Baluwatar area, the official residence of Prime Minister of Nepal, was virtually captured by Maoists. In the bizarre twists of events, it seems that Maoists not the SPA is in the helm of Kathmandu.
By Deepak Adhikari
Talks can’t break! No Monarchy! reads the placard on the girl’s chest.
Seeing is believing, they say. This turned out to be reminder for me when I visited the crowded summit talk venue of Baluwatar. As photojournalist Shailendra and I drove towards PM residence, an aggressive Maoist cadre blocked our way. We told him that we were journalists. Another one came and said that journalists should understand that the milieu is crowded and should not venture past. We nevertheless moved ahead.
Milling and cooing through the hordes of people in October afternoon, the hoarse sounds of sloganeering that demanded republic Nepal, declaration of date for constituent assembly election etc pierced through my ears. I was amazed at this unsolicited pressure coming from Maoists themselves, the party involved in dialogue to reach a peaceful resolution.
Maoist cadres make a human chain for the security of the talk venue.
It was as clear as mid day’s sun that most of the people gathered there were the comrades themselves, albeit in the guise of different organizations. That the whole nation is keenly awaiting an agreement to hold the election of CA is crystal clear. But, the comrades are hell bent on taking laws in their hands, directing people while the state’s security mechanism was just a reluctant observer–why do you bother when someone else does your job?
Not only women in unprecedented numbers, but also the school children were there to warn readers. They even didn’t know why they were there. So, Maoists are adept at using the innocents, be it in war or in compaign like this. Few militia-looking girls were reading slogans from pamphlets. Similarly, Rastriya Madhesi Mukti Morcha was there with the chirpy slogans of inclusiveness and equal rights.
Bishnu Giri shouts for help outside the talk venue after he was denied an entry.
But, the poignant part was the Maoists’ victims. They staged protests just outside the gate of PM residence. A wheelchair bound man who claimed that he was injured in a foreign country was also there to claim his share of cake. From this event, it is clerar that all and sundry were there.
At around, 3:30 pm, the Maoist coterie comprising the talk team and the chairman Prachanda made it to the venue. Like earlier, journalists were not permitted inside; they were seen hovering outside the talk venue. Now this is height of lack of transparency at a time when we talk of loktantra, civil rights and guarantee of press freedom.
Civilians pass through the talk venue after Moist cadres make a human chain for the security of the talk venue.
Nepal’s politics is very unpredictable. It’s hard to speculate on the outcomes of today’s talk. Going by the things, it is unlikely that the long awaited breakthrough will ring true.
All Photo by Sailendra Kharel. Visit his blog at pjsailendra.da.ru
164 responses to “Summit Talks in Snail’s Pace in Nepal”
Nepal needs monarchy, in constititional or ceremonial form
My comments posted in triplicate have been in moderation for a day or so. Anyway this gave me time to look at another comment to me from a certain
Patriot, who tell’s me to get a life. Well get a brain to you buddy.
Here I repost my response to Kirat:
This is why it is important to make sure that we have a strong democracy and an independent judicial system. Everyone is so personal. This line of argument could also head in the direction of democracy being abused by the political players and leading to a failure in democracy, so it should be abolished as well. Similarly, communism has been a disastor in the whole wide world so why do we not abolish communist thinking altogether?
Why do we always think that the institutions are so bad when it is actually the players who are? Why can’t a referendum decide whether to keep Gyanendra and Paras as the King and Crown Prince and leave the institution alone? We have many potential monarchs to choose from if Gyanendra and Paras are voted out, especially now when women are also allowed the position of Queen (in reference to King Birendra’s family line and his two grand daughters). If the monarchs know that they can be replaced by someone else in the family, this itself is a big factor to ensure they respect the institution. But the more important factors as I mentioned earlier is a strong democracy and judicial system.
Why am I being moderated for so long? I have now posted my comments four times! Are you being moderated by an “unidentified group” as Nepal Television puts it?
Thaks for the very prompt response in posting all my comments. Persistence does pay it seems.
