Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Maoist Attack On Himal

Personal Angle

Ashutosh Tiwari has been a personal and cherised friend of mine for a decade and a half now. I cherish our first meeting in Kathmandu in the mid-90s when he was home for vacation from Harvard, and I was someone applying to colleges in America. Curiously all of our subsequent interactions have been online, but that does not make the bond any less strong. Prashant Jha and I have never met, but we chat online like friends. I have admired CK Lal over time. And it gives me pride he knows of me. I have met Kunda and Kanak in New York City, although for some reason I connected more with Kanak than Kunda. I embarrassed Kiran Nepal during his NYC trip by video interviewing him for so long over a few days. You have turned me into a celebrity, he complained. Kashish Das Shrestha has had a small time affiliation with the Himal brand name. So if I have not jumped all over this act of Maoist atrocity, it is because I have had some urgent engagements locally, personally. Believe it or not, this is the first time I have read these Nepali Times articles below.

Sharp divide Nepali Times
The boundaries of federalism
"It will backfire"
(Blank Editorial)
High noon at Himal
Dahal in the dock
They do it again

This attack is outrageous, but not surprising.

Wet Dream

The idea that the Maoists will turn Nepal into a one party communist republic is a wet dream. It is not going to happen. Dahal talks of a transitional republic. I also think Nepal currently is a transitional republic. It will continue so as long as it does not have a firm constitution. Kiran talks of a people's republic. He should go ahead and talk of a one party communist republic if that is what he means by that. Otherwise the term people's republic is vague, perhaps intentionally so. Who in Nepal today is for a royal Republic, or a Hindu republic, or a republic of the landed, or a republic of the moneyed? Of course we are for a people's republic. My idea of a people's republic is a one person one vote republic. What is Kiran's idea? I would like to know.

The Nepali people just got rid of a Gyanendra Shaha dictatorship, and the dude had roots going back hundreds of years, a 100,000 strong army personally loyal to him. Who is Pushpa Kamal Dahal? Who is Kiran Baidya?

Fire, Water

Dahal keeps suggesting he can have both fire and water. You can not be both for a multi-party democracy and a one party dictatorship. You can not be both for a free press and violent attacks on journalists. You can not be both mafia and political party. What we have in Nepal right now is the Communist Party of Nepal (Mafia). The Chinese complained the Nepali Maoists were defaming their Great Leader, so they became CPN (Mafia).

CPN (Mafia), Money-Muscle

The Maoists said they were having doubts about the fundamental Maoist dictum that power flows from the barrel of a gun, so we entered into an alliance with them to throw the monarchy. But now in power they act like power flows from biceps and triceps. In the Indian shanty towns the goondas collect hafta, or weekly payments from small business owners, vendors, street hawkers. That is the mafia way. The Maoists in Nepal do the same thing. They have come up with a cocktail of a nationwide organization, a climate of fear, and the power-flows-from-biceps-and-triceps dictum to the point that the CPN (Mafia) is basically a money machine. It is not Pushpa Kamal Dahal, it is Pushpa Kamal Corleone.

It Is About The Money

Like some wise man said a long time ago, follow the money, it is always about the money. What the Maoists want is to assemble truckloads of money, from the state coffers, from private businesses. Considering they claim to be a communist party, their appetite for money seems to be limitless and healthy: that is strange. They have not shown any talent for creation or democratic distribution of wealth, but they have shown a limitless capacity for looting and lavishly spending wealth. That is not political party behavior, that is Mafia behavior.

It is ridiculous that they wish to establish a one party communist republic with money looted mafia style. That will bring forth not a one party communist republic but rather a one party criminal republic.


The Maoist dream of a one party communist republic will never be realized. Nepal will see renewed civil war before it will see a one party communist republic. Nepal will see a revived monarchy before it will see a one party communist republic. But the Maoists might do a lot of damage while trying. They will fail but after having done a lot of damage. So making sure Nepal does not turn into a one party communist republic is not enough. That is pretty much guaranteed. Nepal is not going to become one. The real challenge is to not allow the Maoists to try, not let the Maoists to do damage while trying.

Solution: Rule Of Law, Power Of Law

The most important thing to do is for the parliament to pass a law that makes it mandatory for all political parties to make and keep their finances public. That of course would apply to all the affiliated organizations as well. The non Maoists have enough votes to be able to pass this law.

Then pass a law saying organizations engaging in violent activities can be sued out of existence. Organizations engaging in extortions can be tried in a court of law. Then try organizations like the YCL, even the YF, and the Maoist sister organizations that routinely engage in violence and threats of violence.

