Monday, April 26, 2010

Nepal Seeing Major Political Crisis

There are serious undertones to the Maoists saying they will shut the country down indefinitely from May 1. I still don't fear renewed civil war, but the political paralysis is bad enough news.

UCPN (M) Announces Indefinite General Strike From May 2

The Maoists Have The Right To Peacefully Protest

Vandalism can not be tolerated. And the government has the right to not allow the protesters to enter certain areas of the capital city. So this announcement primarily puts the onus on the Maoist party to make sure their party cadres stay peaceful during the protest programs. They can shut the country down. They can take out processions. They can organize mass rallies.

By now it is too late to ask the Maoists to call off the protests. Now the attempt has to be to engineer a soft landing to the whole thing.

Best Case Scenario

The country is shut down for a week or less. An all party round table conference is organized. It would be best to organize such a conference at the earliest. There is no point in waiting for even a week. I think the parties have to agree to a change of government. That is the way out. But the parties should not simply cave in. The new government should involve the 10 largest parties in the constituent assembly. And the parties have to make it absolutely clear that they are not agreeing to a Maoist government or a Prachanda government. This is still a democracy. And they should put down a non-negotiable demand that they will not accept Prachanda's leadership to that 10 party government, that they want Baburam Bhattarai's leadership, and they can say that because it will not be a one party government of the Maoists. If it were a one party government of the Maoists, the Maoist central committee gets to decide who will lead that Maoist government. But in a 10 party government, it is for all 10 parties to decide who their leader will be.

A 10 Party Government In Baburam Bhattarai's Leadership

Equally important, a 10 party steering committee will have to be formed. Otherwise there will be no guarantees that the Maoists will not repeat the bad behavior that they exhibited during the army chief episode. The army chief could have been legitimately sacked back then, but only with the consent of all parties in the then coalition government.

Another Six Months For The Constituent Assembly

Agreeing to a new government will go hand in hand with agreeing to give six additional months to the constituent assembly to complete its work.

Saying No To One Party State Mentality

Many Maoists talk of an eventual revolution as a prelude to some kind of a communist utopia. That is a dead end. The world figured that out in the previous century. The Nepali Maoists are going to have to figure that out one way or the other. Violence is not an option. A violent revolution is not an option. A one party state is not in the cards. Dictatorship is not happening.

Multi-Party Democracy Is Not Tactics

Multi-party democracy in Nepal is here to stay. Talk of state capture has to go away. There has to be talk of winning elections, and implementing land reform, and taking education, health and job opportunities to the people, to the masses.

The Two Philosophies Of The Last Century: Capitalism And Communism

It is very curious that Nepal has become the playground for the tussle between these two competing political philosophies of the last century. Here the Maoists have consistently refused to take a step that might be the middle ground, a fusion between those two competing philosophies that will also cure communism of the excesses and unintended consequences that the Maoists themselves have admitted to and have disapproved of. That step would be to turn Nepal into a multi-party democracy of state funded parties. But the Maoists will not do that because they have too much money. Prachanda has become too accustomed to slapping super expensive watches around his wrist. When he was Prime Minister he slept in a bed that he bought for 100,000 rupees. That does not strike me as someone who aspires to lead the poor. His ways have been not that different from the corrupt Congress people of the 1990s.

A Multi-Party Democracy Of State Funded Parties

Neither camp is wanting to take this final step that the April Revolution 2006 asks for. Without this step the Maoists will keep dreaming of a revolution some day, they will keep dreaming of a one party state. And the opposing camp will keep up with its suspicions of the Maoists.

Neither camp is willing to make this ideological leap.

The step to take before that leap is to pass a law that requires all political parties in the country to make and keep all their book keeping public. And also there all political parties are opposed to the idea.

The Maoists And Multi-Party Democracy
I Give Madhav Nepal Six Months
The Army Issue Has To Be Discussed In The Parliament
Nepali Diaspora: Rethink Time?
Prachanda Messed Up
Lesson For Maoists: Rule Of Law
ICG: Nepal's Faltering Peace Process
CPN (Maoist) To CPN (Deng)?

Standing Up To Prachanda

Agreeing to everything Prachanda wants could ultimately lead to civil war. You don't appease a dictator. Prachanda has dictatorial tendencies. But you do have to deal with the party that is the largest in the parliament. Without cooperation from the Maoists, there will be no new constitution. But that party has to be treated like the minority party it is. That party alone can not decide who will lead the next government. And the next government will have to be steered by a steering committee composed of all member parties to that government. That check and balance was missing the last time around and allowed for Prachanda to act like maybe it was not a coalition government.

A 10 Party Government In Baburam Bhattarai's Leadership

Worse Case Scenario

Prachanda might opt for a game of brinkmanship. The smart thing for the rest of the parties to do is to publicly declare that they are okay with the idea of a 10 party government lead by Baburam Bhattarai and then let the rest of the country watch Prachanda oppose that idea for a week or so. His standing among the people will go down. It will look like he is keeping the country hostage for no reason other that he is opposed to Baburam Bhattarai, a Maoist, leading the government.

Worst Case Scenario

Things could get violent here and there in unplanned ways. The regressionists might make their moves and create incidences to sow confusion. The state security agencies might have to come into play. Things might get a little out of hand.

It is best to avoid such possibilities by exercising the political options right away.

How Do You Know The Maoists Are Willing To Play Ball?

The Maoists not willing to consider someone other than Prachanda to lead a 10 party government will be a clear sign that they still are not willing to embrace a coalition government culture. At that point the ruling alliance will have no option but to continue in government because the government still has the confidence of the parliament.

Don't trigger crisis, EU tells Nepal Maoists
Maoists call indefinite Nepal bandh from May 2 Times of India
Maoists set for indefinite strike to topple Nepal government Daily News And Analysis
Soon, a 550-km long India-Nepal trade route: Chidambaram Economic Times
Prachanda to govt: Step down by May 1 Indian Express
Maoists announce indefinite strike The Hindu
Nepal's Maoist leader calls for massive public protest Sify
Maoists set for indefinite strike to topple Nepal government Daily News And Analysis
Search for Prime Minister other than Prachanda A new form of storm has emerged in Nepali politics especially in the UCPN Maoist following the statement made by Prime Minster Madhav Kumar Nepal. PM Nepal has clearly stated that he would quit his post for the consensus candidate other than UCPN Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda.
Nepal Maoists train cadres for 'decisive war' Hindustan Times
Prachanda moves SC on CC move Himalayan Times

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