Monday, January 22, 2007

Maoization of the Mainstream?

The alacrity with which the government moved to reject U.S. Ambassador James F. Moriarty’s suggestion that the Maoists have offered crummy weapons to the United Nations and retained the more sophisticated components of their arsenal leads up to a key question. Has the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) mainstreamed the Maoists or is the other way around?
In its urgency to seal that broader imperative of emaciating – if not entirely eliminating at this point – the palace, the SPA is understandably anxious to defend the Maoists. Yet when a then-Royal Nepal Army helicopter came down near Malangawa during the last weeks of the royal regime, the SPA was cheering this audacious humbling of the state army by its newfound comrades in arm.
Clearly, the arms issue is relevant here. Nobody is really interested in what the Nepali Congress did with the arms it accumulated during its anti-palace insurgencies. B.P. Koirala conceded that Indira Gandhi commandeered part of that arsenal for the campaign to “liberate” Bangladesh. Nepali Congress activists themselves have said the remainder was substantial and under the supervision of our current premier.
Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala is under no obligation to clarify things. By the end of 1976, when B.P. Koirala finally fused nationalism and democracy into a plea for reconciliation, it was pretty clear that the Nepali Congress’ principal foreign sponsor had given up on armed action as tool of political change. (B.P. must have opted for the serenity of Sundarijal long before he made that fateful announcement. Some of the same agencies that deployed men to ensure that the Nepali Congress could procure arms were entrusted with enforcing Emergency-era restrictions on the principal Nepali exile.)
We don’t know that's the case with the Maoists. The fact that Maoist cadres are still armed in Lahan pretty much sums up the situation in other parts of the country. Let’s assume Maoist supremo Prachanda is genuinely committed to the peace accord with the SPA. Considering the background of one of his party's nominees to the interim legislature, Prachanda might still be in a mood of atonement for having once described the former RNA as a pack of plunderers.
But what about the other flank. Is he confident of the intentions of the Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha factions that have declared war on the Maoists as well as on the pahadi state? A man who reportedly switches residences each night eight months out of the netherworld, Prachanda can't be having much sleep. (Considering his demand for the foreign, defense, home, communication and other important portfolios in the putative SPA-Maoist coalition, insomnia seems to have taken its toll on our top comrade.)
Yet if Prachanda considers himself truly rested and refreshed each morning, then, it raises another question. Could the bad blood between the splinter groups and their former leader merely be a ruse for the Maoists to internally manage their arms before the U.N. monitors arrived? As for the foreign hand, it retains greater plausible deniability in the current conflagration by appearing to be on the side of the Maoists, not the JTTMs.
After BP’s plight, Prachanda must have taken an insurance policy against New Delhi. Consider the sudden concentration of armed Indian Maoists in urban centers of key insurgency-wracked states across our southern border? Could the arms buildup be related to the U.N. arms management process under way here?
Perhaps Moriarty has a larger point here but is constrained by his accreditation to become more candid. Your Excellency, how about calling for an investigation into the model and manufacturer of the anti-aircraft battery that supposedly brought down that ex-RNA chopper? The demand sounds harmless enough to keep Ambassador Mulford out of any firestorm down south.