Prachanda has expressed regret for the Madi bus massacre (pictured) that was plotted and carried out by his own cadres. But instead of going up to Madi to speak with the traumatised victims, he stopped en route at Phulbari and asked the victims to come to him with their demands.
He should have placed his trust in ordinary Nepalis and women, in their ability to forgive and reconcile. Had he gone up to Madi by himself and personally met a victimised mother there, he would have been treated with the same respect as Lord Vishnu himself. The only words she would utter are: "Son, let this not happen to others." What else can she say? And incorporating the message into his politics would be a new challenge for Prachanda. He can never earn the same level of respect from state honour or by attaining the seat of power. If the victimised do not forgive Prachanda, his politics will be burdened with self-guilt forever.
The very fact that a 12-point understanding was made last year suggested the Maoists' intention to tolerate the opposition, end their criminal activities and take the country towards progressive development and democracy. If we are to go by that understanding alone, there is no reason for the issue of arms management to have come up at all. If Prachanda had gone up to Madi, he would have seen for himself how even unarmed people could still protect him. Then, the issue of arms in politics would have been entirely irrelevant.
At a time when world politics are entangled in competitive tussles between nuclear powers and fears of wars ignited by religion or belief loom large, Nepal is not going to stay unaffected. Countries like China and Japan continue to move ahead economically but Nepal's own problems like employment concerns, education, and health issues remain unaddressed, and figure nowhere in the peace process. This only indicates shortcomings in the thought, character, and ability of the Maoist leadership.
A political agreement and arms management will not manage the conflict or establish peace, it will only create a conducive atmosphere for a roadmap to peace and political understanding. If Prachanda retraces his steps and goes up to Madi, the political journey and achieving the objectives will be much, much easier.