Oct 1, 2011

A brewing rebellion

By Yubaraj Ghimire

On June 6, 2001 — five days after the family of King Birendra was wiped out in a shootout by his son Dipendra — Baburam Bhattarai wrote an article in the daily Kantipur, explaining the viewpoint of the Maoist party. He implied that it was a plot hatched by the “imperialist United States” and “hegemonic India” to finish off a patriotic king who stood up against their designs. Further, he asked the people not to recognise the new king, Gyanendra, who, along with the then prime minister G.P. Koirala, was a “willing pawn” in the hands of India, in its design to ultimately “Sikkimise” Nepal.

“Sikkimisation” is a term that has been in vogue in Nepal politics for the past 35 years. In 1976, a year after Sikkim merged with India, B.P. Koirala, Nepal’s first democratically elected prime minister, returned to the country after an eight-year political exile in India. His call was for safeguarding Nepal’s independence. Much later, in 1996, the Maoists revived the term when they began their insurgency — they claimed that their movement was meant to protect the sovereignty of Nepal, which faced the prospect of “Sikkimisation” at the hands of kings and other leaders. Bhattarai’s political forecast too was that Nepal would lose its independent identity, and only a “revolution” could defeat external designs.

Now, on September 21, Bhattarai faced exactly the same charge that he flung at King Gyanendra a decade ago. “He is taking Nepal towards Sikkimisation,” Ram Bahadur Thapa Badal, general secretary of the Maoists, said at a meeting attended by a sizable number of party legislators and central committee and politburo members. This happened at a time when ideologue-turned-prime minister Bhattarai was in New York to attend the UN General Assembly session and ask US President Barack Obama to take Maoists off the list of terrorists.

The Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (UCPN-M) seems to be on the verge of a split. A group led by Mohan Baidhya Kiran, the party’s senior vice-chairman, has declared Bhattarai and party chief Prachanda as “revisionists”. The faction has also favoured grabbing more land from the rich rather than return the property the Maoists had seized during the years of insurgency. This is contrary to Bhattarai’s explicit instructions to the party to return such property.

Further, Baidhya has asked his supporters to revive the People’s Liberation Army, Nepal, if there is a need to fight “the revisionists”. A revolt by the Baidhya faction would not help in the consolidation of democratic forces. The peace process and the drafting of a new constitution would also be hindered.

It is not just the Maoists. The Nepali Congress too is divided. Party chief Sushil Koirala and senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba are at loggerheads, especially after Koirala dismissed four frontal organisations, overruling Deuba’s objections. At least three dozen parliamentarians and a sizable number of the party’s central committee members have asked Koirala to review the decision, but the response has been a firm “no” so far.

In the midst of all this, Prachanda had approached Koirala to head the transition government, with the responsibility to conduct the next election to the parliament. What this implies is that the government led by Bhattarai will try to promulgate the constitution and complete the peace process by the deadline of November 30.

Will that be easy? Neither the Maoist party nor the Congress seems to have analysed the implications of a possible split in the two biggest parties. A revolt by the Baidhya group could land Bhattarai’s government in a moral and administrative crisis. Will the government sit quiet if the faction resorts to land-grab, holds kangaroo courts and trains a militant wing?

Meanwhile, there is cause for further confusion in Kathmandu. It pertains to the four-point agreement between the Maoists and the United Democratic Madhesi Front. One of the points of that deal was to make the Nepal army more inclusive by recruiting more Madhesi people. Now the army headquarters says it has not received any instruction from the government on recruiting 10,000 people from Madhes for setting up a separate unit. The Baidhya faction has already criticised the move as “anti-national”. Kathmandu’s tryst with uncertainty is certainly not over.

(Courtesy: Indian Express)

No comments:

Post a Comment