Feb 24, 2011

Back to Nepal’s future

By: Yubaraj Ghimire

The official function to celebrate Nepal’s 61st National Democracy Day this February 19 was a quiet affair. A sizeable portion of the enclosure meant for representatives of the constitutional bodies at Sainik Manch, the official venue of the main programme, stayed empty. In a way, the mass absence from the official function demonstrated a sense of indifference or cynicism towards the current leadership. What the president or prime minister said on the occasion was treated more like a ritual than a mark of their ability or will to protect, preserve or consolidate democracy.

Maoist ideologue and dissident leader Baburam Bhattarai was perhaps more forthright about the day’s significance or lack thereof: “Celebrating Republic Day will be enough. There is no point celebrating Democracy Day separately.” That explains why the Maoists absented themselves en bloc. The lacklustre event also reflects the general mood of the people, and their lack of faith that the current leadership will consolidate and institutionalise democracy and republicanism — and also in their ability to deliver the new constitution by its extended deadline, May 28, as the major political parties are divided on its crucial ingredients.

The constitution-making process is also being affected by the predicament of Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal, who faces the prospects of either having to resign or acting on outside dictates. Less than three weeks after he won the race to power with support from the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (UCPN-M), the largest party in parliament, he has been clearly told that there is no such thing as complete support to an outsider without strings attached. Khanal has already been reduced to a helpless entity; he is neither likely to be able to honour the seven-point pact he signed with the Maoists because of non-cooperation from his party, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), nor can he convince the Maoists to support him unconditionally. He has not even been able to give shape to his cabinet as the Maoists are linking their joining the cabinet with his willingness to honour their pact: that the Maoists must be given the home portfolio, form a separate security outfit comprising solely of Maoist combatants, and move towards transforming Nepal into a caste- and ethnicity-based “people’s republic.”

The options before him come down to either resigning or ditching his own party completely and working like a puppet in the hands of the radical Maoists. But the last option exposes him to the risk of being expelled from his party — and, in the process, losing his House membership and the chair he acquired through a secret deal. All this makes Nepal’s politics more anarchic, uncertain and discredited. People are increasingly questioning the parties’ intention and ability to deliver the constitution and protect democracy.

P.L. Singh, one of Nepal’s best-known figures, who worked as the Nepali Congress’s public relations man during its 30-year underground crusade for the restoration of multi-party democracy, came out with a prescription for the restoration of a constitutional system. He suggests the return of the 1991 constitution with two pillars — a constitutional monarchy and multi-party parliamentary system — and then a collective decision on what reforms are needed to make it more in tune with people’s aspirations. Singh, the first elected mayor of Kathmandu after multi-party democracy was established in 1991, was sweeping in his remarks: that the Maoists’ goal is to finish off democracy and establish one-party dictatorship, and that, “one by one, we are acting like pawns in their hands.”

But a statement that could have led to his being tagged as “regressive” and “reactionary” three years ago, is being greeted with silence today. Almost coinciding with that, the former king, Gyanendra, issued a statement that indicated things have grown worse since his exit, but that he continues to be a stakeholder in the stability and consolidation of democracy. He did not forget to add that his grandfather had a hand in establishing democracy 61 years ago, putting the throne at risk.

But what is likely to guide the future political course of Nepal is the growing erosion in the credibility of the political parties and their inability to deliver. The constituent assembly no longer symbolises hope as a possible source of a “people’s constitution”. That further limits options. Either the country enters a non-constitution era, with all the implications that has, or it revives the previous constitution along with the formation of expert committees to suggest modifications in tune with current political reality.

(Courtesy: Indian Express)

Feb 22, 2011

विगतको समीक्षा गर्ने बेला भयो

दीपक गजुरेल

माओवादी र एमाले मिलेर एमालेका अध्यक्षलाई प्रधानमन्त्री निर्वाचित गरे । दुई वाम पार्टी मिलेर अन्य 'प्रजातान्त्रिक' दलहरुलाई पाखा लगाउने रणनीति बनाएका हुन् कि, वा वाम ध्रूवीकरण गर्न लागिएको हो कि भन्ने आशंका एकथरीबाट आएको छ । यो संभावित वाम गठबन्धन विरुद्ध प्रजातान्त्रिक दलहरु एकजुट हुन खोजेको देखिन्छ । यही क्रममा, काँग्रेस, मधेसी, राप्रपा लगायतका दलहरुको 'प्रजातान्त्रिक' गठबन्धन निर्माण गर्ने र त्यस मार्फत माओवादी र एमालेको संभावित 'वाम गठबन्धन' विरुद्ध उभिने रणनीति अघि बढाइएको छ ।

