Nepal Today

Wednesday, September 28, 2011



Kathmandu, Sept.: Effective 18 October, the capital’s residents will
compulsorily have separate degradable and non-degradable garbage for disposal by municipal authorities.
The new plan will be applicable for residents of all the
city’s 35 wards.



Kathmandu, 29 Sept.: With the Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Mohan Baidya factions engaged in a full-throttled war of words, talk of a split in the United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) has become louder,
Maila Baje writes in Nepali Netbook.
Despite the growing acrimony in their public references to each other, Dahal and Baidya both claim the Maoists will defy Nepalese political convention by remaining united.
Still, the escalating duel has sent reverberations at multiple levels. The cynical school still maintains that the wily Maoists have manufactured another crisis for public consumption while aiming to gain further ground. Regardless of how the infighting ultimately affects the future of the Baburam Bhattarai government, the prime minister will still be complicit in putting the party above everything else.
Let’s take the realist school next. The decision to hand over the keys to the Maoist weapons containers and the four-point pact with the Madhesi alliance to cobble together the ruling coalition are the two things that has infuriated the Baidya faction. It is hard to believe that Dahal and Bhattarai could have pushed through either by keeping the hardliners in the dark. So any bad blood today would have to take account not only grievances accumulating over time but also the shifting alliances of the recent past.
What specific commitments did each faction make and who double-crossed whom? Here, too, the Maoists have only deferred to the personality and patronage-based debilities that are intrinsic to the system they have entered (which, again they had originally vowed to overthrow).
The more disturbing element of the discussion of the latest intra-party rivalry is the one that is being pursued with the greatest seriousness – superficially, though. The fighters in the camps do not support Baidya and his bluster of an armed revolt, we were told right after the keys row erupted. The Maoists have invested too much in the political process – and have become too dependent on its patronage – to do anything but struggle along through peaceful competition.
That narrative seemed to lose its luster pretty quick. Now we are told – including by expatriate conflict experts – that there is a real chance of at least a faction of the Maoists reverting to armed insurgency. Should they do so, one expert warned the other day, all of us should be prepared to bear responsibility.
Maila Baje, as usual, believes that alien hands are getting off too easily here. The external dimensions will define much of the international deliberations on the Maoists. Just consider the following:

* The Indians, who nurtured the Maoists the most during their most lethal years, are having the toughest time dealing with them in their ostensibly defanged form.

* The Chinese, who not only publicly repudiated the local adherents of the Great Helmsman as a stain on his memory but also continued to arm the royal regime until the very end to suppress the rebels, are today seen as the primary beneficiaries of the political rise of the Nepalese Maoists.

* In a span of three years, two American presidents – representing sharply polarized political parties – spared time for Nepalese Maoist prime ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly while still keeping the organization on the terrorism list.

And we’re not even talking about the Europeans who have collectively and individually deployed the Maoists as a tool of autonomous assertiveness. (The international non-government sector has only picked up from where officialdom has chosen to restrain itself.)
So, who really needs our Maoists to split? Given the current goings-on in the party, the one-party Nepali Maoist state that everybody seems to dread might not be so all-round asphyxiating after all.


