Do-or-die battle

The general public has responded favourably to the Seven-Party Alliance (SPA), judging from the seven joint mass meetings they have held in seven places, six of them in Tarai towns alone — though various outfits in the Tarai erected obstacles and tried to spread terror to turn the rallies into fiascos. The seventh and final such gathering was organised in Birgunj on Wednesday. Large crowds filled Narayani Rangashala (stadium), braving bandh calls, unfavourable weather and five bomb explosions that injured at least 43 persons, including Parsa chief district officer Bhola Prasad Siwakoti. A bomb planted at an open space near the stadium went off towards the fag end of the public event. Earlier, miscreants had hurled an explosive device at a bus full of Maoist workers, and another at a tractor carrying people — both heading for the stadium.

The seven joint rallies have largely achieved the SPA purpose: to convey to the people the joint commitment of the seven parties to hold the CA polls and inspire in the public the confidence somewhat shaken by two poll postponements, by the attempts of various outfits in the Tarai, as well as of other anti-CA groups, to render the polls impossible through all means, including violence, terror and intimidation. Several groups did their utmost to foil the SPA programmes and send the opposite message to the people. But they must have got their message. Nonetheless, the SPA and the general people cannot afford to remain complacent, since anti-CA forces are bound to make more attempts to show the SPA has failed.

The anti-CA groups’ tactic of violence and intimidation, as, for instance, reflected in the number of the injured in Birgunj, calls for greater security preparedness on the government’s part and greater will to deal firmly with them. Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s declaration on Tuesday that he will certainly hold the election is encouraging; so are the statements of home minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula that the election will take place despite bomb blasts. At the same time, some important political leaders have also been saying that if the election could not take place, catastrophe would befall the country. If so, they and their political parties must make holding of the CA election their do-or-die battle. Sher Bahadur Deuba, who could not hold the general election during his two spells as prime minister, has said that the ongoing unrest in the name of region and ethnicity could force yet another election deferral. But current unrest is nothing compared with the far more adverse circumstances elsewhere, including Nepal’s neighbourhood. But, even there, elections do take place. Any failure to hold the election would directly involve Koirala and the Congress party,

because it is Congress that holds virtually all the top posts and portfolios that have anything

important to do with the election; however, the SPA as a whole cannot escape moral responsibility. Besides, in the eye of the Nepali public and the international community, those countries that wield tremendous clout in Nepal’s domestic politics may well appear to be suspects, too.