Less than three months remain before the deadline set for promulgation of a new constitution expires. Except for the likes of Subash Nembamg, who can with a straight face claim the possibility of the impossible, even the perpetual optimists that believe in the last minute miracles in Nepali politics have given up hope. The chances of having a new constitution by the stipulated date are pretty slim, if not impossible.
It may be difficult for many to understand why there is no concerted effort toward drafting the constitution. The simple answer to this question is that for politicians it is not the priority. The progress toward meeting the deadline is not attached to the pay and perks of the politicians in the Constituent Assembly (CA). It is a classic example of what could happen if the pay is not contingent upon the performance and deliverables. Even if the politicians make it a priority, the chances of reaching an agreement in issues such as federalism is highly unlikely. So why spend time and energy on doing a thing that is going nowhere? Makes perfect sense!
Although the country witnessed a revolution, the nature of Nepali politics has not changed. Instead of working together to tackle the issues confronting the nation, the politicians aim to outfox each other. Increasingly widening deficit in trust, especially between the radical left and the centrist forces, is perpetuating a system that is not just Machiavellian but outright Hobessian.
While the Maoist party is struggling hard to maintain its ballooned support base, the centrist forces that ruled the country for the good part of the last two decades are having a hard time minimizing the defection of their cadres to the newly-emerged ethnic groups and to the Maoist camp. The political vacuum that Maoists had aimed to fill after the uprooting of the monarchy has not been as easy as anticipated. Ethnic grievances which the Maoists cashed in during the insurgency have been successfully hijacked by the newly-mushroomed ethnic parties. Lack of a visible enemy that they can claim important to defeat for the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat might have brought trepidation on the Maoist camp. In the absence of a visible enemy, a march to the promised land will remain on hold without any particular timeframe. This may eventually bewilder the cadres that might well then turn against the dream merchants.
The Maoists themselves are responsible for the state that they are presently in. The autocratic aspirations harbored by Pushpa Kamal Dahal and his fellow comrades could not remain dormant for long. They wanted to neutralize the Nepal Army (NA), which they see as the biggest hurdle toward complete control over Nepali politics, early on in the game. The souring of the relationship with NA, which was not that good to begin with, was not a huge problem, but the decision to vilify India for their own political miscalculation was the biggest blunder they committed. The Maoist propagandists really shot themselves in the foot as they started shooting from their mouths.
Looking back, it becomes quite evident that the Maoists played the master manipulator and successfully herded the centrist forces to minefield but they seem to have no vision following that. Lack of their ability to outgrow the guerrilla mindset is the main reason behind the erosion of both the internal community’s goodwill and internal political support early on in the process. There was no reason to create Young Communist League (YCL) and continue marauding raids on innocent civilians after they came over-ground. If political insecurity was the reason behind YCL’s creation, they could have disbanded it after CA elections. The general public that had been betrayed time and again by the mainstream political parties for years had no reason to not support the Maoists had the Maoists fulfilled their promise of contributing toward establishing peace and stability.
It would, however, be quite unrealistic and insincere to blame only the Maoists for the current state of affairs. The major political parties are equally responsible for where we are now. Propaganda aside, unlike the major political parties that are yet to admit publicly that there has been a failure of intellect on their part in not realizing the Maoists’ real intentions, the Maoists have been inconsistently consistent about their end goal. They have been clear that at the end of the day, they want the dictatorship of the proletariat. We may choose to disagree with what they believe in or of the viability of their belief system in the current geopolitical context, but at least they have something that they believe in, and have a path charted out to achieve it.
As far as the major political parties are concerned, except for lofty promises, which they failed to deliver during their heydays, and instilling fear about what the Maoists would do to the nation if they have their way, there is nothing substantial that they have to offer to the general public. They are yet to realize that the best way to remain in power is by delivering. Instead of setting good examples so that they regain the trust of people, they are still clinging on the path that led them down. Look at what Madhav Kumar Nepal did to save his face in the aftermath of the broad daylight murder of two media entrepreneurs. Instead of asking the home minister to resign, he forced the State Home Minister Mohammad Rizwan Ansari, who happens to be the only member from UML to win the CA election, to resign. What kind of message, if any, does this kind of action send? Poaching weaker targets to save face is not only bad politics but also bad governance.
Nobody deserves more blame for the country’s sorry state than the politicians. The 2006 April revolution had provided a perfect opportunity to reconcile their differences and start afresh toward building an egalitarian society. But realization of it appears bleaker with each passing day. The time has come for the centrist forces to realize that radical communism is here to stay. It’s better if they learnt to live and deal with it. As far as the Maoists are concerned, it’s time for them to come out of their guerilla mindset. It might be easier and safer for them to get to power through electoral means than by completely bringing down the existing system through another “revolution” which has to be violent if it is to achieve its objective. The later may be too risky and has its consequences.
And, let’s say even if they succeeded in achieving it, it may not last for long. Even if it lasts for sometime, the possibility of what Cambodian Khmer Rouge leaders are facing now in the international criminal court will always remain a possibility. Khmer Rouge leaders too believed that their movement was for the betterment of people, didn’t they? Given the risks associated with bringing down the state, adhering to electoral politics may be a safer bet.