर लिया.

साथ ही टिकट बंटवारे की अलोकतांत्रिक प्रक्रिया ने पार्टी के अंदर तमाम गुट-उपगुट को पैदा किया, जो अन्य पार्टी के प्रत्याशी से अधिक अपनी ही पार्टी के प्रत्याशी को हराने के लिए उत्सुक थे. पार्टी नेतृत्व यह भूल गया कि नेपाल में कार्यकर्ता वोट देता है, जनता नहीं. नेपाल का बहुसंख्य वोटर किसी न किसी पार्टी का सदस्य होता है, इसलिए कार्यकर्ता को नाराज करना हमेशा महंगा पड़ता है.

दूसरी तरफ इस बार के चुनाव परिणाम भारत की कूटनीतिक विफलता भी है. प्रचण्ड के नेतृत्व वाली माओवादी पार्टी के कमजोर होने से मोहन वैद्य ‘किरण’ की लाइन ‘स्वतः’ सही साबित हो जाएगी. नेपाल की राजनीति में हाल में कमजोर हुआ भारत विरोधी स्वर एक बार फिर मुखर हो जाएगा और जल्द ही प्रचण्ड एक बार फिर घोर भारत विरोधी नारों के साथ कार्यकताओं को सम्बोेधित करते नजर आयेंगे. इसके अलावा भारत के माओवादियों को भी इस परिणाम से वैचारिक साहस अवश्य प्राप्त होगा. इस पार्टी के अंदर भी वे आवाजें हाशिए पर चली जाएंगी, जो नेपाल का हवाला देकर संसदीय राजनीति की प्रासंगिकता को साबित करने में लगी थीं. बहुत मुमकिन है कि प्रचण्ड समर्थक इस हार का ठीकरा बाबुराम भट्टराई के सर पर फोड़ें और उन्हे पार्टी से चलता होना पड़े.

थोड़ा सा पीछे जाकर देखें कि संविधान सभा का विघटन बाबुराम के प्रधानमंत्री पद पर रहते हुए हुआ था और इसे बहाना बनाकर हार के लिए उन्हें दोषी ठहराया जा सकता है. बाबुराम के जाने से पार्टी के अंदर भारत समर्थक पक्ष कमजोर हो जाएगा. सबसे दिलचस्प बात है कि किरण समूह के पार्टी से अलग होने के बाद बाबुराम पहले से ही कमजोर हैं. पिछले समय में वैचारिक स्तर पर भीषण मतांतर के बावजूद किरण ने हमेशा बाबुराम के खिलाफ किसी भी कार्रवाही का विरोध किया था. अब जबकि उनके खेमे के लोग चुनाव में हार चुके होंगे, तो उनका वैसे भी कोई खास उपयोगिता पार्टी के लिए नहीं होगी.

मोहन वैद्य ‘किरण’ के नेतृत्व वाली माओवादी पार्टी के बारे में जिन लोगों को यह लग रहा है कि चुनाव का बहिष्कार करने के चलते नेपाल की यह माओवादी पार्टी अप्रासंगिक हो जाएगी, उन्हें एक बार फिर सोचने की जरूरत है. उदार लोकतंत्र का सबसे जरूरी सबक यह है कि विरोधी का सबसे अच्छा स्थान संसद है. संसद से बाहर विरोधी अधिक ताकतवर साबित होता है.

किरण माओवादी पार्टी को निषेध कर चुनाव करने के फलस्वरूप नेपाल की राजनीति में वह सबसे बड़ी ताकत बन गई है. साथ ही, आने वाले दिनों में प्रचण्ड से टूटकर इस पार्टी में शामिल होने की प्रक्रिया को तीव्रता मिलेगी और लोकतांत्रिक बदलाव के तमाम दावों की हवा निकल जाएगी. प्रचण्ड की हार वास्तव में भारत की कूटनीति की एक और पराजय है. ऐसा लगता है कि भारत को गलती करने में मजा आता है. फिर दक्षिण एशिया में तो उसने जहां कहीं भी हाथ डाला है, चीजों को बुरी तरह फंसा दिया है. श्रीलंका, मालद्वीव, बांगलादेश और अब नेपाल भारत की कूटनीति के दिवालियेपन के सबूत हैं.

