"Serious cracks seem to have appeared in the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)”, argue Murari Sharma and Bhagirath Basnet (Republica, May 2). However, the duo appear cynical on the realness of the rift; they opine “the question is, whether these cracks are real or are they part of a larger political strategy to force other parties to concede to more concessions.” I won’t blame the authors for their skepticism as there are plenty of others who share those views. In fact, cynicism in this country has always overtaken logic and merit. Cynicism has become our sociopolitical culture which is what this write-up is all about.
While the country has been undergoing tremendous positive changes since 1951, not all changes in the period have been constructive. Development of cynicism is one such nuisance that has hindered the country´s development. For instance, cynicism about India’s influence and role that gave birth to anti-India sentiments has been thwarting economic development that could be derived from greater Nepal-India cooperation. Often, cynicism has taken heavy toll both on energy and assets of the nation; the royal palace massacre and the Hritik Roshan incidents are two cases in point. The menace has made the people resigned to their fate rather than ready to take up challenges. Many times, cynicism has also helped change the course of our history, not necessarily to the country´s benefit.
Nearly two decades ago, two top leaders of CPN-UML were killed in a road accident. Taking advantage of the cynical schooling of their cadres and equally cynical mindset of common people, party leaders left no stone unturned to portray the incident as a well-planned act of murder. In the name of ‘turning grief into might’, they mobilized their ranks in belligerent protest campaigns that went on the rampage shouting ‘death to murderer(s)’. Thus the party succeeded in generating a ‘sympathy wave’ in the subsequent parliamentary polls. However, during their repeated accession to power after that election, UML leaders never tried to probe the incident, let alone punish the ‘culprit(s)’; because they knew that there was none.
A little over a decade ago, King Birendra and his whole family, among others, were shot dead by his own son, who was also the crown prince, in the course of a family feud over the latter’s choice of bride. However, politicians that included the then underground Maoists who knew that people under such circumstances often take conspiracy theories for granted, spared no time to accuse the newly crowned king Gyanendra for the killings, allegedly for the sake of power. Common people, who were skeptical about the official version of the ghastly incident, were largely swayed by Maoist propaganda. This happened also because the new king’s illiberal and unpopular image overshadowed all facts, evidences and eye-witnesses. A popular uprising eventually ejected the monarchy. The rest is history.
Recently, I have heard people, including the educated ones, say that since it is India which at the end of the day fixes everything in this country, including (the contentious issues related to) constitution writing, we need not worry about the terrible state of no or slow progress of the country´s political transformation/ transition. Sarcastically, some even go to the length of saying that a constitution is already on a stand-by in Delhi, which will be promulgated just before May 27 midnight from within the premises of the Constituent Assembly (CA) in Kathmandu. For them, the heated debate and tough negotiations for the last four years between political parties both inside the CA and elsewhere with regard to the proposed constitution is sham and/or worthless.
There is no denying that India has great leverage over the state of affairs in this country. Some of the weight she carries is because of our dependence on her, both natural (geographical) and man-made (economic). Some are because certain segments of population and some regions have subtle ties and strong bonds with the Southern neighbor. However, if India possesses powers to dictate the terms in Nepal it is mainly because Nepali rulers and politicians who can’t mount a united stand while dealing with the giant neighbor, secretly seek Delhi’s blessings in pursuit of their partisan and personal goals.
Those who suspect India´s hand behind the madness of identity politics that prevails now in this country, especially behind the demand for ‘One Madhes state’, forget that it is the Maoists who first introduced the politics of gerrymandering; long before the Madhesi parties did, they founded and fuelled federalism agenda based on ethno-regional divisiveness. If the so-called national and nationalist parties like the ‘revolutionary’ Maoists put their parochial and short-term interests before national interests, why blame India? And, no foreign power can ever have a decisive role in the internal affairs of other nation, no matter how close or weak that nation may be, unless the leaders of that nation are stupid or selfish (like ours´) or fifth columnists like Kaji Lendup Dorje. Even the US and the then powerful Soviet Union could not overpower relatively much smaller Vietnam and Afghanistan respectively; therefore, to believe or to say that India fixes everything without our approval or concurrence is both nonsensical and cynical.
As regards heightened intra-party fights within UCPN (M), it cannot be a drama. To successfully stage-manage a drama of that magnitude one has to share the secrets with hundreds of thousands of cadres and supporters who are involved in the act. A huge politico-strategic operation like that cannot remain covert. If video footage of Prachanda’s speech delivered among a few hundred dedicated Maoist combatants in Shaktikhor cantonment that revealed his secret plan of ‘power seize’ was leaked to Nepal Army or the media by someone obviously from their own ranks (who is still unidentified after more than three years), a drama of an all-out intra-party fight would have unfolded before the public long before.
Prachanda is undoubtedly a shrewd politician capable of doing anything within his ambit to serve his political and personal ambitions; but, in a free society and open political system like ours, he cannot enact a drama like that without making people suspect of some foul play. It is one thing to take innocent lives in a brutal war waged on the back of a failed ideology, and quite another to meticulously enact a drama of such magnitude. Differences between the Baidya faction and party establishment’ are mainly ideological which makes them difficult to patch up and too big to be safely buried; in other words, their fights too are too real to be pretense. Those differences and fights have a long history. They were there even during the days of insurgency. Because of those differences, Baburam Bhattarai and some of his followers/family members were put under ‘house arrest’. Rapprochement between his faction and that of Prachanda was reached when his political course was adopted by the Chunwang party plenum.
The Baidya faction has never reconciled with what transpired at Chunwang. In essence, he and his hard-line colleagues have always stood against the course of ‘peace and constitution’, which is now the central agenda of the party establishment. Even after joining mainstream politics they have registered their voice of dissent in all party plenums from Balaju to Kharipati to Palungtar. Present in-fights within UCPN (M) are neither fresh affairs nor so casual that they can be seen and analyzed in isolation. Cynicism in this regard is, therefore, unwarranted. The in-fights and the reasons to fight are real and long drawn. And now they have become irreversible as well.