Only seven years ago, Nepal was still going through a civil war from the Maoist insurgency. The civil war started in 1996 as a small movement that had many legitimate but impractical demands imposed to then existing government led by Sher Bahadur Deuba. Demands were impractical mainly because of the political climate and capacity of the nation at that time. Many demands like new constitution, removal of special privileges of monarchy, declaring nation a secular state were impractical at the time. As situation changed in Nepal, demands like those became more feasible by the time the civil war ended in 2006.
The civil war was harsh on people because of violence it inflicted to generally peaceful country and countrymen, from both sides, existing governments and the rebels. It devastated the general peaceful feel of the country and left a deep wound into the collective consciousness of people, making the news of violence a common thing. The war was fought with a lot of conviction especially by the rebels because they stayed the same while the government, the other side, frequency changed. As the Maoists came to a dialogue, they signed a 12 point agreement in 2005 and a comprehensive peace agreement on 2006. Then a cease-fire had begun and Maoist’s slowly started normal politics.
After coming to the mainstream politics, they participated in election of first constituent assembly, integrated their army with Nepal army. However due to major conflicts in how the peace process was getting concluded a significant subset of Maoists split from the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (UCPN) to form Communist Party of Nepal – Maoists (CPN-M) led by Mohan Baidya Kiran. Both of them claim that they are more authentic representatives of the spirit of revolution they brought about. They also claim that they are more people-serving and patriotic than the other.
Who do we believe? Well, hopefully they both are right, especially about being people-serving and patriotic. However, the way they have conducted themselves in recent times have given us an opposite impression. First and foremost, they have become their own enemies. Prachanda fears that he may get assassinated from Baidya camp and Baidya camp points to Prachanda as the main villain of time, a sign of dangerous politics budding in Nepal.
With the demise of first constituent assembly and the nation conducting a second election in few days, Prachanda deliberately played major role in keeping Baidya out from election bandwagon. This shows that Prachanda is more concerned about strengthening his party rather than social harmony and confidence of peace in country. It is unfortunate that leaders of other parties are always outsmarted by cunning Prachanda. How come the other parties did not take a stand to bring Baidya into election no-matter-what? That would benefit all other parties and weaken Prachanda, more than that it would have prevented all the strikes, petrol bombs, and mad outbursts of feeling-ignored Baidya alliance; a clear win for the nation.
Yes Baidya and his alliance had a voice, they are stakeholders born out of insurgency, a group that cannot be ignored, and special situations like elections should have been all inclusive to ensure a smoother path of constituent making in days to come. However, in recent days, calling for prolonged strikes and hurling petrol bombs that hurt innocent people, they have shown that they would go back to violent means to make their voices heard again. That is foolish of them. But it is the wise ones that have to fear the fools. All Baidya wanted was a seat in table and inclusion in the election government. So a little bit of power sharing would have solved any chant of ideological fissures that Baidya is claiming. All the sweet talk and the theories are just ploys to get to power by a hook or a crook.
With constituent assembly almost taking place, let’s hope that a country will get a good outlet out of recent crisis, that the Baidya faction will give up violent means, come to terms with their error in tactics due to stubborn and impractical demands, and the country will be able to quickly form a new government and focus on making a constitution. Baidya can play constructive role being non-violent but raising issues from outside as he is still likely to get a lot of attention. Moreover, if the four parties go back to dirty politics and keep country in uncertainty and turmoil, Baidya may be able to get more support in future. And politics in not a short race, it’s a long marathon.