यससंगै, माओवादी र एमाले अध्यक्षबीच भएको सात बुँदे सहमतिका प्रावधानलाई लिएर यी दुई विपरित ध्रूवमा उभिन पुगेका छन् । फलस्वरुप, प्रधानमन्त्रीले सरकार निर्माण गर्न सकेका छैनन् र यो गठबन्धन नै धरापमा परेको आशंका पनि उठेको छ । सात बुँदे सहमतिलाई 'लोकतन्त्रका लागि खतरा' भनिएको छ, 'प्रजातान्त्रिक' दलका नेताहरुबाट । माओवादीको नियतमाथि प्रजातान्त्रिकहरुले प्रश्न उठाएका छन् । माओवादीको नियत र उसको रणनीतिप्रति शंका गर्नेहरुले एउटा महत्वपूर्ण पक्ष चाहिँ लुकाएका छन्, जानाजान । माओवादीले 'प्रजातान्त्रिक, संसदीय प्रणाली' कहिल्यै पनि स्वीकार गरेक थिएन र छैन । भारतको निर्देशनमा दिल्लीमा गराइएको १२ बुँदे सहमतिमा पनि माओवादीले बहुलवादी प्रजातान्त्रिक शासन प्रणाली स्वीकार गरेको थिएन ।

यति प्रस्ट यथार्थलाई लुकाएर संसदवादीहरुले, र नेपालको 'लोकतन्त्रलाई मद्दत गर्ने' विदेशीहरुले समेत, वास्तबमा आफू मात्र होइन, सबैलाई अलमल्याइराखेका छन् । यस मामलामा नेपालका 'प्रजातन्त्रवादी' राजनीतिक दलहरु मात्र होइन, अन्तरराष्ट्रिय समुदाय पनि चुकेको छ । 'आतंककारीलाई राजनीतिको मूलधारमा ल्याएँ' भनी जनता ढाँट्ने नेपाली राजनीतिक दलहरुसँगै नेपाली राजनीतिमा चलखेल गर्ने विदेशी शक्तिहरु समेतले विगत्मा गल्ती गरेका हुन् भन्ने अब प्रष्ट भएको छ ।

एक पछि अर्को बहाना खडा गरेर 'जनआन्दोलनका बाहकहरु' बाट नै 'लोकतान्त्रिक गणतन्त्र' नेपालमा राजनीतिक नाटक जारी राखिएको छ, विगत् साढे चार वर्ष देखि । 'सहमति' गरेर 'नयाँ नेपाल' निर्माण गर्ने नारा दिनेहरु, सहमति होइन, दुई पक्षीय तथा बहुपक्षीय भीडन्तको बाटोमा हिँडिराखेका छन् । र मुलुकलाई अनिश्चयको बन्दी बनाइराखेका छन्

अप्राकृतिक बाटोको परिणाम
मतपत्रमा विश्वास गर्ने संसदवादी र बन्दूकको बलमा सत्ता कब्जा गर्ने लक्ष्य लिएको माओवादीबीचको 'सहमति र सहकार्य' आफैँमा अप्राकृतिक थियो । यो सत्य बोल्नेहरुलाई 'लोकतान्त्रिक' आन्दोलनका बेला 'प्रतिगामी' भनियो । विगत् झण्डै पाँच वर्षको सहमतिको यात्राका क्रममा यो यथार्थ अब प्रस्ट भैसकेको छ ।

वर्तमान अन्तरिम संविधान जारी गरिँदाको बखत नै यो दस्तावेजलाई 'घ्यू बेचुवा र तरवार बेचुवाको सम्झौताको लिखत' भनेका हुन्, दूरदृष्टि राख्नेहरुले । 'लोकतन्त्र' 'गणतन्त्र' को प्रायोजित हो–होमा लागेकाहरुलाई यो टिप्पणी पचेको थिएन, त्यसबेला । संविधान जारी भएको चार वर्ष भित्र आठ पटक संशोधन भैसकेर पनि आधारभूत विषयमा नै निकासविहीन स्थितिमा रहेको छ, मुलुकको मूल कानून । र यो दस्तावेजले सही ठाउँमा पुर्याउन मद्दत गर्ने छैन भन्ने कुरा अब प्रष्ट भैसकेको छ ।

