Monday, January 20, 2014

For Baidya Maoists, Majestic Questions Galore

For a country rumbling through republicanism for nearly six years, the monarchy has revealed remarkable staying power.
From the right, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal has reaffirmed its commitment to restoring the monarchy despite predictions of a dilution of the organization’s signature agenda.
On the left, the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, which is on a relentless quest to undermine the legitimacy of the new constituent assembly it had vowed not to let come into existence, has once again returned to the June 1, 2001 royal palace massacre.
“Our leaders were [so] terrified after the incident [that] they began surrendering to foreign diktats,” party secretary Dev Gurung said in a conversation with a reporter the other day.
Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and his No. 2, Baburam Bhattarai, replaced their ‘nationalism’ line with ‘republicanism’ immediately after the palace massacre, Gurung asserted. It was after the incident, moreover, that India stepped up interference in the party’s internal affairs, Gurung added.
Citing an ‘international conspiracy’ behind the murders of King Birendra and the entire line of his family, among others royals, has become a mark of political acumen in contemporary Nepal. Those who saw the carnage as an entirely local and inevitable outcome of the inherent despicability of the institution, Maila Baje feels, are today grasping at the slightest twist to the story. Many of those who still blame then-prince Gyanendra and his son, Paras, continue to do so because they want to believe what they believe.
The Maoists were among the first to advance the conspiracy angle, first, in Dahal’s reaction, and then Bhattarai’s celebrated newspaper article.
In returning to the conspiracy angle, today’s CPN-Maoist leaders – who broke away from Dahal and Bhattarai – clearly intend to embarrass their one-time comrades. But Messrs. Mohan Baidya, Chandra Prakash Gajurel, Dev Gurung and Ram Bahadur Thapa are in a position to shed light on much more.
What sort of dialogue was the party conducting/contemplating with the palace? Was the organization prepared to acquiesce in the continuance of the monarchy in exchange for specific guarantees of the crown’s implementation of the party’s ‘nationalist’ platform?
What was the relationship between the party and Indian officialdom before the massacre? Surely, New Delhi could not have acquired the influence Gurung attributes without having laid the groundwork. Even at the risk of exposing their own links with Indian officials and non-state allies, CPN-Maoist leaders should be prepared to explain what was going on behind the scenes.
Did our Maoist leaders feel they were being used by one segment of the Indian establishment? What sort of promises had they made and what types of assurances had they received in return? Within the broader international community, what kind of pressures did the Maoists perceive were emanating from different directions? Inside the party, what kind of deliberations took place between the ‘nationalists’ and the republicans – a schism that certainly seems to have persisted all the way to the organization’s split?
As to the massacre itself, was the monarchy intended to be wiped out on that horrific night (as the discrepancies in the reporting of American and Indian satellite news channels suggested at the time?) If so, was the period between 2001 and 2006 merely an impromptu manifestation of the reality that Prince Gyanendra happened to survive? Did the Maoists believe that Indian interference in their internal affairs (and supposed encouragement of the full-blown republican line) was linked to the unanticipated survival of the monarchy under a controversial but ambitious king?
Specifically, what was the Maoists’ view of Crown Prince Dipendra? Was former prince Dhirendra their conduit to the palace simply because his formal status of a commoner would allow both sides a measure of plausible deniability in the event the dialogue collapsed? Or did the Maoists, for their part, decide to avoid using Dipendra for other yet-unexplained reasons? This becomes important in view of the roles crown princes Mahendra and Birendra played on matters of national importance as part of their training for the throne.
Dipendra’s role (or lack thereof) on the Maoist question becomes important also in view of the extensive political consultations the crown prince had been hold at Nagarjun Palace in the weeks before the Narayanhity carnage.
The country may never be able to get to the bottom of the tragedy to the satisfaction of everyone. Yet the conspiracy angle was sufficiently credible from the outset, when viewed against regional and international developments in the months preceding the massacre. The period since, if anything, has bolstered that angle.
In terms of solving a problem, Mao Zedong exhorted his followers to get down and investigate the present facts and its past history. His Nepali adherents need to become more candid in their approach to yesterday if they want to be taken seriously about tomorrow.