As far as the peace talks are concerned, the Maobadis and the SPA have more or less, reached a consensus, i.e. on most political issues. For example, the fate of monarchy is to be decided by the constituent assembly elections. However, the talks at the moment have stalled due to the issue of weapons management. Therefore the prospect of the peace talks succeeding depends largely on the Maoist stance on arms management. Credible information has become available that Prachanda in his talks with the Prime Minister has more or less agreed to all issues including that of weapons of management. But Prachanda changed his stance dramatically after his proposal was turned down by the dominant hardliner faction within the Maobadis.
On the UML…
The UML is having dilemmas vis-à-vis its own ideological ambiguity. The Maobadis are moving aggressively, indoctrinating cadres of the UML into their ranks while the top leaders of the UML are in doldrums regarding how to deal with Maobadis. The Maobadis have already exerted their influence into the rank and file of the UML and clear divisions are beginning to surface in the UML.
On the Royalists…
The royalist are jockeying for political space. There were reports (although not verified) that about 3-4,000 small arms were sneaked into the palace about 3 weeks ago. Maoist militia responded to this revelation by raiding the house of Bikram Thapa(RPP Chairman of Kathmandu). No arms were found.
However, a few days later, news reports emerged that a royalist outfit (through statements circulated to media houses across the country) proclaimed its emergence in Nepal’s political space as yet another armed element.
It is difficult to determine whether this group really exists as a Royalist outfit or whether it is a figment of the Maoists’ imagination, to make the SPA nervous.
On the Maoists’ sincerity (again…)………..
Despite some optimism that the peace talks might succeed, there are reasons for us to doubt the sincerity of the Maoists.
First, the emergence of numerous Maoist check points within the Kathmandu valley is cause for concern. These check points resembled army check points during the state of emergency – only this time, they raised money on one side and stopped vehicles on the other side of the road.
Secondly, the Maoist have started patrolling the streets of Kathmandu while the army remains confined to its barracks.
Patan and Barajas Industrial estate have become detention centers and Kangaroo courts for the Maoists. The Maoists have conducted preemptive operations by “apprehending” some thugs in Kathmandu (of the typical influenced too much by the God Father movie types), fearing that such elements be used against the Maobadis in time.
On the Maoists political front…
On the political front, the Maobadis have decided on the following :-
a) Political parties – Continue to divide and rule. Although they have portrayed GPK as the next president, they are simultaneously engaged in talks with other parties. The Maobadis along with the UML have proposed Deuba to lead the Republican Alliance. Hence, the call from Koirala for the early unification of NC to quash the plans of the UML and the Maobadis.
Another important facet is the labelling of political parties as regressive forces should they not toe the Maoist line. Sadly enough, the most regressive ideologues on the planet are using regression as an accusation to weaken their opponents. Even sadder, there are signs the tactics are working.
The so called Nepali intelligentsia (especially those who like to pat themselves on the back for brining democracy to Nepal) seem to be in shock. As predicted, the Maoists have conveniently outsmarted those who are considered to be Nepal’s smartest. No one is complaining to Senator Leahy’s office about the Maoists today and no one dares to burn an effigy of Prachanda – the last time anyone did this (Ganesh Chilwal), the individual was gunned down in broad daylight inside Kathmandu.
b) Armed forces - The UML too has assimilated itself into the Maoist plans of systematically disturbing the balance of security forces. Their intention is to continue labeling the military as human right violators and to discredit the army so that when the times comes for deployment, the NA will already be shunned in the eyes of the people. The other side of this strategy is to instigate the army into action therefore turning the political table against them – this is a mistake the new leadership in the army is probably not going to fall for, twice.
c) Judiciary - The appointment of judges has been delayed for quite some time. In the absence of judges, the judiciary has not been able to function. Therefore, people are consequently going to kangaroo courts established by the Maoists for justice (even in Kathmandu). Additionally, the Maoists indeed have a big hand in the delay of the appointment of judges. More importantly, leftist judges have filed a petition against the appointment of army chief, hence bringing about a direct confrontation between the state judiciary and the executive. The Supreme Court has also questioned the legality of the HOR proclamations.
On Sitoula and the trust issue….
The good news is that GPK has slowly started to become aware of Sitaula’s undeclared dealings. Sitaula was on the verge of being fired and KP Oli was to replace him. But the Maoists intervened and objected.
Nonetheless the point is that Girija has roped in Arjunnarsingh KC, Dr. Ramsaran Mahat, Ramchandra Poudel and Mahesh Archarya into the talks with the Maoists.
