Nationalism Tirade of the Maoist Comrade

Posted on December 7th, 2007 by UWB

The question why it is important to forge unity with “royalist nationalists” at this juncture is even more puzzling.

By Ameet Dhakal

Last week, Prachanda launched his nationalism tirade. God knows why. But common wisdom tells us that autocrats of all hues and colors use the nationalism card to trump democracy. The Maoists never had democratic credentials; now that their commitment to it is in serious doubt, it’s quite natural for them to take refuge in nationalism (I am resisting from quoting Samuel Johnson who famously said that patriotism was the last refuge of scoundrels).

Prachanda has called for a new unity among “royalist nationalists”, mainstream parties and the Maoists. His remarks raise two key questions:

1. Who are these “royalist nationalists”?
2. Why is it important at this point to forge a new unity with them?

Prachanda answered none of these questions. He wouldn’t.

His deputy commander Barsha Man Pun offered an explanation to the Kathmandu Post: The new nationalists are people in the military, police and bureaucracy. Huh, does that make any sense?

Two developments have taken place in the last few months that partly explain the Maoists’ latest distraction. First, an army general who aspires to become army chief by replacing Rookmangud Katwal established contact with the Maoists and told them that he would facilitate integration of the Nepal Army and the Maoists’ combatants should he become army chief. Sources say the current army leadership quickly reached out to the Maoists and told them that the army was not averse to the integration process, and that it was an issue to be decided by the political leadership.

Second, intelligence sources say Maoist leaders have held several meetings with royalists, including some former ministers in the king’s cabinet. It’s unclear who initiated these meetings and what their agenda was.

The question why it is important to forge unity with “royalist nationalists” at this juncture is even more puzzling.

The Maoists have been obstructing the constituent assembly polls arguing that elections were not possible without first abolishing the monarchy. But now they say that the country can’t move ahead without entering into an alliance with “royalist nationalists”? How are these people, whose very identity is “royalist”, different from the king? And if they support democracy, want peace and defend nationalism, are the Maoists saying that the king alone — ONE MAN — is trying to and is capable of obstructing the polls?

Have they gone crazy?

One reason why the Maoists are increasingly chanting the nationalism slogan has to do with the India factor. During his last visit, former Indian Secretary Shyam Saran told the Maoists two things: First, the peace process and elections are inseperable, and if the Maoists shy away from the elections, it would rally the international community to encourage other parties to go for polls without the Maoists.

Second, the Maoists would no more be allowed to use Indian territory, as they did in the past, should they walk out of the peace process. The Maoists seem not only angry but increasingly nervous about India. Sources say that despite Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s hesitation, it was Prachanda and UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal who took the initiave to invite former US president Jimmy Carter to help with the stalled peace process. In the Maoists’ calculation, Carter could offer some counter balance to the increasing Indian pressure on them.

Divorced from reality, the Maoists are making silly calculations about regional and international geopolitics. In his interview with Rajdhani daily on Thursday, Prachanda said, “If the United States tries to suppress us, Europe will provide us some help. If India tries to suppress us, China will oppose it; and if someone else tries to supress us, Russia will support us.” Does this make any sense?

“Nationalist royalists” who were unhappy with India for “orchestrating” the April Uprising— millions of Nepalis coming out on the streets against the king means nothing to them just as seeking a fresh mandate from the people has no meaning to the Maoists— now see the Maoists as paragons of nationalism. They have a common interest: Deny the people their sovereign right.
Prachanda even urged the “big media” to understand the compulsion of this new unity with the “royalist nationalists” and act accordingly. Only a few weeks ago, Prachanda claimed that the “big media” had sold out to expansionaists and imperialists. How come that now you are urging “puppets” of expansionists and imperialists to support the “nationalist alliance”?

Ameet Dhakal is the news editor of the Kathmandu Post where this piece appeared first. Continue reading the article here.

Related: प्रचण्डको मण्डले राष्ट्रवाद (editorial in Kantipur)

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