एउटा प्रधानमन्त्रीले राजीनामा दिएको सात महिनापछि बल्ल–बल्ल नयाँ प्रधानमन्त्री निर्वाचन गरे पनि सत्ता प्राप्तिको लडाइँ जारी छ । नयाँ संबिधान निर्माणको कुरा फेरि पनि ओझेलमै पारिएको छ । अनेकौँ असहमति, जटिलता तथा अन्यौल बढ्दै गए पछि एकथरी 'लोकतन्त्रवादी' हरु देशले सही नेतृत्व पाउन सकेन भन्न थालेका छन् 'राजनीतिक दल र नेताहरु देश र जनताप्रति जिम्मेवार भएनन्,' 'लोकतन्त्र र गणतन्त्र खतरामा' जस्ता राग अलाप्ने पनि यिनै लोकतन्त्रवादीहरु देखिएका छन् । केही महिना वा केही वर्ष पछिको स्थिति के कस्तो हुनेछ भन्ने पूर्वानुमानसम्म गर्न नसक्नेहरुले मुलुक हाँक्छु भन्दा अहिलेको अवस्था आउनु अस्वभाविक होइन ।

समीक्षा गर्ने बेला भयो
संविधानसभाको चुनाव पछि 'परिवर्तनकामी' आन्दोलनकारीहरुबीच दूरी बढ्दै गएको हो । एकले अर्कालाई सिध्याउने खेल संसदवादी र माओवादी दुबै पक्षबाट शुरु भएको हो । र यो खेल झन् भन्दा झन् तीव्र र आक्रामक रुपमा जारी छ । नयाँ संविधान बनाउने विषय त कहिल्यै प्राथमिकतामा पारिएन । राजनीतिक बेमेल र झगडा सत्तामा कसरी जाने र मुलुकलाई कसले धेरै लुट्ने भन्ने प्रतिस्पर्धामा केन्द्रित गराइएको छ ।

नयाँ संबिधान निर्माण जस्तो मूल विषयमा केन्द्रित नभएर अनेक विवाद खडा गर्ने प्रवृत्ति बिस्तार हुँदैछ । यी असहमति र झगडाको मूल कारण के हो भन्ने कुराको आभास कमसकम संसदवादीहरुले, र तिनलाई 'सघाउने' विदेशीहरुले समेत अब त पाइसकेको हुनुपर्छ । दिल्लीमा गराइएको १२ बुँदे सम्झौतादेखि संविधानसभा चुनावको केही समय अघिसम्म एक हदसम्म 'सहकार्य' जारी रह्यो । सहकार्य भत्कने क्रममा अनेक तिकडम्बाजी भए/गरिए, जसको असर अहिले देखिँदैछ, नेपाली राजनीतिमा । यो यथार्थ नेपालका प्रजातान्त्रिक दलहरुका साथै 'नेपालमा लोकतन्त्र' को अभियानमा 'हर प्रकारको सहयोग' गर्ने विदेशी शक्तिहरुले पनि अब चाहिँ बुझेको हुनुपर्छ ।

अब समीक्षा गर्ने बेला भयो । १२ बुँदे दिल्ली सम्झौता देखि अहिलेसम्मको अवधिमा आधारभूत गल्तीहरु भएका छन्, प्रजातान्त्रिक राजनीतिक दलहरुका साथै, विदेशीहरु समेतबाट । भारत, अमेरिका, युरोपियन युनियन लगायतका नेपालको 'जनआन्दोलन' मा सघाउ पुर्याउनेहरुले आफूले विगत्मा लिएका नीतिको समीक्षा गर्न अब ढिला गर्नु हुन्न । अघि कहाँ, कसरी, किन गल्ती गरियो भन्ने विषयमा गहिरो विश्लेषण गरी ती गल्ती सच्याउने पहल अब नेपालीका साथै सम्बन्धित विदेशीले पनि गर्नु जरुरी भैसक्यो ।

होइन, अझ यसै गरी अघि बढ्ने हो भने अहिले माओवादी र एमालेबीच भएको सात बुँदे सहमतिमा परेको माओवादीका लडाकूको छुट्टै फौज खडा गर्ने बुँदाले 'हाम्रो सुरक्षामा खतरा' पर्ने महसूस हुने अहिलेको स्थिति भावि दिनमा अझ 'महँगो' पर्ने जोखिम हुन्छ ।

त्यसैले, आफू पनि जोगिने, मुलुकलाई पनि सही दिशामा हिँडाउन सकिने उपाय भनेको विगत्मा विभिन्न पक्षसँग गरिएका सहमति, सम्झौताहरुको समीक्षा तथा पुनरावलोकन गरी कहाँ के गल्ती–त्रुटी भएका छन्, तिनको निर्क्योल गरिनुपर्छ । गल्ती पहिचान भएपछि अबको सही बाटो के हो भन्ने पनि स्पष्ट हुनेछ । संसदवादी र माओवादीबीच भएका सहमतिहरु मात्र हेरेर हिँड्दा कहिँ पुगिँदैन भन्ने त अब प्रमाणित भैसक्यो । यो यथार्थलाई भारत, अमेरिका लगायत नेपालमा प्रभाव राख्ने, र नेपाली राजनीतिक शक्तिहरुप्रति 'सद्भाव' राख्ने विदेशी 'मित्रहरु' ले समेत अब ढिला नगरी स्वीकार गर्नु श्रेयश्कर हुनेछ ।

