Just because eight districts are having problems doesn’t mean rest of the 67 districts is deprived of the much needed democratic process. …if outfits that are terrorizing some parts of Terai don’t respond positively to the repeated calls for talks by the government the option of crushing them militarily should not be ruled out.
By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal
[Update on Birgunj Blast: CDO among 30 injured in blasts near SPA assembly, MMT claims responsibility. details]
While passing through Minbhawan today, I saw a few wall paintings apparently sponsored by the Maoist party as part of their campaign for the elections of the Constituent Assembly. The publicity slogans asked the viewer to caste their votes for the Maoist party’s election symbol (hammer and sickle inside a circle). The graffiti also urged the people to push the party into victory so that Prachanda, the Chairman of the party, could be made the first president of Nepal. That made me happy. The Maoists, who threatened to disrupt the elections and were until recently fighting for the communist dictatorship, are now throwing themselves into the electoral democracy! This is a great change (probably the kind of change that Barrack Obama is advocating for in the US!) Here is another surprise: the Maoists are on the forefront of the electoral activities (last time it was the CPN UML) as they already finalized some of the candidates for the elections that also includes top leaders like Prachanda. (Prachanda will contest from Kathmandu and Rolpa and Dr. Baburam Bhattarai from Gorkha). If he contests from Kathmandu-1, then I will be one of his possible voters.
I will write more about my possibility of voting for or against Prachanda in future blog posts but today the attention must be given to the bomb blast near the venue of the Seven Party Alliance mass meeting venue in Birgunj. There is problem is Madhes (or Terai- the southern plains). And the problem is political as well as that of poor security. With the signing of the agreement between the government and the MPRF, the political problem was managed. But some points of the agreement that were supposed to be implemented before the elections haven’t been implemented and the government is to be blamed for that. And for the recent agitation by the Madhesi parties including MPFR and the newly formed Terai Madhes Democratic Party (TMDP), these political forces’ petty political interest is responsible. No wonder they are doing this for the purpose of widening their voters’ base and as long as the agitation remains peaceful, there should be no problem with that. Nepali people have learned to live with the difficulties of general strikes (or bandas) they are really painful. But people are for elections. And they have shown their commitment to democratic exercise even in challenging situation. Tens of thousands of people participated in a joint election mass assembly of the seven parties in Nepalgunj Monday afternoon (28 Jan) despite the shutdown strike called by the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF or MPRF).
As for the armed groups like Goit and Jwala Sing factions of Terai Janatantrik Mukti Morcha (TJMM) that are spreading terror in the region, they should be dealt with force if they don’t respond to the repeated calls by the government for the talks. Nepal, the country, can’t surrender to the fanaticism of a few rascals. According to Home Secretary Umesh Prasad Mainali there are eight districts in the eastern Terai that are seriously affected by the agitations or other security challenges. Anti-democratic and pro-monarchy forces are trying to exploit the situation to abort the election yet another time. They must not succeed. Just because eight districts are having problems doesn’t mean rest of the 67 districts is deprived of the much needed democratic process.
Last time Maoists aborted the election (and Maoists say Congress and other forces were responsible for the postponement of the election in June). This time Maoists are enthusiastic about the elections which is a welcome sign. But the threat to election is still there. The good thing is that the threat is less political and more armed problem.
The talks of mobilizing army in the region have been intensified in the recent past. Nepali Congress acting President Sushil Koirala talking about that a few days ago while even Dr Baburam Bhattarai of the Maoist party didn’t rule out the impossibility of the army mobilization! Jhalanath Khanal of the CPN UML also expressed similar opinion. Yes it would be best if the agitation armed groups came to the talks table and settled the issues peacefully. But if that doesn’t seem like happening the option of crushing them militarily should not be ruled out. Because sensible governments don’t talk with terrorists and today’s blast in Birgunj is nothing more than an act of terrorism.