Saturday, April 05, 2014

Revolt Rant And Rude Reckoning

Just as it seemed our constitution-drafting process was gaining some traction, we had to be sent twizzling on threats of another revolt.
The Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, led by Mohan Baidya, had been threatening a return to armed violence well before he and his hardline loyalists broke away from the main organization a couple of years ago. The party, which boycotted last November’s election, used some violence in an effort to subvert the exercise, but you could sense some dithering there.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s faction had ceased using the R-word for some time, perhaps seeking to contrast itself from the Baidya faction and cement its role in mainstream democratic politics.
The United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist’s poor showing in the election certainly disheartened the leadership. But they still behaved responsibly enough to accept the outcome, while deciding to mount a slugfest internally.
Dahal’s patience has now run out. What evidently snapped him was the latest Supreme Court ruling that serious crimes committed during the conflict period could be processed under existing judicial provisions.
Dahal, whose party wants to see such cases – involving both sides during that tumultuous decade – handled by a putative Truth and Reconciliation Commission, sees in the apex court verdict a ploy to block such a commission. That would derail the constitution-drafting process and jeopardize the entire peace process, Dahal warned in an address to a party affiliate in Kathmandu.
Critics gleefully accuse the Maoists of using the revolt threat to forestall any possibility of their being dragged to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. That may be true. But consider the scenario from the perspective of the erstwhile ‘People’s Warriors’. They joined the political mainstream through the 12-Point Agreement touting themselves as victors, even if partial ones, having dragged the mainstream parties toward their agenda of a constituent assembly and republicanism.
Without their support, the Maoists believe, the mainstream parties would still be mounting their zillionth round of protests against royal rule within the vicinity of Ratna Park.
In the run-up and immediate aftermath of the April 2006 uprising, some mainstream party leaders conceded that the Maoists’ resort to arms was morally loftier than of the then-Royal Nepal Army’s. The Maoists were using the gun to defend the excluded and marginalized while the military was doing so against the people.
Eight years later, the Maoists in both factions feel they are being held exclusively responsible for all 15,000 deaths during the ‘People’s War’. The political parties, for their part, are coddling the military.
In the public domain, Dahal’s latest outburst cannot be viewed outside the shadow of the Indian elections, which looms large over the Nepali political spectrum. Everyone, after all, is debating in every way how the impending victory of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would impact India’s policy toward Nepal.
At first glance, the Maoists may seem to be on the receiving end here. It might serve the Nepali Congress, Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist and the royalist right well to delve into some history here. It was during Atal Behari Vajpayee’s BJP-led government that the Maoists became more entrenched in their safe haven in India. So much so that, barely a year after the Narayanhity Massacre, our Maoist comrades found themselves in proximity talks with elements of the BJP-led government. And that’s just the story we know so far. There surely must be much more what went on then that we do not know.