Ethnic Assertion, Constituent Assembly Elections and Defensive Maoists

By Siddhartha Thapa
Comment of the Moment (Originally posted here.)

Even as the Terai starts to breathe again, various ethnic groups across the country have renewed their calls for further protests. The latest turmoil in the Terai is a direct consequence of the murky politics envisioned by the Maoists; the same ideologies that provided the base for the Maoist revolution – inciting of minority groups on the thesis of “self determination.”

Despite the successful conclusion of the April revolution, ethnicity has been (and remains) an unrealized but gargantuan niche in Nepalese politics. While political pundits belonging to various political systems have ignored the sentiments of ethnic minorities, the Maoists on the other hand had (till recently), masterfully exploited the niche as a catalyst to storm into power.

The nucleus of the political crisis in Nepal is the continued neglect of minority rights, primarily of the socio-cultural variety. If Nepal’s politicians continue to ignore the rights of minority groups, the ethnic issue has the potential to lead to the disintegration of the nation-state. Up to now the challenges of ethnic equality have only received moral acknowledgement. The government’s procedures to tackle these challenges are short on substantive ideology, concrete policy and as always, big on rhetoric.

The tear in Nepal’s fraternal fabric is primarily a result of Maoist policies. To begin with, the Maoists espoused the policy of ’self determination’ that proposed autonomy for minority groups (based on ethnic dimensions). As a result, the overwhelming majority of Maoist combatants hail from ethnic minorities.

But herein lies the paradox – the ethnic combatants have fought for the Maoists for equality along social, cultural, political and economic lines. This they expect to achieve through the medium of democratic dispensation which eventually will prove contradictory to the Maoist school of thought – radical communism. A classic mismanagement of expectations versus delivery capacity – the Maoists radicalization of the Nepali population has finally caught up with them.

Even after the conclusion of the April revolution, the Maoists have failed to retract from the path of violence and the Maoists remain wed to their cause of establishing one party communist republic, thereby defying the norms of multi-party democracy.

In hindsight, the political parties’ commitment to ensuring and institutionalizing an inclusive political structure remains questionable. This is mainly due to the construct of the existing internal social structure of the major political parties.
First, the ethnic representatives in the major political parties are on average, old enough to be grand parents for the newest additions to the voting population. These leaders have been completely absorbed into the Kathmandu bourgeoisie. The passion and determination to impact changes is dormant.

It is also worth noting that the majority of the ethnic leaders that belong to major political parties have for long stayed away from their home constituencies and are thus, out of touch with rural and ethnic issues. But the crux of the problem is that the leadership remains overwhelmingly caste conscious with Hindu male domination and with Brahminisation as the most distinctive feature of the entire political sphere. These leaders fear that revamping the social structure within their parties (and within the larger political context), could eventually lead to the waning of their influence, power and their future in politics.

What is also foreboding is the fact that the prelude to Constituent Assembly elections will be marred with violence. It is also predictable that elections will be fought along ethnic, geographical and religious lines, contradicting principles of secularism, ethnic integration and national harmony. Determined tongue lashers of various ideological backgrounds will stress on theocratic values that will eventually dominate the election manifestos of major political parties. But if the problem of ethnic minorities remains unaddressed (prior to the elections), the eventual outcome will be a discontented mass, no matter which party wins.

It is a foregone conclusion that the Maoists’ will keep their true intentions closely to their chest prior to attaining an electoral victory. It is by design that the Maoists will fight the elections promoting equality for minorities and promising autonomies. But the election promises contravene the principles of Maoist communism. In their bid to promote equality, Maoists like Pol-Pot in Cambodia, Chairman Mao in China and CCCP in Russia and finally, the Maoists in Nepal will also cut a swathe through social and cultural structures in effort to usher egalitarianism among the masses.

However, Maoist aspirations for equality could get compounded if the minorities fear that they are losing their cultural and social identity. The minorities will revolt to protect their religious rights, right to private property and human rights. These issues could form the basis for a new revolution. The gravity of the problem could mean that the country would have to witness a cycle of anarchy and face the threat of possible disintegration, prior to an eventual mass-based revolution against the Maoists. If the Maoists are true to their cause and are able achieve an electoral victory; it is doubtful that the radicals within their rank and file, will resist pursuing their radical ideology.