Feb 19, 2011

Road past revolution

By: Yubaraj Ghimire

Ten days after his election as Nepal’s prime minister following a secret deal with the Maoists, Jhalanath Khanal finds himself under siege. He does not quite know who his friends are, if there are any. His party, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), has told him in no uncertain terms that the deal is not only against the spirit of the interim constitution but also against the peace process. At least 13 other political parties, including the Nepali Congress, have endorsed that view.

The Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (UCPN-M), especially its chief, Prachanda, instead has reason to be happy as the sole factor behind Khanal’s elevation. Under the current equation, Khanal can survive as PM only as a puppet. In fact, what happened in India in November 1990 - Chandra Shekhar’s small party forming the government with the outside support of the Congress - has been replicated in Nepal. But neither Khanal nor Prachanda has the commitment that Chandra Shekhar or Rajiv Gandhi harboured to parliamentary democracy.

The UCPN-M has made it clear time and again that it has never accepted parliamentary democracy, not even when it signed the 12-point agreement in November 2005. However, Prachanda went a step further this week when he said the seven-point deal signed with Khanal is a joint pledge to establish a “people’s republic” - a communist dictatorship - with no space for political pluralism at all. If the democratic forces, including the section within the UML, give up, like they have done in the past five years on each crucial issue, the Maoists would face hardly any obstacles in their journey towards a people’s republic.

The Maoists would be in a much more advantageous position politically if they do not join the government, as they can enjoy power without accountability and openly criticise the government. The deal makes it obligatory for Khanal to raise a separate security outfit for the Maoist combatants, now lodged in 28 different camps and sub-camps, and accord them status and privileges at par with other state outfits. The deal clearly violates the earlier consensus that the high-powered special committee under the PM’s leadership would monitor the combatants, and decide on their rehabilitation and integration. Command and control of the combatants had been handed over to the committee.

But less than a week after Khanal’s elevation, the UCPN-M military wing sent circulars directly to the combatants asking them to list their preference on whether they want to join the new security outfit, join other security agencies of the state or take “voluntary retirement” against a hefty payment. The Maoists are determined to exploit Khanal’s helplessness to the hilt and, if possible, appropriate and exercise the authority of the state.

The politics of compromise and surrender of the moderate and democratic forces, either out of lust for power or because of the fear of being targeted by the left, is mainly responsible for this situation. And the international community - led by India, with a large stake in Nepal - can no longer be given the benefit of the doubt for having trusted and supported the radical left during the past five years.

The choice before Khanal is very difficult: either walk out of the alliance and assure the country and the world outside that he will not stay in power at the cost of democracy, or accept the Maoists’ dictates. Prachanda has already suggested that the tenure of the constituent assembly can be further extended by two months beyond May 28. That means it will not be able to deliver the constitution during its current term, already extended by a year. But the radical left alliance would need the House for its own legitimacy in the eyes of Nepali citizens and the international community. It will, like a rubber stamp, endorse the left agenda.

Those 13 parties may soon be seeking presidential intervention against the “undemocratic and unconstitutional” activities of the radical left. But with the kind of fear sweeping across the country and with the radical left’s success with Khanal’s election, there is hardly anything the president can do at the moment.

As democratic forces see a big threat to their survival, and to that of political pluralism, the country may once again go through a phase of political turmoil and agitation against an impending left dictatorship. This is an occasion for the democratic forces as well as the international community to review where they all went wrong - mainly in throwing their weight behind sweeping radicalism, at the cost of fundamental principles: democracy and pluralism.

(Courtesy: Indian Express) 

Feb 15, 2011

Egypt Crisis: Implications to Himalayan Asia

What implications Egypt Crisis would be in South Asian countries and other parts of the Himalayan Asia? What lessons should we learn from Arab World's upheaval?

An analysis in a radio talk show was made by Senior Journalist Dhruba Hari Adhikari and Political Scientist Deepak Gajurel. The program was broadcast live by Radio Sagarmatha on February 13, 2011 (Fagun 01, 2067).

