Nepali Times Asian Paints
Guest Column
The 7-party quagmire


It is clear that political developments have overtaken the 12-point pact between the Maoists and the seven party alliance.

The parties are unable to withdraw from the pact simply because doing so would mean even greater rampage of its beleaguered cadre. The NC and the rest of the allinace are now captives of their own folly.

The seven party alliance does owe the Maoists a debt of gratitude. Had the Maoists not threatened to unleash their brutality against voters and candidates in the recent civic elections the seven parties would have had to suffer the greatest humiliation of all. Without such mortal threat, voter turnout would have easily exceeded 51 percent, which, in turn would have meant more than the total rejection of the parties' call for a boycott. Thanks to the Maoists the alliance was able to avoid a referendum on itself.

The seven parties, now reduced to being the Maoists' surrogates in Kathmandu, will now be required to pay back by obediently carrying out their wishes. It is their greed for power that brought the politicians to the Maoist embrace to scare the king into submission. Instead, they find themselves in a quagmire. Now their representatives are back in New Delhi presumably to receive fresh instructions from their new bosses.

Meanwhile, India and the west now seem to have broken ranks. While the Indian ambassador was calling on these politicians for speedy implementation of the 12-point agreement, the US envoy was warning the parties to rethink the pact. The parties have now been spurred into reverting to their original identities from this opportunistic ensemble. Hence the resurrected reference to the six-point pact of the seven-party alliance.

While the various 'communist' outfits of unclear credentials regarding their democratic values and proximity to the Maoists were annoyed by Moriarty's message, the NC being more beholden to the west was only 'unhappy'. Girija Prasad Koirala was probably simply too aware of the possible dangers in such backtracking. GPK's recent overtures to Deuba for NC reunification at this particular juncture seems to be inspired more by the need to have more strength to wriggle out of a deadly Maoist snare.

However, the US must bear the following facts in mind before making more moves to 'restore democracy' in Nepal. Firstly, the 12 years of democratic practice have shown that the politicians-many of them with laudable records of sacrifice up to 1990-must resort to corruption to remain in politics, because they have to buy votes from a largely poor and illiterate electorate.

This is what wrecked governance and denied to the people what a democracy was otherwise supposed to deliver. Secondly, most of the present breed of leaders have become so corrupt they do not mind casting their profession of democracy to the winds when money and power are at stake. While they have all known and felt India's predatory designs including the birth and nurturing of the Nepali Maoists in their land, they have had no qualms about going a-begging to New Delhi.

Therefore, despite their tantrums in the name of 'agitation against regression' the last four years, people refuse to converge on Ratna Park in their support. Therefore, handing power back to these very same politicians without any hope that things will be any different would force us to relive the nightmare of the last decade all over again.

The foreign catalysts in Nepali politics must take note of the success of grassroots empowerment during the 1990s. Devolution of authority to the primary stakeholders in contrast to local elected bodies must be the cornerstone of any new political arrangement. Added to it, the politicians must also feel a balancing influence of the king when their recklessness knows no bounds.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)