Nepali Times
Guest Column
Hangover of war


Journalists, political workers, businessmen are still being targeted by the Maoists. They continue to be threatened, abducted, disappeared and killed. Tourists and ordinary citizens are being extorted.

Last month, 14 pilgrims aged six to 64 were severely beaten up and attacked by knives in Kalikot. Their crime? Deigning to worship at a temple.

We understand the Maoists are still trying to make the transformation from jungle to parliamentary politics. They have expressed this commitment in the peace agreement and many other accords since then. But this commitment is not expressed in any of the internal party documents, and it is urgent for them to convince everyone about their beliefs in pluralism and non-violent politics. The party still hasn't got over the hangover of war.

To be sure, the party that in the past didn't even want to hear about peaceful struggle or parliamentary politics has seen a dramatic transformation. They used to repeat Lenin's famous dictum that parliament was a place for "bourgeoise feudal class to chatter". The Maoists themselves once called parliament a "mutton shop selling dog meat".

But this month we saw them make use of parliament as a place to debate whether to vote out the monarchy. They finally saw a use for a legislature. But we still have to see whether this was the result of a genuine belief that parliament is an institution representing the people or whether they just want to use it for tactical political advantage.

There is no doubt the Maoists are republicans. But the declaration of a republic has been pushed back because of their actions. If the elections had been allowed to happen on 22 November as scheduled perhaps today we'd already be living in a democratic republic.

You don't usher in a republic just by singing revolutionary songs or wearing t-shirts. The talk is that the Maoists don't really want a republic, and their actions have benefited the royalists, no one else. What is the real story behind this, is it that the extreme left and the extreme right always find a common cause against democracy?

Our main destination now is the constituent assembly election. The NC is not that keen on elections, but the real obstacle is the Maoist party. It's an irony that the party that made the constituent assembly election its main agenda is itself trying to sabotage it. The reason for this is not hard to find.

Maoist leader CP Gajurel told a meeting at JNU in New Delhi earlier this year: "We have a battle-hardened army and automatic weapons. We will win the elections. If we can't win, we won't go for elections. And if elections are announced without our agreement and participation we won't let the polls happen." What could be plainer than that?

The 2005 Chunbang plenum of the Maoists concluded that the party couldn't capture state power through force of arms alone, and decided to go for an agreement with the seven parties. This is what made the 12-point agreement of November 2005 possible. By the time of the Kamidanda Conference last year, the Maoists had deduced that they could win in an election. By at the Balaju extended central committee meeting this year the Maoists evaluated the ground situation and decided that they couldn't win in an election. The reality now is that the Maoists don't want elections under any circumstances.

In fact, the Maoists wouldn't mind turning the current parliament into a constituent assembly. But we must make sure we bring the Maoists out into the open and create conditions for them to take part in elections. We can't let them run away from mainstream politics.

Prakash Jwala is the UML MP from Rolpa. This is a translation of his piece this week in Himal Khabarpatrika.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)