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Posts Tagged ‘Maoists’

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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The New Nepal Constitution: A Losers Document?

Posted by chimeki on August 11, 2015

nepal constitutionNow that the draft constitution of Nepal is out for public scrutiny, it looks as if the nine year long exercise for constitution writing was a wasted opportunity. The draft constitution has postponed many important issues for a distant, yet unknown, future. The new constitution, the 6th in as many decades, lacks some of the core elements which have been the cause for chain of unrest, bloody and peaceful, in the Himalayan nations for more than a century now. No wonder various sections of Nepalese have already hit the streets to oppose it.

Padma Ratan Tuladhar, a credible ethnic face and prominent human rights activist, has described the new constitution as a ‘losers’ document’. This is because, the constitution makers, have ignored the aspirations of the Madheshi (people of the plains), dalits and major ethnic and religious groups in the draft. Since the the Gorkha king Prithvi Narayan Shah united most of the present Nepal, these groups have had a history of marginalization and exclusion.

Current constitution keeps the exclusion intact. For example, the current draft replaces the word ‘proportional representation’ for marginalized communities in interim constitution with ‘inclusive’ participation. This means that the communities will be ensured participation without any promised representation. It further exposes the communities to the competition where they, due to historical reasons, are in disadvantage.

Similarly on the issue of religious freedom the drafters have shown their disdain for individual’s wisdom. The new constitution states that each person shall be free to profess, practice, and preserve his/her religion according to his/her faith, and distance himself/herself from any other religion nevertheless it criminalizes the religious conversion by putting a condition i.e. it categorically states, ‘no person shall act or make others act in a manner which is contrary to public health, decency and morality, or behave or act or make others act to disturb public law and order situation, or convert a person of one religion to another religion, or disturb the religion of other people. Such an act shall be punishable by law.’ The constitution is inconsistent with the article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which gives every human being freedom to change his religion or belief.

The above argument has to be understood in the current political and social context of Nepal. In last few years, Nepal is being sharply divided on religious lines. Post Monarchy there has been many fold increase in efforts to blunt the democratic aspirations of people by polarizing them on religious line. The political parties, including the Maoists, are unnecessarily debating the word secularism in the draft. They are infusing xenophobia in the citizens’ psyche. Even the Maoist leaders Prachand has misinterpreted the word secularism and agreed to find a ‘suitable’ replacement. In an interview to Outlook Hindi Prachanda said that he was against ‘forceful conversion because spread of Christianity in Nepal is dangerous.’ He didn’t define how.

Likewise, the constitution is also ambiguous on federalism, land reform and other issues including gender rights. These are the issues that should have not been left for future. It is widely believed that the current constituent assembly has been hijacked by the forces which were fought against to create it. Nepal has seen many violent uprisings in the past. Nepali leaders ought to understand that keeping the status quo won’t help in future either. For last nine years, the Constitution Assembly could never show that it was serious in resolving the contentious issues through serious debates. Every major compromise was achieved outside the assembly in often questionable negotiations.

Those who know about 1990 movement, also known as People Movement I, that resulted in end of absolute monarchy and making of a new constitution could see that the present exercise was no different. Then too in the name of compromise the leaders betrayed the most marginalized and exploited people. That betrayal pushed Nepal to the bloodiest civil war for a decade which ultimately broke the economy and society. It was hoped that the leaders would understand the past mistakes and address the core issues that has caused unrests in regular intervals. Unfortunately they didn’t.

Nepal today stands at square one. It has lost a good opportunity to move on the path of peaceful growth. The leaders may take a deep breath for now and think of themselves as heroes but future certainly will be not very kind to them. They have repeated the same mischief for which they have been punished time and again. It now looks obvious that their reluctance to not learn for the past would cost Nepal dearly.


(Published in the Citizen, 9 August 2015)

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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.


(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.


(Published in The Citizen)

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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.


(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 )


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नेपाल : कहीं कोई रास्‍ता है?