What a sight it must have been! As many as 80,000 soldiers backed the communists under Mao when the Long March began. A rag-tag band…walking along…feared and reviled almost everywhere they went. And in the midst of it all went the litters carrying the people’s top honchos and the wives of the people’s top honchos. By the time the wandering was over – Mao didn’t especially want to arrive anywhere – he had managed to reduce his own ranks to only 10,000. The rest died along the way…were killed in pointless battles…or ran off, as soon as they got the opportunity.
In reading about the life of Mao, the dominant emotion the reader experiences is neither contempt nor outrage, but rather puzzlement. He wonders how the big Chinaman got away with so much. How was it possible that a nation of so many millions couldn’t manage to figure out that their leader was an incompetent, self-interested fraud? Or find one person who would put an end to him?
Didn’t Mao’s early career as a bloody crime boss signal what was coming next?
When he brought out his first torturers…and his policies of mass starvation and working the peasants to death…
…or his proto-purges…his early assassinations…
…or when he got his hands on a little bit of ground where he could set up his model society, and it turned out to be a miserable prison for everybody but its bosses…
…wasn’t it clear where he would take the nation? An earnest communist from Sweden later visited one part of the country – Yenan – and wondered why it was so poor. After all, it was the cradle of the people’s paradise.
It was such an important part of Marxist traditions. “What went wrong?” he wanted to know.
“Ah traditions…traditions…” Mao laughed heartily. He couldn’t believe the Swede was so naïve.
Mao cared nothing for traditions…neither real Chinese traditions nor instant Communist ones. What he cared for was power, and he exercised it ruthlessly, pitilessly, recklessly and absurdly.
What’s troubling about Mao’s life was not Mao himself, but the rest of us (he was merely a talented cutthroat, and a lucky slob). What’s wrong with us? Normal, decent human beings repeatedly buckled under Mao…they let him get away…or couldn’t get organized to oppose him. When they were ordered to persecute each other, they took up the task readily…even knowing that their own necks could be next. When they were told to take up a new agricultural policy, for example – which every peasant knew in his bones was lunatic – they nevertheless put their backs to it. When they were summoned to carry Mao on their shoulders…or procure women for him…or embark on some suicidal military campaign…or build him another luxury villa…did any one of them raise a serious objection? Some did; but the rest went along, usually taking the objector out to execute him.
Mao worried about being murdered all his life. He took exaggerated precautions to make sure no stranger could get close enough to put a bullet in his brain. Cronies, henchmen and servants were kept under surveillance and in a state of terror. Those who appeared likely to cross Mao were eliminated. Mao encouraged periodic purges…denunciations and confessions. Even his most trusted and loyal bagmen – such as Chou En Lai
– were required to humiliate themselves from time to time for the chairmen.
Still, only one person was known to have tried to assassinate Mao – Marshal Lin Biao’s son, ‘Tiger,’ in 1971. The plot quickly thickened…then dissolved altogether. Tiger and his wife died in an airplane crash in Mongolia as they were making their getaway.
There must have been a hundred million people in China who would liked to have seen Mao dead, and hundreds of millions more if they had known what was going on. But Mao controlled the press, and had created such an aura of fear that people dared not talk, even to friends or relatives.
In the late ’30s and early ’40s, while Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalist forces fought the Japanese, Mao focused on killing and purging his own troops, and supporting his strange kingdom by selling drugs. Even this, Mao could not do well. Opium production soon expanded beyond what the market would take up. By the time the first American officials arrived on the scene, Mao had filled his coffers with cash and was ready to suppress the trade. (The Russians estimated his opium sales at $640 million in today’s money).
Mao also experimented with central banking during this period. He printed his own currency, the bianbi. This too went in the predictable way.
Neither communists nor capitalists seemed able to resist the lure of easy money for very long. By 1944, the reds had printed so many bianbi that the price of matches was 25,000 times greater than its price in 1937.
During this whole time, Chiang had threatened to wipe out the communists several times…but he relented; Chiang’s only son was being held captive in Moscow. Stalin told him that if he ever wanted to see his son again, he would have to ease up on Mao’s troops.
