The high drama at Shamsherganj APF barracks ended this week when Home Ministry officials surrendered to mutineers. The government did succeed in securing the release of 17 officers taken hostage by their own jawans, but it had to sign a humiliating agreement with the rebellious policemen. This has set a precedence too dangerous even to contemplate.
Residents of Sisdole have been blackmailing the Kathmandu municipality for more and more concessions for the privilege of hosting our garbage. Every few months dump trucks carrying trash to the landfill site are obstructed, Kathmandu is forced to wallow in its own waste. A new set of demand is put forth, and the government relents yet again.
Students blocked highways and stoned vehicles the whole month because text books hadn't reached them in time. Another set of student unions took to the streets to demand hefty discounts in bus fares. Hoodlums of the bus cartel brought Nepal to a standstill because the government was not allowing them to fleece customers at will. A patient died when protesters stoned a car ferrying him to hospital. Several tourists were injured when buses bringing them back to Kathmandu were vandalised in Pokhara.
Suddenly, there are no Maoists to blame for these excesses. The YCL is nowhere to be seen. The APF voted overwhelmingly UML. Sisdole is a UML stronghold. Students affiliated to the UML were at the forefront of the textbook protests, ironically after the UML education minister resigned.
The transportation cartel is dominated by UML-friendly entrepreneurs and student unions protesting the rise in bus fares were led by the student wing of UML.
The Maoists may be masters in the game of manipulating the rural masses, but when it comes to stoking the fires of urban unrest, agent-provocateurs of the Balkhu Palace have no equals.
There were a few spontaneous bandas during the People's Movement of 1990. But bandas in their present form (involuntary closures strictly enforced by organised groups of trained vandals) was invented by the UML in 1991 to compel the majority government of Girija Prasad Koirala to resign.
The month-long protests in July 2001, which laid the groundwork for the suspension of 1990 constitution, was also the handiwork of Balkhu strategists. The UML's intentions back then were quite clear: it wanted to defame and de-legitimise the NC. But what do they want now by resorting to tactics that threaten to weaken the state itself? Does the UML's left arm know what its left palm is doing?
Anarchists want to abolish the state, by persuasion if possible and by force if necessary. Marxists would let it wither away as the state is gradually replaced by the community through a combination of revolution and evolution. In the Leninist interpretation of Engels' prescriptions, the proletariat 'puts an end to the state as the state' by assuming all state powers. In the Maoist scheme of things, sabotage of everything is justified in order to prepare the ground for the emergence of a New Helmsman.
Who is using whom in the UML-Maoist alliance? Is it the former Secretary General of Jhapali Naxals, Jhalnath Khanal, or is it the present Chairman of the Maoists, PK Dahal? The private duel that their public camaraderie hides will probably create more problems in the coming days. The marginalisation of Koirala, the person the urban intelligentsia love to hate the most, will leave the stage open for the two left parties to try to outmaneuvre each other.