On the other hand if the political parties win, namely the Nepali Congress, the domination of the high caste Hindu male elite will continue. All state tools that can invariably affect the election results are disproportionately Chetri, Brahmin and Newar dominated – more so Brahmans. But Brahmanisation in itself is only a part of the problem. The fulcrum of the problem is the reluctance of political leaders to diversify; the fear of being displaced.

Therefore, the move towards inclusiveness will progress sluggishly causing concern to many. This lethargy heralds a scenario of further unrest. Ethnic minorities will battle hard to be heard and to preserve their social and cultural identity. And increasingly, the political direction will move towards an inclusive Nepal. However the social, cultural and more importantly the human cost of impacting changes, in an inclusive democratic Nepal will be dear.

Either way, in hindsight, it becomes abundantly clear that the April uprising was only the beginning to a long, drawn out process, intended to bring about a “new” Nepal. The uprising was just the beginning to a series of mini-revolutions and counter-revolutions that have no discernable end in sight.

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26 thoughts on “Ethnic Assertion, Constituent Assembly Elections and Defensive Maoists”

  1. Solution Steps
    ~~~~~~~~~~~
    – Unity in Diversity
    – Respecting divesity, promoting commonality.
    *Finding Commonality among different people, rather than ruling
    through differences (i.e no more Divide & Rule)
    – Promoting Democracy (Not only Political, but also Socio-Cultural,
    Religious, Informational, Economical, and etc)

    Thanks

    Like

  2. Solution Steps

    – Unity in Diversity
    – Respecting divesity, promoting commonality.
    *Finding Commonality among different people, rather than ruling
    through differences (i.e no more Divide & Rule)
    – Promoting Democracy (Not only Political, but also Socio-Cultural,
    Religious, Informational, Economical, and etc)

    Thanks

    Like

  3. The politics of division is ingrained in the history of Nepal as inclusion and exclusion in socio-political engagement was determined via ethnic lines. Therefore, it is not accurate to state that “The tear in Nepal’s fraternal fabric is primarily a result of Maoist policies”. Maoist policies might have brought the deep rooted division into the public consciousness but they certainly did not create it…..

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  4. i dont believe that wot u believe. ur article is anti maoist.

    look,,,,,,,,, human subjected to mistake but i dont see the objective of maoists is bad. if somebody want to do something then some bad things all will be done pratically. i dont think maoist taught the lesson to minoritiy etninic group to do this things but maoist told to keep quiet wen they were in war.

    remember khambuwan, limbuwan? they were not maoists orginally.

    only the hope is maoist coz other parties seem dead already. i dont see any other parties organised as parties. just some leaders who dont have followers, wiht no principle. they would be in jail if maoists havenot co ordinated with them as they were. we have seen their movement during 2004/05, people didnt come out for them.

    dont do any mistake asking for everything at once like spider’s childreen, who eat their mother after they are born.

    let the achievement of jana andolan 2 be establish first, kick off the asssssss of king first.

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  5. Siddhartha Thapa:

    We must not forget to ask ourselves who are these Maoists after all. Nepali People’s Right Forum (NPRF) has declared that in South Asian countries the radical communism can never be successful. The reason is evidential that the human brains in South Asian countries are in atomic level conditioned with the diverse cultural religious and socio-philosophical values. It does not matter how superstitious’ ignorant, discriminatory and tribal or clannish they are but they are the values of the South Asians. Example is the India. Nothing can change South Asia – neither the communism, nor the socialism, nor the capitalism, nor the democracy, nor the rocket science. People may be educated under the modern education system with science and math, but the habits of south Asian will continue. A scientist of south Asia will go and worship Kali. You see now how the brain is compartmented to keep the science in one corner and carry on with the superstitions.

    So please do not blame the politicians of Nepal. NPRF declares that it is the birth rights of Nepali people to be the most selfish human being of this planet whose foremost priority is to seek personal and familial success; second priority is the ethnic clinching – self-recognition and power of a tribe; the third priority is the party politics and the last priority is the social-integrity or nation building.

    Mr. Prakash Bom had once question these values in his writing several times and NPRF agrees with it:

    “Diversities in physiology are natural process with the genetic make-up and the DNA structures. However, the ethnic, cultural, religious, or linguistic diversities are learned social behaviors. They have evolved among certain group of humans in certain geographical regions at certain period. Overall, their motives and structures are identical yet apparently they had declared and they will still claim their difference and uniqueness with each other for their identity recognitions. This is how the birth of tribalism took place and superior tribes marginalized the weak ones. If all ethnic groups of Nepal at this transitional political period are protesting for their unique identity recognitions then they are in opposition with the 21st century’s mainstream doctrine of Democracy.”