The radio talk show (37 min long / 10.8 MB file size in MP3 format) can be listened or downloaded by clicking on the link below

Nepal: National Consensus is a must

By: Deepak Gajurel

Writing a new constitution has been adopted as a means to conflict transformation and building a sustainable and lasting peace in Nepal. Though formal procedures and methodology for writing up of a new constitution are laid out by the Constituent Assembly (CA), basic frames and principles to be incorporated in the new constitution have not yet been agreed upon by the major political players. Conflicting stands among the parties, during the past two and a half years, on various issues indicate that the actual writing process could be even more contentious as the different constituencies fight over each word and clause in the constitution. The CA composition presents a paradoxical situation, having no single party majority; the Maoists are the largest party with near simple majority. A two-third majority in the CA is required for the adoption of the new constitution.

Apparently, unending troubles, created one followed by another, have pushed yet another year into the void, with a political deadlock blocking out all possibilities of progress in drafting of a new Constitution for 'Democratic Republic of Nepal.' A tiny glimmer of light, however, can be extracted from the fact that, despite the continuous and often abrasive political confrontations, the country has remained relatively free of major acts of violence during the past five years, since the signing of Comprehensive Peace Agreement, between the Government and the rebel Maoist in 2006.

The Maoist role in the country’s unrelenting political logjam remains central. An enduring crisis most starkly reflected in the failure to elect a Prime Minister (PM) for more than seven months. After a long hassle for seven months, the CA has 'successfully' elected a head of the government.

Another conflict, the most contentious one that has proven irreducible is the confrontation between the Maoists, on the one hand, and all the other parties massed on the other, over the integration and rehabilitation of the 19-thousand plus Maoist combatants. The question has been one of the principal causes of the political polarization in the country for over four years.

There is further and increasing strife on the functioning and mandate of the Special Committee which monitors the Maoist combatants and their arms, after the exit of United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) on January 15, 2011. As UNMIN packed up from Nepal, the Nepal government and the rebel Maoists had agreed to form a special taskforce for this purpose. The effectiveness of this mechanism is yet to be seen. Originally, UNMIN’s tenure was intended to end on January 23, 2008, but has since been extended seven times, the last of these on September 15, 2010, with a four month extension, ending January 15, 2011.

Repeated Maoist announcements regarding the intention to launch a new 'people's revolution,’ and acquisition of capacities for violence by various other political formations, have only added to apprehensions that the political impasse may spiral incrementally into open chaos. The political atmosphere is more polarized than ever. Moreover, the new political alliance, between UML and Maoist, formed for the purpose of government formation, has added a fresh uncertainty because of scrappy polarization among Seven Party Alliance, which laid the foundation for 12-point Delhi agreement (mediated by India) with rebel Maoists resulting into April 2006 political movement.

Yes, a new PM has been elected with the Maoists' backing; however, differences among parties remain unresolved, as they were in the past. So, it is likely to be headed for another spell of suspended animation. Serious differences exist, like on the Maoists' demand that the armed cadres be taken in as whole battalions and their cadres be given the same rank, even at senior levels, as they hold in the insurgency movement. The Nepali army and other political forces are opposed to the suggestion. There are also issues of return of properties seized by the Maoists.

Given the uncertain scenario, with the intensifying contentions, both overt and covert, Nepal's politics can hardly be expected to have a smooth sail in the coming days, towards a stable and democratic regime. One can hardly be hopeful that all political problems would be solved and peace will prevail in the nation even the new constitution would be promulgated in stipulated time, by May 28, 2011. Politics is criminalized and handled with the force of arms and muscle. Once politics of violence is introduced it can hardly be done away, without an overhaul. And there is not a light seen at the end of the tunnel that current trend of Nepal's politics would change.

In this disastrous setting, there is only one hope. There must be a national consensus on where this nation is to be taken. It's not talking about 'Sahamati' repeatedly expressed by the political leaders. It's about a national consensus among all national forces. The King must be brought in into a meaningful dialogue for seeking such consensus. Political players must respect the agreement reached between the King and the parties on 24 April, 2006. Further course of actions must be chalked out on the basis of that April 2006 agreement. It is up to the present political players whether they want peace and stability in the country or not. No matter whether one agrees or not, Nepal will not have sustainable peace and political stability until all national forces, including the King, are consolidated through a process of national consensus.

(Courtesy: Sri Lanka Guardian)

Feb 13, 2011

Political Uncertainty in Nepal: Proxy War of External Forces

By Deepak Gajurel

An analysis of current political uncertainty, especially after the election of a new prime minister. 

Are Nepali political players working on their own? 
Or external forces are running with covert hands?

The analysis, in a radio talk show was broadcast live by Vijaya FM, Nawalparasi on Feb 13, 2011.

