Monday, December 05, 2011

Dahal’s Faith In The Tripartite Bargaining Model

United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal wants Nepal to engage in some still nebulous mode of trilateral cooperation with India and China in the interest of boosting regional stability. Interestingly, his latest reiteration of this comes at a time when relations between the Asian giants, by both sides’ reckoning, have grown frosty.
Then almost in the same breath, Dahal says his party has not given up on the idea of a full-blown revolt to capture the state. In fact, he believes the Maoists may be closer than ever to achieving that underlying goal. These two assertions, Maila Baje feels, might not be as contradictory as they sound.
Dahal’s leadership of the drive to develop Lumbini into a Buddhist mecca has not impressed our local Buddhists. A large chunk of the otherwise placid community is in a confrontational mood. You can’t blame them. To have the world’s major officially atheist state patronize what ranks among the five largest religions is bad enough. Now the man associated with the worst killing spree in Nepal’s history is trying to reinvent himself as an advocate – if not exactly an acolyte – of the Light of Asia.
For the best part of a year, the Indians have been as candid as they could be as far as the geopolitical dimensions of the Dahal-China dalliance are concerned. Almost conceding their apparent failure to disprove that Siddhartha Gautam was born in what is modern-day Nepal, New Delhi is intent on building a rival movement of international Buddhism.
Having stripped Dr. Baburam Bhattarai of his self-righteous claim to singularity at this juncture of Nepali history, Dahal is now eager to return to the premiership on his terms. No, he doesn’t want to do so to complete the peace process and produce the constitution – processes that seem superficially to have progressed remarkably under Bhattarai. The Maoist chief wants to be able to lead the country to new elections to a body that could craft the constitution to the Maoists’ liking.
In this aspiration, Dahal is closer to Baidya. The duo believes – and many think Dr. Bhattarai, too, agrees – that the Maoists have at least three factors going for them: their ability to claim leadership of the Nepal’s splintered communist movement, the disarray in the Nepali Congress and Madhes-based parties, and the sheer financial resources at the disposal of the former rebels.
With some 65 percent of the vote having gone to the communists in the last test of popular popularity, the Maoists believe they can unite the fraternity in terms of influence. The C.P. Mainali wannabes can stay out and conduct home-based politics in the absence of organization and people.
The mess in the Nepali Congress is too obvious, while the disarray in the Madhesi parties provides an opportunity to the Maoists – in their view – to return to their pre-Gaur Massacre glory. As for financial heft, let’s not forget that, according to one Asian newsmagazine, the Maoists, while in the jungles, were the richest rebels in the continent.
Having demonstrated their flexibility on the democratic path, the Maoists believe they can blame their rivals to show the utter hopelessness of that quest. On the face of it, a violent capture of state power may lack international legitimacy. But what alternative would the rest of the world have? Dahal is said to have been particularly elated by the views expressed by some members of the Chinese media delegation that recently visited Nepal, who praised him as the man of the future.
We can’t be sure the delegates were speaking for their government – as much as we can’t be that they weren’t. The speculator in Dahal probably feels that by roping in the Indians in a tripartite partnership, he could force the West and the rest to fall in line. Certainly nothing to squander time on what constitute the principal and non-principal contradictions.