Posted by chimeki on September 13, 2013

nepalflagनेपाल अनावश्यक रूप से जटिल देश है। यहां की राजनीति, संस्कृति या अर्थतंत्र, किसी भी क्षेत्र में तारतम्यता खोजना एक श्रमसाध्य काम है। चीजें इतनी अधिक गड्ड मड्ड हो गई हैं कि कोई भी राजनीतिक विश्लेषण जो रात को सही लगता है सुबह तक उसके मायने बदल जाते हैं। राजतंत्र की समाप्ति के बाद नेपाल को संभालने-संवारने की जिम्मेदारी जिन्हें मिली, वे इस काम में बुरी तरह असफल साबित हुए। दो साल के लिए गठित संविधान सभा के कार्यकाल को चार साल तक ‘खींचने’ के बाद भी अंतत: इसे विघटित कर दिया गया। इस वर्ष नवंबर में दूसरी बार संविधान सभा के चुनाव होने न होने, होने की शर्तों और होने के खिलाफ सक्रिय प्रतिरोध की घोषणाओं के बीच नेपाल की राजनीति आज वहीं खड़ी है, जहां 2006 में थी। उससे भी बुरा यह है कि नेपाल आज साम्राज्यवादी और विस्तारवादी ताकतों के बीच राजनीतिक-कूटनीतिक उठापटक के अखाड़े में तब्दील हो चुका है।

16 जुलाई के काठमांडो पोस्ट के हवाले से खबर थी कि नेपाली कांग्रेस के अध्यक्ष सुशील कोईराला ने मोहन बैद्य ‘किरण’ के नेतृत्व वाली माओवादी पार्टी को चुनाव के लिए तैयार करने की गुहार चीन से लगाई है। एक तरह से यह नेपाली राजनीति में चीन के प्रभाव की स्वीकृति भी थी। पिछले दो सालों पर एक सरसरी नजर दौड़ाएं, तो जो बात साफ समझ आती है वह यह है कि चीन नेपाल की राजनीति में सक्रिय भूमिका चाहता है। 2006 के बाद चीन के कई राजनीतिक प्रतिनिधि मंडलों ने नेपाल का भ्रमण किया है। इन भ्रमणों में चीन के प्रधानमंत्री वेन जिआबाओ का नेपाल भ्रमण सबसे महत्त्वपूर्ण माना जाता है। इसके अलावा चीन के आमंत्रण पर कई नेपाली नेता लगातार चीन जा-आ रहे हैं।

नेपाल में चीन की सक्रियता की वजह एकीकृत कम्युनिष्ट पार्टी माओवादी का पूरी तरह भारत समर्थक लाइन ले लेना है। 2006 में पार्टी के मुख्यधारा में आने के बाद नेपाल की राजनीति में स्वतंत्र विचार एवं निष्पक्ष लाईन की संभावना दिख रही थी। 1996 से ही (माओवादी पार्टी द्वारा जनयुद्ध की शुरुआत करने के वर्ष) माओवादी पंचशील सिद्धांत के तहत देश की विदेश नीति लागू करने और तटस्थ रहने की लाईन की वकालत करते आए थे। साथ ही, तिब्बत को चीन का अंग मानने और एक चीन की नीति को स्वीकारना भी उनकी विदेश नीति की रूपरेखा में शामिल था। लेकिन मुख्यधारा में प्रवेश के बाद माओवादियों की नीति में परिवर्तन आया और यह पूरी तरह भारत उन्मुख हो गई। यही वजह है कि चीन को अब यह विश्वास हो गया है कि नेपाल की वर्तमान राजनीति को वहां के नेताओं के भरोसे छोडऩा एक जोखिम भरा काम है।

