Prachanda’s address to the CA A time for introspection

Former Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” had resigned from his post through his address to the nation on May 4, 2009 before he submitted his formal resignation to the president. He worked as the caretaker Prime Minister till the newly elected Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal was sworn in. Prachanda addressed the Constituent Assembly (CA) on May 22, 2009, which paved the way for electing a new PM as the CA members of the Unified Nepal Communist Party of Nepal -Maoist had continued to disrupt the CA proceedings. The last address is only an enlarged text of his earlier address to the nation. The speech contained his accusations against the erstwhile coalition partners of his government, the president, the CoAS and India. As a matter of fact, the second address has hardly any relevance except it has provided an opportunity for him to ventilate his anger and anguish fully, which he could not do earlier.

Perhaps, through his address, he endeavoured to justify his hasty action of abrupt resignation from the post to his supporters. The resignation was actually not needed as the task of leading the peace process to the completion was left in

the lurch. Of course, he again assured the people and the International Community of his commitment to the peace process and

the writing of the new constitution. He stressed the necessity of establishing a greater national consensus for the purpose. However, he did not miss the opportunity to express his veiled threat to capture power when it was needed.

He made democracy, civilian supremacy and nationalism the thrust of his address. He referred back the events such as Sugauli Treaty, the 1950 treaty, the royal coup of December 1960 and the first people’s movement of 1990 as responsible for the present state of national independence and right to self-determination. He explained the causes of his failures by stating that these might have happened due to their lack of experience

Observers feel that his anger and anguish are the result of his unacceptability of opposition as a natural phenomenon. He was not mentally and strategically prepared to face such challenges coming in his way. His diagnosed India and the reactionary mindsets and conditions in the country

as the causes of his failures and exonerated himself proving his lack of foresighted approach to the challenges he faced.

To some, he did not realise the reality. It is true that his party won fifty percent of the seats under direct election for 240 seats securing only about 30% votes leaving 70% against his party in the election. Ironically, the Maoists (the CPN-UML also), who were once opposing the direct election favouring Proportional Representation system, are now harping on the seats won under direct electoral system. They forgot the verdict of the people, which was in favour of participation by all parties in the constitution making process and the governance and the provisions of the interim constitution for the consensual system involving all parties including the CPN-Maoist.

The politics of consensus was pushed aside and his government started ruling the country to fulfil its electoral promises ignoring the sole mandate of formulating the new constitution and carrying on the day today administration. Contrarily, the management of the army was made the pivotal issue, and the government failed to do any thing substantive to rehabilitate the unqualified combatants at least.

The peace process became captive of the government. The main strategic target of getting the combatants integrated into the Nepal Army, entangled it with the removal of the CoAS for the sake of civilian supremacy, an established democratic condition, was dragged to the fore front despite counsels from several parties, including its partners in the government. The CoAS was shown the door when he had only a few months to retire. Against the backdrop of the presidential order, staying the government decision is subjudice and the interpretation of the constitution falls under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, the Maoists demand it to be discussed in the CA.

Nationalism is an issue that is being fanned from time to time in the national politics to suit the convenience of some leaders. The concept of the nationalism is based on anti -Indian rhetoric that India interferes in politics. Do we ever introspect as to why we are so susceptible to the Indian pressure? Are we not required to be independent not only politically but economically as well to be immune from external pressure? Have we ever bothered to eradicate the sufferings of thousands of people who crossed the border to earn their bread and butter in India? Did the Maoists think that the insurgency forced countless people to take shelter in India to avoid their atrocities? Have we provided freedom to the people to have their political activates for their genuine demands? These are some of the core issues the Maoist leadership have to ponder over to reach the logical end of the peace process, as time and tide never wait for anyone.

Prof. Mishra is former election commissioner