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Posts Tagged ‘Maoist’

Nepal: Back to Square One

Posted by chimeki on December 4, 2013

With the defeat of the Maoist party in Nepal’s Constituent Election the hope for a peaceful-democratic solution of its political and social crises too has suffered a dent. Although the results can hardly be considered as surprising, the outcome will, for sure, have a long term impact on the transformational politics of the Himalayan country. The Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal (UML) emerging as the first and the second largest party once again sent Nepal back to square one. This might not impact the making of the Constitution, rather it may even accelerate the process. However, the results will be a setback to those who thought that a Maoist victory through democratic means would bring about a radical transformation of the society.

The arrival of the Maoist in Nepal’s political map was a watershed event. Ten years of ‘People’s War’ thoroughly changed the power equation at the grass-root level. The movement brought in front the issues hitherto considered irrelevant in the country’s political manoeuvring.

However, post 2013 CA election the political situation has gone back to that of the 1990s because it is the same two parties which had then played the major role in the drafting of the Constitution have taken the lead this time too. And there is no reason to believe they have changed their views in the period between 1990 and 2013. Unlike the Constituent Assembly of 2008, the current one is far from being called a representative Assembly. The facts so far available suggest that the women’s representation in the current Assembly has come down to 10 under FPTP which was 29 in 2008. Overall, the Constituent Assembly of 2008 had 47, 196, 192, 191 representatives from dalits, madhesis, janajatis and women respectively. The madhesi parties, at present scenario, will have no more than 40 seats.

With Maoists losing badly their agenda too will be put on the back seat. Oneo f their major demands was that of the land reform. During the people’s war the Maoists redistributed the land to the poor under the slogan ‘land to the tiller’. This was generally considered a step in the right direction because this was essential for economic development of any kind. After joining the mainstream the Maoists tried to legalise the redistribution process but failed due to lack of political support. On the contrary in the name of abiding by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed between the Maoists and the Seven Party Alliance, they were even forced to give back land ceased from the big landlords. While doing so the Maoists had assured that once the Constitution is written they would ensure revolutionary redistribution of the land. It is generally agreed that without the land reform Nepal will never be able to increase productivity.

According to the available data, 26 per cent of the Nepalese population is landless. Moreover, 10 per cent rich peasants of Nepal own 65 per cent of the Nepal’s total agricultural land.

The next important question that the Maoists tried to address was the question of federalism. Nepal, although a small country situated between two giant neighbours, India and China, consists of many nationalities. The Maoists have proposed creation of 11 autonomous provinces based on ethnic identity, language, economic interrelations, infrastructure development, availability of natural resources and administrative accessibility.  Had they succeeded, Nepal would have moved into an era of inclusivity.

Now that the parties which have often discarded the idea of Constituent Assembly for Nepal have become the largest and the second largest parties the whole idea of an inclusive constitution is shattered. The Nepali Congress and the UML, which was then the biggest party in the collation called United Left Front,  which led the 1990’s movement against the absolute Monarchy have gained almost a two-third majority in the current assembly. Then also these two parties broadly negotiated the constitution’s clauses with then King Birendra. To clear any doubt what so ever, the former Prime Minister and senior leader of UML Madhav Nepal has already suggested that the 1990’s constitution might be issued without the clause for monarchy in it! More or less this is also the position of Nepali Congress.

In this complex time, if the two big parties allow themselves to be swayed by numbers then they are not only ignoring the people’s aspiration but also sowing seeds of future troubles. It is now fallen onto the Nepali Congress and the UML to show that they are committed to the aspiration of Nepalese people for failing to do so will not be healthy for the future of the fledgling democracy. Though the Maoists did not repeat their performance but their agenda of inclusive and participatory democracy is still valid. Likewise the major demands of a revolutionary or land reform and representative federalism shouldn’t also be ignored.

There are several reasons for the Maoists defeat. They lost because they tried to negate the consensual politics. They could not hold hands and walk together. Or perhaps they lost because they did not listen to their own constituency. And if the Nepali Congress and UML act as the Maoists did, they too might meet the same fate in the next Constituent Assembly election!

V.S.