Then, after the Japanese were defeated, Mao found another protector – the United States. Once again, Chiang was going after Mao, and by this time the Nationalist forces were seasoned fighters – they’d been engaged in serious fighting with the Japanese for years, while the Reds had been doing nothing but preventing each other from escaping. When the two forces clashed, the outcome was inevitable – Mao’s men were run off. Chiang was about to go after them and crush them completely when George Marshal intervened, pressuring Chiang to lay off.
Which just goes to show why U.S. public officials have no business meddling in foreign affairs. When the first Americans arrived at Mao’s headquarters, the communists put on a show designed to win them over. With an apparently straight face, Chou told Marshal that Mao preferred America to Russia…and Mao let it be known that he was even considering dropping the word ‘communist’ from their party name! Marshal must have fallen for it. Because Chiang was pulled off the chase…and the commies got away to Manchuria.
The mistake proved fatal to the Nationalists. Out in the northwest, the Reds linked up with the turncoat Chinese “Manchukuos” who had supported the Japanese during the war…and were also closer to their supply lines from Russia. With these supports, not to mention a clandestine campaign against poor Chiang, they were able to boot the Nationalists out of the country and turn the whole place into the largest Auschwitz in history.
I say that not to exaggerate. It is not merely an analog guess but a digital comparison. In the Nazi concentration camp, inmates received between 1,300 and 1,700 calories per day, as they were worked to death. In the famine Mao forced on China in the late 50s and early ’60s, the average calorie intake was only about 1,200. Mao, of course, thought the peasants had too much to eat. He was determined to squeeze the grain out of them so it could be shipped overseas, to help pay for his crackpot modernization programs. His agents went about their work with the same zeal they has shown in his earlier famines and purges. Chang and Halliday report, in their book, “Mao”:
“The cadres’ job was to stop the peasants ’stealing’ their own harvest.
Horrific punishments were widespread; some people were buried alive, others strangled with ropes, others had their noses cut off. In one village four terrorized young children were saved from being buried alive for taking some food only when the earth was at their waists, after a desperate plea from their parents. In another village, a child had four fingers chopped off for trying to steal a scrap of unripe food; in another, two children who tried to steal food had wires run through their ears, and were then hung up by the wire from a wall….”
People starved to death by the millions.
One of the lessons we take from these stories is that the people who want to force their ideas on you, are always the same people whose ideas are idiotic. Mao had more than his share of them. He had peasants digging up the soil by hand, down to a depth of half a meter. Then, he figured that planting seeds closer could enhance crop yields…while actually reducing the amount of fertilizer applied. He had the whole country launched on a goofy program of making steel in backyard furnaces. And then, he decided that sparrows were eating too much of the nation’s harvest…so he got the peasants to shoo away the birds and kill them. As the sparrows disappeared, along came the bugs and insects that they had kept under control, in such numbers that they soon threatened the entire harvest.
Secretly, the Chinese government finally had to ask the Russians for aid:
please send sparrows, in the name of socialist internationalism!
Yes, there are funny parts to the Mao story. So eager were the Maoists to industrialize that they completely neglected quality control. Chinese planes couldn’t fly. Tanks couldn’t drive in a straight line (on one occasion, a Chinese made tank swerved around and charged at a group of VIPs, say the “Mao” authors). Chinese ships were more of a danger to their crews than to the enemy. And when a Chinese helicopter was presented to Ho Chi Minh, the manufacturers detained it at the border because they were afraid it might crash.
But mostly, the Mao story raises question marks about our whole race.
Western readers may be appalled by the murders, betrayals (Mao would set up his own troops, in the thousands, to be killed by the enemy…just to give himself an excuse to break an agreement or avoid following orders), famines, and tortures. But they will surely find Mao’s attitudes to sex reprehensible too. The modern citizen of a western democracy feels he is entitled to sex, above all else. At least, that is the idea you get from reading the press or watching TV.
