Nepali Times
Publisher\'s Note
The golden middle


Girija Prasad Koirala's last conversation with Pushpa Kamal Dahal focused on the latter's leadership of the largest party and his responsibility to find a way out of the political stalemate to rescue the peace process. Emerging from that meeting, Dahal interpreted it for the media to mean Koirala had handed over the "responsibility" of being a successor kingmaker. In subsequent meetings, Dahal has been presenting himself as the elder statesman who will steer the peace process.

There is no doubt that the Maoists have a crucial role to play in resolving the present deadlock. As the leading party in the Constituent Assembly and Parliament, the Maoists need to rise to the occasion. Even if it is to honour the dying wish of a person they belatedly recognised as a 'guardian', the Maoists need to see this process through.

But that is just not going to happen as long as they insist on being not just 'top dog', but 'only dog'. Their public statements, the behaviour of their non-cantonment guerrillas, the continued threats of violence, 'revolt' and state takeover will always be obstacles to a Maoist-led government. The constitution is going to be a compromise between the political forces at play, and the Maoists can't threaten they will go back to the jungle if they can't pass the non-democratic constitution that they want.

Some argue that a non-violent Maoist that doesn't believe in grabbing totalitarian power is an oxymoron. There's a point there, but our Maoists have already shown they are different from Mao's Maoists by winning an election. The leadership itself has realised by now that their party's future lies in transforming itself into a parliamentary force because neither the Nepali people nor the international community will tolerate vintage 1960s-style Maoism.

This is not to say that the Maoists have to be like the NC or UML. The party won the elections in 2008 because it was the one that represented change, an alternative to the status quo. But an overwhelming number of people also voted for the Maoists (and weren't necessarily their supporters) because they wanted the party to abjure violence once and for all, and join peaceful politics.

We have to also look at this from the point of view of the Maoist leadership, which has to keep the party intact. There are contradictory forces creating internal tension: the need to reconcile the party's ideology of violent revolution with the need to engage in the democratic process. The leadership may not yet be able to publicly renounce violence because it has indoctrinated its cadre to believe in the Marxist theory of rupture, which deems that the path from feudalism to capitalism and socialism has to be accompanied by wrenching, bloody change.

Adhering to democratic norms and switching to the politics of compromise can be difficult for a party whose credo has been to bump off anyone who doesn't agree with it and for whom the end justifies the means.

But that needn't be so. However reluctant the ideological purists in the Maoist leadership are to admit it, the party is living proof that there is an alternative non-violent pluralistic path.

Girija Koirala has left a political void both within his own party and in the polity at large. A resurgent religio-monarchist rightwing within the Nepal Congress is trying to fill the vacuum. The ground is fertile for a right-military shift in the overall politics because of GPK's departure, the prolonged political disarray and the backlash against federalism.

A Maoist party that continues to push a hardline and uncompromisingly violent path will strengthen the regressive, rightward tilt in Nepali politics. The Maoist party may find it in its own interest, and in the long term interest of all Nepalis, to shore up the non-violent middle ground.

Real democracy, by Prashant Jha - From issue 495 (26 March 2010 - 01 April 2010)
Media mourning, by CK Lak - From issue 495 (26 March 2010 - 01 April 2010)
Political vacuum - From issue 495 (26 March 2010 - 01 April 2010)
Death of the guardian - From issue 495 (26 March 2010 - 01 April 2010)
Political being - From issue 495 (26 March 2010 - 01 April 2010)
Post GP - From issue 495 (26 March 2010 - 01 April 2010)

1. Arthur
The "golden muddle" has reached the end of its tether with pretty well everyone admitting that the present government has been a total failure and must end soon.

Last week Kunda Dixit "almost" got to the point of admitting that the peace agreement has to be carried out, the Nepal Army has to be democratized and the two armies integrated. But it was still "a numbers game". Still no explicit acknowledgement that Nepal cannot be a democracy without civilian supremacy over the Nepal Army and the old officer corps cannot democratize a feudal army - it can only be done with the inclusion at all levels of people who actually fought for instead of against democracy.

This week its back to hallucinating again. Somehow the Maoists are supposed to fear a "a right-military shift in the overall politics" in order to "shore up" the muddle.

In other words military threats are still the last resort of the muddle!

The Maoists have never threatended to go back to the jungle. They have made it utterly clear that they are already inside, as well as surrounding Kathmandu and the other cities and will not be leaving.

How many more weeks before Kunda Dixit fully accepts that there is no alternative to actually carrying out the peace agreement? What is the point of threatening "a right-military shift" to people who have already demonstrated that the right and military are incapable of governing Nepal?

2. jange
As the only party that has been given the right to use violence to achieve their ends the Maoists definitely have an important role to play.

Why not ask the Maoists to simply kill off all those that are standing in the way of progress. After all, if violence has achieved so much why can't it be used to get a bit more?

3. Johan
Kunda Dixit is living in a fool's paradise if he thinks the Maoists are going to give up violence or their goal of establishing a totalitarian people's republic. They nearly did it on May 4 2009, and if the president hadn't re-instated Gen Katuwal we would be a North Korea by now. The army is the only institution that stands in the way of a total Maoist takeover. The political parties and their endless bickering are just a distraction. The "right-military" shift is what is giving Nepali Times the freedom to write editorials like these. the "regressive rightward tilt" in Nepali politics, for Dixit's information, is what is preventing the Maoists from being "only dog". JD 

4. sameer
The article is full of typical wishful thinking --look Gyanendra is rearing his head, get your act together.  I wish things were that simple.  With no constitution in sight, and with Girija dead, the game has completely changed in Nepal.  Within a week, Kunda's own editorial has taken a 160 turn.  Now, he sees Maoists as a bunch of election-winning democratics  with some bad apples here and there.  The tone is softer within a week....

