If democratic values are to be respected, the Maoists should lead the next government. The established practice of parliamentary democracy all over the world is that the government of the day, when defeated in the election, must resign.
But this not how democracy functions in Nepal. The political parties who were trounced in the election, particularly the NC and UML, have together formed a cartel to hold on to office. They are arguing that the Maoists must first prove their \'democratic credentials'.
The Maoists are continuing with their efforts to form an interim government, but the NC and the UML have put forward rather tough conditions for their support. Meanwhile, the media carries daily reports about abduction, illegal confinement, torture, extortion and murder of political opponents, media persons, landowners and businessmen by the Maoist YCL.
Explanations provided by the leadership don't convince most newspaper readers of the Maoists' innocence. On occasion exaggerated reporting by the media and NGOs, and misreporting of Maoist statements have also emerged.
The Maoists secured 30.52 percent of the votes in the FPTP segment of the elections, giving them 120 seats. In the PR they got 29.28 percent of the votes which translated into another 100 seats, making a total of 220 out of the 575 seats so far declared in the constituent assembly. They are 48 short of an absolute majority.
The NC got 37 seats in the FPTP segment and 73 in the PR with a total of 110, exactly half of the Maoists. The UML got 33 in FPTP and 70 in PR, with 103 in total. What these two parties lost since the previous elections went to the Maoists. The two Madhesi parties, the MJF and the TMLP together polled 9.5 percent of the total votes in the FPTP.
In the political hothouse of Kathmandu rumours grow every minute, with a mix of fact and fiction. And in Nepal things always seem to come full circle. In 2003 when GP Koirala met the Maoists in a secret venue in India, they offered him the first presidency in exchange for the NC's support for the Maoist demand for a constituent assembly and republic. Koirala refused. Today he wants to be president, and the Maoists are not willing.
With the approval of India and America, the NC has secretly conveyed to the Maoists that it will support them in the formation of an interim government provided they agree to the creation of a position of head of state who would be the commander in chief and have power to dismiss the prime minister, and that they give the position to GP Koirala. Apparently this is a pressure tactic to force the Maoists to disband the YCL and surrender all the arms in their possession to the government.
The UML has demanded that the Maoists disband the YCL as a price for their support in the government making. The Madhesi parties have agreed to be a part of a Maoist-led government if they agree to a single Madhes spanning the Tarai.
India doesn't want the Maoists to form a government till they have disbanded the YCL and surrendered all their arms. All the major political parties secretly support the army in their opposition to the proposal of integrating the Nepal Army with the Maoist PLA.
Tailpiece: a friend of mine, who plays tennis with colonels and majors, said that a section of the army brass has become well skilled in political negotiations.
Tapan Kumar Bose is the secretary general of the Kathmandu-based South Asian Forum for Human Rights.