Kathmandu, 29 Sept.: Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai’s self-imposed six-week deadline to demonstrate substantial actions in good governance and peace process is approaching fast and will expire next fortnight. A semblance of positive indicator, noted initially in favor of the new premier, is fast proving to be a bubble bursting at the first tests, Trikal Vastaavik writes in People’s Review.
Things are exactly where they were previously. The handing over of the key of the containers storing Maoists’ weapons is only a minor event in the long and excruciating march to the peace process which cannot afford to go on tolerating the existing snail-like pace of progress since the past three and a half years that have produced neither a new constitution nor addressed the issue of the Maoist troops, placed in various cantonments since four years.
Vaidya has been advised by some of his loyalists to break away from the party, if need be, because of the “revisionist” nature of Dahal’s approach. Although he has rejected the suggestion, closed door meetings have been held at different venues to weigh the pros and cons of the available “alternatives”.
Clearly, interesting times are ahead. Bhattarai is being seen as someone who responds with speed but in measured tones. His hold on the Maoist party is not as strong that of Pushpa Kamal Dahal or Mohan Vaidya. The three-faced party follows the geometrical rule that any two sides of a triangle are bigger than the third side. In the NCP (Maoist), Dahal has the clout, Bhattarai the calculation and Vaidya the ideology.
In contrast to his earlier stands, Vaidya was also party to the agreement signed with the Madheshi Morcha in exchange for the latter’s support to the Maoist led government replacing the Jhala Nath Khanal government. Former Prime Minister Khanal is hopping mad at the “betrayal” of the Maoists as he lost weight, height and stand in his own CPN (UML) for his seemingly outright support of Maoists that enabled his rivals to claim that he had carried the agenda of the Maoists at the expense of UML’s policies and credibility.
Maoist chairman Dahal is playing his cards close to his chest this time, sharing his thoughts with only the most trusted ones. He is yet to be reconciled to the fact that Bhattarai is the new prime minister. He had approached at least two other members of his party to stake their claims for the post of prime minister. Both shied away from the offer. Although Bhattarai is aware of this, he has not mentioned it to his party chief.
On his part, Dahal is all the more suspicious that Bhattarai is taking the whole issue lightly. The Maoist supremo realizes that Bhattarai, too, has a long memory and with his “extraneous” support Bhattarai could be looking for the occasion and time to strike it hard for taking over the party reins. Bhattarai has vowed to support Dahal for his continuation as the party boss for a new term.
It could very well be that Dahal is biding his time till the party convention before he makes the next move. India is watching the development closely and directing its sympathizers accordingly. Some Nepali politicians, known for their close links with Indian intelligence agencies, sum up Dahal as unpredictable but amenable provided he is given “the attention.” They find Vaidya as “too rigid” and expect the Maoists to split.
New Delhi is happy with Bhattarai in the prime minister’s seat, as is also indicated by the manner in which Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh telephoned Bhattarai and invited him to pay an official visit to India. This contrasts with Jhala Nath Khanal’s desperate desire to make a trip to the southern neighbor but all in vain.
Bhattarai has not been able to do anything of note so far, except to raise some dust in this already dusty city when he decided to ride a modest “Nepal made” car instead of imported, luxurious and expensive Japanese cars. He has made people sit up and comment on his actions and non-actions. A prime minister is also known by the team members he is accompanied by. The faces from the Madheshi Morcha are all too familiar and many of the backgrounds far from flattering.
Gone are the first 100 days being treated as a period of “honeymoon” for a new government to announce its policies and programs. Bijaya Gachjchhedar was the only other member who was sworn in office on the day Bhattarai was sworn into office as prime minister. The second installment came a few days later.
Bhattarai the “intellectual” (for having obtained a Ph.D. from Political science department at Jawaharlal Nehru University) showed his bankruptcy when he appointed Barsha Man Pun as the finance minister and decided to continue with the budget estimates tabled by the previous government. Just as he considered no experytise necessary for looking after an important ministry like that of the finance, Bhattarai’s so-called intellectualism also does not overwhelm others.
Delivering something that has been promised is a difficult task. Will Bhattarai and his supporters define that “considerable” achievements made in his first six weeks in office? Or would the prime minister dare to step down and throw the gauntlet at his successors, whether from his party or others, to do what he could not?
Considering he has compromised heavily with the Morcha just to become the premier and have his portrait hung on the wall at Singh Durbar, Bhattarai will try to retain the chair he publicly dismissed as not important but wormed his way to the same through a variety of pulls and strings. Quitting is not easy. The resignations by Dahal, Madhav Kumar Nepal and Khanal in the last three and a half years were under compulsion.
Bhattarai is trying to paint himself as someone who gets the work done. He will be under pressure from his party to do what he may not like to do. He may also come under pressure from his patrons who may want him to do something that neither Dahal nor Vaidya support.
Bhattarai’s immediate past predecessor Khanal is bitter over the Maoist having engineered his government’s early fall. Khanal had spoken of consensus government but managed to form only a majority team. His own party colleague Madhav Kumar Nepal could have continued in office if merely a majority government was the need.
Even when political parties have been blatantly involved in politicking and power-brokering and backroom bargaining, the elite and the so-called civil society leaders are mum over the issue.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home