But Mao was a humbug on sex, as on everything. Workers were expected to follow orders and put the party and its rules above all else. There was little privacy…and, with people dressed in those tawdry, gray Mao outfits, and crowded into tiny, charm-less tenements, there was neither the time, the energy nor the place for romance – or sexual congress.
Couples were often posted to different cities…and allowed to see each other only 12 days per year. The rest of the time they were not allowed any outlet for sexual feelings – if they had any. Even masturbation was outlawed.
Meanwhile, Mao himself lived it up in his luxurious villas – dozens of them spread all over the country – complete with in-door swimming pools.
He ate like a pig and had his agents scour the countryside to find young women – ‘imperial concubines’ for the Chairman. Singers, dancers, nurses, house staff – they were all available to Mao as he pleased.
But Mao was fat and repulsive. He never bathed in 27 years, according to reports. And his teeth, which he never brushed, went black. How did he get women to sleep with him? Ah, dear reader, that is just another mystery of our race; people seem willing and able to do just about anything.
You can not be a Harkee Dai or alike how much you try. You are in a phase of transition. So I scratch some points for you .
Could it be worse to the peole had PN Shah and his descendants not conquired this area(now called Nepal)to rule like a fiefdom for more than two centuries? Could we people have been living in a no man’s land without any country or nationality? Could it have been worse if we were under China or India? Will it be worse if we become 51st state of USA by any chance?
Existance of a country has nothing to do witth existance of monarchy and even less is so the existance of people. So, don’t frighten the people by possibility of extinction of dodo. In this modern time, monarcy is liability, not asset. Like it or not, it has to go. It might have utility in gone-by centuries but not now.
Moderate, moderate, moderate! How can we have a meaningful dialog with all this senseless censorship? Isn’t it time the truth is heard?!
Never mind, Bideshi! I am a victim too.
Answer for Kirat- You hold democratic values, so do I but to be able to practice it is the key, not preach that you area through and through democrat. It just does not hold any water. The way you guys heap it on King and his 15 months rule as being more regressive and undemocratic than the last 12 years or more of misrule is off the mark. Rather than building upon democratic norms, nepotism, mother of all corruptions, horse trading and outright rejection of talks with Maoist and consequent initiative such as KiloSerra resulted in apathy for the political parties by the citizens and bred environment which we are facing right now. And also, lets not hide the fact that parties for their self serving interest forced it upon the King to take the helm. King did not usurp the power- lets not hide this fact as all pseudo intellectuals and civil society seems to do. To speak the truth takes guts and unwavering fortitude and not be swayed by the connections or affiliation of party or foreign emissaries.
Some say PN Shah did it for power, unite this nation into one. Does it really matter? We owe birth of this nation to PN Shah and no one can deny this fact. The trend to malign the truth and things that are obvious is the name of the game these days. No wonder, we think we know better but fall on the wayside with confusion and chaos which breeds confrontation and collectively will of the people for common good dissipates and takes a back seat.
Some points in the Maoist’s proposal are critical, for instance continuation to People’s Courts at local level. In many cases, these courts have passed verdicts based on political and individual prejudices, which are provocative in the rural areas. Similarly, the issue of compensation to martyrs’ families is also on public debate. (Who are the martyrs? Only those killed by the State? What about those killed by Maoists?) There still are a couple of weeks to see the results of whereabouts of the people abducted by Maoists, as announced by Maoist Supremo Prachanda.
The proposal of GoN tries to Jagir Khuwauno (let enjoy on public funds) the incumbent parliamentarians, which is itself ridiculous.
Many issues are repeated and unsystematic. The roles of several SPA Supremos have been visualized as Pindh binako lota (Bottomless pitcher) and Kholo tare pachhi lauro birsane (Forgetting the stick after crossing a river).