प्रचण्ड के नेतृत्व वाली पार्टी के लिए आगे का रास्ता लगभग बंद है. वह लौटकर फिर से जनयुद्ध का रास्ता नहीं ले सकती और न ही इस पराजय के बाद खुद को एक रख सकती है. जैसा कि जीत के अतिविश्वास में पार्टी ने अपने ही काडरों को टिकट नहीं दिया और 2008 के बाद पार्टी से जुड़े अधिकांश रसूखदार लोगों को अपने ही कार्यकर्ताओं को विश्वास में लिए बिना टिकट दिया गया.

अब जबकि परिणाम आ गए हैं पार्टी में विद्रोह की आशंका बन रही है. जल्द ही पार्टी कई टुकड़ों में बंट सकती है, लेकिन इससे भी पहले वे लोग जो जीत की आशा के साथ पार्टी में शामिल हुए थे वे पार्टी को अलविदा कह सकते हैं. साथ ही, यदि प्रचण्ड पर हार की नैतिक जिम्मेदारी डालने का प्रयास होता है, तो हो सकता है वे ऐसी मांग करने वालों को पार्टी से खुद ही अलग कर दें.

नेपाल के राजनीतिक भविष्य का अनुमान लगाना हमेशा से ही जोखिम भरा रहा है, लेकिन एक बात तय है कि आने वाले दिनों में वहां का राजनीतिक संकट और गहराएगा. एक बड़ी पार्टी का इस तरह कमजोर होना नेपाल के लोकतांत्रिक भविष्य के लिए भले ही अच्छा संकेत न हो, लेकिन सामाजिक बदलाव की राजनीति करने वालों के ध्रुवीकरण करने में इसकी महत्वपूर्ण भूमिका होगी.

एकीकृत माओवादी पार्टी की हार ने नेपाली जनता के सामने फिर एक बार स्पष्ट कर दिया है कि आमूल परिवर्तन के उसके लक्ष्य के लिए संसदीय रास्ता बहुत दूर तक साथ नहीं दे सकता है और जब तक नेपाल में भारत परस्त पार्टियों का दबदबा है, तब तक बदलाव की उसकी आशा रेगिस्तान में मृग-मरिचिका के समान है. हर बार आधे अधूरे बदलाव ने उसे वहीं लाकर खड़ा कर दिया है, जहां से वह शुरुआत करती है. 1950 से लोकतंत्र और सार्वभौमिकता की लड़ाई लड़ रही नेपाल की एक बार फिर छली गई. यह पराजय संघर्ष की उसकी जीजिविषा को खत्म करती है या तेज यह तो भविष्य तय करेगा, लेकिन यह बात तय है कि उसकी लड़ाई का अगला अध्याय एकीकृत माओवादी पार्टी की हार के साथ आरंभ हो गया है.

(23 नवंबर 2013 को जनपथ और जनज्वार में प्रकाशित )

वि.श.

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‘Nepal is Heading Towards a Bright Future’

Posted by chimeki on January 2, 2013

In September 2012 Dharmendra Bastola ‘Kanchan’, politburo member of Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, was in New Delhi. The United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) had recently split and political atmosphere was heavily charged. Nepal watchers were on their feet to see which way the new party moved. Amidst, guesses and speculations Mr. Bastola, who was obviously very busy with his engagements, spared some time to speak on situation in Nepal. He made some very important observations. He denied going the old route of People’s War and also put forward his party’s positions on recently dissolved Constituent Assembly. His party, he suggested, wanted a round table conference of all the stake holders in Nepal to end the deadlock.  

