Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Revive House, Lay Down Arms, Put Up With Me: Girija

Prachanda Statement
Dinesh Wagle, 7 Leaders, 27 Questions

To the king Girija says, revive the House.

To the Maoists he says, lay down your arms.

To the democrats he says, put up with me.

I don't know what the rejoicing is about the 12 point agreement between the parties and the Maoists. I see it as a document where Prachanda and Baburam slapped the seven parties for their not letting go the House revival stand.

What is Girija's motive? Why does he insist on House revival when it is so obvious it can not be revived? It can not be an all party government, because you do not need a revived House to form an all party government. So why does he insist on House revival?

It is because mentally he just can not let go of the 1990 constitution. That's why. He might have come around to the constituent assembly idea owing to the circumstances, but he still is stuck on the 1990 document. Secretly he hopes if the House is revived, he will somehow manage to save the 1990 constitution. And people see that secret desire. And that leads to an erosion of trust with the players who have to be dealt with to make peace possible.

The House will not be revived. But if it were to be magically revived, what could happen? What options would open up for Girija?

He could command the seven parties to make major amendments to the constitution. He could bring the army under the parliament, for one. And the global powers might go back to the pre 2/1 mood, which was to support the state army in its fight against the Maoist army.

All that will not happen, because the House will not be revived. But the fact that you insist on it sends some very wrong signals to the Maoists. You are telling them you are still not sure about the constituent assembly idea. That is not the signal you want to send.

Girija is not the one to stick to agreements. Here are a few examples.

In the 1990s, after his party lost its majority in the House, he crisscrossed the country to regain it, and promised Krishna Prasad Bhattarai would be Prime Minister, not him. But he ousted Bhattarai not long after the goal was achieved.

During the agitations when Surya Bahadur Thapa was last Prime Minister, the five parties had put forth Madhav Nepal as the consensus choice for Prime Minister. But when it finally came down to crunch time, Girija backstabbed, to the point the agitation got aborted.

This 12 point agreement with the Maoists is only the latest example. As soon as it came out, Girija went public saying it will only come into effect after the Maoists lay down their arms.

Voila! Three examples, the latest from only today.

Girija does not believe in the idea of agreements and contracts. At other times, it would have been between him and the people he dealt with, but these are not those times. The country is at the brink of disaster. Before 2/1 happened, it was widely believed the king could not possibly go that far. But then 2/1 happened. It is very possible for the country to see worse than it has so far. It is very possible. Things could go very, very wrong. Girija is playing with fire.

Girija's outright rejection of the 12 point agreement has to be studied. One, he did it on his own. It is not like he called a meeting of the central committee of the Nepali Congress and the party discussed. Nope. That is not Girija's style.

I am personally very dissatisfied with the document, but a summary rejection of the document is unwise because this is the first time the Maoists have formally accepted a multi-party framework. This is historic. As for the parts that are not satisfactory, that is what future rounds of talks are for. And if you are going to so summarily reject it, why did you enter into it in the first place?

But Girija does not bother himself with those nuances. He summarily rejects the whole thing.

This is a problem. This is a very serious problem.

The immediate, summary rejection also shows Girija acted like he was talking to the Maoists as a pressure tactics upon the king. Will you revive the House or shall I talk to the Maoists? That guy is banging his head against the wall. The seven parties have a legitimate movement option. The seven parties have a legitimate all party government option. The seven parties have a legitimate constituent assembly option. What they do not have is a House revival option. The sooner they come around to it, the better for the country.

You know what the Maoists' slap is? They are saying if you have problems with letting go the 1990 constitution, we also have problems with letting go the goal of a communist republic.

If you first get rid of the king, and then have two standing armies, and take the country to elections to a constituent assembly, that is a sure recipe for disaster, utter chaos. That is absolutely, totally not an option.

This is the Maoists backtracking. They had come to suggest they will disarm under UN supervision to make elections to a constituent assembly possible. And now the Maoists are backtracking. They are responding to Girija. That is their response to Girija's intransigence on the House thingie.

Girija's House revival idea takes the country to Cambodia. This is not a Nepali Congress thing no more. This is a country thing. This is a Nepal thing.

There is a face saving thing. Because Girija's name is so tied to the House revival idea, it is hard for him to suddenly backtrack. So you offer him face saving options. A smart politician could have seen plenty of wiggle room all along. But Girija is certain like a stopped clock. He does not seek wiggle room.

Face saving would be that he lets go the House revival idea to retain the formal leadership of the movement. That is face saving.

I think it is very important for the sake of democracy that the seven parties (1) let go the House revival stand, and (2) declare their government in waiting now. The lack of clarity is really hurting the cause.

And if they are not going to let go the House revival stand, they are going to have to make a public case for it, and then draw a roadmap to it. Why do you so badly want it? How do you hope to get it?

Revising a four point program and turning it into a three point program is easy. If Girija can not do it, he is highly disqualified to lead the all party government. That all party government will have a job much tougher than that of Krishna Prasad Bhattarai's government in 1990. It will have to walk a tight rope. Girija has autocratic tendencies. He is singularly incapable of buidling consensus. For the all party government you need a consensus builder.

I suggest this:

Ganeshman Singh of the movement: Girija Koirala.
Prime Minister in waiting: Madhav Nepal.
Deputy Prime Minister in waiting: Ram Chandra Poudel.

Madhav Nepal has many advantages. One, he leads the largest party in the country. Two, he actually facilitates the meetings of his party's central committee. Three, his age and health are a plus. Four, as a communist himself, he has a better feel for the Maoists. Five, he ditched the House revival idea a long time ago. Six, his party recently organized a huge rally in Butwal.

I do not personally dislike Girija. I respect his decades long struggle on behalf of the country. What I am saying I am saying for the sake of the country and the tough times it is in.

There is only one thing standing between the country and the peace it deserves, and that is Girija's House revival stand.

Let go, Girija.

Newton, Apples, And Girija's House Revival Idea
Teen Sutriya Agenda
Maoist, Moriarty, Madhav, Manmohan: Get Behind The 3 Point Program
House Revival Stance Preventing Progress
Girija's House Revival Fantassy
October 2, 2002
The Foreign Powers Need To Come Clean On The Constituent Assembly Question
Madhav Nepal, Commander Of The Movement
For The First Time In A Decade, Permanent Peace Feels Possible

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