The Second Summit between SPA/GoN and Maoists met thrice in five days (October 8, 10 and 12, 2006). In total, the formal time spent was 19 (nine, eight and two respectively) hours. The talks held on Oct 12 was significant in many ways; the sit-in at the PM’s quarters by cadres of Maoists with their sister-organizations, civil society including NGOs and families of victims by Maoists holding placards and banners, and shouting slogans was extremely large than in the past. The main slogans were: “Republic in state-power within the weekend”; “Complete the talks soon”; “Stop foreign intervention”, “Moriarty, Leave Nepal”, “Down with Monarchy”; “Guarantee reservation through proportionate representation”; “Nationalize Late King Birendra’s Property”, etc. There were tussles also between families of victims of Maoists and Maoist cadres. The families of victims of Maoists displayed shocking photos of their kith and kin killed by Maoists.
Prior to the formal meeting on Oct 12, there was a secret meeting between Girija Prasad Koirala and Prachanda in the morning and then a second informal meeting together with Supremos of CPN-UML and NC-D . Both the SPA/GoN and Maoists have commented that the meeting was successful. The most prominent decision according to Maoist leader Dr. Babu Ram Bhattrai was “The consensus on GoN moving one step ahead and the Maoists one step back.” Prachanda said, “The talks has qualitatively moved forward, closer to consensus, but not yet reached common understanding.” Chief negotiator of Maoists, Krishna Bahadur Mahara said, “Deciding in haste now would lead to regret in future”. GoN Chief negotiator and Minister for Home Affairs Krishna Prasad Sitaula said, “The meeting was extremely positive, it reached where it had to for conclusion.” The public are concerned about what happened during secret talks. The important part is that no conclusions were reached on the future/fate of Monarchy, republic, arms management, interim constitution, interim parliament, and so on. The next round of talks has been scheduled on October 15, 2006.
Prognosis 1 – Referendum: Both the sides agree on the fate of monarchy through referendum and Maoists in turn agree to separate PLA from their weapons and unilaterally be ready to lock up their arms under UN supervision. In order not to repeat historical mistakes, the referendum on fate of monarchy simultaneously with CA elections could be remedy for the impasse.
Prognosis 2 – Ceremonial Role of Monarchy: Maoists agree to Ceremonial Monarchy up to CA elections and its future decided by CA as proposed by Girija Prasad Koirala, in turn the PLA remain in their cantonments with their weapons. This would open the door for the CA members to fall into money and muscle game. There is a high possibility of revolt within Maoists, if the leadership accepts this option.
Prognosis 3 – Absolute Monarchy: The consensus between SPA/GoN and Maoists leads to antagonistic situation of Monarchy versus Republican. In such a circumstance the conformists, feudal and conventional forces including both the NCs fall into the lap of Monarchy, whereas the rest unto Democratic Republic agenda of Maoists.
Prognosis 4 – Urban Revolt: If the gaps between SPA/GoN and Maoists are not bridged rather intensified, the Maoists as Prachanda has repeatedly warned go for urban revolt. There is an arduous pressure over the Maoist leaders by cadres for urban rebellion, because they are less convinced for the success of the summit. This may lead to “October Revolution” or urban warfare.
Talks is an event of give and take to each other with trust. If one is to take, one should be ready to loose something – it is scientific and natural. Talks is not Mero goruko barai takka (Whatever I say goes). The core issue is to whom to entrust the State power – to the masters of Nepali people or representatives of the people? Power to the People is in reality the people’s representatives in state power.”
Hey Pontiff, the only reason I am talking about the King is because I would be ready to sacrifice the monarchy in exchange for an arms surrender by the Maoists. That’s all. You know I detest the Maoists but unfortunately our Army and security forces couldn’t tackle them militarily thus this big problem.
By sacrificing monarchy I mean a referendum on monarchy and that means the people might vote to retain the monarchy. But the Maoists must absolutely surrender their weapons before the referendum otherwise it is no go.
King should stay till the people from Nepal elect President for the Republic of Nepal. If this to happen Maoists’ PLA should be totally disbanded.
Well, what is happening in Nepal? Loktantra and turning into Jhoktantra for those who are not in power, bhogtantra for those who are in charge, bhoktantra for millions who have been fooled. So, it is the same old story of powercracy than people’s democracy!