दूसरी ओर, नेपाल की राजनीतिक पार्टियों के अंदर कलह जारी है। हर पार्टी में कई गुट हैं, जो पार्टी में अपने वर्चस्व के लिए संघर्षरत हैं। नेपाली कांग्रेस में शेखर कोईराला बनाम रामचंद्र पौडेल, एमाले में माधव नेपाल और केपी ओली बनाम झलनाथ खनाल और एकीकृत कम्युनिष्ट पार्टी माओवादी में प्रचंड बनाम बाबुराम भट्टाराई। जानकारों का मानना है कि पार्टी के भीतर वर्चस्व की लड़ाई नेपाल की राजनीति में नई बात नहीं है, लेकिन हाल के वर्षों में यह खुलकर सामने आई है। एकीकृत माओवादी पार्टी में यह एक नई परिघटना है। एक दशक के भूमिगत जीवन में माओवादी पार्टी में नेतृत्व के सवाल पर आज जितनी उग्र या पार्टी को विभाजन तक पहुंचा सकने वाली बहस कभी सामने नहीं आई। 2003-04 में बहुत ही अल्प समय के लिए पार्टी में प्रचंड के नेतृत्व को बाबुराम भट्टाराई ने चुनौती देने का प्रयास किया था। उस वक्त भट्टाराई और उनकी पत्नी हसिला यामि को 15 दिन तक पार्टी ने कैद कर दिया था। 2006 में संसदीय राजनीति में आने के बाद और खासतौर पर नया जनवाद की लाईन को छोडऩे के बाद से पार्टी में वर्चस्व की लड़ाई नए स्तर पर पहुंच गई है। जब तक किरण समूह पार्टी में था, तब तक मध्य विचार वाले प्रचंड बाबुराम और किरण दोनों को स्वीकार्य थे। लेकिन पार्टी के विभाजन के बाद बाबुराम के रूप में उन्हें ताकतवर और निरंतर चुनौती का सामना करना पड़ रहा है।

साथ ही, वर्ष 2012 के बाद नेपाल के सामाजिक और राजनीतिक परिदृश्य में बहुत बदलाव आया है। पिछली संविधान सभा की सबसे बड़ी पार्टी एकीकृत नेपाल कम्युनिष्ट पार्टी (माओवादी) ने 2012 में औपचारिक तौर पर संसदीय बहुदलीय प्रणाली के अंतर्गत समाजवाद के लिए शांतिपूर्ण संघर्ष को अपनी लाईन घोषित कर दिया है। (इस कारण पार्टी में विभाजन भी हो गया है और नया जनवाद की लाईन को मानने वाले पार्टी सदस्यों ने मोहन वैद्य ‘किरण’ के नेतृत्व में पार्टी को पुनर्गठित कर लिया। ) नेपाल में समाजवादी क्रांति का सवाल पार्टी के केंद्र से हटा दिए जाने के बाद पद और वर्चस्व की लड़ाई की शुरुआत होना कोई बड़ी बात नहीं है। पार्टी के तमाम नेता लगभग एक ही उम्र के हैं, इसलिए कोई भी इंतजार करने को तैयार नहीं है।

पहली संविधान सभा के बिना परिणाम विघटित हो जाने के बाद दूसरी बार संविधान सभा के चुनाव को लेकर नेपाल के राजनीतिक गलियारों में कानाफूसी का दौर है। आमतौर पर यह बात कही जा रही है कि नेपाल की कोई भी पार्टी चुनाव के लिए तैयार नहीं है। नेपाल की संविधान सभा की पूर्व सांसद और विघटित संविधान सभा के 21 दलित सांसदों में से एक संतोषी विश्वकर्मा ने एक बातचीत में इस लेखक को बताया कि किरण के नेतृत्व वाली पार्टी द्वारा चुनाव बहिष्कार की घोषणा इन पार्टियों के लिए एक गुप्त वरदान है, जो चुनाव न करने की अपनी मंशा को ढांकने और इसकी जिम्मेदारी का ठीकरा किरण के नेतृत्व वाली माओवादी के सर पर फोडऩे के लिए भविष्य में काम आएगा। वे चीजों को स्पष्ट करती हुई कहती हैं, ‘अन्य संसदीय पार्टियों की तरह ही एकीकृत माओवादी को भी विश्वास के संकट का सामना करना पड़ रहा है। पार्टी में पूरी तरह से अराजकता व्याप्त है। पार्टी के भीतर और बाहर नेता एक दूसरे को कमजोर बनाने की कोशिश में लगे हुए हैं। वहीं, पहाड़ी क्षेत्र से पार्टी का जनाधार पूरी तरह से खत्म हो गया है। यही वजह है कि पिछली बार काठमांडो और रोल्पा से भारी मतदान से चुनाव जीतने वाले प्रचंड ने इस बार तराई के चितवन जिले से चुनाव लडऩे की घोषणा की है।’

