NEPALI POLITICS, MAOISTS AND INDIA Keshav Prsad BhattaraiWhatever may be the reaction of external stakeholders of Nepal’s peace process and constitutionmaking, common people for the time being have had a deep sense of relief after the dissolution ofConstituent Assembly that was repeatedly extending its term. The huge body entrusted todeliver a new constitution supposed to bring a new era of peace and development endedwith creating deep divisions among people and fomenting communal or ethical hatreds. Therefore,the unceremonious dissolution of Constituent Assembly on May 27 came with an exceptional peaceand tranquility in the country that however, may be short lived.Understandably, those extracting lavish perks in the name of Constitution making from internal andexternal sources may have found themselves squarely exposed, and will not shy away fromstirring up irritation and turmoil in days to come. But if there will be no external meddling by socalled self proclaiming savors in its natural course of political developments, Nepal can find itscourse – nonetheless with some hitches – from minor to dangerous one.Human Development Report 2002 has made a critical observation – “Democracy thatempowers people must be built – it cannot be imported” imposed or imitated. But, buildingdemocracies is building institutions and develop them on the foundations of its history andcircumstances that governs the values, cultures and attitudes of the people. We broughtdemocracy in 1950, it failed after 10 years. In 1990 we restored it, but just after fiveyears, Maoists took up arms against it. Amid some more 15,000 deaths and thousandsdisplaced under Maoist insurgency, democratic governance initiated in 1990 ended up withanother undemocratic Royal takeover in 2005.Against the King’s direct rule, India mediated a 12 point understanding between Maoistand other mainstream political parties. That was followed by series of otherunsubstantiated agreements. Later in the election of a new Constituent Assembly, withguns in hand, Maoists were allowed freehand to fight the election and consequently, theywere able to grab majority of seats in direct elections from among the terror strickenpeople. However in proportional election, they could not bag similar success. After theelections in 2008, they became the largest political party and a key political player -pushing the rest into some more like a subsidiary to them.Obviously, in an age of globalization politics in any country cannot limit to be local. Butnaturally, is shaped mainly by economic integration of countries, technological revolutionsand cross border security environments. Similarly peoples’ problems and challenges are
globalized but unless the solutions are home grown or rooted upon their own history,traditions and culture, countries become impeded with ability to solve their problems andin turn end up with chaos and conflicts.U.S. president Barrack Obama has made a pertinent remark in this regard, relevant to ourcontext too. In his reference to Iraq on June 2009, he said-“I know there has beencontroversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years . . . So let me be clear: nosystem of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.”ROLE OF INDIA IN FACILITATING MAOISTS GRAB POWERUndoubtedly, Nepal did not and does not have strong democratic institutions, so has itfailed again and again. Every time, when democracy fails to meet people’s expectations andmanage dissensions among people in power, the country ensues to the system failure withanother movement. This makes Indian involvement inevitable whether in request by one orother party for their political interest or they are lured or forced to invite India to buttin.Quite naturally, Nepal’s weakened state structures could not withstand Indian pressures –varying from economic blockade to forming international alliance against any existinggovernment in Nepal – not toeing their lines. Therefore in every political change in Nepal,India has become a major partner. But the high price Nepal has to pay India for its role innew change, has in return discredited the change itself and weakened the regime thatfollowed the change.In a book published recently – Nepal in Transition: From People’s War to Fragile Peace,edited by Sebastian Einsiedel, David Malone and Suman Pradhan, noted Indian Academicianand Nepal expert S.D. Muni has drawn a graphic picture of Indian role in Nepal’s politicalchange including deposing monarchy and bringing Maoist in main stream.According to Muni with increased international support including India and U.S., whenNepal Army was creating difficulties for Maoist to conduct their war activities, BaburanBhattarai was sent to appease New Delhi in early 2002. In June 2002 a letter jointlywritten by Prachanda and Baburam with a promise to India that they “would not doanything to harm its critical interests”, was handed over to the office of Indian PrimeMinister. Consequently, “intelligence surveillance and restrictions on Maoists’ movements inIndia were relaxed”, and in their discussions with Indian intelligence agency Baburam andhis team “reiterated their position again in writing to the IB sleuths”. . . , “followed bymore contacts and meetings between the Maoists and the RAW. Maoists could now move