Please click on the following link to listen or download the MP3 audio file (15:45 Min length)

Feb 10, 2011

Nepal: Panic-stricken South

By: N. P. Upadhyaya

After wasting some precious seven months and a twenty days, Nepal as a nation-state, if it were at all, finally found a new Prime Minister in the persona of UML Chairman Jhal Nath Khanal.

New Nepal PM is widely known for his rickety stance and weak management inside his own party. In addition, his own party detractors, mostly those who presumably act as per the instructions of the regime in the South and tend more often than not to convert Nepal into an extended territory of the Indian enterprise, not only take Khanal as a half Maoists but also as a person who is excessively closer to the Northern neighbor-China.

Whether Khanal is closer to China or not is not yet clear, however, what is abundantly evident is that those who go up against his standpoint were all Indo-pendent UML leaders to have presumably been led by Mr. Nepal-Oli pair.

Yet one must remember the day, January 20, 2011, the day Indian Foreign Secretary Mrs. Nirupama Rao, summed up her "sermon providing Nepal trip", UML Chairman Khanal received a Grand SLAP in Ithari, Sunsari district by his own former cadre, Mr. Devi Prasad Regmi who later was instantly taken by the entire Nepali population as their national hero.

Just after thirteen days of the historical slap that it was, the person who fortunately bagged this time-demanding slap was elected the Prime Minister of Nepal. Look the tryst of destiny!

Analysts had been told that the day Khanal was elected as the new Prime Minister, many a local leaders both from the Congress and the UML camps approached Regmi's residence in Bharaul, Sunsari, and begged a whack from him in their cheeks hoping that his blow could one fine morning make them Nepal's Prime Minister. Regmi–the national hero just smiled.

Now that the country has received a new Prime Minister, efforts, seen and unseen both, have already begun on how to unseat Prime Minister Khanal. Hard works are being made by the Nepali Congress and some from within Khanal's own party to dislodge him at the earliest.

The initiatives, analysts have been told, being taken now to bring Khanal to the foot path by some Nepali leaders were the local kids of the Indian establishment who have taken the Prachanda-Khanal seven point secret agreement, January 20, 2011,  which eventually elevated Khanal as the new Nepal PM, as the grand defeat of the Indian establishment itself.

An inferiority complex ridden Indian media that it has proved itself to be, albeit a section which run under the instructions of the South Block, Delhi, have bluntly accepted that Khanal's assuming of this coveted post in Nepal was a grand victory of China and by the same token the humiliating defeat of India.

Classic case of lowliness.
Reports have it that Mrs. Rao during her three day long Nepal trip had instructed her Nepali marionettes scattered in various political paraphernalia that in no way Nepal Maoists leader Prachanda or his preferred UML man should be allowed to lead this country. However, things went upside down in Nepal.

Comparatively speaking, the two nationalists who want to see Nepal as a flourishing nation and free from permanent Indian domination, all of a sudden arrived at a secret deal, January 20, 2011, and made the Indian establishment to fall flat. A grand flat indeed.

The entire idea of having a secret deal between Prachanda and Khanal apparently was to distance India from interfering in Nepali affairs-a grand departure from the traditional way.

A clever Prachanda when understood that he will not be permitted to guide the country by the neighbor in the South, suddenly decided to extend his party's support to his half-Maoist friend inside the UML-Khanal and more importantly the deal was kept a guarded secret until the last moment of the Nepal PM election, January 21, 2011, in order to provide a complete and unexpected surprise to the Indian establishment.  A fresh jolt so cleverly structured.

And it was indeed a bombshell for the South which appears to have become unnerved with the 'political catapult' observed in Nepali politics. The fact is that things did not go as per the Indian penchant.

But New Delhi knows on how to screw Nepali politics to turn in its favor. Stooges have already been ordered which becomes visible when one goes deep into the unwanted delay seen in the formation of the government.  

More so, India thinks that the seven point deal signed in between Prachanda and Khanal not only would distance the Indian regime from Nepali politics in the coming days but would eventually facilitate the Chinese regime, the arch rival of India, to have a full sway in Nepali affairs. Smart analysis indeed.

That India became tense observing the Nepali developments gets reflected from the "telephonic invitation" extended by Sonia Gandhi elevated Indian Prime Minister Dr. Man Mohan Singh to Nepal PM Mr. Khanal for a first visit to India at the earliest when the Nepali PM had just been declared elected minutes ago.

Dr. Singh did not even waste a single minute in inviting PM Khanal which speaks of his jumpiness.
The nervousness is sure to increase in the days ahead, analysts guess.   

