What is it that makes us moral? I tried my best to answer this question. My educated guess ferried around culture, upbringing, education, and rule of law. Jeff's simple question had caught me off-guard. In my quest to find an answer, I started flipping pages for more clues. In addition to Gandhi and Hitler, the writer had talked about Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr, the Dalai Lama, Joseph Stalin, Augusto Pinochet, Osama Bin Laden, and Pol Pot. Although Jeff had missed some, his list definitely included individuals that have inspired our awe, for either their goodness or their malevolence.
Why do some people that belong to certain groups hate others that differ from them and abuse their dignity? I wondered why Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala and Mana Mohan Adhikari were more appreciated than Puspa Kamal Dahal, Nagendra Paswan and Jay Krishna Goit. Why are the later finding it hard to sell their nationalist credentials than the former lot who had spent a good time of their lives in India?
Some might have problem seeing Puspa Kamal Dahal compared with Nagendra Paswan and Jay Krishna Goit. But there is hardly any difference. Just carrying a “red book” doesn't make one pious nor does it justify the killings of innocent civilians. If you ask Paswan and Goit, they too will claim that, they are fighting against oppression, subjugation and economic marginalization of masses. The only thing they lack by choice or ignorance is a “red book” with the photograph of a Chinese- Mao-or two dead Europeans- Karl Marx and Lenin-with them to justify their killings in the name of struggle. Besides that, who can guarantee that the achievement of Puspa Kamal Dahal is impossible for others?
Now, let us consider the question and answer session with Puspa Kamal Dahal organized by British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). During the program, Puspa Kamal Dahal denied all the charges against his party, and in particular, against the YCL. Listeners could easily surmise that people asking the questions were really frustrated with the Maoists' duplicity and atrocities. It was also evident that Puspa Kamal Dahal had chosen not to answer the truth. He seriously lacks the guts to take responsibilities for the crimes committed by his men. Denial of charges does not prove innocence.
The good thing about the program is that, people made Puspa Kamal Dahal realize that, free and open discussions are the greatest threat to his arrogation of intellectual infallibility. I salute people's guts to ask questions despite knowing that Dahal's militia could intimidate, abduct, and kill them without impunity.
Interestingly, the following week BBC aired views of Mukti Pradhan, so-called intellectual among the brainwashed and often illogical rank-and-files of the Maoist party. He shamelessly made clear what Puspa Kamal and Babu Ram have in mind: a political set-up whereby they would decide who gets in and who gets out. Pradhan's revelation has made it quite clear that the stage is being set for this great nation to descend into self inflicted madness goaded by Puspa Kamal Dahal and his fellow radicals.
Without mincing words, Pradhan said that the Maoists would resort to periodic purges of incorrect elements whose incorrect status shall be determined by the Maoists themselves. Needless to say, political correctness vouched by the Maoists denies objective truth. Political correctness as something that is “used ironically against the mainstream democratic parties as a critique of moralism and preachiness” shows a lack of imagination and understanding among the cadres of the Maoists party.
In very calculated sentences Pradhan tried doing what ideologues of left-populist political trajectories in Latin America do-fault neo-liberal economic policies for slow growth, no improvement in poverty rates, and sparse investment in human capital through health and education. Brainwashed Youth Communist Leaguers might not know the limits and potential of dictatorship of the proletariat. But educated people who have read what happened during Mao's rule in China do know about it. We all know what happened during the Cultural Revolution in China. Mao's “supercollectivism” of 1958 to 1960, the so-called Great Leap Forward, produced a famine during which 25 to 30 million perished in China. The famine that resulted from Mao's short-sighted policies is far greater than African famine or the number of people killed by hunger during the entire post-independence in India. Mao's famine is considered as the most murderous in human history.
Puspa Kamal Dahal, unlike BP Koirala and Mana Mohan Adhikari, does not have the grace and guts to accept the truth, which is required to command respect. No doubt, he is a shrewd operator. He has done what his mentor Nirmal Lama could not do in his lifetime. But the question is: Is it worth killing thirteen thousand innocent people just to become a reverend of 10 percent of the population? Would Nirmal Lama do the same if he were alive and given the same opportunity?
How far is it justifiable to doom the collective destiny of millions of people to fulfill political aspirations of a few radicals who think power comes from the barrel of a gun? Will a sane man with good moral standing and conscience be ready to do it and go down in the history?
Pol Pot, the leader of Khmer Rouge too considered himself as a great leader. Like Dahal, he too appeared confident and said, “My conscience is clear”. He too had follower in Combodia like Puspa Kamal does in Nepal today. But the history has judged him as a murderous dictator for the heinous crimes he committed during his hey days. Puspa Kamal Dahal might choose to wage a war for another 40 years to come, the choice is his. But how he will be perceived in the days to come by the fellow citizens and how history will judge him is beyond his manipulation.
Puspa Kamal Dahal still has a chance to make a difference in people's lives by letting them live in peace and achieve their potential. Whether he wants to be remembered as a statesman like BP Koirala and Mana Mohan Adhikari or go down in the history as an insensitive notorious rebel rests on him.
Days do not remain same forever. Nuon Chea, 82, the second in command after the Pol Pot, was recently arrested for his crimes against humanity and is now confined to a prison cell in Cambodia.
In this changing world, nothing remains constant. Nobody knows what future has in store. What is yours today might be of someone else's tomorrow. All you will have then is regrets, like King Gyanendra has now, by default.
Radical political adventurism is just not worth it!