with greater ease and could also contact other Nepali political leaders in India.” Andduring the course the office of the Indian Prime Minister concurred with Maoists’ demandof the abolishment of monarchy in Nepal.As explained by Muni - the stage was set much earlier to end Monarchy in Nepal beforeKing Gyanendra seized power in February 1, 2005. But after the Royal takeover, the eventswere speeded up. India and west stopped arms supply to Nepal Army in their critical warwith Maoists, This forced Nepal make a deal with China in August 2005 and by that time“India was inching toward a position in favor of jettisoning King Gyanendra.” Muni says.Including Sita Ram Yechury and others, according to Muni “A good personal connectionbetween new RAW Chief Hermis Tharakan and Baburam Bhattarai facilitated betterunderstanding between the Maoist and the RAW, which kept in regular contact withMaoist leadership”. The modality of relationship developed this way as mentioned by Muni,both the Chief of RAW (Research & Analysis Wing) - the main external intelligence agencyof India and Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran made a strong lobby in India in support ofMaoists to fight against monarchy in Nepal. The mission reached in climax when at lastthere was a 90 minutes long meeting between Dr. Karan Singh, Foreign Secretary ShyamSaran and Army Chief of Nepal General Pyar Jung Thapa. After this, General Thapa waspersuaded by them “to plead with the king that there was no military solution to either theJan Andolan II or the Maoist insurgency”. Army Chief Thapa reflected the same to theking and that left the king without any other option than to give in. Immediatelythereafter, Shyam Saran in a press conference, “presented Delhi as the leading force inthe restoration of democracy in Nepal”, Muni stated.This development ultimately forced kings make the Royal proclamation of reinstating theParliament that was dissolved as per the recommendation of Prime Minister Sher BahadurDeuba, on May 22, 2002.DEMOCRATIC CONTAMINATION AND ETHNICITYA nation is defined by some core values within its geography and is represented by someideas, principles, norms cultures, and institutions peculiar to that territory. And anypolitical system of any shape and form whether democratic or authoritarian if confrontswith them, cannot work and sustain.As mentioned above democracy cannot be aided, gifted, imported or imposed. It is to bebuilt, earned and grown in its soil and environment.
Celebrated British writer Paul Collier in his exceptional book - Wars, Guns and Votes –Democracy in Dangerous places, has vividly portrayed on how democracy are run incountries including ours. According to Collier “democratic politics in the countries of thebottom billion tends to attract candidates with criminal records”, because elected officeis more attractive to criminals than to the honest” ones as it offers more attractive“opportunities for corruption”.Further he says that the usual form of democracy in the bottom billion countries “does notseem to enhance the prospects of internal peace. On the contrary, it seems to increaseproneness to political violence” miserably failing to produce any accountable and legitimategovernment.Mocking at the elections in these countries that has become the single overriding concernsof developed countries Collier says “ . . . in encouraging elections , we have landed thesesocieties in an unviable half way house that has neither the capacity of autocracies to actdecisively nor the accountability of a genuine democracy.”Collier has not missed the kind of ethnic politics that is going to ravage our society andcontaminate its politics. In his book he states when ethnicity rules politics “policy choicesget crowded out by the identity” and that is played with “ethnic fears and hatreds”, thatalthough is “truly the politics of the gutter: unfortunately it works.” It weakensdemocracy, social unity and cooperation and works as an “impediment to prosperity.”Solution lies with only to people and their leadership. First a nation and national identity,but “a sense of national identity does not grow out of the soil; it is constructed by apolitical leadership” and truly a political construction, carved by a visionary andforesighted leader- that we are lacking so far. email@example.com The reporter (weekly) June 4-10, 2012