(Courtesy: Comrade Zorro)
The eyes have it. The interim constitution has no mechanism to remove the Prime Minister. Article 38, sub article 7 states that the Prime Minister shall be relieved of his office only under the following circumstances:
- If his/her resignation submitted to Speaker in writing;
- If he/she ceases to be a member of the Legislature;
- If he/she dies.
Article 36(5b) of the earlier Constitution has been removed.
Further, Article 38 (10) runs as follows:
- If Prime Minister dies, Deputy Prime Minister or Senior Minister shall carry out the duties of the Prime Minister until a new Prime Minister is appointed.
Given any of the circumstances above, the timeframe under which a new Prime Minister would be appointed is not stated in the constitution.
Anyone with half a brain can do the math: Probability that Girija will die – certain. Probability that after his death, the Maoist DPM will take the post of Prime Minister – certain. Probability that the communist majority in the interim stature will do everything possible to ensure that a new Prime Minister is immediately put in place – highly unlikely (unless comrade Baburam or comrade Pushpa are "requested" by the leftist majority in parliament to step in as caretaker PM). Probability that the Maoists (with their leftist front) will continue to consolidate their power-base by using state resources – absolutely certain.
As the term “conspiracy” is applied to any event that does not favor the Maoist rise to power, an alternative set of terms must be applied to describe the certainty of events to follow: “cunning” Maoist maneuvering and democratic political “paralysis” would seem appropriate.
Wishful mainstream thinking and ruthlessly calibrated Maoist tactics make a potent combination: a virtual "death wish" for those lost in hope, to be executed by those absorbed in rapid maneuvering.
The Maoists have an entire line-up of tactical steps, specifically designed to achieve their goal of a one-party, communist state. These include the following:
- Maintenance of public fury against the king, knowing fully well that the king is a spent force. The Maoists continue to uphold public fixation on the royal issue in order to keep the “mob” busy and to keep the political parties incapacitated. The notion of a wide political alliance (SPAM) to rid Nepal of its institution of monarchy are forwarded as a necessary and required condition - even to guarantee constituent assembly elections by the June 2007 timeframe. The reality however, is that continued fixation on the king (which diverts public and political will from the reality of Maoist manipulation) guarantees only one outcome – Maoist victory at the constituent assembly polls.
- Idea of a Domestic Leftist Coalition, to assuage the UML’s leadership, so that any hint of a division amongst the broader leftists ranks becomes inconceivable. Given the reality that grass roots UML cadre have mostly migrated to the Maoist ranks already, the only purpose of the idea of a united leftist front is to keep the interim parliament paralyzed (since there’s a leftist majority) and to string along the UML leadership, with the attractive idea that some power-sharing in the post-CA world, may be possible should an alliance of like-minded leftists be forged today. Although the formation of such an alliance in the present situation is almost a given, the maintenance of the alliance after Maoist victory at the CA polls is inconceivable. Yet again, the Maoists will have used what they need, when they need it, as a tactical pillar in support of their long-term strategy of a communist republic.
- Anti-Indian nationalism, is soon to become the Maoists’ greatest ally. The induction of known hardcore anti-Indians like retired Army General Phudung into Maoist ranks, forecasts the evolution in the Maoists’ tactical thinking. For the time being, Indian sponsorship of political changes in Nepal is coveted by the Maoists. But this sponsorship is conditional and is premised on the conduct of free and fair polls (and perhaps deals based on non-recourse debt, at favorable prices to Indian IPPs). These are both items that run contrary to larger Maoist goals that have galvanized their powerbase in Nepal. As time passes and the Maoists become more politically entrenched, sympathy and warm feelings toward New Delhi will be replaced by radical anti-Indian sentiment (that of course, will be termed as part of the larger “anti-peace conspiracy”). The Maoists will then position themselves as the only political entity in Nepal, with the capacity to keep such sentiments from getting out of hand – making the Indian government further beholden to them while simultaneously assuring members of CCOMPOSA and RIM that the Nepali Maoists remain true to the agenda of communist ideals and committed to the realization of the Compact Revolutionary Zone (CRZ).
