Sunday, June 05, 2011

How About Mohan Baidya For Premier?

Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal doesn’t want to become prime minister again, a loyalist said the other day. Everyone that matters – India, China, US, UK, and EU – wants his deputy, Baburam Bhattarai, in the top job, according to one of his key supporters.
In the Nepali Congress, Sher Bahadur Deuba and Ram Chandra Poudel both want the premiership so bad they are working hard to keep each other out. And it gets better. Jay Prakash Prasad Gupta of the breakaway Madhesi Janadhikar Forum has staked his claim. If for no other reason than the fact that his is only party that has a republican suffix to it. And, meanwhile, even the fiercest critics of Prime Minister Jhal Nath Khanal in his CPN-UML don’t want him to step down right away.
But let not your hearts be troubled. On the constitution-drafting front – the real job before the nation, in case you missed it – things are moving, if spasmodically. So much so that the otherwise downbeat Nilambar Acharya, who heads the drafting panel, believes it may be possible to have a rudimentary text ready within schedule. (Maila Baje feels Acharya bears watching. He always tends to be the first to sound the bells of doom, for understandable reasons.)
In another spur to the process, if not exactly to peace, Dahal has decided to remove his PLA guards. The decision is based on the recent decision of the Army Integration Special Committee, which decided to send all combatants deployed for security of Maoist leaders to their respective cantonments within a week.
Realizing the importance of their presence at home, four members of the special committee – Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat, Barshaman Pun, Ishwor Pokharel and Jay Prakash Prasad Gupta – cancelled a long scheduled trip to the US. Their ardor was not shared by Madhav Kumar Nepal, Sujata Koirala and Hisila Yami, who left on a trip to Bangladesh. They probably thought they could cover the distance in time, should things come to that. In any case, the attacks on the Facebook fraternity as good-for-nothing do-gooders has somewhat abated.
The latest word is that the Maoists, if they cannot get Bhattarai, would put up Ram Bahadur Thapa ‘Badal’ for the premiership. Considering all that has happened since Dahal stepped down, the peace process would probably need a Maoist premier to get anywhere approximating a step ahead. For good or ill, Bhattarai’s intellectual firepower and Badal’s military genius has brought Nepal where it is today. So both are worthy contenders.
But since the past is no longer the preponderant issue, how about Mohan Baidya as prime minister? The hardliner seems to be everyone’s problem today. There is a great chance he will refuse and insist on his candidate, Badal. (Baidya even quit his constituent assembly seat after taking all the trouble to get elected.) If Baidya refuses, he will have committed himself a little more staunchly to the old-style Maoist communism he keeps threatening us with. But what if he agrees? Wouldn’t that be progress?