Political choices All towards a dead end

Look at Nepal from every angle and you will find it is stuck at a dead end. The dead end leaves no choice except to fight against each other. It is because choices are narrowing down with the changing goals of political actors. The Nepali Congress, for example, has reset its goal at complete democracy with or without the King. It has thereby left some room to accommodate the King if he is willing to be nice to it. The chances of the present King reconciling with it is nil because he does not like its company, especially its supremo, Girija Prasad Koirala. Hence, the choice before the Nepali Congress seems to be democracy without the King. A moderate and middle-roader like Shailja Acharya is outdated and obsolete.

It is all but clear that minus G P Koirala, the Nepali Congress is bound to go into the radical camp of Narahari Acharya. Hence, republicanism seems to be its emerging and unavoidable choice. If all roads lead to such a goal, why does it not face the reality and call a spade a spade? It is more the lack of courage than the hope of mending fences with the monarchy that is preventing the Congress from making the hard choice.

Let us take the CPN-UML which has set its new goal of democratic republic. Being communist by nature, it is comfortable with the slogan of republicanism. It thereby leaves no room for the King except to fight and finish. It had, after all, serious reservations about the 1990 Constitution and declared it as a stepping-stone towards a Democratic Republic. The only difference with the Maoists is on the question of violence — a means to achieve their common

end of republicanism. Under the circumstances, the rebels might give up arms, as they have to, sooner or later, but it is most unlikely that the UML will go violent in their future struggle. Can they go, then, together if the Maoists renounce violence? Logically, they should but they would not because of factors like personality cult and cadre character. The recent accord between them is only the outer understanding not backed by inner trust.

Going by their uncharacteristic democratic conduct, will it be proper to dub the CPN-UML, like the Maoists, as a diehard communist party? It is due to their more democratic than communist behaviour that prompted their international well-wishers to ask them to change their name and to reincarnate in their true nature of being a democratic party. There should be no problem as the real diehard communist cadre of the CPN-UML have already deserted it and joined the Maoists.

How many members of the CPN-UML will quit the party if it is renamed by dropping the word ‘communist’? Hardly any. Those who are radical are no longer there. Those who are liberal will not leave, as they would find the new identity minus communist more palatable. What prevents it from doing so? It is lack of courage more than a conviction to accept a changed reality of the CPN-UML as a political party.

On the part of the Maoists, the goal is clear. They want a People’s Republic. But short of it, they agree to come down to a democratic republic. Their short-term goal thus overlaps the long-term goal of the CPN-UML. They appear the same as far as the role of monarchy is concerned, i.e. none. They have resorted to the worst choice of taking up arms. The only alternative they have offered to abandon violence is a constituent assembly to frame a new constitution. To that extent, all the political parties have accepted the Maoist demand. The only bar dividing them is the question of violence. If they choose to drop the guns, we can

look forward to a unified peaceful struggle against the monarchy guarded by a unified security


The King’s goal is to establish a dominant monarchy with multiparty democracy. It means democracy under monarchy and not monarchy under democracy. In other words, it is a democracy to monarch’s taste and not a monarchy to democrats’ taste. Irrespective of the semantics, there is a dead end as there is no way the King wants to mend ways with parties.

There is a set and clear roadmap to move towards his goal. He has to remove all the roadblocks like the Constitution to reach the goal of monarchical democracy because the present Constitution is based on the concept of democratic monarchy. The irony is that this Constitution is only a means to achieve the end of ending it.

It was with the power derived from the Constitution that the parliament was ousted, the prime ministerial post was discarded, a state of emergency was imposed and the media was censored. But there stands the Supreme Court who may undo some of the controlling measures like the wanton arrests and ban on FM news broadcasts. Even the RCCC orders were thwarted by the judicial orders. The SC is seen as a big roadblock. You have to throw away the Constitution to throw the Court out. That is a pretty bad choice. But who knows one might accept it when none other is available.

Shrestha is a freelance journalist