Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Dahal’s dilemma


When it comes to Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, aka Prachanda or the fierce one, he exhibits two diametrically opposite personalities. For his fans, he represents the symbol of dynamism; he is the gravitational center of Nepal’s politics; the whole of Nepali politics revolves around him.

In the past, for numerous occasions, he has been the kingmaker. Deuba, Oli, Khanal and Nepal were able to become prime ministers simply because of his aashirbaad, backing and support. He is the hero of a decade long janayuddha or the people’s war that helped to abolish more than two-century old monarchy and heralded the country into a federal democratic republic system. Nepali politics sans him will remain void, at least, for the moment.

However, for his critics, he is the symbol of instability, man without principle, the crux of the problem in Nepali politics. His wavering stand, overnight switching from one camp to the other, the unstable character and chameleon like principle have risked the very core of Nepali politics. He is an enigma of Nepali politics. There is nothing like janayuddha, it is all dhanyudhha – war of greed and avarice. He is a villain, not a hero. With the blood of 17,000 people in his hand, he is an international criminal on run. His real resting place should be in the prison, not in Nepali politics.

However, the real truth must be somewhere in between these two extreme polarizations. What could be Dahal’s dilemma? Reading his mind could probably give justice to Nepal’s decade long Maoists’ war and politics aftermath.

Politics by other means

It is Carl von Clausewitz, a guru on warfare strategy, who said “war is politics by other means”. Prachanda, probably, his disciple, must have read the message other way round: politics is also a war. Therefore, Prachanda must be waging a different kind of (political) war. In military warfare, a commander never or hardly discloses his warfare targets. As per Maoist insider, the problem with Prachanda is that he never discloses his moves and targets thus making him amenable to varied interpretations and speculations, often putting him into deep controversy. This could be his weakness as well as strength. In strategic management, there is a paradox: The real strength comes from converting one’s weaknesses into strengths.

As per Maoist insider, the problem with Prachanda is that he never discloses his moves and targets thus making him amenable to varied interpretations and speculations, often putting him into deep controversy.

Consensus on national consensus

On Saturday, immediately after filing the nomination of Ram Chandra Paudel as the candidate for the next president, PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal reportedly disclosed something like this to the public, “I have approached [UML Chairman KP] Oli to jointly offer president post to Nepali Congress. Nepali Congress, being the largest party, is entitled to share this power after UML took important positions of the Speaker and the Chair of the upper house. This would have been a great opportunity to build national consensus. But Oli did not heed my suggestions." Had this information been disclosed in advance to the public, things would have taken a different turn.  

Macabre in making

Having found negotiation table turned upside down, Oli is making a cautious move. UML has not withdrawn from the government, it is waiting till the day of the elections (9 March). The move may be to protect outgoing president from taking controversial steps, if not to destabilize whole Prachanda government.

The other two prominent partners of UML, namely, RPP and RSP, are projecting further anomalies. RPP has withdrawn both its support and participation from the government while RSP has only withdrawn from the government but not its support. With such controversial moves, something macabre must be in making in Nepali politics. Within two months of coming into power, there is a political havoc in Nepal.

Dahal’s dilemma

His supporters say if Prachanda did not behave like this or had he taken a rigid stand, peace process could not have, for better or worse, come to this end. Again, for better or worse, the constitution would never have been promulgated and we would never be in this situation.

From being the largest political party in 2008, the Maoists, now fragmented into half a dozen political parties, cliques and outfits, has become (distant) third largest party. Going by PR votes, the Maoists are close to RSP. Many of his PLA fighters are now toiling in the deserts of Gulf countries as foreign employment workers.

This scribe has projected Maoists to have an inevitable end. The question is to have a faster or a slower death. I have predicted that aligning with Deuba means slower death while aligning with Oli means faster or quicker death. The dilemma with Prachanda is to make a choice between these two ends. Obviously, a sensible reason for him is to choose slower death over faster death. That is what he is doing, I suppose.   

Published on 26 February 2023