While the Indian Prime Minister exhibited his childish behavior in inviting the Nepal PM for an Indian trip, the Chinese Premier just congratulated the new Nepal executive in a normal manner as per the norms and the decorum of diplomacy. No phones in haste.

Chinese Premier preferred genuine diplomacy instead of the coercive one. India must learn some lessons on the conduct between nations from the Beijing world acclaimed diplomats.

The Chinese Ambassador Qiu Guohang, "quietly" met the Nepal PM at his residence and congratulated him after the Indian telephonic message to PM Khanal. This must have added more pains some where, analysts presume. Classic case of quiet but now it is becoming close to "open" diplomacy.

Now that Khanal is the new Prime Minister, as expected, the Nepali Congress party and some with India bend leaders have  begun crying foul against the new UML-Maoist coalition stating that such a secret deal or for that matter the coalition will eventually polarize the national politics in a dangerous manner.

Polarization, as stated by the NC and some other parties, has come definitely into existence. The REDS and the liberals are face to face now. This was to happen sooner than later.  Better late than never. This will certainly settle politics now in two opposing camps.

Surfacially though it may seem that Beijing now prevails in Nepali politics, to some extent it is, however, analysts suggest not to undermine the round the corner trouble for this RED coalition that may enter any time soon in Nepali territory from the South like a blizzard in order to neutralize the India presumed and feared increased Chinese penetration.

India knows on how to twist the Nepali arms. In addition, India has several advantages in Nepal well established to which the Chinese have not. Yet it could be presumed that it is in the making.

The democratic forces or say the liberals will be pushed to create an ugly scene against the RED unity, a shaky one as of now, and could also be told to break this unity before it becomes a formidable force in Nepali politics. The process has already begun.

Some high placed UML leaders with liberal garb will join hands with the so called fractured democratic forces who will be instructed to break this coalition at the earliest for India knows that the Extradition Treaty, the Indian drafted one indeed, will never see the light at the end of the tunnel if this RED coalition worked with full devotion and in favor of the population at large.

Frankly speaking, a sizeable chunk of the Nepali population were not only against the signing of the India drafted Extradition Treaty by Nepal but also favor the past unequal treaties with India to be reviewed as per the changing times and changing world's political scenario.

India basically wants to lift Chinese and Pakistani nationals, nationals of the US and EU later, from Nepal under this or that pretext through the extensive use of the clauses extradition treaty.

This coalition will definitely try to forward certain Nepal favoring proposals which the Indian side may take as an irritating ones.

Moreover, the Indian regime is in a panicked state simply because the secret seven point deal between Prachanda and Khanal talks of the preservation of Nepal's sovereignty and independence. India doesn't like even to listen such Nepal's genuine demands.

All in all, new Nepal PM will not have easy going days in office. He may be attacked by his own party colleagues, simmering discontent has begun already, plus the Maoists will press him very hard to get their things done. The hard push from the Maoists side is in progress. The South may devise some fresh ploys to destabilize Khanal's regime if the latter did not work as per the Indian instructions. 

Yet Khanal has become the country's Prime Minister at a crucial moment. He has Himalayan tasks to get accomplished before May 28, 2011-the date when the extended tenure of the CA body would expire once and for all.

How Khanal takes Nepali Congress and smaller Madhesh based parties into confidence will perhaps also determine the longevity of his tenure in Nepal PM's office. Khanal can enter into the NC through Sher Bahadur Deuba as the latter is not happy with his own party's dictatorial functioning.

Congratulation Mr. Khanal-the Prime Minister without ministers. What a joke?

Prachanda and Khanal both stick to grab the lucrative Home Ministry for their parties. For a full five days, the country has no cabinet. Matter of great shame indeed. The seven point secret deal appears to have boomeranged.

Yet, one must admit that the slap worked in a desired way. Are you listening Mr. Regmi!

(Courtesy: Telegraphnepal.com)

Feb 9, 2011

Primed to Distrust

By: Yubaraj Ghimire

Finally, Nepal has found a prime minister in Jhalanath Khanal-a hardcore communist backed by the far more radical Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (UCPN-M)-which brings the long-awaited Left  nity to fruition. As an opposite, if not equal reaction, the Nepali Congress and other democratic forces are already grouping up, possibly as a force of resistance, fearing that the next step of the radical alliance which will monopolize state power will be to establish a “communist dictatorship” in which opposition will have no legitimate space.

