Monday, May 19, 2008

Late Awakening

The Maoists are slowly closing in on the democratic forces in Nepal. They have started to mount pressure on Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to resign and have made it crystal clear that the Young Communist League (YCL), which in their view is, an equivalent of youth wings of the NC and the UML is not going to be disbanded anytime soon. Instead of facing dissolution, the YCL is rather getting active. It has decided to launch a month-long nationwide campaign.

By asking Prime Minister Koirala to submit his resignation to the speaker of parliament and facilitate a peaceful handover of power in public, Dr Baburam Bhattarai has delivered the masterstroke! The Maoists are all set to disown the very person, who helped them reach where they are now. Is this a sign of an end of utility of "useful idiots" for the Maoists?

After tirelessly honeymooning for more than two years, the politicians within the NC and the UML have finally started realizing working with the Maoists is difficult. The likes of Ram Chandra Poudel have started to talk what people like me have been telling for the past two and a half years. We wrote countless articles trying to explain the dangers associated with the continued appeasement and political cohabitation. But so long as the prospects of remaining in the power were bright, power hungry people like Poudel never bothered to listen to sane voices that would have given a reason for a logical pause.

The lust for power and the risk of being branded "reactionaries" undoubtedly subdued otherwise a logical caution. Now, when Poudel sees power slipping out of his grip, he is all of a sudden perturbed by the Maoists' dictatorial bent. What an awakening! If the democrats around the world started grasping the threat posed by the radicals this late, within no time, the majority of the democratic state will be bogged down by radical communists and insane Islamofacists.

Can someone actually ask ideologically bankrupt and unprincipled democrats like Poudel, who see the dictatorial bent of the Maoists only now? When did the Maoists actually abandon the idea of establishing a one-party communist state, if they ever did? The Maoists, at no point throughout the peace process or the entire period of insurgency, have expressed anything but a full-fledged commitment to the Maoists' strategic end-goal: the establishment of a one-party communist republic. Any misrepresentation of the Maoists' strategic intent has come from outside the party -- mainly from the left-leaning civil society pundits and the likes of Ram Chandra Poudel.

So for Ram Chandra Poudel to realize the dictatorial bent of the Maoists, at this point in time, after they have threatened to forcefully kick Prime Minister Koirala out of office is a crude awakening. The so-called democrats that are squirming now wrote their political obituaries the very day they ventured out on a political cohabitation with the Maoists. Instead of squirming now, when it is too late to do anything about the Maoists' motives, it is time to put up a brave face and prepare oneself to become proud prisoners of the past mistakes. It's impossible to break the golden rule of cause and effect; no matter what, you reap what you sow.
In Nepal, for those who never had a choice between bread and freedom, it was quite obvious to side with the Maoists. But for those, who had both bread and freedom, the inability on part of important few like Poudel to see the imminent danger that unholy alliance with the Maoists posed is going to cost dearly.

Both internal and external actors are to be blamed for the current state of affairs. There was a political stagnation when King Gyanendra embarked on his idiotic venture of absolute monarchy. While this man, who became king by default (design component cannot be discredited altogether) was desperate to walk along the path that his shrewd father walked finely nearly half a century ago, two things were happening concurrently. First, the NC and the UML were trying hard to remain indefinitely in the power without facing the electorate. Second, the Maoists that were getting routinely eliminated by the Bhairavnath battalion in the Kathmandu valley were looking for ways to safely root themselves in the valley for the urban centered revolution.

It was King Gyanendra's foolishness that forced democratic forces to go defensive. Instead of working with the democratic forces, which would have made the fight against radical communism much easier, King Gyanendra preferred to ride pompous egoist—Tusli Giri.

For India, this was the best opportunity to get rid of monarchy, whose diehard nationalist course unlike that of King Jigme's in Bhutan always collided with India's security and economic interests in Nepal. As far as the Maoists were concerned, it was once in a lifetime opportunity to utilize rank and files of the NC and the UML that King Gyanendra was trying to obliterate as "useful idiots" in order to leapfrog to a higher level of their revolution pyramid. In other words, King Gyanendra's idiotic move basically provided an opportunity to everyone that had been waiting for the window of opportunity to open to push through their own little agendas. While all the parties involved tried to outsmart each other, only the Maoists had both the strategy and the end goal handy.

What next? The Maoists have won the elections—fair and square and hence deserve a chance to govern. King Gyanendra should exit and the political parties of yesteryears should do what losers do in politics --- come up with vision and goals that resonate with constituents. The people are mentally prepared to get rid of monarchy and give the Maoists a chance to govern. So be it.

The easiest way for the NC and UML politicians that put bounty on the heads of the Maoist ideologues and deployed military to fight insurgency would be to instigate Nepal Army to commit coup d'etat. But this is not going to benefit the poor Nepali citizens who have been longing for peace for more than a decade. Nor are they ready for another decade long bloodshed. By voting overwhelming for the Maoists, the people have made it clear that they are ready to bow in front of the butcher and get pardoned rather than side with the losers and get hacked.

As keen observers, we all know that the Maoists have neither scored suicide goals in the past, nor will they score in the future. We also know that given the desire of Puspa Kamal Dahal to rule for decades, the days ahead are not going to be easy for the democrats. But we have no choice but to fight it out democratically. It might take years to dislodge the radicals out of power but the good thing about it is that, during the course of democratic struggle, true and principled democrats will get a chance to come to the forefront.

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