Saturday, March 10, 2007

A Rude Awakening For Civil Society

Nepal Janatantrik Party (NJP) seems to have it right. Taking responsibility for planting bombs in the residences of human right activists Krishna Pahadi and Dr Devendra Raj Pandey, the party said: “Foreign interference in our internal affairs is increasing. On top of that national puppets of foreigners and several groups are cheating us and are playing the game of dividing the nation in the name of federalism, ethnicity, and right to self-determination.”
Describing the duo as among those who are into the game behind the “mask” of human right activists, the NJP certainly went further than Maila Baje’s rants. No wonder, the NJP’s effect has been stronger. Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula informed the interim legislature last week that Police Headquarters has started investigating the incident by setting up a special team.
The political parties that prevented the Pandey-Pahadi fraternity from claiming that big chunk of seats in the legislature were the first to rise to their defence. Despite all the nastiness for the spoils now, both elites know they would become the first victims should right-wing authoritarianism really raise its head again. Since the implication here would be a military coup, the “historic” House of Representatives Proclamation won’t allow them to blame the palace.
And that’s what hurts them the most. They just can’t understand what really keeps King Gyanendra going. They tried the depression and Internet-gambling story lines in vain. The day after the monarch is denounced as Asia’s most humiliated man, he issues a statement enthusiastically welcoming the comprehensive peace accord. Two days after he is pelted with stones at Pashupati, the he comes out with a Democracy Day message defending his takeover. He takes responsibility for the failures as well as the successes of his direct rule.
Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala concedes he’s in favor of a ceremonial monarchy, not out of any shared affinity for dynasties, but to ensure stability by providing space to everyone. Maoist supremo Prachanda acknowledges that a mere vote in the interim legislature establishing a republic won’t force King Gyanendra out.
The SPA, Maoists and their civil society collaborators just can’t acknowledge that their current resurgence is a direct outcome of the royal takeover. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may have been the first to speak about the crystallization of political events in 2005. It was New Delhi’s glassiness that really set things in motion. Without King Gyanendra’s northern alliance – cemented at the Dhaka SAARC summit – the SPA and Maoists could never have come together. On the morning of February 1, 2005, the monarch promised to restore peace and democracy in three years. He took less than half as long. And what do we get? An amendment to the interim constitution in less than 100 days of its promulgation. And who knows how many other ones these clusters of grievances will produce.
Yeah, yeah, the NJP didn’t have to use bombs to send that message across. Easy to say. Just consider the antecedents of top three political parties in the interim legislature.