The fear is not baseless. Khanal, who is also chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), had a series of closed-door meetings with his UCPN-M counterpart Prachanda, and the duo signed a seven-point secret deal. The two agreed that their inability to join hands would give India a decisive chance to influence Nepal’s political parties and sway the choice of a new prime minister. Although India’s foreign secretary Nirupama Rao had said during her visit to Kathmandu a month ago that India had no favorites in the prime ministerial race, “independent experts” from Delhi were constantly telling the media and NGO-sponsored seminars that Prachanda could not be accepted as PM as he was anti-India.

UCPN-M , the largest party in the constituent assembly, does not have absolute majority. It believes that India interferes too much in Nepal’s internal affairs, and that it is time to assert Nepali nationalism. It was this assessment, in fact, that persuaded Prachanda to give up his claim and support Khanal, giving him 368 votes in a house of 597, and leaving Ram Chandra Poudel of the Nepali Congress and Bijay Gachedar of the Madheshi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) far behind. Nepalis are largely conservative and traditional and their approach democratic, in the sense that various faiths, ethnic groups, castes and political entities have co-existed with mutual respect and cordiality under different political dispensations.

But the political change that occurred four years ago introduced a relentless radical agenda. Any individual or group who was indifferent to or opposed that agenda was targeted as “regressive” by the political parties that drove the change - UCPN-M, CPN-UML and the Nepali Congress. Intolerance and violent retaliation are emerging as the norm in Nepal’s social and cultural life. This alliance between Khanal and Prachanda is just a logical step forward, and all it has done is to weed out those they consider “revisionists” and “reactionaries”, or puppets of an “expansionist India”. India, though, is not less guilty in this development, which manifests the failure of its Nepal policy. Delhi not only patronized the Maoists - when they were still underground - it also conveyed to parties like the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML, which were pursuing parliamentary democracy and more moderate approaches that resonated with Nepali society, that they had no future if they did not join hands with the Maoists. That was the message Delhi delivered when it brought the two sides together under the 12-point agreement signed in November 2005, nine months after King Gyandendra had taken over. The Maoists did not keep silent with the overthrow of the monarchy, nor did they honour the commitment to pursue democracy and abandon weapons - two major promises they had made to India at the time of signing the agreement.

In May 2009, when Prachanda quit as prime minister - because the president and most other political parties opposed his sacking of General Katwal as army chief - he put the blame for his exit solely on India. And ever since, the UCPN-M has been claiming that India is interfering with the Maoists’ legitimate right to head the government. That is a perception shared by a large section in Nepal, not Maoists alone.

In 2005, India was clearly anti-monarchy and recognized the Maoists as the true representative of the people, a force that could not be ignored in Nepal’s path towards peace, stability and progress. Five years down the line, it is clearly anti-Maoists, and quiet on, if not indifferent towards the possibility of the monarchy returning to power in Nepal. The people are frustrated with the growing corruption, lawlessness, political instability and external interference that mark Nepal. And India may be perceived as a decisive force for Nepal’s politics, but Western countries and donors have been exerting much greater influence on the social, cultural and religious aspects of the nation, including the ethnicity-centric policies pursued by the Maoists. India is now left without any trustworthy and effective political allies in its north. Some still abide by the long historical, cultural and social connections between the two nations, but most have become critical after the India-promoted vision of radical change only made the situation far worse.

These shared social, historical, cultural and religious values are clearly on the wane, under the influence of radical politics. Khanal’s election as prime minister may have been an exercise of the “sovereign parliament”, but almost everyone here believes that the Prachanda-Khanal duo stonewalled the influence that the south might have had. India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, assured Khanal that India would continue as normal and extend all the cooperation required, but dispelling this Himalayan impression would take time and initiative from Nepal’s south. That, unfortunately, does not guarantee Nepal’s stability and the cessation of external “dictate”, in one form or the other.

(Courtesy: Indian Express)

Feb 6, 2011

Egypt Crisis and the Third World: Beginning of a New Trend?

By Deepak Gajurel

A new trend of people's uprising is underway in Egypt and other countries of the Middle East. What does this trend mean? What possible impacts would nations of Asia and other regions have? What lessons should we, in Nepal and South Asia, learn from this drift?

In a radio interview, I have analyzed a range of aspects of this crisis, which was broadcast live by Gorkha FM, on Wednesday, February 02, 2011.

Please click on the following link to listen or download the interview in MP3 format.

Feb 5, 2011

Why did Nepal President Visited India?

By Deepak Gajurel

Nepali President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav made a 10-day visit to India. While the country was entangled with government formation and political uncertainty deepening, the President's visit to the southern neighbor was in question.

An analysis on the recently concluded Head of the State's visit to India, in an interview live on community Information Network (CIN) on Saturday, February 05, 2011.

Please click on the following link to listen or download the interview in MP3 format.