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Oli-led Government-25

Issue March 2016

 Strength And Weakness Of Maoists

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


I was surprised when the current coalition cabinet led by Prime Minister KP Oli had the overwhelming members of the UCPN-Maoist leaving the NC to the opposition seat and the Madheshi leaders to picket at the southern border entries. To me it was almost a miracle that Chairman of UCPN-Maoist Prachanda losing his first position to NC and CPN-UML in the second constituent assembly (CA) election, and taking the third place from the first place in the first CA, had finally managed to have the major voice in the governance. Prachanda did this time what he could not do when his party was a largest one in the CA and the parliament.


Prachanda with his colleague Sushil Koirala: the then prime minister, and KP Oli: Chairman of CPN-UML got the new constitution passed by the two-thirds majority of the CA members despite the opposition of some Madheshi and ethnic leaders, and surely the naked intervention of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Nepalese business. And they got the president promulgate it even though hesitantly.


Prachanda could not do so when he was in the majority in the parliament. He simply quit the office of prime minister in protest against the then president’s intervention in his prerogative to fire the then Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) Rukmangut Katuwal. His action of quitting office was comparable to the action of Sushil Koirala running for prime minister for the second term with the direct support of Modi against Chairman KP Oli in October 2015. Modi was deadly against the communist leader taking up the rein in Nepal.


How Sushil Koirala developed the idea of running for prime minister the second time disregarding the gentlemanly agreement reached with CPN-UML and UCPN-Maoist on transferring the office to Chairman of CPN-UML KP Oli, I did not know. Koirala became the prime minister with the support of CPN-UML and UCPN-Maoist on condition that he would quit the office in favor of KP Oli after the adoption of a new constitution. However, breaching the gentlemanly understanding reached between NC and CPN-UML, Sushil Koirala went for picking up the office for the second term.


Sushil knew it was the Indian strategy but he could not resist the temptation of being a prime minister for the second term. He clearly proved that he was not a saintly person as other people liked to project him he was. To the dismay of his colleagues and to his own frustration, Koirala lost the bid for the office of prime minister to Chairman of CPN-UML KP Oli making the Modi’s strategy a failure, too.


After the disastrous election defeat, Sushil Koirala surely could not simply be the deputy of Prime Minister KP Oli that was understandable but it was again difficult to comprehend why he did not send some of his colleagues to join the government but he opted for staying on the opposition saying it was the democratic norms and values. Koirala’s colleagues and a cadre of NC had vehemently opposed Koirala not sending anybody to join the Oli cabinet only to lose every position to the UCPN-Maoist and other small parties.


Boycotting the Oli cabinet must be for Koirala to save his already unrecognizably blotted face but it was quite unwise to do so losing everything to CPN-UML, UCPN-Maoist and other small left and right political parties. This simple very unwise action of Koirala led him not only to be a laughingstock but also to be out of the Oli administration when his cooperation and commitment had been so needed to enforce the newly adopted constitution.


Unfortunately, Koirala left this mundane world for the heavenly abode leaving his political legacy to the second generation of the NC leaders. His departure had opened up the door to the new generation of the NC leaders to take the party to a new democratic track diverting from the track of the senior leaders had followed in the past. At least the thirteenth general convention election had broken up the monopoly of the Koirala family on the presidency of the party electing a non-Koirala candidate to the president of the NC.


However, the NC leadership led by newly elected President Sher Bahadur Deuba had the majority of the political rotten figures indicating the NC could not get rid of the shady leaders. The new generation of NC leaders such as Krishna Prasad Sitaula and Gagan Thapa were disappointed after they were mercilessly knocked down in the election to the NC leadership electing those old infamous and corruption-tainted figures to the president, to the general secretary and the members of the central committee of the party. One thing we had to be satisfied was Sitaula and Thapa were not knocked out, yet.


The highly unscrupulous and imprudent deed of Sushil Koirala gave a unique opportunity to Chairman of UCPN-Maoist Prachanda to have the major presence of his party in the cabinet of Prime Minister KP Oli. His party took one of the six deputy prime ministerial positions, and other significant portfolios such as home, energy, supplies and so on of the ministries. To this end, Prachanda successfully put together all the small and big political parties to form a new cabinet headed by KP Oli leaving behind the NC and the Madheshi political parties except for one led by Bijaya Gacchedar.


