The relatively recent transition from coercive politics to multiparty processes has already been a costly and embarrassing experience for the Maoists.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal had his way with the other parties as long as the dealings were limited to chiseling away at the monarchy. But now its realpolitik, and the Maoists suffered an embarrassing setback with the presidency debacle.
The Maoists have now drafted a Common Minimum Program (CMP) as the possible basis for political consensus to form and lead the post-election government. Their CMP is an exercise in populist generalities, there is nothing concrete to spur growth and development. There is no attempt to understand past achievements, and learn from mistakes.
Now the four parties have formed an eight-member task force to put together their CMPs and come up with the mother of all CMPs. Since these negotiations will now go hand-in-hand with forming of a governing coalition led by the Maoists, one can expect the CMP now to stand for Claiming Maximum Portfolios.
Just look at the main points of the Maoist CMP. It includes items like a national consensus on security, foreign policy and water resources, review and replacement of treaties, repatriation of Bhutan refugees, nationalisation of the ex-king's property, relief to conflict-hit, adjustment of the Maoist combatants, formation of commissions, revolutionary land reform and an ill-advised higher minimum wage for employees of multinationals.
The NC, UML, MJF say the CMP has to be linked to the provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement , many of the provisions of which remain unfulfilled by the Maoists.
Two items of the new CMP to ensure smooth supply of essential goods and reconstruction of infrastructure are closer to popular expectations, but the people need more than just words to experience the peace dividend. Nepalis want an explicit assurance that all outstanding issues will be settled without blackmailing the nation with a threat of returning to war. Since the same old parties and politicians enjoy predominance in the game of numbers, the rules of the political game this time around should be new and corruption-free.
Maybe that would be asking too much, but the Maoists are expected to shoulder special responsibility. They are the fresh faces, as ones who worked for revolutionary change, who hold the people's hope for accountability. To prevent disillusionment among the people, and dash their hopes all over again, the Maoists should commit themselves to three priority items in the upcoming CMP:
1. They must not just promise to disband YCL but actually do it and tell the UML that their Youth Force is an unfortunate, undemocratic and unnecessary countermove.
2. The CMP must be strong and unequivocal on ministerial corruption. The rot starts at the top.
3. Our world-acknowledged success in community development has unequivocally shown that when people are empowered to shape their own destiny, things happen rapidly, effectively, sustainably and inclusively.
The donor-wrecked Local Self-Governance Act must be instantly revived and revamped in all sectors of development and service delivery. Should this happen, even if the ministers continue to rake in ill-gotten wealth in Kathmandu, our local development process would go ahead.