Dr. Sushil R. Pandey
Statistics can be deceiving. Small conflicts can really look big and big conflicts really small, depending on focus /or interpretation. How one draws the analysis of
The decade-old Maoist insurgency (1996) that ended in a Comprehensive Peace Accord (21 Nov, 2006) is a unique piece of political exercise. What subsists today, in the aftermath of Peace Accord, is the prevalence of intense power struggle among political actors of various hues in order to gain influence in the country's affairs.
The media today are full of speculations and, by the weeks, scores of contradictory political speeches are reported which take their own course hidden in deception and lies. There is much uncertainty of direction the country is likely to take before and after the CA. election. Many queries float around in public and very few are optimistic about peaceful
Beyond this kind of skepticism is the alternative the Maoist Party has been pushing with 22-Point Demands on the Government as "pre-conditions" for CA election, two of which are the declaration of "republic" by the House of Representatives and holding the election on the basis of proportional system of representation. So far, several rounds of negotiations at Baluwatar (residence + office of PM) have failed to meet the demands of the Maoists, and various protest programs, including people's action against "reactionaries," have been launched.
Hence, given the present foggy situation, simple tools may not help to gauze Nepali politics. A whole range of complex issues need to be tackled to understand Nepalese political behavior. At this juncture, in my view, to conceive a rational model would be conjectural. How the
To analyze the current politics simple method, therefore, may not suffice as there are wide variations in political commitment and actions of political leaders which do not fall in clear patterns of uniform behavior. Same is true in understanding the political parties, whether large or small, new or old, liberal or conservative, leftist or rightist, fundamentalist or democratic, republican or monarchist, nationalist and so on with other political labels. Often what is expressed is not translated in real terms and quick compromises are sometimes made for political convenience. The least expected becomes the new setting for ad-hoc measures. The subject of peace process indeed falls in this kind of pattern. Much caution is needed to analyze the association of multiple variables. For the purpose of discussion a few conceptual categories are picked to highlight some impressions and speculations. The larger issue of Peace (in capital) may remain illusive for sometime as it is clearly evident from other conflict-ridden developing societies that have been torn apart and have called UN mission to assist the peace process.
The need for peace "through forward looking outlet," as the document of 12-point understanding (22 November, 2005) emphasized, was for "full democracy" by employing all possible instruments of "state restructuring of the state" and "ending" the "autocratic monarchy" in order to address issues of class, cast, gender, region and other matters of social, economic, political, and cultural fields.
The Maoists who entered into mainstream interim coalition government of parliamentary parties have emphatically pushed the idea of republic and gradually tarnished the status and image of the monarchy piece by piece. It was able to get a Second Amendment to the Interim Constitution that two-third majority decision of Parliament can abolish the monarchy. The "condition" for it strangely enough lies with the suspended King if he is "found conspiring" against the CA election. Then, there is also the provision that the fate of the monarchy would be decided by majority of elected CA members in the first meeting. Both propositions have different weight though not directly weighed on the people but through two sets of representatives. Hypothetically, the entire exercise of abolition can be connived by first taking the course through parliament sanction then extending the parliament for a longer period beyond Nov 22, 2007, the declared date for the CA election. When the seven parties all approve the republican idea the syndicate can work to dictate the course by hoodwinking the entire political process under abnormal period!
In the mean time there is much fascination of big powers to know the current Nepali politics and how the immediate future will unfold whether ending in civil war or peace. With emphasis on democracy, human rights, free market and globalization, the international community is exploring new opportunities of cooperation and friendship with new
As a word of caution, speculation is rife on the country's future and the undercurrent minority and regional issues are spreading tremors which if not understood correctly on time may further complicate the transformation of the existing liberal state. By most accounts, the ongoing political exercise is unique and adventuresome. What can be more baffling is the persistent effort of the Maoists to accomplish a federal republic with socialistic blend of capitalism. Against all odds, the myriad issues that have surfaced during the post- conflict transition pose direct challenge to the ongoing peace process. Simple solutions to emerging hydra-headed worms of social disunity and disharmony emanating from unprepared design for decentralization and devolution of power under the rubric of federal state; and without a strong centre, may not be able to cope with the challenges of state building. Some sociologists enjoy the terminology of "state restructuring" with ease as a model, as also conceived in the 12-Point Understanding. Essentially, the history of national struggle to preserve state independence and sovereignty is a rich glorious past,
Finally, it may be said that the insurgency has had damaging impact on the functioning of government. The countryside today is an open field for Maoist influence, expansion and control. Several large conflicts (ethnic, religious, linguistic, regional, political, etc) have cropped up throughout the Terai belt, a weak underbelly of both