    In the name of the Democracy we including all ethnic group of people run against the Democracy in Nepal at this transition period. We are in the Middle age evolution of human development. But it seems whole South Asia will not completely evolve to be rational and secular human being before the extinction of the human specie.

    Even So NPRF demands these following things for Nepali people to come out of the darkness of these current cultural values of all ethnic groups:

    Form the Interim Government with the Maoist representations immediately
    • Have House of Representatives declare Nepal ‘The Federal Democratic Republic’
    • Amend the Interim Constitution according to the spirit of the declaration
    • Amend the Interim Constitution to accomplish electoral and democratic demands of all ethnic group – comply with the federal governance structure, proportional electoral, provision of the self-governance, autonomous of the regions (states), district (county), and city governments under the federal democratic constitution, bills and amendments.

    However, your argument in this column stands against inevitable evolution of human specie as natural process that can transcend the darkness of cultural values. It does not make clear that all ethnic values are man-made which contradict from each other. You do not see the emancipation of all ethnic values for humans to be free with their civil liberty and voting rights in Democracy. You do not see Democracy is a melting pot that embraces all in common values of civil liberty. Civil liberty is for all despite of ethnic values and recognitions.

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  6. Interesting Writeup. One thing I don’t understand about the ethnic minority group is their demand for a separate state. I accept the fact that uptill now they have been exploited by Bahuns-Chettris-Newars and so on. But then after the April’s uprising there is some positive atmosphere in the country for peace.

    Well my point is that you can’t just go on and on over small differences and then demand individual autonomy for each level of differences. Look at other countries with diverse populations–you don’t need to divide the state to accommodate diversity. The structure of the state can change for that, it does not need to be divided, or does it?

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  7. Dividing the country will only lead to more ethnic tensions.We dont want a nazilike atmosphere now do we?Or like “OLD” America with its segragation of African Americans.

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  8. Finally someone who can write an objective article. April 2006 was the beginning, but more importantly April was really a catch 22, it did not allow people to really go about it with their agendas, we had people being forced to partake and shout slogans of ideologies they did not understand and do not accept – one might term it a fake revolution. It’s only agenda was to oust the King and bring back power hungry Brahmins (both the corrupt and the murderous kind) into power. Now we are seeing the beginnings of the true demands of the people, not forced and indoctrined agendas of a handful of Brahmins in the maoist front misleading young and uneducated citizens with outdated and impractical rhetoric to get them to power on the one hand and opportunist Brahmins and Brahminised politicians forming the SPA in the other chasing the band wagon. We are now seeing an institutionalised revolution, one which does not import alien and failed ideoligies from far off lands, but one that sees the nations problems from within. The leaders of the largely Brahmin dominated 8 parties must be thinking of what could have been if …. But the truth is that their main agenda seems to be getting rid of an already unpopular King, while straying far far away from the many faults of their own (bad governance, corruption and last but definitely not the least murder of innocents and genocide of political opponents). The answer on the SPAM’s part is to try pathetically to quench the thirst of a very alert public by staging illegal trials of people involved in the Royal regime for 15 months (as if they were not trying to make various deals with the royals in the past decade to get their party and individual self in the seats of power), nowing full well that they have been the real ba$tards to the people for the last 15 years!

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  9. People forget that what the janjatis, people from karnali region, madhises, and Muslims, are demanding is a right to self-determination within the federal republic set up, not secession. The problem is that minorities or the disadvantaged until now have mainly been represented by Brahmins, Chhetris, and Newars, now they want to be represented by themselves – i.e. from within their groups. This is empowerment. Nobody is secure unless they are politically / legally secure. These minorities / disadvantaged understand their problems, concerns better than their brahmanised rulers, and hence their demand for proportional representation in the political structure is only human and natural. Primarily the Brahmins and Chhetris and occasionly Newars have been equating “self-determination” (or autonomy or “swaraj”) with “secession” – for their selfish / greedy reason. Anybody can see right through their mask. Well without giving peoples “ownership” or “stakes” in the emerging Nepal (or what you will call it), how can there be unity. The paradox is you can only unite by federalising, not centralising or consolidating as in the past. Centrally imposed unity (or unity within diversity for that matter) was a facade, now that facade has shattered. The only way to ensure unity is give peoples the right to self-determination within the federal republic set up.
    – Gypsy

