Monday, June 21, 2010

Speak the Truth

The political stalemate continues unabated. While the members of the current coalition continue to stick to the demand of the dissolution of paramilitary structure of the Young Communist League (YCL) and return of the property seized property, the Maoists like in the past are trying their best to get away without fulfilling these demands. Given the level of political dishonesty that the Maoists exhibit, will these demands, that have a far reaching consequences on how we live and pursue our livelihoods, be ever met? Many concerned citizens have these questions crossing their minds.

Let’s get this straight: The paramilitary structure of the Young Communist League (YCL) will not be dissolved and the seized property will never be returned. There are many reasons for this, the prime being: In the Maoists’ collective consciousness, YCL is not a paramilitary force. It is a youth political force like the ones that every other major Nepali political party has. As far as the seized properties are concerned, 90 percent have been already returned. This is what the chief architect of the Maoist Party, Baburam Bhattarai said when grilled by Fauziah Ibrahim of the Al Jazeera television, recently. Is Bhattarai telling the truth? Absolutely not! There is ample evidence to support the fact that YCL is a paramilitary force. As far as the return of the seized properties is concerned, the process is yet to begin. Despite their pledge to return the seized properties, the Maoists continue to seize private properties. Ms. Ibrahim presented the fact that the latest event of confiscation occurred in May of 2010.

Bhattarai’s latest interview raises a serious question on his integrity. Bhattarai, whom many youngsters revere as the most honest politician, may not be what they believe him to be. The time has come for the bewildered youths who see political messiah in Bhattarai to take a close look at things he says and does. There is clear disconnect. It might be dangerous to chase fantasies preached by intellectual guru that believes in radical violent means to social reform and has an audacity to lie with a straight face knowing the fact that he will be watched by millions within and beyond the national boundary.

What should we expect from our politicians? Should we expect moral perfection? Or should we expect them to do the job they were hired to do? Or, the both? Answering these questions might be even considered redundant given the level of dishonesty that Nepali politicians exhibit. Despite consistent outlandish remarks and violent outbursts, Bhattarai is considered as a relatively clean and competent leader. He has been so far successful in not only charming relatively well educated youths but also keeping the Indians that call the shots in Nepal guessing. At the end of the day, he might turn out to be not very different from his current boss Pushpa Kamal Dahal, whom India groomed unsuccessfully to serve its interest.

Indians in their never ending experiment to turn Nepal into a client state are hedging their bet on Bhattarai primarily for two reasons. First, the Maoist party at its current form with Pushpa Kamal Dahal as a supreme leader is impossible to dictate. Hence, it needs to be cut down in size. And the best way to do that is by promoting Bhattarai, which they think will eventually lead to a vertical split in the Maoist party. Indian bureaucrats and intelligence operatives, especially the ones stationed in Kathmandu, seriously believe that making Bhattarai the next prime minister will bring about a split in the Maoist party. Second, Indians at this point have no bankable leader with popular mass support, whom they can rely on, to fulfill Indian interests.

Bhattarai with a straight face lied to Ms. Ibrahim. Why did he do that? He did so for a very simple reason. And, the reason is—he can afford to do so. He very well realizes the fact that he is dealing with a fragmented electorate. People whose property has been seized belong to the upper middle class and beyond, who did not support the Maoist rebellion to begin with. Plus, they are the ones that complain about the YCL’s paramilitary activities. So, why even bother about being correct?

Instead of engaging in a futile exercise of wining the hearts and minds of urban elites and “feudal” in hinterland, he talks about the rights of peasants to till the land. It is important to understand why Bhattarai and others ideologues in UCPN (Maoist) raise the issue of land reform, which they failed to act upon, while heading the government. In a country where approximately half of the population lives below the poverty line and millions are landless, the idea of land reform has tremendous political appeal. Through land reform the Maoist, want to hand out “rights” to politically correct groups (read landless and tenants). At the end of the day, by expanding the entitlements of these groups, they want to garner their undivided support and use them against other citizens that oppose Maoists’ agendas. In doing so, Bhattarai and his fellow ideologues conveniently ignore the fact that the cost of the gifts they bestow on these groups have to be borne by other hardworking citizens.

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