Saturday, June 17, 2006

More Inside Stories, Please

One interesting fallout of the summit between the de facto leaders of the “old” and “new” Nepalese states is the rapidity with which the inside stories can now be expected. And, boldly enough, Maoist supremo Prachanda has led the way.
The Maoists’ channel to King Birendra is well known. The conventional wisdom is that the rebels chose to lavish praise on the slain monarch’s patriotism only posthumously because of the obvious political advantage. Prachanda has now revealed that evidence on these contacts are safely preserved at Maoist headquarters.
Another disclosure is that the Maoists, although convinced that King Gyanendra was more driven by personal interests than patriotism, maintained a channel with the current monarch. Now that undercuts the prevailing belief – epitomized most memorably by Ram Chandra Poudel, currently general secretary of the Nepali Congress – that the Maoists were a creation of “Nirmal Niwas” (King Gyanendra’s former residence as prince).
There are other intriguing holes the Maoists should plug in the interest of the historical record. Did or did not Prachanda meet with Crown Prince Paras somewhere in eastern Nepal in the winter of 2002 after King Gyanendra dismissed Sher Bahadur Deuba’s elected government?
If so, did that meeting lead the Maoists to officially call a boycott of King Gyanendra’s felicitation in Biratnagar but then bus crowds to Shahid Maidan? Was the 2003 ceasefire and talks only aimed to formalize a settlement already agreed with the palace?
Was that deal advanced without the concurrence of our great southern neighbor, which led CNN to carry that sensational story about how the Maoist leadership had been gunned down in Silguri or surrounding area, only to retract it after they had entered Nepal?
Was the murder of Armed Police Force chief Krishna Mohan Shrestha, contrary to the Maoists’ claim of responsibility, a deadly outcome of the conflict between RAW and the CIA? (Something RAW defector Ravinder Singh carried with him to his new abode in New York?)
Did the Maoists really want to break off the talks after Badri Prasad Mandal was named the head of the government negotiating team, precisely because of the upper hand India had achieved? Of course, the American blow would come in that retroactive listing on the State Department terrorism list.
Was there some personal assurance from the monarch that allowed the Maoist team to resurface after briefly going underground and join a final round of talks – an undertaking that one unit of the Royal Nepalese Army broke through the Dorombha massacre? Hence, leading the Maoists to rechristen the force Royal American Army?
Did Prachanda instigate the king to take full executive powers by insisting the rebels would only talk to the real source of power and then seek a favorable deal? Did that plan collapse once the royal proclamation – contrary to assurances the rebels had received – described the Maoists as terrorists? Did Prachanda use the anti-palace platform only to burnish his credentials in that power struggle with Dr. Baburam Bhattarai? Are all these threats about trying and executing the monarch a red herring, especially since Prachanda saw no reason at the press conference to react negatively to Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s advocacy of a ceremonial monarchy?
I know it’s a long list. Maybe Prachanda could begin by telling us whether Narayan Singh Pun really took him aboard his helicopter and flew him into Narayanhity Palace for direct talks with King Gyanendra?