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  10. The problem I see is Maoist short sightedness in promoting and promising too much things to too many people whom they had no intention to fulfill. Now, they are facing the music. I do not want to talk about stupid SPA leader as they have not value minus Maoist, they are the assholes whom in first place given the power back to king in platter and got it back by feeding on shit of Maoist. We have to give Maoist that they have brain even though it is out of date with modern world and murderous kind, more destructive than constructive. regarding the issue of Ethnic right it would have been better if all the Nepali has equal right and opportunity not based in caste but at the same time respecting each other cultures ( which was our strong point being Nepali). This could have saved the nation from disintegration which I think is most likely scenario by the way these SPAM bastards are handling the situation. WE CAN NOT FULFILL DREAM OF BEAUTIFUL AND PEACEFUL NEPAL UNTIL WE GET RID OF SPA AND THEIR FATHER MAOIST. LETS NOT FORGET OUR STUPID KING G, HE ALSO DESERVES KICK IN ASS BUT NOW HIS CRIME LOOKS INNOCENT COMPARED TO THESE MURDEROUS, TRAITORS, CORRUPT BASTARDS SPA & THIER BASTARD FATHER MAOIST.

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  11. Earlier, it was Brahamins and Chettris and occasionally Newars sucking blood and manipulating ‘discriminated’ janjatis by representing them. Now it is the turn of educated, politically saavy and city-based few ‘discriminated’ janjatis to suck blood of fellow ‘discriminated’ janjatis by representing them. Good Luck to new breed of ‘Brahamins’ and ‘Chettris’.

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  12. While the maoists are going around beating up hard working unarmed bus drivers, and the rest of us are in a constant sense of insecurity, see what the “brave” Prachanda is up to. By the way, has Ian Martin counted these weapons, as Prachanda was out of Kathmandu with his goons when Martin was supposedly counting weapons of maoists for their leaders security in Ktm. Chack out the picture as well in Kantipur. There are more automatic weapons in just that picture then one can imagine – I wonder if these were the ones not swept away by the river or caught in the fire:

    Prachanda receives two-tier security during his Nepalgunj address

    J Pandey

    NEPALGUNJ, Feb 27 – Nepalgunj on Tuesday saw a heightened security deployment as the Maoist cadres and state security forces patrolled the major thoroughfares of this southwestern city of the country since early morning ahead of Maoist Chairman Prachanda’s address today.
    The Maoist affiliated Young Communist League has deployed over 1000 of its league members to provide security to the Maoist strongman.

    Prachanda’s massive security detail had started patrolling the city center and its outskirts all morning, before the leader’s arrival.

    As per the orders issued by the “mass-meet security chief”, Maoist cadres in civilian garb had arrived in Nepalgunj last night itself, sourced said.

    According to sources, some of those who had arrived at the venue even included the PLA fighters from the Maoist cantonments, adding that cadres from as far as Birgunj and Kailali had arrived to provide security to their head.

    The Maoist security chief Durga Tharu (Kabir) said that an extensive security detail has been arranged to maintain surveillance on those who could possibly disrupt the programme, however, he refuted allegations of ferrying the Maoist combatants from the cantonments to provide security to their chairman.

    Tharu added that a security team of 500 in addition to 500 volunteers had been deployed at the Nepalgunj venue.

    Meanwhile, aside from the Maoist security detail, the local administration has arranged a large number of Nepal Police and Armed Police Force personnel to maintain security in the region.

    Security in Nepalgunj has been beefed up following the disruption of the Madheshi People’s Rights Forum’s mass meeting by the Maoists here three days ago. The heightened security has come in consideration of a possible MPRF retaliation during today’s address.

    Yeah really brave Pushpa baje, really brave!

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  13. Reflection: If such an unpopular King can go around with limited security, remember according to the likes of Prachanda, Gyanendra is hated so this would mean Gyanendra should be most afraid for his life (he also took the risk in Pashupati recently), then why does this Prachanda and goons need so much security when they claim to be the popular peoples choice?

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  14. Scoop,

    Perhaps he fears that he is loved so much that he may have to bite-a-bullet. I suspect that he is saving himself to save more ‘people’ from ‘repressive and reactionary forces’ and this security is the according to the ‘janabhawana’.

