Monday, May 03, 2010

What Would We Do Without Him?

In Nepal’s triangular logjam, western powers have filled the space vacated by the monarchy four years ago. So it seems in the estimation of Narayan Man Bijukchhe. But what about that most vilified external hand? The leader of Nepal Workers and Peasants Party (NWPP) has chosen to give the Indians a pass this time.
The Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML are feudal parties, Bijukchhe asserts. No surprises here. The Maoists are dividing the country in the name of caste, ethnicity and regionalism, and hence, do not qualify to be counted as communists. By pitting the two poles against each other, the western powers are pushing Nepal to perpetual failed status. With much of Washington, London and Brussels already in a muddle, they more than ever need lousier places to cheer them up.
In castigating the collective West, the spokesman for the toiling masses of Nepal has made this much clear. The folks in that hemisphere are incapable of changing their colors, regardless of the fact that the first black man in the White House is ideologically the reddest any American could ever hope to be.
Bijukchhe accuses UNMIN of conspiring against Nepal in much the same way the Maoists have. By playing up our divisions, the international merchants of peace get to settle down to business. Okay, but what do we do next? Never at a loss for creative solutions, Bijukchhe wants his onetime classmate, President Ram Baran Yadav, to impose presidential rule and extend the tenure of the constituent assembly.
Forget whether we could really hope to get a constitution that way. The key point to ponder is Bijukchhe’s reason for keeping mum on India this time. Distrust of our southern neighbor has remained the very essence of his being. In 1971, as a young radical, Bijukchhe broke away from Pushpa Lal Shrestha’s faction of the Communist Party after that organization supported India’s intervention in what was then East Pakistan. Bijukchhe also criticized Pushpa Lal’s enthusiasm for cooperation with the Nepali Congress and the failure of his party to condemn the Soviet Union as imperialist. As the Sino-Soviet split widened, Bijukchhe considered it prudent to tag himself onto the belligerent closer to home.
After the restoration of multiparty democracy in 1990, and especially during the hung parliament of 1994-1999, Bijukchhe was a central figure in Operation Destabilization. His handful of MPs would make and break governments. But at least the NWPP leader had the honesty to concede that it was all part of Indian machinations. In the process, Bijukchhe perhaps saw some expiation in studiously avoiding power.
Considered close to King Gyanendra until the very end of the monarchy, Bijukchhe nevertheless remained an energetic face of the anti-palace opposition. A signatory to the 12-point agreement between the Seven Party Alliance and the Maoists, he was the first leader not only to cast doubts on the wisdom of the enterprise but also the motive of the prime facilitator.
By seeking presidential rule backed by the army, it is easy to suspect whether the NWPP leader may have struck a tacit alliance with India. With a madhesi commoner as supreme commander, Bijukchhe probably thinks the generals can mount a genuine and popularly acceptable second national unification campaign. But Maila Baje has another take. Maybe the NWPP leader believes the Maoists are already doing a pretty good job of going after India. By taking on the West, Bijukchhe can still don his individualist image and keep his own ground.
Nepalese politics would be drabber without him, wouldn’t you say?