All campaigns need an effective tagline and the Maoists in Kathmandu are repeating that line (see the title) for past several days in a loud voice. Comrade Prachanda will appear public first time in the last 25 years, said their spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara. Every poster publicizing today’s event is dominated by Prachanda’s image. Newly designed t-shirts for volunteers boast a big black and white image of the chairman. Even the identify card those volunteers are using have the photo of Prachanda. The Brand Prachanda is everywhere: from hoarding boards in prime locations in the city to posters pasted on the walls and pamphlets Maoist cadres are distributing everywhere.
I am not sure about the marketing impacts of a commercial product if Prachanda chooses to endorse but I think he is the most visible face in Nepali society now. Even before being public, he is one of the most widely recognized faces in Nepal. The tagline hype is nothing more than the Maoist’s effort to gather as many people as they can in today’s mass meeting in Tundikhel. Prachanda had already become public when he gave that famous interview to journalists Narayan Wagle and Prateek Pradhan in February last year. Then we saw him on Kantipur TV talking to Sohan Shrestha in June. Then he was live on TV in Prime Minister’s residence in Baluwataar. (Here is the photo from that day.) Prachanda was supposed to appear public last November but the program was cancelled in the eleventh hour.
Today is important for Maoists (and perhaps for Nepal) because their Peoples’ War was started exactly 11 years ago. This is the first peaceful Falgun 1 that they are marking. That too in the heart of the capital city, brining traffic to standstill and completely disrupting the general life. Rallies are moving towards the central ground in the city screaming slogans for republicanism. Today’s mass meeting is one big opportunity for Prachanda to make public his party’s plans and strategies for peaceful politics. His cadres need to be assured about the party’s permanent path to peace and competitive politics. I guess his speech will be long (may be longest ever!).