Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Miracle Mongers And Their Methods

In the end, the blatantly bickering Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) contrived that miracle at midnight to prevent a damaging split in the party. United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal, itching for that penultimate showdown with rival Baburam Bhattarai, went along. Maybe we have the story mixed up.
Amid the uncertainty preceding the tripartite consensus, Bhattarai had pledged his support to proponents of extending the Constituent Assembly’s tenure even if that meant his faction would have to cross the floor. A split in the party would have been acceptable to people like Mohan Baidya. But if that had happened during the vote, Bhattarai, for the first time, would have exhibited his preponderance in the party. Better to take a step back and allow Bhattarai to overreach.
The ideologue is no egghead when it comes to the political slugfest. In reality, he has wisened up in direct proportion to the number of times the premiership slip by his grasp. After the assembly was extended, Bhattarai colorfully called the agreement a check that had every chance of bouncing. Were that to happen, Bhattarai warned, he would claim the principal and interest in full measure.
For now, the onus is on him to pressure Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal to resign. Dahal can breathe easier knowing that those who put faith in Bhattarai’s line after the general strike fiasco would not pester him for a while.
Should Bhattarai become premier, it might not turn out to be so bad for Dahal. At the head of an unruly coalition, Bhattarai can expect to dispense patronage to strengthen his grip on the party. By instigating his own loyalists certain to get key ministries and sections of the other coalition partners, Dahal could hope to constrain Bhattarai’s space. Then by citing his inefficiencies, the Maoist chief could try to resurrect his formation.
Bhattarai, of course, would be tempted to tilt southward, seeking to return to the geopolitical intent of the 12-point agreement he virtually rammed down Dahal’s throat in 2005. Both recognize that the slightest whiff of such obsequiousness would be enough to set off the rank and file in all directions.
But by then, Bhattarai knows, the prospect of a grand political realignment will have pushed the UML to another moment of truth. The Nepali Congress, too, groping for that post-Girija Prasad Koirala way of life, will have not ceased to amaze the country by the preposterousness of its paroxysms.
And the constitution? There may still be hope. It shouldn’t take that much of a miracle to reconcile the Maoist and Narahari Acharya versions and put it to a vote.