पार्टी में बाबुराम भट्टाराई ही एकमात्र ऐसे नेता हैं, जिनकी लोकप्रियता में कुछ हद तक इजाफा हुआ है। सरकारी तंत्र के मध्य और निचले कर्मचारी वर्ग में बाबुराम के प्रति सम्मान है। बाबुराम ने अपने अर्थ मंत्री रहते हुए और बाद में प्रधानमंत्री के रूप में इनके वेतन में वृद्धि की थी। साथ ही ‘एक दिन एक गांव’, ‘प्रधानमंत्री को पत्र’, वृद्धा एवं विधवा पेंशन में इजाफा करने एवं अन्य लोकप्रिय योजनाओं को लागू करने से उन्हें लोगों के बीच प्रसिद्धि मिली है। पिछले संविधान सभा में जीतकर आने वाले नेताओं ने जहां अपने क्षेत्र को भुला डाला, वहीं बाबुराम ने हर महीने, ईमानदारी से, अपने क्षेत्र का भ्रमण किया। इसके अलावा भ्रष्टाचार के मामले में जहां प्रचंड और उनके संबंधी एवं मित्र बदनाम हुए, वहीं बाबूराम पर कभी प्रत्यक्ष आरोप नहीं लगा। इन सबके मद्देनजर यदि चुनाव होते हैं और माओवादी पार्टी खराब प्रदर्शन भी करती है, तो भी बाबुराम का ही कद ऊंचा होगा, इसलिए प्रचंड के निकट के लोग चुनाव के प्रति बहुत उत्साहित नजर नहीं आते।

आज नेपाल के किसी भी बड़े नेता के पास नेपाल के भविष्य को लेकर कोई योजना अथवा खाका नहीं है। नेपाल के दिग्गज विचारक माने जाने वाले बाबुराम भट्टाराई भी नेपाल के भविष्य को भारत के भविष्य के साथ जोड़कर देखने लगे हैं। 15 अगस्त को अंगे्रजी दैनिक द हिंदू में अपने एक लेख में बाबुराम कहते है, ‘हमारे (नेपाल) प्रबुद्ध हित के लिए यह जरूरी है कि हम भारत में होने वाले बदलावों पर नजर रखें और उसी के तहत अपने कदम आगे बढ़ाएं।’ आज नेपाल अपने अस्तित्व के सबसे संकटपूर्ण समय में है। यदि जल्द कोई हल नहीं निकला, तो यह इसके अस्तित्व को ही संकट में डाल देगा।

लंबे समय तक भूमिगत जीवन जीने के बाद सांसद बने एक मित्र ने इस लेखक से कहा, ‘काठमांडो की सड़कों के साथ चलती दीवारों में लिखे राजनीतिक नारों को सिनेमा के पोस्टरों और चमकीले लिबास में बाजार बेचती मॉडलों के बड़े पोस्टरों ने ढक लिया है।’

(सितम्बर 2013 के समयांतर में प्रकशित। समयांतर वेबसाइट में पढ़ने के लिये यहाँ क्लिक करें )


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My Crush that Week: Shoma Chaudhury

Posted by chimeki on January 23, 2013

Shoma chaudhury

Shoma Chaudhury
Photo Courtesy http://newsandallthat.wordpress.com

Recently in an event I had a chance meeting with Shoma Chaudhury of Tehelka. She was moderating the event, a book launch on the Maoist Movement in India at the Indian Habitat Centre, New Delhi. Later, I decided to congratulate her. Of course I did. But the handshake was longer than what is considered appropriate. She had to snatch her hand to humble me.

I like very few people. Shoma is one of those rare people I like to read and listen to. Her writings and video editorials in Tehelka are enlightening as well as engaging. She is extraordinarily attractive and articulate. Her hands are soft. Probably she is used to computers from the start. Pen users often have hardened finger tips.  Her eyes are spot less. She does not smoke. Smokers have yellowish sclera. Her eye lashes are upwardly curled and finely made to look longer. In adherence to the event, she was wearing red nail polish. Unlike others of her kind she is of modest height. It makes her approachable. As is the case with others, you don’t have to stretch your body to look at her eyes. Her voice is microphone friendly. It doesn’t hurt ears. Often, I have terrible experience watching presenters shouting at the top of their voice to look convincing. Shoma, with a pause here and a pause there and fine voice modulation, looks convincing without hard beating your eardrums.

Acknowledging the arrival of cold, she was wearing a woollen Kurta with dark shawl. May be to avoid attracting unnecessary attention she was wearing non-metal jewellery. I, kind of have reservation for these raw jewellery the Delhiwalas wear often. Without exceptions these jewellery are out of sync with the space and time they live in. Instead of making them attractive they make them repulsive. Seriously, who will like a cowbell on a woman’s neck?

