Nepali Times
Guest Column
Fusion or confusion


Speaking at the Constituent Assembly, an elected body that the Maoists don't want to refer to as 'parliament', Prime Minister Dahal showed just how confused he is about his party's future ideological course.

He said: "We are at the cusp of transformation. We need to manage this transformation and take ourselves beyond the status quo. The people need to see a qualitative improvement in their lives. But because of the prevailing situation, we can neither reach our goal of communism, nor can we stay stuck in traditional parliamentary politics."

Ever since that speech on 14 September, existing doubts about the Maoists' commitment to parliamentary democracy have resurfaced and intensified. These doubts have not been allayed. In fact, subsequent pronouncements by senior Maoists have raised even more serious misgivings.

Dahal is right on one point: not only is it unrealistic to expect Nepal to become communist, it is doubtful if we can even be socialist in the true sense. Dahal himself has admitted that feudalism has not been completely uprooted, and we need to move from that through an economic revolution towards capitalism. But his hardline political stance doesn't fit the economic rhetoric.

The Maoists have been describing their current ideological line as a 'fusion', but it's looking more like 'confusion'. And because they are now leading the government, this contradiction is hurting the country. This lack of clarity doesn't just reflect on Comrade Prachanda but on Prime Minsiter Dahal, and through him, on the government he leads.

What is hard to explain is Dahal's allergy to the words 'parliament' and 'democracy' despite his party having come this far into the peace process. During the war, the main targets of the Maoists were the monarchy, multi-party democracy, parliament and the parliamentary parties. In this, the Maoists made common cause with conservative royalists who also wanted to weaken parliamentary democracy.

The Maoists killed, maimed and evicted hundreds of political workers of the NC and UML. They killed many teachers, journalists and intellectuals who did not agree with their politics. They indoctrinated their cadre on the revolution, armed struggle and protracted war, turning them against the very concept of 'parliament'.

It is a well known fact that Prachanda was in negotiation with Gyanendra, and he had said he wouldn't talk to the 'servants' when he could talk to the 'master himself'. But after he saw that his revolution was going nowhere, he was forced to negotiate with the 'servant' parties NC and UML and sign the 12-point agreement.

Bhind the persistent refusal to accept parliamentarianism is the Maoist leadership's need to present their transition to mainstream non-violent politics as a 'victory'. Which is why they are involved in elaborate semantics to hide their political defeat. They insisted on the CA being called a 'legislative parliament' as if the assembly's parliamentary functions would be any different whatever it was called.

The insecurity over nomenclature proves that this is a difficult political transition for the Maoists, and it has exposed the contradictions among party hardliners. The Prachanda-Baburam line is not followed to the letter within the party, and those in favour of continuing the armed struggle are still strong.

The sooner Prime Minsiter Dahal puts these contradictions to rest with a clear-cut pronouncement on multiparty, parliamentary democracy and rejection of violence, the better it will be for his party and for this nation.

After all, he is no longer in the jungles of Rolpa. He is a prime minister in Singha Darbar.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)