Maoist bogey

The alliance of seven political parties on Saturday called upon the Maoists to adopt a ‘positive attitude’ to their movement for the restoration of dem-ocracy and ‘join the political mainstream.’ It has as-ked them to clarify their positions on several issues, such as multiparty democracy, human rights, and civil liberties. Besides, it has decided to boycott the municipal elections promised by the King within this Nepali calendar year, arguing that, first, their participation would lend legitimacy to continuing regression and, secondly, the elections would not be free and fair while Article 127 is being arbitrarily interpreted. The alliance’s boycott would render the civic polls a wasted exercise, even if they were at all held. Over the past couple of years, these parties have undergone a gradual change of heart on several issues, such as constituent assembly, to which almost all of them had been averse till not so long ago. They, including the CPN-UML and the NC-D after their being dismissed from power on February 1, have united again by sinking their past differences. Nepal’s important friends, such as India, the US, the UK and the European Union, have, in their public statements, been stressing the restoration of democracy and civil liberties, and Nepal’s failure to do so has cost it quite a lot of international goodwill. Moreover, as is generally agreed, neither October 4

nor February 1 has notably improved things in the country, to put it mildly. Evidently, no one individual, party or political force can save the situation. Therefore, a political settlement among the three major political forces — the palace, the political parties, and the Maoists — is what is required. The parties’ call on the Maoists to ‘join the mainstream,’ ‘support’ their agenda and clarify the latter’s stances on certain issues may be all very fine, but the parties, too, need to elaborate, especially on the first two of these points. Moreover, it may not be helpful to the country if these calls are being used merely to raise the Maoist bogey as a bargaining chip with the palace. In the same way, the end, or even the suspension, of the whole democratic process in the name of fighting ‘terrorism’ can find no favour in any truly democratic quarters at home and abroad.