By Conflict Study Center
On August 21, 2008, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), CPN (UML) and Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) agreed on the Common Minimum Program (CMP), Code of Conduct (CoC), Modus Operandi of the Government (MOG) and the formation of a Political Coordination Committee (PCC). The documents were signed by Prime Minister and President of the CPN (Maoist) Puspa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda), UML General Secretary Jhala Nath Khanal, and Forum chair Upendra Yadav.
The 50-point CMP is divided into: (i) Nationalism, (ii) Federal Democratic Republic, (iii) Peace and Security, (iv) Relief and Reconstruction, and (v) Socio-Economic Transformation. The excerpts of CPMs are:
(i) Nationalism concerning to unity and promotion
• Nepal’s sovereignty, national unity, independence and integrity shall be preserved, giving national importance to self-respect.
• National security, foreign policy, utilization of water resources, and mobilization of foreign assistance shall be based on Nepal’s sovereignty, independence, and welfare. Unequal treaties and agreements shall be reviewed.
• The foreign policy regarding neighbors shall be based on national interest, the UN Charter, non-alignment and the theory of Panchasheel.
• Financial assistance shall be taken from friendly forces, the UN and donor communities in the course of Nepal’s economic and livelihood development.
• National integrity and balance foreign policy shall be mobilized to internationalize and resolve the Bhutanese refugee situation.
(ii) State restructuring concerning implementation of democratic republic
• A New Constitution shall be framed within two years by forging consensus among political parties in the CA.
• All acts, rules and regulations that contradict with the declaration of republic on May 28, 2008 shall be scrapped.
• All efforts shall be utilized to trace the property of the former king and royalty.
• Special attention shall be paid to constitutional supremacy, independence of judiciary, fundamental human rights, press freedom and rule of law.
• The agreements signed with MJF on August 29, 2007 and United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) on March 1, 2008 shall be implemented, but constitutional issues shall be decided by the CA.
• All women, Dalits, Muslims, Janajatis, Madhesis and backward people shall be included in all state mechanisms constituting and reforming necessary acts.
• Justifiable tax and resources shall be distributed to the backward areas, restructuring the country’s economic policy.
• Autonomous local government shall be established based on consensus of political parties till next local government is elected.
• Bureaucracy, Nepal Army, Nepal Police and Armed Police shall be mobilized independently forming a Monitory Task Force under the existing legal parameters.
(iii) Sustainable peace in realization for security
• The Peace process shall be ended at a logical conclusion through talks.
• The Maoists PLA combatants and arms shall be adjusted/managed within six months.
• A High Level Security Commission shall be formed to develop new National Security Policy. Nepal Army to be mobilized on development activities during the transition to peace.
• As per the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA), the National Peace and Rehabilitation Commission, High- Level Truth and Reconciliation Commission, High Level State Restructuring Commission, Commission of the Disappeared, and Land Reforms Commission shall be set up.
• Crime, anarchy and the culture of impunity shall be ended, consolidating law and order. To make independent and accountable administration and security organs, the Code of Conduct (CoC) shall be developed for the people’s realization of security.
(iv) Immediate relief concerning reconstruction
• Relief to families of martyrs and disappearances, rehabilitation of armed conflict effected families and internally displaced people, and compensation to the conflict victims who lost property shall be provided. A special Fund shall be established to manage rescue, relief, rehabilitation and assistance to the conflict victims.
• Medical treatment shall be provided to the people injured during the course of the People’s War, popular movement and Madhes violence.
• Top priority to reconstruction of infrastructure damaged during armed conflict shall be given.
• Price hikes shall be controlled; supply of fuel shall be smoothed; fair price shops shall be opened; and relief shall be provided to landslide, flood victims, etc.
• Debts of those who are below the poverty line shall be waived.
(v) Socio-economic transformation
• A National Independent Economy shall be set up based on the theory of people-oriented democracy and public-private partnership.
• Coordinating the State, cooperative, and private sectors; economic, social policy and programs shall be developed for social justice, economic growth and just distribution to address poverty, unemployment, backwardness, inequality and dependency.
• Immediate, short-term, mid-term and long-term development plans shall be established based on balanced development, people’s spirit and necessity of the country, restructuring the traditional National Planning Commission.
• Top priority shall be given to agriculture, hydroelectricity, tourism, human resources and physical infrastructure development.
• Land to the tillers shall be established in the course of scientific land reform.
• Top priority shall be given to national industries; special reform policy shall be adopted to revive sick industries; and special emphasis shall be given to small and cottage industries.
• Cheap, easy and effective services shall be provided, strengthening people’s service providers’ institutions. Both domestic and international investment shall be attracted.
• Rural electrification shall be given special attention to end load-shedding. Internal investment shall be encouraged for small and medium scale hydro-power.
• Loans shall be returned from big defaulters as per rules and regulations.
• Professional skill and commitment towards neutrality of the civil servants shall be enhanced. Culture of impunity shall be ended, pursuing transparency and governance.
• Effective corruption control shall be established. For this cause, concerned authorities, including the Commission for Investigation of Abuses of the Authority (CIAA), shall be strengthened.
• The participation of women including Janajatis, Madhesi, Dalit and disadvantaged groups at government mechanism shall be increased. Special package programs, such as education, health and employment shall be brought to them.
• A National literacy campaign shall be mobilized. The Government shall increase its budget to primary, informal, occupational and technical education. Fundamental education rights to secondary level shall be guaranteed.