Prachanda elevated leaders such as CP Mainali and Chitra Bahadur KC of tiny political parties to the deputy prime ministers. They could never have dreamed of even having ministerial positions not to mention the deputy ministers if Sushil Koirala were to go well with the CPN-UML leaders. They had been good-for-nothing in the past. At least they could improve and update their CVs, now.


Another thing Prachanda did was he put together the anti-federalist such as Chitra Bahadur KC, and the pro-Hindu activist such as Kamal Thapa to implement the constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal that had the provision for the federalism and for the secular State.


KC had not stopped talking against federalism in the public talks even then he voted for the new constitution that had the provision for the federalism. He attributed the current political protests to the federalism the constitution had adopted. He did not understand that federalism meant the devolution of power to the federal States that would work following the aspirations of the State population for the appropriate development.


For KC’s information, the concentration of development in the central region had been the results of the unitary system of the governance. The remote areas of western and eastern parts of Nepal had not been touched with the economic development process, yet because the population of those areas had no voices in the decision-making process made at the center because of the unitary system.


Kamal Thapa accepted the secular State joining the cabinet of prime Minister KP Oli regardless of his colleagues and he had stood for and voted against the constitution in the past. Thapa continued to say that he had not abandoned his Hindu agenda means making Nepal a Hindu State. He was for achieving it in the most democratic away means garnering the two-thirds majority in the parliament. It was the beauty of democracy the Madheshi leaders needed to take a leaf from Kamal Thapa’s book, and go to the voters for the gains in the next general election rather than working on the ineffective street-protest movement that had been so costly not only to them but also to the Nepalese in general.


The Madheshi leaders had been politically and economically bankrupt after the unsuccessful and inappropriate protest against the new constitution. The protest had been inappropriate because Indian Prime Minister Modi directed the Madheshi leaders. It was also inappropriate because they did not follow the legal and constitutional way of getting their demands met rather they used the unconstitutional force of protest.


The constitutional way of getting done to their way was to go to the people and get the two-thirds majority from the people to amend the constitution, as they desired. If the voters were not eager to do so they had no rights to close the border entries at the cost of the national economy causing unimaginable misery to the common folks for forcing the establishment to amend the constitution. Their actions and the Modi’s support for those actions had achieved nothing but strengthen the Oli administration.


Even though Chairman of UCPN-Maoist Prachanda lost the second CA elections to the NC and CPN-UML, and the party was down to the third position in the parliament, he had demonstrated that his power had not diminished rather increased by the incomprehensible feat of Sushil Koirala that had voluntarily or under his moral pressure did not take the opportunity of joining the KP Oli government, and implement the new constitution for institutionalizing the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.


Not only Prachanda demonstrated his power of putting eight UCPN-Maoist members in the cabinet of Prime Minister KP Oli but also he had achieved his UCPN-Maoist members get elected to the vice-president and the speaker of the parliament. These positions would certainly have gone to the NC leaders but the perplexing stand taken by NC President Sushil Koirala led the NC leaders to lose those prestigious and crucial positions in the governance to the Maoists.


Not only Prachanda had shadowed Sushil Koirala but also KP Oli, too. Except for the ministry of finance, KP Oli as the prime minister surrendered other important ministerial positions to the UCPN-Maoist, and other small party leaders such as the Chairman of RPP Kamal Thapa, and Chairman of Madheshi People’s Rights Forum- Democratic Bijaya Gacchedar. Thapa got the foreign ministry whereas Gacchedar got the ministry of physical planning and works. UCPN-Maoist members picked up the home, energy and supplies ministries along with the portfolio of one deputy prime minister.


Certain portions of the new constitution would not be possible to enforce without the cooperation of the NC leaders. The new leadership of the NC and all other political parties knew it. NC leaders could bargain with KP Oli and Prachanda for anything but they had to cooperate with the CPN-UML, UCPN-Maoist and other smaller political parties to implement the constitution. If NC leaders failed to cooperate with all other political parties in enforcing the new constitution, and if they were to push the country back to the political instability taking up the issue of changing the current government, and of the religion and other irrelevant subject matters the new generation of Nepalese would curse the NC leaders for all the troubles caused to the common folks. NC leaders would be held accountable for any political instability and any conflict in the coming years.


