Maoist insurgency Question of getting out of it with dignity

Nilamber Acharya

A greater danger is conflict-fatigue of people resulting in resignation to a ‘solution’ fraught with tragic consequences .

The Maoist insurgency has pushed our society into deep conflict. After eight years of war and two ceasefires and peace negotiations, a solution still eludes us. Why did the insurgency begin at this very juncture of Nepali history and why did they succeed so rapidly in spreading their influence in the country and attracting worldwide attention? These are the preliminary questions that should be correctly and comprehensively answered before approaching to solve the Maoist problem.

Mao Zedong, while speaking at the party conference in Chengtu on March 9, 1958, had said, “Some people, attacking Lenin, called him a dictator. He replied bluntly: ‘Rather than let you be a dictator, I would be one myself’.” Bypassing the multiparty democracy in Nepal, the Maoists want to replace royal autocracy by their dictatorship. They know that this autocracy has outlived its time and may have felt that it must be replaced. Moreover, they know that consolidation of multiparty democracy will make it more difficult. Why should they allow an emerging stronger enemy by giving enough time to the multiparty democratic system to deepen its roots and strengthen its hold in the country? They would like the monarchy to play its declining active role till they acquire capacity to overcome the resistance of parties to their hegemony and to take over from the monarchy.

At the same time they want the parties to weaken the monarchy as far as possible without strengthening the democratic process to the irreversible extent. They are aware of the fact that in the world history no communist state system has ever come out of developed democracy. Communist regime in every country had been established by replacing a dictatorship or a weak emerging democracy.

The insurgents started the People’s war (PW) within five years of the establishment of the first democratically elected government. The multiparty democracy was restored in April 1990; a Constitution with basic characteristics of people’s sovereignty, multiparty democracy, parliamentary system, constitutional monarchy, rule of law, and human rights was introduced in November 1990. Under the Constitution, the first parliamentary elections, whi-ch put the NC in power as the party commanding absolute majority in the parliament, were held in May 1991.

The NC government headed by G P Koirala pushed the country into the mid-term election of November 1994 and lost it. The CPN-UML emerged as the largest party and formed a minority government that lasted nine months. Later it was replaced by a coalition government led by Sher Bahadur Deuba, the parliamentary leader of the NC, in October 1995. In February 1996, the CPM (Maoist) started their violent activities with the declaration of PW against the parliamentary system of governance and the constitutional monarchy for the “people’s new democratic republic.”

The Maoists occupy extreme left position in the spectrum of the communist parties which emerged in the course of the 55-year-old communist movement of the country. All the communist parties of Nepal are the offshoots of the Communist Party of Nepal, which was formed in 1949 during the struggle against Rana autocracy and under the impact of the wave of post-World War II changes in the world. From 1960s onward the country saw emergence of various communist parties.

However, only two of them grew into a force of system-making or system-threatening strength. One, the CPN-UML, significantly contributed to the restoration of multiparty democracy, parliamentary system, and constitutional mon-archy and is one of the two mainstream political parties of the parliamentary system of the country. The other, the CPN (Maoist), has been thre-atening parliamentary democracy that came into practice in 1991 with their extensive expansion of insurgency. They succeeded in thwarting democratic elections, in derailing parliamentary dem-ocracy and pushing the country into agonisingly painful conflict.

Conflicts in society are natural and normal phenomena. Every society makes advances by solving old conflicts and addressing new ones. However, society in conflict is not a normal situation. It derails development absorbing precious time, material and human resources of the country and endangering the past merits that are the essential basis on which the edifice of future can be built. When conflicts are neglected and go out of hand, take a violent character and tear the whole society apart, society lands in conflict, which dominates and affects every sphere of society. Ours has become a society in conflict with itself. The conflict is not limited to the insurgency against state and government’s military response to it, it is not limited to war as war should be between warring sides.

The conflict has been threatening and affecting security, dignity and future of peaceful citizens of the country. Dehumanising process is in operation. In continuation of this dehumanising violence, there is a greater danger of conflict-fatigue of peaceful populace resulting in resignation to a ‘solution’ fraught with tragedy of devastating proportions. The most urgent and dominating question for us now is how to come out of this conflict with dignity, not allowing the conflict-fatigue of ours to take its toll of multiparty democracy, national self-respect, citizen’s rights, and social restructuring. Acharya is former law minister.