Nepal’s political turmoil Need for vision and direction

Ever since the Maoists launched the People’s War- whose raison d’tre and achievements are questionable- and terrorized the nation some 13 years ago, our nation has been under siege. While our neighbours grew at over 10% a year, our nation mired in a meaningless conflict, leaving in its trail immense death and destruction, could barely grow more than the population growth rate.

Our self serving and incompetent governments were neither able to provide any modicum of security and wellbeing for its citizens nor were they able to deal effectively with the rebels either militarily or through dialogue.

King Gyanendra’s misadventure to turn the clock back not only cost him and his family the throne but it also helped to catapult the Maoists to power by enabling them to ride on the shoulders of other political parties.

In the elections that were held to the CA , the Maoists emerged as the largest and headed a coalition government for nine months before PM P. K. Dahal resigned from his post. However, the nation has not got any respite.

The security situation is deteriorating, press freedom has been curtailed through intimidation and even the murder of some bold journalists and a culture of impunity backed by goons, guns and greenbacks is on the rise.

Even in these dire conditions, the ever optimistic and cheerful people were plodding ahead in the hope of seeing a new constitution which would safeguard individual liberty and usher in a vibrant democracy within a federal set up.

Contrary to this expectation, the nation has been hit by a thunderbolt from the blue as PM Dahal made a dramatic exit after the showdown with the President over the attempted sacking of the Army Chief, Gen. Rukmangad Katawal plunging the nation in a deep quagmire.

While the decision taken by the President is justifiable on grounds of safeguarding the constitution and upholding the highest interest of the nation, it has nevertheless raised knotty issues on the legality of the action. The stepping down by the PM on the grounds of holding the supremacy of civil rule over the army only seemed to have paved the way for the formation of a new government.

Since the PM stepped down, the Maoists have regularly obstructed the CA working and the process of government formation has not even begun even when the UML led alliance of 22 parties have a strength of over 350 CA members Furthermore, the Maoists are heating up the street , holding mass rallies and have declared that they will continue doing so until the President revokes his order or this case is debated in the CA, knowing full well that it is against the constitution to debate any issue that is sub judice.

Our nation bleeds with the continuous imposition of bandhs on a variety of pretexts by diverse interest groups It is a shame that our political parties have not come to a consensus to declare all bandhs unlawful and its infringement punishable.

Moreover, the Maoist led government’s failure to work with urgency on issues of national priority such as the management of arms and the PLA, the disbanding of its para-militaty outfit YCL, the formation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the return of private properties seized during the conflict and the withdrawal of child soldiers from the cantonments, etc. had cast grave doubts

on the intention and ability of this outgoing government to take the peace process to its logical conclusion

On the other hand, the hasty declaration of some 7000 martyrs (most of them Maoist combatants and many without proper identification) has cast suspicion on the motives of such action.

The recent revelation by the media of the videotape of the Maoist party’s internal meeting held in Poush 2064 in one of the Camps in which Prachanda reportedly outlined his strategies of capturing power, has seriously eroded the confidence of other parties and the

general public at large on the Maoists’ sincerity to embrace multi-party democracy

Nepal and India, as two sovereign states, adhere to the 5 principles of peaceful co-existence( Pancha Shila) However, since the Sugauli treaty of 1816, Nepal has been dependent on India for its modernization and development and our leadership, cognizant of this reality, regularly seeks guidance and support from our friendly neighbour.

India’s guidance and support had been there since the ouster of the Ranas and the establishment of democracy in 1951, till Jana Andolan II.

India and the international community have much affection for Nepal and they must use their good offices to help this nation in this most critical juncture in our history.

Let us hope our political parties, especially the Maoists, will rise to the occasion and use dialogue, constitutional and peaceful means to resolve the crisis that the country is passing through and cooperate move swiftly to write a new constitution.

Thapa is Mahasamiti Member, NC