- Dismember Nepal’s State Military from within: This is a no-brainer. With the Maoists now occupying seats in Parliament, the Nepalese Army will take center stage as a candidate for destruction from within. Sympathetic elements within the Army (based on ethnic and caste allegiances) will be leveraged to the fullest by the Maoists. Others will be led down a path of perpetual frustration using seats in the interim parliament as tools. Promotions will be denied, unrest will be fuelled and existing divisions (along multiple dimensions) will be highlighted to destroy the fraternal fabric that sustains the military. The goal will be to integrate Maoist terrorists-turned-fighters into the ranks of the Army, thereby cultivating an asset to be deployed, when time for a political check mate arrives.
Both the American and Indian Ambassadors have stated that the new interim government should be formed only after the process of arms management is complete and this is the widespread, unspoken sentiment shared by members of Nepal’s beleaguered political parties as well. But as the choice of words illustrates, arms management is a PROCESS, processes take time, and to be precise, the collection and inventorying of weapons is only part of the larger process (of managing arms) - not the process in and of itself.
Collected inventories will have to be compared against government manifests of weapons that were stolen. Particularly, more modern weapons will have to be accounted for and discrepancies between what has been documented as stolen versus what was collected, need to be released for public consumption. Furthermore, an acceptable rate of error has to be arrived at for the arms management process to have the credibility necessary to instill public confidence.
Such will not be the case because all concerned parties are convinced in the required trade off between completeness and accuracy (which are ideal and desired attributes), versus expediency and momentum (which are desired above all, by the Maoists). The UN run arms management process will yield a sub-optimal solution (certainly better than nothing at all) but nonetheless, it remains to be seen, to what degree a war weary and desperate populous, will care (if at all) whether Maoist arms are fully managed.
More urgent in the general Nepali psyche is the need to get on with life, to make a living and to prosper. All of these elements remain contingent on the expediency of the peace process, and not surprisingly, reliant on the Maoists’ willingness to do what is necessary to maintain the peace. From a strategic standpoint, the Maoists couldn’t be better positioned and the political parties couldn’t be positioned better to lose.
With the Maoists now in power, they are more likely than ever to flex their newly acquired “rights” using the same tactics that were used by the former Foreign Minister who made it a point to publicly reprimand any emissary that spoke against the lack of democracy in Nepal, but behind the scenes, often went out of his way to please the same dignitaries. The German and Russian dignitaries in Nepal have expressed much enthusiasm while the American, British and Indian emissaries have expressed guarded optimism. (The last time the Germans and Russians were united, Hitler attacked Poland and ignited World War-II).
The diplomatic community and rational minded individuals in Nepal, have no choice but to go along with the Maoist charade because the Maoists are now in the interim government and are part of Nepal’s legal political structure.
Brutal suppression of political opposition for over a decade, using terror tactics and fear-enforced politics has yielded Nepal’s Maoists a position that those who have employed democratic norms and principles their entire lives, have failed to attain.
Not surprisingly, those on the bandwagon who believed that the Maoists had had a change of heart in favor of multiparty politics remain in shock at the pace of political transformations in Nepal. That the Maoists are defining the mainstream (as opposed to joining it) may have finally occurred to the most intelligent of Nepal’s intellectuals. If centrist intellectuals continue to ignore Baburam and Pushpa Dahal's allusions to the inadequacy of a multiparty framework for Nepal's needs, these pundits do so at their own peril.
In hindsight, the rabid anti-monarchy activism (that Nepal’s intellectuals displayed) as having facilitated the Maoists’ strategy, is a realization many will find difficult to come to terms with. It will be even more difficult to admit (for some of Nepal’s most conceited and elitist individuals), that yes, the king’s act was foolish but their response served only to exponentially compounded this foolishness, to the utter glee and satisfaction of Nepal's homegrown killers.
Not surprisingly, the unwillingness to admit mistakes, compromise and modify positions in response to the shifting political tide, is another dimension of Nepal's polity that the Maoists will leverage to consolidate power.
First the king, then the UML, then the Nepali Congress and last but not least, India, are all in for a big surprise. Yet, neither the UML, nor the Nepali Congress, nor India wants to beleive that the Maoists are capable of delivering a "killer" political knock out.
Rest assured, the final round is upon us and the odds are tilted disproportionately in the Maoists' favor.
So, “this is how liberty (what little Nepalis had earned) dies… in the midst of thunderous applause….”