Thursday, September 23, 2021

Prachanda's flippancy: Genesis of current political turmoil


Although the Nepal's Supreme Court quashed the unconstitutional move of KP Sharma Oli who had dissolved the sovereign House of Representatives, Nepal’s politics is lingering in indecisiveness. The way the sitting PM is single handedly challenging every leader and party except those supporting him does not bode well for the infant republicanism in Nepal.

Meantime, whoever replaces KP Oli may not be the solution to power politics PM Oli has played so far. It is time to ponder upon the genesis of today’s politics. The scribe believes that this analysis would help Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda for engaging in introspection. 

In his book Simple Convictions: My Struggle for Peace and Democracy written on Girija Prasad Koirala, we can find few questions raised by Koirala with the then Maoists. One, ‘I will not compromise with the achievements of 1990 popular movement and people’s rights that are guaranteed by the 1990 constitution.’ Second, ‘You have raised the issue of constituent assembly. Why and what for? You need to clarify the contents. Without clarifying the contents a constituent assembly is like releasing a bird from the hand and trying to catch two birds in the bush. Three, ‘I am always positive to ensure more rights to the people on top of safeguarding the rights guaranteed by the 1990 constitution.’

These questions were the bottom line of Nepali Congress as depicted in the book. To address concerns of Koirala, Prachanda agreed to abide by the conditions for dialogue and empathized with Korala’s convictions while crossing many odds at that time. Now the question arises, at what point did Prachanda’s grip on politics of the country weaken? After Koirala's demise, Prachanda, claiming to be a responsible leader, did not know how his influence was diminishing and the situation was such that he became helpless and started counting his political days. There are different reasons Prachanda became politically feeble. Mohan Baidya, Baburam Bhattarai and Netra Bikram Chand 'Biplav' distanced themselves from Prachanda alleging him of forgetting his basic political principles.

Moreover, Prachanda often repeats that Girijababu told him at the time of his last breath that the ‘country has fallen upon you (Prachanda) and you should handle it.’ Did Prachanda justify the words of Koirala? Obviously no. Prachanda did not know that his gravity in Nepali polity had diminished the day 16-point agreement was signed just prior to the promulgation of the constitution in 2015.

On June 8 of that year, four major political parties-- Nepali Congress (NC), CPN-UML, Maoist Center (MC) and Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik had forged a 16-point agreement which enshrined a tactical clause, ‘The Nepal Government will form a federal commission to recommend the demarcation of federal boundaries…’ It was the Supreme Court that had protected the federalism as per the spirit of the Article 138 of the Interim Constitution which was perceived as the magna carta of Nepal.

As mentioned above, Koirala had asked Prachanda to be clear about the content of the Constituent Assembly, accepting the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution of 1990 before both of them sat for the dialogue. In other words, Koirala must have said this while understanding the importance of the constitution. Prachanda said that Girijababu had given him (Prachanda) the responsibility of the nation but he betrayed the nation by inking 16-point agreement that undermines federalism which has a constitutional value as it was stipulated in the Interim Constitution on which the CA was based in the first place. Although it was a coalition government of NC and UML in general, KP Oli in particular wielded monopoly over the constitution drafting process.

In democratic system it is difficult to become people’s leader without ability to take a stand on a particular issue. Due to his volatile personality and other reasons, Prachanda made different political compromises to save his political relevance. Current destiny of Prachanda is the outcome of failing to abide by the ‘core aspiration’ of the revolution he led in Nepal.

Only yesterday, Prachanda told in an interview that there is need for a Maoist movement once again. He said with a straight face that during his visit to few districts he was told by the general public that Maoists need to be active again and Prachanda is in need once again! He also said that people have to move forward by launching a new revolution. Despite his emotional outburst, it is widely perceived that Prachanda is in illusion that he can lead any kind of revolution now. No matter how much he talks aggressively, his ability has been checked and balanced by Nepal’s permanent establishment and geopolitical players. Prachanda needs to ‘self-review’ because his flippant attitude on different agendas has dragged the nation to the current turmoil.

Published on 15 April 2021

Twitter: randhirJNK