At no time is Sitaula left alone in dealing with the Maoist. However, the utility of able backbenchers is still marred due to pending cases at the CIAA. Although most allegations have been cleared for the likes of Khum Bahadur, Govinda Raj etc., their cases are still hinging in the court due to the direct interference of the Krishna Sitoula.
It is believed that direct orders have been given to prolong these cases. The plaintiffs, especially Khum Bahadur and Govinda Raj Joshi, harbor approaches to the peace talks that are different from those of Sitoula.
More importantly the likes of Govinda Raj and Khum Bahadur believe in the formation of a greater democratic alliance to fight the leftist forces in the political spectrum. It was Khum Bahadur who orchestrated the divide in UML in 1998 after which GPK announced general elections resulting in a majority Congress win.
The majority of the SPA constituents are leftist parties and the end result desired by leftist constituents of the SPA and the Maoist is to establish a ONE PARTY COMMUNIST STATE. Therefore, any prospect of the amalgamation of able backbenchers with democratic principles within and outside the parliament is being hindered by the home minister and his leftist allies, in and out of the government.
On Surya Bahadur Thapa……..
Surya Bahadur Thapa is by far is the biggest obstacle to the Maoists. The man still exerts influence and commands respect in the Nepali Congress and with the Indian establishment.
His reading is as follows: If steps are not taken immediately, anarchy, followed by Maoist control and then a disintegration of the state is near guaranteed.
The Maoists are systematically aiming to take over politically and the last resort is an urban rising. By this the Maoists don’t mean an urban uprising will not be staged. It will be staged but before that, the Maoists will exhaust all political options to control the centre and if that fails, the last resort is an urban uprising.
SB Thapa has continued to raise the issue of the Maoist militia. Provided the peace talks do not delve in the aspect of containing or disarming the militia, the Maoist will have an overwhelming majority in the CA elections and then write a constitution that will make Nepal a one party communist state.
Feb. 1st (stupidly) and the 12 point understanding (by design) led to a situation where the institution of monarchy was the casualty. Secondly, after the HOR proclamation and the 8point agreement the constitution became the casualty and now if proper home work and a strong stance is not taken against the Maoists, the third casualty will be democracy.
It is important to rope the Maoists into the mainstream. However, the parties to have be to equally committed ideologically, politically and strategically motivated to deal with the Maoists. In other words, the idea of mainstreaming the Maoists should not be confused with the idea of defining the mainstream.
On the necessity of disarming the Maoist militia….
The PLA has so far fought with the state security forces. But on the other hand, the Maoist militia is the organ through which the party recruits, extorts, abducts and attempts to discipline society by instilling fear with the use of guns.
According to intelligence reports, there are approximately 25,000 militia through the country armed with small weapons. While the PLA has fought with the state security forces, the Maoist militia remains the most vital party organ that deals with the people on day to day basis.
So even if the PLA is disarmed, it still leaves a large and potent force of Maoists armed with small weapons. Therefore, should elections come, the Maoist will mobilize their armed goons throughout the country and the end result of the elections will tilt in favor of the Maoists.
The political parties on the other hand will pose no threat to the Maoists during election campaigns as the Maoist will have an unfair advantage - disposal of small weapons in their hands. Consequently a desired atmosphere for free and fair elections will not surface and the Maoists will overwhelm the elections with an absolute majority.
Therefore, the issue of weapons management and that of disarming the militia along with the PLA is the most vital issue in Nepali politics today. Thinking that Nepal’s police force (of which only a fraction is armed with anything more than sticks) is a match for the Maoists militia is a fool’s dream.
On internally displaced persons……..
There are about eight hundred thousand displaced people in Nepal today. It is thought that along with peace process, those who have been displaced by the conflict will be rehabilitated during the transitional phase.
For free and fair Constituent Assembly elections and for the larger Nepali population to take part in the this democratic exercise, it is essential that internal refugees are rehabilitated.
However, the rehabilitation process of the displaced people is not desirable to the Maoists. This is because the majority of displaced people fled due to Maoist atrocities and mainly during the initial phases of the war. The majority were Nepali Congress and UML cadres, accused (sometimes rightly) and targeted by the Maoists as class enemies.
The popular slogan of the Maoist needs to be reassrted - "Congress lai khoji khoji, A-MALEY - lai roji roji, RAPRAPA lai sodi, sodi". Therefore, should the rehabilitation process be delayed, genuine voters of Nepali Congress and UML will be deprived from their right to vote. As the Election Commission demands, voters must return to their constituency for voting, these eight hundred thousand refugees who have been squatting in the capital, abroad (and various district HQs) will be denied the right to vote.
Hence it is in the interest of the Maoist to delay or altogether sabotage the rehabilitation process of internal refugees.