Are there political leaders willing to pass these laws? It is not going to be easy to pass and apply these laws. The Maoists are going to want to intimidate all sorts of actors to the process. That is one thing they know to do. Such threats and intimidations can be nonviolently countered, as long there is the political consciousness to stay alert, to expose, to stay united for the common purpose of basic rule of law.

Freedom of association and assembly do not apply to groups willing to engage in violence. It is possible to sue YCL like organizations out of existence. We do not depend on the mercy of the Maoist leadership to dismantle the YCL. A judge can order it to dismantle.

The rule of law, power of law also applies to Maoists. The Maoists have every right to be for workers' rights. But those rights can't be enforced through mafia threats of force. They should pass labor friendly laws in the parliament, and get the state to implement those laws.

The Old Ways Of The Nepali Congress And The UML

The Congress and the UML keep wanting to go back to the 1990s. The idea never was to turn the Nepali Maoists into just another political party in a system like we had in the 1990s minus the monarchy. The Maoists and the non-Maoists represent the two main streams of global politics in the past century. Fusion of the two is the only way to move forward. If the non-Maoists are going to keep pushing to turn Nepal into like it was in the 1990s, the Maoists are going to keep pushing to turn Nepal into what China was like in the 1950s.

The Congress, the UML, the MJF, the TMLP, the Sadbhavana and all the rest of them are going to have to come around to saying they are for turning Nepal into a multi-party democracy of state-funded parties. They should come out for it first. And if the Maoists do not also come for the same, they should get together and topple the Maoist-led government.

You Don't Dig Heels, You Triangulate

As long the Congress and the UML will stay in the habit of digging heels wanting their old ways, the Maoists will stay lost in fundamental ideological confusion. The country will suffer.

Transition Challenges

In The News

Sharp divide Nepali Times
The boundaries of federalism
"It will backfire"
(Blank Editorial)
High noon at Himal
Dahal in the dock
They do it again

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Transition Challenges

Law And Order

Hisila Yami's call to dissolve the Maoists' YCL and the UML's Youth Force is a responsible one. Law and order is a function of the state. It is for the Nepal Police to take care of law and order. A youth wing of a political party may not engage in law and order activities. The YCL and the YF have been a fundamental threat to any feeling of normalcy in the country.

Army Integration Or Army Formation?

The phrase army integration is highly problematic. If you add the 30,000 Maoist soldiers to the 90,000 of the Nepal Army, you end up with an army that is four times the size it ought to be, and you don't end up with a Nepal Army but rather a Bahun Chhetri Janajati Army, you end up excluding the Madhesis.

The talk should not be of army integration, but rather army formation. The parliament has to prepare the blueprint for the future Nepal Army. What should be its size? What should be its ethnic composition? Its gender composition? What should be the basic criteria that the recruits should meet? The parliament has to answer those questions. Then it has to face the fact that many members of both the Nepal Army and the Maoist Army are not going to end up in the future army, just like most US soldiers who came back home from World War II did not end up in the US Army, instead many went to college, many got retrained for private sector jobs.

I recommend an army size of 20,000, and its ethnic composition has to be similar to that of the constituent assembly, and it has to be 40% female. Some of those 20,000 will come from the Nepal Army, some from the Maoist Army, some from Jwala and Goit.

So instead of debating the topic of army integration, the Maoists and the Congress should be talking army formation. The biggest challenge of that is going to moving about 100,000 soldiers into private sector jobs.


That is going to be yet another sticky issue. There also the leaders are choosing the wrong starting point. I recommend not starting with the map. Instead tackle other aspects of federalism first.

Federalism, yes or no? Answer: yes. Should we retain the 75 districts or not? I highly recommend a yes. If you get rid of the 75 districts, then you are going to invite administrative chaos in the short term. So if you keep the 75 districts, the next question is going to be, do you want ethnic federalism or geographic federalism? I recommend a three state geographic federalism, Koshi, Karnali, and Terai with three capitals Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Narayanghat. Any attempt at ethnic federalism is likely to be endlessly contentious.

Then there is the question of power distribution. What is that going to look like at the federal level? I recommend a lower house of 75 multi member constituencies of about 245 members, every third name on a party's list must be female, including the first. (Meeting Ground Between Congress And Maoists: 75 Multi Member Constituencies) For the upper house, the entire country is going to be one constituency. It would be a fully proportional election for 100 seats. Every other name on a party's list must be female. That for the legislative.

