Monday, April 19, 2010

Freakishness Of Feeding Off The Dead

Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s insistence that the tenure of the constituent assembly could be extended only by a government led by his party sounds pretty devious. But it still falls short of the duplicity of his deputy, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, who claimed a couple of weeks ago that the late Girija Prasad Koirala had concluded it was time for Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal to go.
The temptation to milk the dead has cut across party lines with particular sharpness in recent times. No sooner did we hear from a section of the Nepali Congress that Koirala had presided over a secret decision to extend the assembly than the CPN-UML made a formal decision in favor of such a move. Yet the more pertinent perplexity pertains to why Dahal would want to lead the government during these spooky times. (But, then, who really has figured out why he was so anxious to resign last year?)
Prime Minister Nepal should have been the first to jump for joy. In death, Koirala so easily evaded responsibility for his failure to lead the peace process to its logical conclusion. By letting the Maoists return to Singh Durbar, Nepal would have lived to fight another day.
But the decision is not the premier’s alone. The non-Maoist parties know that a cop-out is a luxury they can’t afford. Were the Maoists to take over and extend the constituent assembly, what’s to say that that would not amount to an extension in perpetuity? Leaders on the right and the left might yet find it easy to live without a permanent constitution. What scares them is prospect of being crammed into something akin to a People’s Consultative Assembly only to rubber-stamp Maoist decisions.
That trepidation has grown after Koirala’s death. Remember how the Maoists used to be ridiculed for contemplating capture of state power. Who in their right mind in the comity of nations would let such egregiousness stand in such a geopolitically sensitive region? Well, few people seem to be laughing now.
What else can the world do when it has run out of options? If the Americans could support the Taleban and the Khmer Rouge for a while, why should they be reticent about our far more elegantly malleable and ductile Maoists?
Recognition of a Maoist takeover of Nepal would not be an indictment of the international community’s cold pragmatism. It would amount to a repudiation of the other political parties and civil society that arrogated to itself the moral right to lead our leaders.
And the real nightmare of the non-Maoists? Dahal & Co. just might declare Koirala the father of the people’s republic. He’s not exactly in a position to decline, is he?