It would be rational for the Chand-led group to stop extortion, renounce its arms and violence, and join mainstream politics
With the government going all out to outlaw the activities of the Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal, the political outfit must be feeling the heat by now. Following the Cabinet decision on Tuesday to ban the party and its activities, the security agencies have gone on the offensive to arrest cadres of the Chand-led group trying to assemble, organise programmes or participate in rallies. For too long, the political group has had it easy, engaging in violence and extortion but always getting away with them, all in the garb of politics. But an assertive government, with a near two-thirds majority, at the helm of affairs, it is no longer going to be business as usual for the Chand-led group or any similar political outfit. While the government cannot ban a political party in Nepal, the new constitution, however, provisions that it must be registered with the Election Commission to be recognised as such, something the Chand-led group has not done. Thus, the government is justified in outlawing the political outfit and persecuting the leaders and cadres for resorting to violence to achieve their political goals. Moreover, the group claims to be running a parallel government in the country, which is unacceptable in the new political system that has ensured rights to the people.
The government crackdown on the Chand-led group comes in the wake of the violent attacks it has carried out throughout the country in recent times. On February 22, it caused a blast outside the head office of Ncell, the telecommunication service provider, at Nakkhu in Lalitpur district, killing one person and injuring two. Following the blast, it went on a destruction spree across the country, vandalising its base transceiver stations in several districts, causing disruption in telephony and internet services in the areas. These were wilful terrorist activities carried out by a well-organised group with a country-wide network. After Chand’s group owned up responsibility for the blast, the police have rounded up at least 70 cadres across the country. The police have also seized light machine guns, short machine guns and M-16 rifles from the cadres, the weapons believed to have been stolen from the cantonments where the Maoist soldiers were being kept. The attacks by the Chand-led group are not limited to Ncell alone, it has been setting off bombs wherever it pleases or shutting down educational institutions at the drop of a hat without any fear of reprisal.
The Chand-led group should understand that it has neither the support of the people nor the political parties in Nepal. It cannot be running its activities through terror, extortion and intimidation for long. It would thus be rational for the group to renounce its arms and violence, and join mainstream politics. Seeking a confrontation with the government will only breed more violence, which will do no one any good. In recent times, many political outfits have given up violent activities in favour of peaceful politics, the latest being the group led by CK Raut, who was carrying out a secessionist movement in the Tarai. The Chand-led group could do the same. In view of the upcoming second Investment Summit at the end of this month, it is necessary to rein in any violent activity, regardless of who is behind it, to send the message that Nepal is safe for investment.
Energy Minister Barshaman Pun has said the government would purchase all electricity produced by the private sector based on take-or-pay policy. The policy makes the government buy energy from the private sector even if it fails to use it. Addressing a function organised by the Department of Electricity Development on Wednesday, Pun also said it was the government’s responsibility to explore the market for the excess energy generated in the country.
The government is buoyed by the recent deals reached with Bangladesh and India. Bangladesh has shown interest in purchasing around 1,500MW of energy from Nepal. India has also agreed to buy surplus energy generated in Nepal during the rainy season under the energy banking system. The two are major developments for Nepal’s energy sector. However, one of the major hurdles faced by the energy developers is the government’s delay in building the transmission lines along the major river basins, where a number of power plants are located. The private sector will be upbeat about pouring in more money in hydropower when the government does not dilly-dally in erecting the pylons.
A version of this article appears in print on March 15, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.