The greatest weakness of Prachanda had been not to promulgate a new constitution when he had the surprising majority in the CA and in the parliament. He did so listening to his colleagues such as Kiran Vaidhya, CP Gajurel, and Dr Baburam Bhattarai that had advocated they needed not promulgate a bourgeoisie constitution, and they had been for the total victory over the so-called feudalists and bourgeoisie.


Consequently, Prachanda and Dr Baburam Bhattarai grouped together and claimed that they had achieved the objective of the revolution, and they had to take the country to economic revolution following the Marxist economy whereas Vaidhya and CP Gajurel advocated for the complete victory over the traditional power. That developed a crack in the UCPN-Maoist, and ultimately a portion of the UCPN-Maoist split away.


Despite the powerful oratory and the power of convincing the common folks, Prachanda could not convince the Vaidhya group of the Maoists of the need for living together rather than getting divorce. Kiran Vaidhya set up a new CPN-Maoist-Vaidhya. His party got the share in the assets of UCPN-Maoist. Thus, rivals chipped away at the UCPN-Maoist.


After breaking away from the mother party, the main objective of the Vaidhya Maoists had been to weaken UCPN-Maoist particularly Prachanda and Dr Baburam Bhattarai believing that the worn-off Prachanda and Dr Bhattarai would join them to go back to the direct confrontation with the establishments. That did not happen to the dismay of the Vaidhya Maoists.


In the view of the Vaidhya Maoists, Prachanda and Dr Bhattarai joined the bourgeoisie parties including the CPN-UML. Surely, democracy was the bourgeoisie system that the Maoists despised for its capitalistic nature but they ignored the fact that democracy had been the only long lasting system most of the nations had adopted but the so many nations including the former Soviet Union disastrously failed in their socialist system and they had to revert back to democracy, the Vaidhya Maoists need to take the note of it.


The greatest negative role the Vaidhya Maoists played was in defeating the UCPN-Maoist in the second CA election. They had highly succeeded in lowering the UCPN-Maoist from the first position to the third position after the second CA elections. They took a greatest satisfaction in defeating the UCPN-Maoist but the enjoyment did not last long, as the NC and the CPN-UML launched an aggressive attack on the Maoist cadres reopening the criminal cases against them. The Vaidhya Maoists finally realized their mistake, and immediately took the cover under UCPN-Maoist stating they needed to be one to face the aggressive forces of the opposition parties.


Not very long ago, the Vaidhya Maoists found that they could not launch any campaign to achieve the total victory of the Maoists over the old establishments. They neither could set up an armed force to fight with weapons nor they had power to launch the non-violence protest to earn the people’s opinions in their favor. Some of the Vaidhya Maoists regretted that they had been inactive as the Mohan Bikram: the old Marxist had been.


The Vaidhya Maoists gave birth to the Biplav Maoists. Biplav was dreaming to go back to the days of the Maoists’ victory period when they could capture any fallow land or land belonging to the large landlords. He also believed that he could run a parallel administration. In fact, he declared his own constitution at Tundhikhel in Kathmandu after the CA passed a new constitution. Nobody took him seriously. Capturing the land of large landlords and fighting a guerrilla war had been the things of the past.


Matrika Yadav had been another character of the breakaway Maoists’ parties. He broke up from the mother party UCPN-Maoist, and went on his own to set up his CPN-Maoist before Vaidhya did. Then, Matrika Yadav neither could have any followers as Vaidhya and Biplav had nor he could follow other political parties or the Madheshi front. He tried to organize a seven-party Madheshi front to fight for the rights of the Madheshis to equality. Other Madheshi leaders of the UDMF did not trust him, and they did not like to take him as one of them. Poor Matrika Yadav had been sailing alone in the uncertain political world.


Now, Dr Baburam Bhattarai that had been the heir apparent of Prachanda had been saying that he had set up a new party called Naya Shakti means a new force. Dr. Bhattari’s destiny had been not better than the destiny of his former colleagues such as Matrika Yadav, Biplav, and Vaidhya that had sought divorce and got what they wanted. Dr Bhattarai had rated himself far higher than what he actually was.  Looking at the people Dr Bhattarai had gathered around his new party, he would disappear in political oblivion in due time. He might be remember as the prime minister that had bulldozed the houses and structures built encroaching the public land for widening the streets of the Kathmandu metropolis and other municipalities.


