In view of these unwarranted events, for average Nepalese, a change in political leadership and declaration of Loktantra is yet to bear any significant fruit.
By Chattra Bahadur
Officially Baisakh 11, 2064 was declared as Loktantra Diwas and the celebrations were spread over three days. The leaders of major political parties took an opportunity to self-congratulate on this occasion. There was usual rhetoric of achievements and what future holds. They didn’t forget to exorcise evil spirits of ‘regressive’ and ‘reactionary’ forces, and also made the Nepalese aware that they are doing their best to keep these demons away. Their voices grew bolder and shriller when they vowed that they won’t let these dead demons rise from the grave. Of course, they promised to uphold the dreams of martyrs by clinging on to the power no-matter-what-may-come and as-long-as-possible till they fulfill the martyrs’ dreams. The only issue that didn’t find any mention is the current situation and possible strategies to overcome it. Perhaps, strong commitment and over-emphasis on immediate declaration of republic state was thought as a panacea of all ills in the short-run and the long-run.
The civic society and human-rights activists, who had been associate and collaborator of the political parties during Loktantric movement in April previous year, did not find any significant reason to share the same enthusiasm as the political parties did. They had a rather long list of aggravations, allegations and complaints. They unequivocally expressed dismay at the political brinkmanship of the coalition partners, instead of moving united towards the agreed-upon goal of holding the Constituent Assembly elections at the earliest to create ‘new’ Nepal and equitable society. In the end, they issued stern warning to initiate and lead Janandolan III if the political parties continued to ignore the ‘people’s mandate’ of Janandolan II.
Even on the backdrop of Loktantra Diwas, ever-present and all-pervasive dynamism of the Nepalese politics was evident. There was an unique exercise to bring all the left-leaning political parties under the republican banner. It appears that this broad alliance is being explored at the insistence of Indian Communist leader, Sitaram Yechuri, who was here to participate in a program organized to mark Loktantra Diwas. The media reported that the leaders of the left-leaning political parties were hopeful that this alliance would work out. Perhaps their hope emanates due to ‘Yechuri-effect’. However, the Nepalese political history shows that the leftist parties are very susceptible to disintegration because of ideological differences and personality clashes. At the same time, this proposed broad alliance hasn’t clearly indicated who would lead this alliance. As of now, there are two large left-leaning parties in the Interim Parliament with considerable clout – the Maoists and the CPN (UML). It is unlikely that either of two would be willing to accept the leadership of another in this alliance. Secondly, previous attempt of the CPN (UML) to form such broad alliance hasn’t been successful with smaller left parties accusing the CPN (UML) of domineering posture. Thirdly, except of the CPN (UML), other left parties have limited political base and negligible electoral significance – it is unlikely that they would increase the strength of the alliance to a great extent in the Constituent Assembly. Since the Maoists aren’t tested in the electoral battle as yet, it is inappropriate to speculate regarding their possible standing. Currently, negotiations and brainstorming are being held. In near future, there may be some developments in this regard.
The million-dollar question at present is whether the Constituent Assembly elections will be held in time. There is also a growing concern that whether it would be held at all. Because of adamancy on various issues posed by the very stakeholders, who continuously revert to the holy hymn of the Constituent Assembly elections when faced with any difficulty, it has been already postponed twice. At the same time, sluggish pace of the Interim government and unpredictable gestures of the coalition partners fail to provide reassurance. Earlier, the Election Commission clearly stated that conducting the Constituent Assembly elections isn’t possible as long as (1) the required laws aren’t framed and promulgated; and (2) security situation doesn’t improve. Even the UN and the international community have reiterated that the Constituent Assembly elections won’t be possible and meaningful if the demands of various interest-groups aren’t addressed. However, there is lackluster response in this front. Though the committee was formed earlier and now there is a new convener of this committee, there is no perceptible difference in the functioning. In fact, we are exactly in the same position as we were before without any viable solution at sight.
And there is new Frankenstein in the form of the Youth Communist League (YCL). The Maoists leadership had presented convincing justification that YCL was created for the Nepalese youth to serve as an outlet to be involved in nation-building and also in various activities of the Maoists. Dr. Bhattrai had earlier spoken about able-bodied youth with defense training being imperative to safeguard the nation and national interest. On contrary to these justifications, the activists of YCL are showing increasingly violent behavior and served largely as storm-troopers of the Maoists. Instead of being involved in nation-building, they are involved in wide-scale arson and mayhem. They have strong inclination to take law into their hands and act as trigger-happy desperados. Their notable handiworks till date are widespread destruction of statues of the kings, beating of an hotelier in Kathmandu, and beating of an industrialist in Biratnagar. The general impression now is that YCL is largely the Maoists’ mechanism to spread red terror, and a potent weapon to force others into coercion and intimidation. Prominent leader of the Nepali Congress has already pointed out that the Maoists are training YCL to disrupt and rig the Constituent Assembly elections.
In view of these unwarranted events, for average Nepalese, a change in political leadership and declaration of Loktantra is yet to bear any significant fruit. There is a need for the political leaders that only rhetoric without any tangible and visible change doesn’t provide comfort.