Student of Sociology, TU, Nepal
Arpan Kharel originally hails from Jhapa District of Eastern Nepal and is now in Kathmandu for carrying higher studies. At present, he is pursuing Masters Degree in Social Anthropology from the Tribhuvan University, Nepal.
Sujit Sharma of the Telegraph Weekly and its online edition telegraphnepal.com had approached and interviewed this bouncing young man on several facets of Nepal's prevailing politics.
Below the excerpts of this exclusive interview: Chief Editor.
Q1: Latest media reports have revealed that the two major parties in opposition, Nepali Congress (NC) and Unified Marxist Leninist (UML) have begun making necessary preparations for the upcoming election presuming that the tenure of Constituent Assembly (CA) will not be further extended after May 27, 2012. What would you like to say on this issue?
Kharel: I felt very bad when I came to know about this issue some days ago. This move of the NC and UML is ugly and a highly deplorable act. If the politics of Nepal follows the path of NC and UML, it is for sure that Nepal will soon plunge into a political catastrophe of unprecedented . Take it for granted.
These two parties have now come to a conclusion that new constitution will not be drafted on the stipulated time (May 27, 2012). Rather than feeling shame for their inability to promulgate new constitution, they all in notoriety, are making necessary preparations for befooling Nepali people once again in the name of fresh mandate. Don’t they feel ashamed? What the hell they can do if they garner absolute majority in the upcoming election?
Q2. Which party do you think will win in the upcoming election, if it happens at all? Can you guess?
Kharel: I would prefer to observe an embarrassing defeat of all the existing parties in the upcoming election. But the major drawback of democracy is that you can either vote one candidate or the other. You cannot vote against the candidature or against the existence of political parties. In democracy, you are compelled to select any one candidate out of many contenders, immaterial of the fact whether you like any one of them or not. Looking at the ugly politics of Nepal, I have now come to a fair conclusion that this constraint of democracy must be reformed if we want to make democracy the finest political systems in the world.
Regarding your question, what I would like to say is that in the given circumstances, if Nepal goes for a fresh mandate, I think that Unified Maoists will again reemerge as the single largest party. But I don’t think it that will garner absolute majority to steer the government independently. After the election, the formation of a coalition government under the leadership of Maoist party is highly probable. This is my personal presumption indeed.
Q3. How you have come to a conclusion that Unified Maoist will emerge as the single largest party of Nepal? What is the basis of your conclusion by the way?
Kharel: The Terai region of Nepal will largely determine the fate of parties during the election. The NC and UML were almost wiped out from Terai region during the previous election. The Madhesh based parties and Unified Maoists had garnered substantial vote(s) from the Terai plains, the densely populated region of Nepal.
Right now, the Madhesh based parties are tattered and fragmented into several factions and sub-factions. To make the things worst, the NC, UML and the Maoists are trying their best to bring fissures in between and among the Madhesh based parties.
With this situation at hand, if the country goes for a new election, the Maoist should not have to encounter any stronger opposition in Terai plains and thus the party will reemerge as the single largest party of Nepal. This is as simple as that.
TQ4. But internal rift inside the Unified Maoist has again gained a fresh momentum. The party establishment faction led by Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka 'Prachanda' and Vice Chairman Dr. Baburam Bhattarai have, of late, decided to retaliate strongly if the party's hardliner faction pushes them to the wall. Amidst this internal political hotchpotch, how can you say that Maoist will garner more votes in the upcoming election?
Kharel: Well, I don't know exactly whether the squabble within the Maoist party is for real or is a mere calculated drama to dupe the opponents? Whatever be the reason, the Maoist party is extracting supplementary benefits from their so-called internal rift. By projecting the threat of revolt from the hardliner faction inside the party, the party's establishment panel has succeeded in convincing other parties to relax their standpoints vis-à-vis peace process in general and Maoist in particular. Similarly, the loyalty exhibited by the establishment faction towards peace and constitution drafting process has made people more sympathetic towards the Maoist party.
On the other hand, the hardliner faction has galvanized the radical and ethnic based groups. If the nation embraces fresh mandate through polls, this faction will garner the overwhelming vote(s) from these groups. Further, this faction has begun reorganizing the former Maoist combatants who had opted for the rehabilitation package and had already vacated the cantonments. All these available facts show that the might of Maoist is not taking a slide, instead it is swelling further.
Q5. The government has recently made a controversial decision to provide scaling Sagarmatha (Mount Everest). How you felt after listening about it? ( It stands cancelled now as of going to the print).
Kharel: I felt ashamed and very sorry for Prime Minister Dr. Bhattarai's such an erratic move which will drain the national coffer for no substantial gains. After becoming the Prime Minister, Dr. Bhattarai began to act against the expectations of Nepali population. Personally speaking, I also had never expected such a nonsense behavior from the highly praised intellect like him.
During a decade long armed insurgency, the Maoists used to sharply criticize the acts of nepotism, favoritism and corrupt behaviors of the former Royal family and leaders of the parliamentarian parties. But after their mainstreaming in national politics, the Maoist leaders have already surpassed other leaders in committing acts of corruption and draining national treasury. This is very unfortunate situation. I mean it.
Q6. Some days ago, General Secretary of Unified Maoist Mr. Ram Bahadur Thapa ‘Badal’ has accused incumbent government for covertly promoting anti-Chinese elements from the Nepali soil? On what basis Mr. Badal may have made such grave accusations against the government led by none other but one of the senior leaders of his own party?
Kharel: I think that the accusation made by Mr. Thapa, a modest leader inside the Maoist camp, is the manifestation of his sheer frustration towards his all time party colleague. However, I cannot completely ridicule his charge made against Dr. Bhattarai led government.
The signing of BIPPA agreement and the statement made by Dr. Bhattarai of the so-called merge or submerge of our country in the Indian Union (in an implied manner) has exhibited his excessive leaning towards our southern neighbor. Against this backdrop, we should not get surprised if one suspects Dr. Bhattarai covertly supporting Free Tibetan activists who prefer the secession of Tibetan landmass from the Chinese mainland.
After the formation of the incumbent government, the morale of Free Tibetan Activists in Nepal has dramatically increased. Some days ago, I had read a media report wherein it was stated that Tibetan refugees are now trying their best to infiltrate inside the political parties of Nepal which have their representation in Nepal’s Constituent Assembly. At the same time, the US is also increasingly exerting excessive pressure on the Nepal government to relax its policy vis-à-vis Free Tibet Activists. All these events show that something is being cooked behind the scene in order to tame Beijing from Kathmandu. Mr. Badal might have studied these suspicious events and thus may have aired his views.
Exclusive for telegraphnepal.com