Dharmendra Bastola ‘Kanchan’ with Vishnu Sharma

On Nepal

Dharmendra Bastola

Dharmendra Bastola

Q. Where is Nepal Heading?

DB: It is a complicated question. Nepal is demanding a constitution. A people’s constitution. Currently, there are two forces in Nepal. One is the progressive force which is demanding a constitution of the people for a forward going Nepalese society. There is another force too. This force is trying to hook off the forward going process and stop the country from getting new constitution. This force is trying to introduce an old type of constitution, which will continue Nepal’s position as semi-feudal, semi-colonial society. In this condition, there are two possibilities. One is that these parties will be convinced that Nepal needs a new constitution, the constitution for the people. For this, they will come forward themselves. If that does not happen and regressive forces try to hold the country to the same old state, the country will once more go in a struggle. Like mass uprising or mass struggle by which people will establish their rights, people’s constitution and an egalitarian democratic society. These are the possibilities, however, right now, no one can say where Nepal is going. In my opinion Nepal is heading towards a bright future.

Q. What kind of “Bright future”?

DB: Bright future of getting people’s constitution, a forward going society and it will get national independence, sovereignty. It is going to solve the underlying contradictions of its society such as the contradictions of nationality, independence, livelihood and democracy.

Q. There seems to be no agreement among the political parties of Nepal on the current deadlock. Who do you think is responsible for this mess?

DB: Of course there is no agreement. As I have mentioned earlier there are two forces playing in Nepal. One is very regressive, backward and reactionary. These forces are inside every parliamentary party.

Q. When you say regressive, backward and reactionary forces, do you mean to suggest your former colleagues too?

DB: I think it is not appropriate to mention anyone by name as it can be understood by everyone from their political stand and point of views. What we are trying to do is to win over those forces for the forward going progressive society and progressive constitution. In that case it would not be appropriate to underline or name. Nevertheless, now it is our party only which is standing on the agenda of people’s interest that we have been raising for last 10-15 years. For which there had been people’s war, for which we came in peace process, for which we tried to write a constitution from the Constituent Assemble, for which we have been demanding national independence, democracy and livelihood for the people. This is our stand and other parties are lagging behind. They are not meeting the demands and are not committed to the commitments they had made in the past.

Q. So what solution do you offer?

DB: The solution we are offering is round table conference to reach an agreement. The agreement can be one-point, two-point or five-point so on, so forth. But that agreement should address nationality, democracy and livelihood of the people. And that agreement cannot be for the old type of constitution and backward, semi-feudal-semi-feudal society. It cannot be for the neo-colonial Nepal.

Q. Will other parties agree to your proposal?

DB: The parties are agreeing to the round table conference but only to the level of discussion. They are still to come to the level of consensus and agreement. We are still to see if they come to that kind of agreement.

On Split with Former Party

Q. There seems to be no fundamental differences between your party and United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). Can you justify the split?

DB: For the onlookers it seems there are no fundamental differences but there are basic and fundamental differences. And the differences are: the old party has deviated from the principle, from the commitment, from the theory and principle. It has given up on line, the line of standing in favour of the people. They had given up the stand that the party previously had. That is the main thing and now we have been standing for that line, we are for a progressive society. They are lagging behind the old parliamentary parties and their effort to bring other parties in the line of constitutionalizing republic is now abandoned. We want to preserve the achievements, they are spoiling these achievements. These all are the differences. The basic difference is they have abandoned the line. They have plunged down the country into a regressive, parliamentarian, feudal and neo colonial society.

Q. But Dr. Baburam Bhattarai himself talks about preserving the past achievements?

DB: That is always the case when a regressive or reactionary force comes in power. For example, in 1950 when the King Tribhuvan came into power through India’s intervention he too talked about the saving the past achievements of the struggle. Although the achievements were of the people and their leadership but the king and the Rana regime seized or hijacked them. After that in 1980s there was a struggle and that struggle was also hijacked by King Birendra. He too talked about preserving the achievements of past struggle. Moreover, in 1990, there was a big struggle and the monarchy was transformed into constitutional monarchy. Then again, the Monarchy was made the vanguard or an institution to save the achievements of the 1990’s movement! Similarly, now the lackeys and stooges of bourgeoisies and reactionary elements of Nepal, who Dr Bhattarai represents, are claiming to represent  and preserve the interest of the struggle, however, the reality is, Dr. Bhattarai has already spoiled, given up and liquidated the entire achievements of the people by not giving the constitution, by not establishing the federal republic of Nepal, and by illegitimately seizing power by being the prime minister. And he is deliberately blocking the forward going political process. So, it is just a farce to say that he is preserving the achievements of the great people’s war. Of course, he was also in the party and fought together but now he has liquidated into feudalism and authoritarianism. So he does not represent people’s interest, he doesn’t represent the elements that could represent the interest of the masses and the achievements of the people’s war.