As for the executive, I recommend a directly elected president, with one person allowed a maximum of two four year terms. Briefly I thought a prime ministerial system might work in Nepal because there are bound to be many parties in existence, and no party might ever get more than 30% of the votes. But since a coalition government is also led by one person, why not encourage parties to build coalitions before the election instead and settle on a common choice, or two or three for president. A candidate must get at least 50% of the votes or there would be a runoff. And this is not the American system, because America does not have a directly elected president.

A directly elected president will allow for stability, direct democracy, and a clear separation of powers between the legislative and the executive.

Multi-Party Democracy Of State Funded Parties

This is what we have to do to make sure we get the Maoists to stop talking about a transitional republic and the people's republic. The state will fund the parties based on how many votes they earn in the parliamentary elections. And all book keeping by the parties will have to be transparent. The parties would not be allowed any other source of fundraising. I am surprised not even the Maoists have picked up this idea. This idea would make Nepal a democracy ahead of India, Britain, and America, as close to classlessness as a democracy can get, and it will retain the multi-party nature of democracy.

If we can end up with a multi-party democracy of state funded parties, and a parliament that is at least 40% female by law, the three mass movements of April 2006, January February 2007, and February 2008 will have been the French Revolution for this 21st century. Over time China and India and others will be forced to imitate Nepal.

In The News

Oli opposes army integration NepalNews
We are no fascists, says PM Dahal
Koirala urges for unity among democratic forces
Maoists to adopt ‘drastically different democracy’
A Maoist minister sees the need to dissolve YCL and Youth Force
Maoist, UML mend fences
Girija Prasad Koirala hospitalised after suffering from a bout of pneumonia
PM Dahal says NC reluctant to promote "politics of consensus"

PM discusses coalition strategy with UML gen secy NepalNews
Political committee announced, Gurung named acting chief UML will be represented by Nepal and Surendra Pandey, CPN (Maoist) by Gurung and Barsha Man Pun, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum by Upendra Yadav and Sarat Singh Bhandari, Sadbhawana Party by Laxman Lal Karna and Ram Naresh Raya, Janamorcha by Lila Mani Pokhrel and Girijaraj Mani Pokhrel and CPN (United) by Chandra Dev Joshi.
Govt forms panel to study its hydropower ambition the prospects of generating 10,000 MW power in ten years...... eradicate illiteracy within two years. The programme will take off on December 16
After China, it's US turn to send high-level delegation to Nepal
Dr Yadav attends Kirat religious ceremony
Top cop admits political intervention in police force is real the quasi-policing activities of youth groups of political parties like the Young Communist League of CPN-Maoist and CPN-UML's Youth Force
Terai armed group declares 'ceasefire' for talks
Folk singer Ram Thapa dies
'No one has moral authority to ask for return of seized property'
Terai armed group burns down passenger bus, one dead
Ruling coalition fails to court NC into special committee

Monday, December 01, 2008

Contents 2008

Prachanda: Video
The Maoist Attack On Himal
Transition Challenges
Claiming Relevance
Simple Majority Government, Ceremonial President Ramraja
Another Seven Party Government?
तराईमा मधेस र थारुवान गरी दुई राज्य हुन सक्छन
Are The Maoists Anti-Madhesi?
Non Maoist Government Possible, All Party Government Advisable
Coalition Government, But Which Coalition Partners
All Party Government, Prachanda President, Chitralekha Speaker
Madhesi Movement: Next Moves
Nobel Peace Prize 2008: Making A Case For Nepal
Prachanda Gets To Be Nepal's First President
Permutations And Combinations
ICG: Nepal's Election And Beyond
मधेसी पार्टीले सीट तालमेल नगरेको राम्रै हो
मधेशी पार्टीले तराईका दिलत र मिहलालाई िचनेनन्
पाँच बुँदा, पाँच चुनाव
मधेसी मोर्चालाई सत्तामा पुर्याउने तिरका
मधेसी अान्दोलनले अब चुनाव िजतेर देखाउनुप्रछ
िगिरजा नेपाललाई स्री लंका बनाउन चाहन्छ
Compromise हुन सक्छ
िगिरजाले संघीय सरकार के हो भन्ने कुरा नबुझेको हुनुपर्छ
माअोवादीको गणतन्त्रको माग जस्तै हो मधेस राज्यको माग
अान्दोलन िक िनर्वाचन: मधेसी र जनजाित पार्टीहरूको एकीकरणको सवाल
मधेसी जनजाित अान्दोलनकालािग दलीय पुर्ण समानुपाितक िनर्वाचनको अावश्यकता
ICG: Nepal: Peace Postponed

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