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  15. Bang on the point Sidharth. Good analysis. The point is no leader has been visionary and corageous enough to diversify into healthy ethnic politics. Most of these Bahun leaders are gutless and only want to fit cozy into the system. Maoists tried it but will they deliver? Hmm will be hard to tell rightaway really. But the signs show they got more trouble than they bargained for. Like you said – managing expectations vs delivery. You see, getting into ethnic politics has great opportunity, but if you cant manage it then you are fcuked. Just like Maoists seem to be getting a taste of it. Not to forget, you also fcuk up everything and everyone along the way.

    Now that the hornet’s nest is stirred, theres really no other solution for Nepal than to genuinely address them.

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  16. i think now it is time for getting a Khas autonomous region. we khas have been victimized by madhise recently Madhise movement , by christian missionaries, by non-Khas and by indian who want to overpower us and take over our nation. We being natives amd citizen of nepal should also have rights seaprate Khas-region in Humla- Jumla where our ancestors lived and developed our language and civilization.

    Harka Adhikari
    Khas Mutki Samaj
    Jai Nepal.

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  17. prale – dont be ridiculous. if you say khas has been discriminated then that leaves only the king as the only oppressor … and thats not true. are you deliberately trying to be funny i dont know but khas are discriminated in Nepal?? its hilarious.

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  18. It is the bitter fact that eventually the truth is the Spiritual Aspects of life. The 3 gunas (basic characteristics) will not change of a human being. Satwa, Raja and Tama – no matter any studies shows or proves in favor of any political doctrines… The political doctrines are the worst rule of laws comparing to any other relative faculty of science.

    In my opinion the 3 gunas always contradict to each other and try to push the other two behind. So is the case in Political arean, no matter which country you take.

    1. Tamasik (maiosts)-
    The principle of a force which promotes one or more of the following: (1) darkness, (2) death, (3) destruction, (4) ignorance, (5) sloth, (6) resistance. Note that sloth is related to death by analogy, and likewise, ignorance is related to darkness.

    2. Rajasik (darabaria, palace protectors)-
    If a person or thing tends to be extremely active, excitable, or passionate, that person or thing is said to have a preponderance of rajas.

    3. Satwik (jana-badi, ) –
    “purity”, literally “existence, reality”; adjectival sāttvika “pure”, anglicised sattvic) is the highest of the three gunas. A sāttvika individual always works for the welfare of the world. He is always hardworking, alert and lives life moderately. He leads a chaste life. He eats moderately. He speaks the truth and is bold. He never uses vulgar or insulting language. He does not feel jealous nor is he affected by greed and selfishness. He does not cheat or mislead anyone. He does not even allow any evil tendencies to enter his mind. He has good memory and concentration.

    He also has keen interest in improving his spiritual knowledge, and spends time worshiping god or meditating. In the extreme state he may even perform penance or uninterrupted meditation. A satvic individual can be recognized if his mind, speech and actions synchronize,

    Now who do you wnat to be and where do you want yourslf to be attached is your choice.. I am just genelizing the concept so that you don;t need to be Politically savvy to understand these pieces together…..??

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  19. ing’s one address scares the Shhiit out of the terrorists and Spammers. THIS IS WHAT THE IMAGE OF KING IS. His one address is equivalent to 1000s speeches of these terrorists. 99% of people want democracy. Any data irrelevant to that is the corruption of journalism, and I am sure Nepalese dont even know what statistics is.

    They again belong to the 2ns and 3rd kind.

    Honestly, How many of you think that Prachu and Babu bhaiya will not be gunned down someday? Will you be surprised? I am sure 100%, no one will be surprised. They know they can die any moment. is there any point in the history, if I misses to read, Maoists and terrorist prevail? The answer is NO. It will not.

    They can see their death in mirror. One morning you will wake up, and see–Babu and prachu Bhaiya have been gunned down.

    Jai Nepal!!!

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  20. On Wednesday, Janaastha, regarded to be close to the palace published a poem by columnist Suresh. The poem is an irony to Prachanda, who in response to the public concerns regarding vast differences between arms and armies said rivers washed away many of their arms during the period of war:

    Kukhuri kan… (cock crowing in early morning)
    Let me get hot bullet
    Where is the hot bullet?
    The Maoists have taken
    Where are the Maoists?
    They entered towns
    Where the towns?
    The wastes cover them
    Where are the wastes?
    Spilled all over the streets in capital
    Where are the streets?
    The demonstrations covered them
    Where the demonstrations?
    The Maoists combatants chased them
    Where are the combatants?
    They went in search of their arms
    Where are the arms?
    The rivers washed them away
    Where are the rivers?
    They have dried

    By Suresh

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