Q. On the 10th of this month C.P. Gajurel ‘Gaurav’, your party’s vice-chairman, submitted a 70-point demand letter to the government of Nepal. The 40 out of the 70 demands are those, which you had submitted in 1995 before the initiation of the people’s war. However, the prime minister claimed that everything then demanded has been achieved and that was why the Maoists abandoned the people’s war. What is your reaction?

DB: The statement is completely misleading. We have only achieved the Republic. Nothing else. For example, we had demanded: abrogation of 1950 treaty; 1965 secret agreement that monopolized India in Nepal and made Nepal a suzerain state. It jeopardized Nepal’s economy. Next, we had demanded steps to develop national economy. Now, after signing BIPPA (Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement) in 2011 it is deteriorated further. At the time of submitting the 40-point agreement we were a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country but now our country has been plunged into neo-colonial country. Because of that we have, this time, forwarded 70-point demand letter. Dr. Bhattarai is lying. He is cheating the people. Except for one demand that is Republic no other demand is fulfilled. National economy is not developed. Nothing is being done on the question of national independence. There is no democracy in the country. Dr. Bhattarai has plunged the country into bureaucratic autocracy. The people are without a constitution. Further, the Nepalese resources are sold to the monopoly capitalists. The country’s condition is more deteriorated than what it was before Dr. Bhattarai took over as the prime minister.

Q. The UCPNM is talking about the unity with you. Is there any chance of unification?

DB: There is a chance provided they give up reactionary line and come up in the revolutionary line. In that condition unity is possible.

Q. In 1995 your party, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), submitted the 40-point demand to the government of Nepal and immediately launched the people’s war. On 10 of September 2012 you again submitted a 70 point demand letter to the government. Will you take the same course?

DB: No, I don’t think we will take the same course. The situation is totally different and developed now. We are calling the parliamentary parties as well as neo-revisionist party of Prachanda to come forward for the constitution, for the interest of the masses of the people, national sovereignty, to address the problem of national independence and livelihood. If these parties don’t agree to the agenda of a forward going progressive society we will definitely go to the masses of people. It can be a movement like the previous 19-days movement and throw the lackeys and stooges of monopoly capitalism, feudal and bureaucratic capitalists and the people’s power will be established.

Q. Will you then unite with the pro-monarchy forces?

DB: Because the monarchy is already abolished so uniting with it is out of question. The monarchy doesn’t have any line. There is no question of unity with an abolished force rather this kind of forces which are national traitors; bureaucratic capitalists can raise head in this or that name to destroy the achievements of the struggle of the people. We are vigilant about their conspiracy and efforts to take the country backwards.

On India

Dharmendra Bastola2Q. In the 70-point letter there are more than 30 demands directly or indirectly related to India. How do you see India’s role in Nepal after Peace Process began in 2006?

DB: India’s role has been two sided. On the one side it is helping the ruling class on the other it is suppressing the Nepalese people. For example it is intervening in politics, economy and every sector of social life. The regime is going against the people. So, what we ask the Indian ruling class is that they should understand that Nepalese people want freedom, sovereignty, democracy, development, peace and progress in Nepal. India’s role has always been against the Nepalese people.

