Update: Update: In a sudden development, the Maoists have postponed their “roundtable conference” that they had planned to start today in Kathmandu. In a press statement, Maoist central leader Ram Bahadur Thapa informed that the round-table conference has been called off until further notice.”The September 12, 2007 round-table conference has been called off for some time. The new date for the conference will be announced soon.” “The conference has been called off because of lack of enough homework,” said Mohan Baidhya ‘Kiran’.
Just like Gyanedra dismissed democracy to “restore democracy”, Prachanda is putting the Constituent Assembly election at risk “to make sure the election happens”. Prachanda’s Roundtable Conference reminds Gyanedra’s Municipal elections
It is generally agreed that Maoists and Monarchy are two opposing poles in a political world. Nepal is not an exception because the Maoists are one of the most vocal enemies of the feudal institution and tradition. Many might not believe but I see certain similarities between the Maoists and Monarchy in Nepal. Prachanda and Gyanendra, leaders of two opposite gangs, share same way of functioning. Remember Gyanendra dismissed democracy in 2005 to, ironically, strengthen it? Now see what Prachanda is doing: putting the Constituent Assembly election at risk to make sure the election happens. Do I have to mention that both persons and their respective gangs firmly believe in force and they have deep disregard to the public opinions. After all, both believe in dictatorship: one of a palace chief, the other of a Maoist party chief.
The Maoist “roundtable conference” that Prachanda’s party the CPN Maoist is organizing tomorrow reminds me of the drama of municipal “election” that Gyanendra staged in early 2006. Some fringe and ‘dubious’ groups like the dissatisfaction faction of Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MPRF) are expected to take part in the Maoist “roundtable conference”, just like some fringe and suspicious smaller-than-local-club “parties” took part in Gyanendra “polls”. The large mass and representation of people is out of the Maoist “conference” just like mainstream political forces actively boycotted the Gyanendra “election”. The artless electoral drama of Gyanendra was a miserable failure and I am sure the Maoist roundtable is bound to face the similar fate. I agree with CPN UML leader Jhalanath Khanal who said today that the Maoist roundtable conference is meaningless as it aims at finding out solution outside the eight-party coalition. Since they didn’t like Nepali Congress-led Peace and Reconstruction Ministry reaching an agreement with the MPRF, it seems, Maoists want to strike their own agreement with the handful dissatisfied MPRF cadres just to fulfill their own ego.
It’s obvious that the main conclusion of the “roundtable conference” will be the need of proportional representation system in the Constituent Assembly election. With the arrival of that conclusion, at least one demand of the Maoists will be fulfilled: the demand of roundtable conference itself. I won’t be surprised if the roundtable conference declares the abolition of monarchy or decides to abolish monarchy. That should fulfill another key demand of the Maoist! But that’s not going to happen, Maoists are desperately seeking a reason, however foolish and childish that might be, to run away from election though the situation is increasingly becoming unfavorable to them. It’s becoming favorable to the elections. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala today reiterated his commitment to hold the Constitutional Assembly elections on the rescheduled time on November 22. He assured that the election would not be put off for the second time after representatives of Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) expressed concerns over the suspicion towards CA elections during a meeting today.
While Koirala is confident about elections, Maoists have threatened to leave the government and start their agitation on 18 September. Maoist central member Barshaman Pun “Ananta” today said in a program in Kathmandu that with the start of the agitation, the 12-point agreement that the Maoists reached with the SPA in the run up to the movement against Gyanendra would be null and void.
So what the SPA should do at this point in time? As Speaker Subash Chandra Nemwang suggested today, they should take to the ultra-communists. “Since the CPN (Maoist) has raised the demands to ensure meaningful election to constituent assembly there should be dialogue its demands,” Nemwang told reporters in Pokhara today. “Top leaders of the eight parties should start talks within two days to arrive at a compromise.” Actually Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula, a Nepali Congress man who headed the government team to negotiate peace agreement with the Maoists, yesterday held discussion with the Information and Communication Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara, who headed the Maoist talk team. They discussed on how the Maoist 22-point demands, preconditions for “meaningful constituent assembly elections”, could be fulfilled. The positive vibe that came out of the meeting was that they agreed that the eight party meeting or the council of ministers would take up the issue.
Talks are the only way to end this Maoist sponsored deadlock and once again Koirala and SPA must show utmost flexibility to tame these communists for whom election has become something limited to lip service.