Most probably, Dr Bhattarai had been the victim of the Indian strategy that had worked to weaken the Maoists. Again probably, Dr Bhattarai could not clearly understand it and simply followed the advice of the Indian envoy in Kathmandu. Opening a new party and taking it to the grassroots level was not a so easy task for any leader. Dr Bhattarai must know it from his personal experiences in working with Prachanda when they were in the remote western region of Nepal for fighting against the establishment. Dr Bhattarai also knew that the amount of money he needed but he did not worry about it because of the Indian support he had.


Currently, Pampha Bhusla, Ram Bahadur Badal, and Dev Gurung to mention a few of Kiran Vaidhya’s colleagues desperately wanted to reunite with the UCPN-Maoist but Vaidhya and his second in command Gajurel were not for easily joining hands with Prachanda. They wanted to bend him to agree on their agenda that Prachanda had a long ago discarded. That agenda was the total victory of Maoists over the establishments. Prachanda also was not for giving up his stand on his obviously correct political path of going along with the CPN-UML and NC following the democratic norms and values. Taking look at his current political activities, anybody could safely say that Prachanda had been strictly following the democratic norms in dealing with the political colleagues, and he had been totally dedicated to institutionalize the political gains the people’s movement had made.


Definitely, Vaidhya, Biplav and Matrika Yadhav had already missed the train of the mainstream politics. They did not participated in the second CA election saying they would rather defy it, and even make it a failure. They could not make even a small dent on the election not to mention making it a failure. The election had been highly successful and the elected CA had successfully completed the historical task of adopting the people’s constitution that had been waiting for such a long time since 1950s.


The Madheshi leaders needed to understand that the new CA had completed its mandate, and a new constitution was in place. Certainly, the recently promulgated constitution had made the provision for the less power to the people than the interim constitution had made but everybody including the Modi administration in India needed to understand that the sovereign CA had adopted the new constitution, and the duly elected president of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal had promulgated it. It could be amended with the two-thirds mandate of the sovereign Nepalese. So, the question was why the Madheshi leaders did not go to the people asking for the mandate to amend the constitution for making it inclusive rather than trying to force the establishment for an amendment to the constitution by the protests and violence with the support of the neighboring political leaders?


The country had been on the right track after the adoption of the new constitution. So none needed to push the country off the track through the street protests or by any other violence means. The only way to gain the political advantage was to go to the people and ask the mandate for doing anything they wanted. Going to the neighboring political leaders and asking for assistance had been the acts of dishonoring the motherland that would never forgive such leaders for their shameful deeds.


Unfortunately, those Madheshi leaders except for one or two had been failures in the CA election in other words the people had voted them out of power. Some political analysts believed that the Madheshi leaders getting rejected by the voters had been seeking the political importance by launching the street protests against the new constitution. They had gone to the extreme by going to the neighboring politicians for their help in the protests. They did not have popular support. They could have only a few hundred cadres paid and worked full time for protests without success. The Madheshi leaders also promised that the family of anybody killed during the protest would receive Rs 5 million as the compensation. About sixty protestors had been killed but none of the families of those deceased had received any amount, as the media had not reported anything about it so far.


Madheshi leaders needed to follow the strategy of Prachanda that had the reduced strength in the parliament nevertheless he managed to maintain his supremacy in making the cabinet of KP Oli taking the advantage of the weakness and political immaturity demonstrated by Sushil Koirala. Madheshi leaders needed to continue the fighting for an inclusive constitution but not using the street protest or blocking the border entries as a weapon but using the election as a democratic tool. No doubt about the need for fighting for equality and fundamental rights but it needed to be done following the democratic norms and values. Take the maximum advantage of the weakness of the establishment to achieve the objective but needed not follow the principles of someone’s loss was his/her gains but work for the gains of all.


Madheshi leaders could have the cozy ministerial berths in the KP Oli’s government if they were to go along with him rather than going to the head-on confrontation with him, and they could contribute significantly in enforcing the new constitution. They could gain while implementing the new constitution what they had lost in the CA election. They could make the country a heaven but they also could make it a hell if they strolled on the wrong political path. Every logical-thinking Nepalese wished them to be good leaders and make the country heaven on earth.


March 17, 2016

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