Q. Does your party consider India an enemy?

DB: No, we don’t consider India as enemy. Obviously, we do question its policy in Nepal. Nepal has been neo-colonized and this neo-colonial status of Nepal is basically in relation to India. Nepal is India’s neo-colony. We disagree on this, and we question this policy. We never consider India as enemy. It is our neighboring country and we believe in establishing a cordial and friendly relation with India. But any such relation can only be maintained by recognizing Nepal as a free and independent country. Plus, Nepal should be allowed to develop national economy, sovereignty. The relationship must be developed to this level. So, we want cordial relationship with the people of India, government of India but present status of relationship is not on that level.

Q. Do you have any kind of relationship with the Indian Maoists?

DB: We have an ideological-political relationship. We don’t have any other relationship. We had relationship during the time of decade long people’s war. That too was ideological-political relationship and nothing more than that.

Q. My last question is: does your party believe in democracy?

DB: Of course, our total struggle is for democracy and we say that those who claim to be democrats are in essence dictators. The parliamentary system is a sheer dictatorship that can be seen in the entire world. Thousands of people are killed in the name of democracy; thousands are suffering from hunger and malnutrition. This all in the name of democracy. This kind of freedom is a freedom for exploitation, it is a freedom to kill people, it is a freedom to loot, rob and exploit. This kind of freedom is not a democracy. It’s a dictatorship. It is a monopoly capitalists’, imperialist’s dictatorship. Of course we want to destroy this kind of dictatorship and establish democracy of the people. I want to assure that only the communists, the Maoists are the real democrats. Their democracy is for the people, for the people of all nationalities and for the people of the world. So, we are the only people who believe in democracy. The rest are dictators. Their dictatorship is supported by the power of military, police, judiciary and accumulated property.

V.S.

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Reading Nepal’s Maoists Movement Through Wikileaks- Part II

Posted by chimeki on July 20, 2012

(to read the first part of the article click here)

India’s Game:

The cables present a ‘carefree’ picture of then Indian establishment. Unlike the US and the King India was not worried about the Maoists’ takeover. However it continued to keep the US in dark of its policy on Maoists. India shrewdly made the US believe that it was not going to compromise with the Maoists and at same time it was establishing contact with the senior Maoists leaders.

It seems that by 2004 India had already made the decision of Nepal without a King. A December 6 article in the Hindustan Times Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran was quoted as suggesting bringing in ‘progressive Maoists’ in mainstream. Nevertheless to show its commitment for the constitutional monarchy and its disdain for the Maoists, India frequently put forth several pre-conditions for its support to the Monarchy. It knew that the King was creating the Maoist phobia only to establish an absolute Monarchy. On 8 December 2004 Secretary Shayam Saran outlined a four point approach to dealing with the Maoist:

–India and Nepal must coordinate more closely in order to resolve the Maoist problem;

— The Maoists must understand that they cannot win militarily and that the longer they avoid negotiations, the weaker their bargaining power will become.  This requires sustained military pressure on the Maoists, and concrete military successes by the Royal Nepal Army (RNA);

–The Palace and the political parties must put aside their differences, and present a united front to the Maoists;

— Development is one means of overcoming the Maoist threat. Kathmandu should “hitch itself” to India’s economy in order to promote economic growth. (04NEWDELHI7750)

These guidelines were meant for the King. However for the King these were unacceptable conditions. The King didn’t want to bring India in and also was reluctant to join hands with the political parties. In the same cable the under secretary Manu Mahawar suggested the US ambassador that the King should not undermine Deuba’s authority as it would only exacerbate the situation. Which suggests that Indian establishment knew from it sources that what future held for Dueba.

But undermining once again the authority of India the king dismissed the Deuba government. From this point onward India was free of inhibition and worked more rapidly to bring in Maoists together with the political parties.

‘Writing in The Indian Express Foreign Affairs strategist C Raja Mohan observed, ‘that the King had gambled that India would reluctantly support the monarchy when faced with a choice between the Maoists and the Palace.  General Ashok Mehta argued that the King’s actions reflect his obsession with power, and said it was unlikely that that the King would ever restore democracy’, noted the ambassador on 2 February2002.