• Primary and basic health shall be guaranteed as fundamental rights. The budget for drinking water, sanitation and rural infrastructures programs shall be increased.
• The construction of an east-west railway, international airport, irrigation, hulaki (post-office) highway, link roads to district headquarters, etc. shall be developed.
• Social security program for Dalits, disadvantaged classes and areas shall be created for inclusive development.
• Special programs and mechanisms shall be constructed, focusing to balanced development of Tarai (Madhes), hill, mountain, village and urban centers including Karnali areas and mid-and-far western Nepal.
• The country shall be declared free from untouchability.
• All kinds of discrimination such as rape, domestic violence and trafficking against women shall be ended.
• Special training and opportunity for employment or pension to disabled persons shall be managed.
• A High Level Youth Commission shall be formed to resolve their problems.
• Employment shall be guaranteed as a fundamental right to citizens. Security free loans shall be provided for business start ups. Foreign employment shall be managed to generalize equal access to commoners. Labor bank centers shall be established to record the numbers of unemployed.
• Discrimination against religion, dialect and culture shall be ended completely. A National Muslim Commission shall be established for their welfare and development.
• The demands put forward by the Non-Resident Nepalis (NRN) shall be fulfilled, and they will be encouraged to be involved more in Nepal’s development.
• All appropriate demands put forward by farmers, labors, students, teachers, women, journalists, industrialists, intellectuals, artists, doctors, engineers, lawyers, civil servants, professors, squatters, bonded labors, Badis, Muslims, disabled, etc. shall be fulfilled through dialog.
The CPN (Maoist) chairperson Puspa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda) became the first Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, as he received more than a three-fourth majority (80% of 577 votes) in the CA on August 15, 2008. This is a golden opportunity to the world’s communist parties/tendencies to flaunt to anti-communist forces that believe that the communist era is over. After the Janaandolan I, the communists received a total of 37% total votes in the first general election of 1991, but now they have reached 63% in 15 years’ tenure. Why has Nepal become fertile ground for a communist regime? Why are communists, who are anachronisms elsewhere, flourishing in Nepal?
(i) the government in the past did not respect the spirit and sentiment of commoners, but was motivated by family particularly and party interest in general. The past government operated with a spirit of Hamro Manchhe rather than Ramro Manchhe (nepotism, favoritism and sycophancy rather than competency). For instance, Sher Bahadur Deuba had no role in the Janaandolan I, but the NC invited him from abroad and the party activated him for its cause. As the NC in particular succeeded in passing the amendment to hire and fire the PM by simple majority instead of the existing two-third constitutional provision, it is a sure bet that the NC will again engage in political musical chairs as in the past. Consequently, they now stand as an opposition political force. If the two-third provision had not been changed, the NC would also be in the government under the leadership of Prachanda.
For the NC, to remain outside the government is very challenging. The UML’s recent instance on the second cabinet position in the government after the PM is yet another power struggle divorced from the people’s interest. Bam Dev Gautam was twice prevented by the electorate from even being a parliamentarian and has allegedly indulged in money, muscle and mafia games as well. Large numbers of Nepali people believe that the UML wanted to stop Prachanda’a China visit under the pretext of the second in command cabinet minister port-folio fight.
(ii) The previous government not only remained silent spectators against foreign intervention, but also supported their naked games, much to the peoples’ frustration.
(iii) The economic gap between the elite and poor widened due to the “elite protected and people neglected” nature by the state in the past.
(iv) A culture of impunity flourished, owing to rampant corruption in the security forces, bureaucracy, judiciary and leadership.
(v) Nepal’s communists have a stronger sense of nationalism than the others.
The CMP tries to address all types of burning issues such as nationality, implementation of republic, relief and reconstruction and socio-economic transformation, even in this short-term government. Moreover, the CMP has incorporated education, health and employments as the fundamental rights which are very difficulty to fulfill by the existing traditional planning, acts, judiciary, income, and bureaucratic state mechanisms. The most perplexing fact is that most of the competent human resources are outside from the state’s mainstreaming. The ambitious CMP has stressed people-oriented and forward looking change similar to the Scandinavian model, prioritizing food first, apposed to the previous government which ostensibly stood for freedom first. In Nepal, a country that has never truly seen rule of law, this priority seems obvious to most.
The CMP focuses much on socio-economic progress while forgetting that this government exists simply to draft a new constitution and promulgate it. If the Maoist lead government fulfills its half of the CMP (public commitment), the people will be with them, but if they can not fulfill it, there is a danger of inviting socio-cultural violence that would be more painful and destructive than in the past. On the other hand, the implementation of the CMP will not be very easy, as the same anti-Maoists forces – Army’s generals, senior bureaucrats, diplomats, policy-makers, judiciary, and donors (particularly the US, who has not yet removed the terrorist tag from the Maoists) ? are trying hard to undermine the Maoists vertically and horizontally. Despite this, the Maoist-lead government’s public commitment is toward the eradication of poverty, assurance of social justice, and promotion of liberty minimizing the gap of classes that tends to initiation of People’s Republic of Nepal.
Author: Bishnu Pathak PhD and edited by: Neil Horning
Assisted by: Chitra Niraula, Rushma Shakya, Rita Chaudhary, Man Pd. Neupane ‘Manish’, Ganga Puri and Meena Siwakoti