Shoma says she is a constitutionalist. Elaborating further, she suggests the time we live in makes every constitutionalist automatically anti-state. I endorse the argument for I too can feel the contradiction of the state with its constitution.

As soon as she joined the dais, she made it clear that the book to be launched was a failure. She lambasted the author for not complying with the ethics of journalism. She said she wanted to boycott the function but decided to present her view openly. When the author countered her suggesting that she see the book in entirety, she said, any given book was either completely good or wholly bad and could not be somewhere in between. She not only corrected the author but a section of the audience too who for reason unknown wanted her to praise the author or at least support him.

After writing this far I don’t know how to conclude this. But seriously, how often do we need a conclusion?


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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.


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समीक्षा: ‘उसका नाम वासु नहीं’

Posted by chimeki on December 25, 2012

vasuपत्रकार शुभ्रांशु चौधरी की किताब ‘उसका नाम वासु नहीं’ माओवादी आंदोलन पर केन्द्रित है. लेखक माओवाद प्रभावित राज्य छत्तीसगढ़ से लंबे समय से जुड़े रहे हैं. उनके द्वारा शुरू किया गया विश्व का पहला मोबाईल कम्युनिटी सूचना तंत्र ‘सीजी नेट स्वर’ आदिवासियों के लिए एक महत्वपूर्ण पहल है, जो वहां की जनता को ‘मुख्यधारा’ से जोड़ने के लिए प्रयासरत है.

किताब में सलवा जुडूम पर महत्वपूर्ण सामग्री है. दिल्ली में इसका खाका तैयार करने से लेकर छत्तीसगढ़ में इसके प्रयोग तक शुभ्रांशु ने बारीकी से चीजों को पेश किया है. शुभ्रांशु की रिपोर्टिंग से यह निष्कर्ष निकलता है कि सलवा जुडूम सर्वोच्च न्यायालय में दलील देकर खत्म नहीं हुआ, बल्कि जनता ने संघर्ष कर उसे हराया है.किताब लिखने के लिए शुभ्रांशु चौधरी ने छत्तीसगढ़ के माओवाद प्रभावित क्षेत्र की लम्बी यात्राएं की हैं. उन्होंने वहां लड़ रहे दोनों पक्षों से बातचीत की. लेखक स्वीकार करते हैं कि वे दोनों पक्षों को तटस्थ रह कर जांचना-समझना चाहते हैं. इसलिए खुद बहुत अधिक नहीं बताते, बल्कि जिनसे उन्हें जानकारी मिलती है, वे उन्हीं के शब्दों में वहां की स्थिति से पाठकों को अवगत कराने का प्रयास करते हैं.

‘उसका नाम वासु नहीं’ का सबसे कमजोर पक्ष, हालांकि लेखक इसे पुस्तक का सबसे मजबूत पक्ष बताते हैं, लेखक का तटस्थ रहने का कैलकुलेटड प्रयास है. जब बात माओवादी आंदोलन के संदर्भ में होती है, तो तटस्थ का गणित हमेशा सत्ता पक्ष के दावों को ही मजबूत करता है.

सबसे पहला सवाल है कि सत्ता इस आंदोलन को कैसे देखती है. वामपंथी लेखक सरोज गिरी के मुताबिक सत्ता माओवादियों और इस क्षेत्र की जनता, जिसे सुविधा के लिए आदिवासी कहा जाता है, को दो अलग-अलग इकाई की तरह देखती है. इसलिए उसका मकसद माओवादियों को आदिवासियों से पृथक करना होता है. इसके लिए वह प्रलोभन और भय दोनों का इस्तेमाल करती है. वह माओवादियों को एक आयातित समस्या के रूप में स्वीकारती है. शुभ्रांशु भी सत्ता की इस दलील को बिना जांचे-परखे स्वीकार करते हैं.

ऐसे में यदि विचारधारा को हटा कर देखा जाए तो माओवादियों और तेंदुपत्ता ठेकेदारों में बहुत अंतर नहीं रह जाता और जनता अचेतन समूह की तरह प्रस्तुत होती है. जनता का मकसद दो जून की रोटी पाना है, इस बात से कोई फर्क नहीं पड़ता है कि वह उसे माओवादी दिलाते हैं या बजरंगी या फिर टाटा. बोली लगाइए और ले जाइए. अभी माओवादियों की बोली अधिक आकर्षक है.

