Monday, December 13, 2010

The Maoists’ Mendacity Of Hope

So the Maoists have now unequivocally conceded that they had espoused the mainstream opposition’s version of democracy only to uproot the monarchy. The real news for Maila Baje lay not in Maoist leader Dev Gurung’s blatant repudiation of loktantra but in the public exasperation of the Nepali Congress’ Ram Chandra Poudel.
In retrospect, the 12-point agreement was the culmination of a thought prevailing in a section of the Indian establishment from the start. A Pushpa Lal-Bharat Shamsher-B.P. Koirala alliance against the palace was never really outside the realm of possibility. Nor was its corollary of whipping up Nepal’s ethnic, linguistic and religious disparities to demolish the international identity the country saw so essential to its survival. However, the evident risks of pursuing those courses long outweighed the expected benefits. Those files were stacked away somewhere, but certainly were not gathering dust.
When the equations changed toward the end of 2005, the Maoists and the mainstream parties were brought together in an alliance against the palace. The Maoists were no doubt in search of a safe landing. But clearly, in that instance, New Delhi had read them the riot act. Still, in consenting to become the propellant of the anti-palace campaign, the Maoists must have tried to gauge what India’s real objections to the monarchy were.
It was certainly not any sickening displays of opulence. Nor could it have stemmed from any aversion to the feudalistic heritage many ex-royals have injected in their political reincarnations across party lines in India. How only one of the three Himalayan monarchies independent India considered irksome managed to survive was best answered by the content of the relationship Bhutan had developed with New Delhi. Top Maoist leader, for their part, were quite perceptive about this reality in the words they wrote and spoke.
In the 2008 elections, the Maoists managed to avoid the political marginalization the architects of the 12-point agreement had envisaged for them. So when the ex-rebels, once in power, chose to tilt toward China, there was some expectation that they were fully prepared for the fallout in the interrogatory and retaliatory forms. Admittedly, taming an organized political force that had emerged with the largest share of votes in elections certified as free and fair should have been harder for the Indians. But the Maoists chose almost to flaunt how every step aimed at assuaging Beijing was, by extension, one aimed at infuriating New Delhi.
Out of power, the Maoists were still best placed to prove how a nation’s expectation of fortifying itself against the convulsions created by the complicated relations between the two regional giants could not be called hubris. But, as the Palungtar conclave demonstrated, the former rebels were more interested in papering over their internal rifts by identifying principal, secondary and tertiary enemies in a preposterous claim to capture state power.
If Gurung’s claim seemed to sound less a statement of fact than an admission of remorse, there is good reason.