By Lilu Thapa
Following the lines of the Nepal Army’s recruitment, the PLA also has started its own recruitment process for the “vacant posts”. How sane is that decision by the Maoist leadership or what will be the extent and effect of this new development is yet to be seen. However, if this new recruitment from the PLA continues, it will have serious impacts in the already fragile political balance (or imbalance) that we have in the country.
The NA completed recruitment of around 3000 personnel, amongst a bitter political dispute between the political parties, giving their arguments for and against. However the army did complete it before the Supreme Court ordered it to stop the process as and where it was. Now, the PLA has started this campaign of recruitment, which comes a little short of surprise. The PLA commanders have given statements saying that they have started this process purely to fill its “vacant positions”. However this new recruitment process seems purely politically motivated by the fact that they have also said that they will stop this only if the Nepalese Army stops its recruitment.
The Maoist Supremo and Prime Minister Prachanda said that they have no information about the recruitment by the PLA and also assured the other political leaders that he will look into the matter and would stop it. The Maoist leaders are saying that the recruitment was started by the PLA without consultation with the party. The statements made by the Maoist leaders have serious indications. The statement, that the PLA started recruitment without any consultation with the Party either shows that communist party has lost its control over the army or that the party leaders are putting forward a white lie. This will also mean that the PLA has gone completely out of party’s control. Does this also mean that they have withdrawn all their political commissars from the PLA structure?
If the Maoist are really considering to show off their equivalency with the Nepalese Army, may be they should look at the number of people that have come to apply for the vacant posts. Mere 200 in all places compared to more than 50000 that applied for recruitment in the Nepalese Army recently out of which only 3000 were selected. It is not a matter of making comparison to show how the recruits are attracted to the Nepal Army but to show the reality of people’s interest. The people who joined the Maoist during the war were purely ideological volunteers whereas the potential recruits that they will get now will be more of an employee looking for a job to meet necessities of life. The Maoists PLA must not forget that they are still a rebel army waiting for reintegration into the society or the National Army, whichever is decided by the policy makers. The PLA must also understand that people have opted to vote for the Maoist party for a change but few will like the economic burden that the PLA are putting on the taxpayers.
The PLA might be thinking of reminding of its presence and need for integration into the National Army through this recruitment. But, realistically, they would do better without coming into disputes like this. More damage will be caused to their image by this kind of drives. The UNMIN and other international agencies have been soft on the Maoist and the PLA in the past. However, if the PLA continues with actions like this, which totally contradicts the commitment made by them, they would only succeed in tarnishing their image. The UNMIN has shown strong concern over PLA’s recruitment already.
The other main political parties including the Nepali Congress and the UML have looked to be supporting the Nepal Army on the issue of the recruitment and have come out strongly against the recruitment started by the PLA. If the PLA decides to go forward with the recruitment process it is bound to face a bitter opposition from the main political parties. In fact a series of serious reactions from these parties have started to come into actions. It is a wide open secret that these parties are looking for issues to undermine the government and this will be a big issue to pursue as this completely undermines the comprehensive peace agreement. This in turn will mean disruption to the national life and furtherance of political destabilisation. The recruitment by the PLA has become a potential flashpoint for a fragile peace process in the coutry.
The PLA leaders must stop making lame excuses like filling in the “vacant positions” when everyone can see, wide as daylight, that it is a “tit for tat” response to the Nepal Army’s recruitment. The Maoist Party leaders must also stop lying, making irresponsible comments or giving funny reactions like, “the PLA has not done any consultations with the Party before starting recruitment”. Everyone expects the leaders of the largest and ruling party of Nepal to be responsible. Going forward with recruitment at this time will mean a bad initiative, not only for the nation but for the PLA and the Maoist themselves.