Two days later India suspended the military pipeline and told the ambassador that it was worried about China and Russia involvement in Nepal. In cable number 05NEWDELHI922 (2005-02-04) India was particularly worried about reports that the RNA chief had contacted Russia to provide MI-17 helicopters.  “We just cannot accept that,” Saran underlined, adding that the mere fact of the request was worrisome.  Saran was also concerned by rumors that President Musharraf was reaching out to the King, fearing that this too could be part of an effort to take advantage of India’s firm policy in order to cultivate influence with the Palace.  The Ambassador noted that the US had already weighed in with the Chinese, and promised to convey the Foreign Secretary’s worries about other players. This suggests India was blocking every help the King could get. For India the Maoists were not as big a problem as the King himself. Devoid of check (political parties) the King could have done as the Maoists would have if they had come to mainstream without compromise.

Nepalese Diaspora also played an important role for making India ‘liberal’ towards the Maoists. As the US ambassador in New Delhi noted in cable number 05NEWDELHI1556,  ‘in contrast to most Nepal residents, who reportedly are not considering radical changes to the monarchy, as they are widely supportive of the institution, many Indian Nepal experts are beginning to contemplate the future of the Kingdom without a monarch.’

In the same cable the ambassador quotes Former Indian Ambassador to Nepal AR Deo who suggests, ‘Nepal appears to be no exception to the international trend of monarchies ending around the globe. The question for policy makers is how to ensure a soft landing.’ So it can be fairly concluded that by March 2003 the Indian establishment was concentrating in ensuring ‘a soft landing’ instead of saving Monarchy. Accordingly it started facilitating the negotiations between the Maoists and the political parties.

By August 2006 the US lost it hope of bringing India and the King together. In cable number 05NEWDELHI6595 the ambassador notes, ‘Washington Must Lead, Because New Delhi Can’t’. In the same cable JNU professor assured the ambassador that the Maoists were willing to join a democratic government and even accept a titular monarchy, ‘alluding to his close connections to senior Maoist leaders (he responded to a challenge by asserting that he had met CPN(M) chief Prachanda “within the past 10 months”), Muni asked us to trust the Maoists’ willingness to participate in a peaceful political process(05NEWDELHI6595).’  Here the ambassador understood that they were checkmated and the ambassador says, ‘We were struck by the widespread acceptance among New Delhi’s Nepal watchers of the idea that King Gyanendra has made himself dispensable.  We have convoked this group repeatedly since February 1, and on this occasion found a stark souring of views on the King, which contrasts with the GOI’s continued commitment to the “twin pillars” of constitutional monarchy and multiparty democracy’.

Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran met Gyanendra on 12 December 2005. In this meeting the King begged for time to correct his moves however Saran told him point blank, ‘that India could wait, but the time line is now imposed by the progress of events in Nepal, not India’s actions.’

The Maoists’ Position

The picture that the cables present of the Maoists is of an opportunist party rather than a revolutionary one. They were more guided by the situations than by ideology. At one time they looked as if they were for revolutionary change in Nepal and at other time they were ready to compromise with the King. They even went further to sell the sovereignty of the nation just to land safely in the mainstream. One time they projected India as an enemy and the next time they ‘begged’ it for support. The US never quite trusted the Maoists but India always felt at home with them. India somehow knew- which proved right after 2006- that the Maoists would never threatened its interest.

The Maoists on the other hand ‘exploited’ all the opportunities they could find to come to the mainstream. Their eagerness to get legitimacy was more funny than frightening. And it looks that all the negotiations with the government of Nepal failed only because the government was not interested in making it success otherwise the Maoists might have compromised well before 2006.

In 2003 talk they dropped their demand of constitutional assembly and in 2005 they agreed for ‘a titular monarchy’. Had the King showed them some ‘benevolence’ they would have also refused to form an alliance with the political parties.  This was proved in 2003 when they, sidelining the political parties, demanded the formation of an interim government under their leadership. And even before in 2001 when they shamelessly declared that they were in touch with the late King Birendra. After the King was ousted they signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement with political parties. They didn’t care to ask how could Girja represent the state of Nepal. Didn’t his only qualification was that he had India’s trust!

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