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Maoists: Down and Out in Nepal

Posted by chimeki on December 2, 2013

Courtesy: www.newagebd.com

Photo courtesy: http://www.newagebd.com

In the recently concluded Nepal’s Constituent Assembly (CA) Election, the Maoists were routed. The Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal (UML) reversed their performances, while the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), UCPNM, the biggest in the previous CA, came a distant third.

The Maoists cannot blame anyone but themselves for the loss. They fell victim to their own doing or not doing anything at all. The leaders turned their backs on the warnings boldly written on the walls. Instead, they painted the walls of unfulfilled promises with new and eloquent slogans. In the process they forgot that they were trying to fool the same people who they themselves trained not to be fooled during the decade long People’s War.

Broadly, there are three main reasons for their poor performance. Firstly, they overestimated their influence in the Terai (plains). In 2007, the region witnessed a big movement for Terai people’s rights. The major force behind the movement was Madhesi Jana Adhikar Forum led by its charismatic leader Upendra Yadav. Upendra Yadav was trained in the Maoist school of politics. A protégé of another big leader of the Madhes, Matrika Yadav, he rose to higher echelon of the Maoist leadership before his sudden fall. In the last phase of the Maoist Movement, he was charged with leaking information about the top leaders’ to Indian intelligence. Nevertheless, he survived the chase. In 2007, Yadav emerged from oblivion as an undisputed leader of the Madhesi people. When the Maoists dropped their arms, his Forum took up arms against them. Same year in March, the Forum activists murdered 27 people, including women, in Gaur. Those killed were mostly the Maoist sympathizers. The massacre served its purpose when the then government sent an invitation for talk. The talk concluded with 22 point agreement which included martyr status for people killed during Madhesi Movement (Forum activits) and closing all the cases included the Gaur massacre case.

The Madhesi movement which, as is believed broadly in Nepal and elsewhere, emerged on Indian support, started degenerating quickly.  For India it had served its purpose and considering the geopolitics pros and cons India could not afford to feed another LTTE. The Forum began to shatter and in five years nothing remained of its 2007 avatar.

The Maoists fancied their chances on the ruins of the Forum. They thought they could fill the void left by the Forum. However, the Madhesi people thought otherwise. Instead of showing confidence in the Maoists they chose their old friends. The Nepali Congress was able to win back its lost territory. Baring a small period, the Madhes had always been a stronghold of the Nepali Congress. Hence, the Maoists’ gamble in Madhes didn’t pay.

Secondly, the Maoists tasted defeat because they ignored their own cadre. In Nepal, it is the cadre who win election for a party. The Maoists completely sidelined their cadre’s aspirations. They traded tickets for money and might. Thus, the alienated cadre didn’t whole heartedly campaign for the party. In few places there were news of revolts too.

Lastly, the split in the party was the most important reason for its defeat. In 2012, a strong faction of the party led by senior leader Mohan Baidya ‘Kiran’ split to revive the old ideals of the party. They named the new party, the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPNM). The new party ably united all those who either felt that the old party had deviated from its goal or who felt ignored by its leadership. The majority of the people who extended their support to the new party were the same people who formed the main base of the People’s Liberation Army of the Maoist party and worked in the ground during the Maoist movement. These people know nothing but to ceaselessly work, as they claim, for the people. Since 2008 there were very few leaders who visited their respective constituencies. The people were outraged with their representatives. Sensing the opportunity, the new party immediately began to fill the leadership gap. In less than a year the party became a force to reckon with. It organized many successful bands (shut downs) and forced the government to initiate dialogue and later it led the election boycott movement with relative success.

It was not that the UPNM did not know the ground reality. It did. Based on the reports from its members it decided to concentrate on the Madhes instead of its old stronghold in the hills. Many big leaders filed their nomination from more than one place. Even big shots like Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai contested from two places. And wisely so, because both of them lost one of the seats they contested. Prachanda lost from Kathmandu 10 and Baburam failed to win from Rupandehi 4.

Post election, it is too early to predict anything for UCPNM. During its long existence in Nepal’s political theater it has seen many ups and downs. However, in the present crisis it is without its old guards who have always sailed it through. The present leadership mainly consists of those who either joined the party in the middle of the movement or after. Of course there are people who fought the battles but they still don’t actually possess the political depth required to deal in the time of crisis. Hence it will be wise to just say that after the election the battle of survival for the Maoists has just began.

V.S.

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