बावजूद इसके कि माओवादी पार्टी का हर सदस्य परिवर्तन, समाजवाद और साम्यवाद की बात करता है. लेखक को लगता है कि ‘बात कुछ और है’, क्योंकि वहां की जनता के घरों में बुकशैल्फ नहीं है, जहां वह सोवियत साहित्य रख सके. इसलिए समाजवाद लक्ष्य नहीं हो सकता.

माओवादी आन्दोलन पर किताब लिख चुके राहुल पंडिता और अरुंधति रॉय की तरह शुभ्रांशु चौधरी भी समाजवाद को पूंजीवाद के विकल्प की तरह नहीं देखते. दोनों लेखकों की तरह वे ‘लोकतंत्र’ में सुधार कर इस व्यवस्था को ‘स्वर्ग’ बना देना चाहते हैं. उनकी भी दलील है कि जनता को आवाज दो वह ‘समाजवाद’ कहना छोड़ देगी. चिदंबरम की तरह ही तीनों को गोंडी नहीं आती और वे दुभाषियों के जरिए इस क्षेत्र को समझते हैं. इसलिए मुख्य मुद्दा अनुवाद में गुम हो जाता है. कुल मिलाकर माओवादी आंदोलनों पर काम करने वाले इन लेखकों ने समाजवाद को अपने शब्दकोष से गायब ही कर दिया है. वे माओवाद को समाजवाद का पर्याय मानने की जगह उसे ‘लोकतंत्र’ का ‘डिसेंट’ बना देते हैं. इसलिए सत्ता की ओर से पेश विमर्श से आगे नहीं जा पाते.

सच तो यह है कि विकास और लोकतंत्र की तमाम घोषणाओं के बावजूद पूंजीवाद अंततः पर्यावरण और मानवता का संकट है. इस व्यवस्था से मुक्ति ही मानव जाति के बचे रहने की एकमात्र गारंटी है. इसलिए माओवाद को व्यवस्था के ‘डिसेंट’ के रूप में स्थापित करने से अधिक इसे वर्तमान व्यवस्था के विकल्प के रूप में पहचानना जरूरी है. माओवादी आंदोलन से जुड़ी जनता को इस तरह पेश करना की वह आत्मरक्षा के लिए लड़ रही है, न कि मानवजाति के उद्धार के लिए, एकदम कमजोर समझदारी है.

माओवादी आंदोलन का विस्तार इसलिए नहीं हुआ कि यहां ‘डिसेंट’ है, बल्कि माओवादी आंदोलन ने ही क्रांतिकारी ‘डिसेंट’ को जन्म दिया है और इसे आगे ले जा रहा है. इसी तरह यह भी कहा जा सकता है कि यदि जनता को जमीन का स्वामी बना देने से समाजवाद के प्रति उसका आकर्षण कम हो सकता तो सरकार ऐसा करने में एक दिन भी नहीं लगाती. सरकार संसाधनों की लूट के लिए वहां नहीं पहुंची है बल्कि उसने संसाधनों का लालच देकर टाटा-एस्सार को इस युद्ध में अपने पक्ष में कर लिया है. हिमांशु कुमार की तरह यह मानना कि टाटा ही सरकार है, भारतीय संदर्भ में एक गलत समझदारी है. भारत में अभी तक सरकार एक स्वायत्त संस्था के रूप में बची हुई है. यदि ऐसा नहीं होता तो अन्ना आंदोलन भी जन्म नहीं लेता.

माओवाद/समाजवाद सरकार के प्रति जनता की निराशा का परिणाम नहीं है, बल्कि यह जनता की सामुदायिकता की भावना से पैदा होने वाला अनिवार्य परिणाम है. जहां कहीं भी जनता व्यक्तिवादी मानसिकता से मुक्त होगी, वहां माओवाद अपने आप ही पनपने लगेगा. ऐसी मानसिकता में पूंजीवाद और हिन्दुत्व पैदा नहीं हो सकता. हिंदुत्व केवल गुजराती जमीन में ही फल-फूल सकता है.

वि. श.

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