Shailendra Kumar Upadhyay

Great many obstacles were created by the Maoists and the agitating political parties to deter the people from participating in the civic reception to felicitate the King at Pokhara the other day. However, people swarmed in great number to see their beloved King and Queen. The success of the function proved that people trusted the King’s initiative to restore peace and lead the country to the path of prosperity.In about a month’s time the King reiterated his faith in multi-party system and his eagerness to bring the Constitution back on track. He has given a clear massage that in order to break the present constitutional stalemate, a general election would be held within a year to hand over power to the elected representatives.

The Constitution of 1990 remains operative and not a single article has been suspended, so much so that even those who have been raising irrelevant slogans against constitutional institutions have been doing so using fundamental right of expression.Political leaders and the parties have been raising doubts on the prospects of holding elections but they have not expressed opinion against the election per se. Therefore, they have to seriously consider the King’s case asking all the Nepalis to create atmosphere to hold free and fair election and his desire to involve all the leaders and parties in the process. Now it is up to the parties to decide how they are going to be involved in the process.

The country is passing through a very critical phase particularly because of terror and violence. This has created problem in every field - health, education, trade, transport and tourism. Restoration of peace is therefore the supreme task. All the forces who believe in the present Constitution have to be prepared to work together and try to bring the Maoists to the mainstream politics agreeing to review the Constitution with a view to evolve it so that it can address the needs of the nation. A Constitution that empowers women, dalits and ethnic people and open path for a participatory democracy. Unless those who believe in the Constitution, albeit, recognising the need for great many changes combined together the Maoists faith in the “barrel of the gun”, shall prevail and lead to greater violence and anarchy.

The constitutional forces must recognise the importance and influence of each other and have also to recognise their respective roles in the nation particularly during crises. Without a broad outlook and will to concede to the legitimate role of the main actors there would be no room to combine together.

The King has very clearly stated that he would not remain a meek spectator of the miseries of the people but would like to play a certain constitutional role in the interest of democracy and national integrity.The political parties must try to understand the role the King would like to play and stop interpreting the King’s statement according to their own wishful thinking. While considering the role of a constitutional monarch, they have to objectively look at the historical role of the King and must be ready to accept his role in the interest of democratic development of the society and maintenance of national harmony. The threat of republican ideas will only harden attitude and promote mistrust.

The present situation can not be solved by means of armed suppression alone and political wisdoms has to be applied to bring the Maoists to the mainstream or to isolate them from the people. Political maneuvering is necessary to achieve either of the objectives.

The advocates of the suppression cite examples of their success but cannot overlook the incident in Bhojpur and Beni. Similarly, theorists on the Maoist side glorify the Bhojpur and Beni incidents to perpetuate terror and violence. In the heart of hearts, both sides must have realised the futility of armed operations alone. Only those who might have developed in vested interest due to protracted warfare can ignore reality. A political solution has to be taken seriously.

Protracted warfare increases the importance and influence of the people holding guns and it becomes a source of satisfactions to them but it weakens the political machinery and chances of political solution.The Maoists too must realise that over reliance on COMPOSA and RIM will not defeat the State only it shall make the nation bankrupt. State will always have the advantage of getting wider support from the international community in all respects.

The need of the hour is the declaration of ceasefire and resumption of dialogue. The ceasefire initiative could be taken by either side with the other side reciprocating, or face the risk of loosing popular support. Declaration of ceasefire would be welcomed by the people as a generous offer and not as a sign of weakness. Only those who suffer from inferiority complex or benefit from vested interest would see the offer of ceasefire as a sign of weakness.

There could be no meaningful move without ceasefire. Parleys can begin only after ceasefire. The King has made his wishes very clear. He has proposed holding of a free and fair general election to handover power to elected representatives. Now it’s up to the political parties, including the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists), to take a positive look at the King’s proposal to work together in the interest of the people and nation “keeping patriotism at the centre.”Upadhyay is a former foreign minister