5. saru
I second the view of Johan. Why does not people realize that only institution standing between totalitarian rule of Maoist is army as all the so called democratic party has proven to be nothing but power hungry wimps. and to able to write this kind of editorials is thanks to army standing between this Maoist terrorist. I am sorry to say is that this so called Golden middle path is nothing but dream as Nepal is sliding into total civil war.

6. Arthur
Johan, you even think the Deputy COAS was a Maoist tool, so you cannot have much confidence that the soldiers of the Nepal Army will fight enthusiastically to preserve your privileges. The King was not saved by General Katuwal.

The army officer corps may well be the only instititution of the old Nepal still standing. But how long can such a medieval relic last in the 21st century? Who actually likes living in such a backward cesspit with most people living on less than $2 per day and having to leave the country to find work?

Nepal's Maoists do not want anything like North Korea, but have aspirations for something like Switzerland (which will take a long time). Army rule would mean remaining like sub-saharan Africa.

But how long could such right-military rule last? Suppose you could hold Kathmandu, could you keep the roads open for arms supplies from India? How popular do you think the right-military regime would be among the middle classes of Kathmandu after a few months of siege? What food would you eat? Perhaps like the politicians you would eat each other?

7. rishav
The dust has settled, realization is slowly kicking in for the Nepali people and parties. The Maoists ,who were not very impressive whilst in Government, hopes of the current CPN-UML coalition government breaking up has not materialized to their bitter disappointment, lasting a lot longer than they own tenure might I add. Also the current political stalemate as indicated by Kunda is due to the Maoist's political inflexibility allowing time for the dust to settle giving a chance for the Nepali people to realize what is happening around them and now finally reacting.

8. johan
Maoists don't Nepal to be like North Korea, they want it to be like Switzerland. Arthur, you're funny. Real funny!

9. Arthur
Naturally Johan is unable to explain why Nepal has to remain so poor, with an African standard of living, unable to express confidence that the soldiers will actually fight for his privileges and unable to explain how a right-military regime under siege in Kathmandu could actually hope to survive at all.

Unable to respond on these points, all that is left for him is cynical laughter at the very idea of Nepal aiming to become a modern country like Switzerland. (The program on which the Maoists won the election).

Even Kunda Dixit has a more positive outlook, believing that something better than the present is possible, even though afraid of the measures actually necessary to move forward.

But Johan, like the others heroically siding with the military against "totalitarian" civilian supremacy has absolutely no positive vision at all. This is the characteristic and fatal weakness of the far right - they can only cling desperately to the past and warn hysterically against the "terrors" of the future.

Their future lies entirely behind them.

10. jange
There are none as blind as those who don't wish to see.

Despite all the evidence to the contrary the NT thinks the Maoists are the party that represented change. The Maoists got so many seats because of violence or the threat of violence, not because of superior politics.

The Maoists have repeatedly and consistently said AND DEMONSTRATED that they are a party which uses violence to achieve their political objectives. Why does NT prefer wishful thinking to the evidence before their eyes?

Why does the country have to suffer Maoist violence just so that they can keep their party intact? If the Maoist leadership has indoctrinates its cadres with false principles that should be their problem not the rest of the country's.

Stop making mealy mouthed excuses for the Maoists. The country cannot be held to ransom just because the Maoists can't decide whether violence is an acceptable means to achieve political objectives. If the Maoist leadership has dug itself into a hole it is their responsibility to get out of it, not the rest of the country's.

11. Lal Dixit
Nepalis do not deserve Democracy. Its like Coconut in Monkeys hand. Life was better before. At least we had peace and security.

12. Ronnie

" Maoist wants Nepal to be like Switzerland"

Who are you kidding???????????


13. Arthur
Yes jange, "there are none so blind as those who will not see".

But you are not blind. You know how the majority of Nepalis actually live and what "peace and security" they actually had in old Nepal, and you know how the privileged elite you are part of lives. You also know that only military violence can prevent the poor from voting for the Maoists in even larger numbers in future.

You also understand, better than Kunda Dixit, that lecturing the Maoist leadership about non-violence will not persuade them to surrender to military rule. They have an army and a militia and will fight back. This you understand.

Since you obviously advocate military rule  (ie no elections or banning the Maoists from elections as "violent"), you should be able to explain how you expect such a regime to succeed.

What is it that makes you expect it to be more successful than in the last civil war. Do you think the Maoists are now weaker and the security forces are now stronger?

If not, what is the point of trying again when you could not defeat them last time?

If so, what are your reasons for believing your side could now win. India?

14. very funny

Switzerland... ho ho ho,

i like to dream ;oh yes something rational to our standards(basic nessecities first) but switzerland's off the charts..even for a crazy dreamer like those baddies who have never seen, been or know how that country function.

15. KiranL
"Some argue that a non-violent Maoist that doesn't believe in grabbing totalitarian power is an oxymoron. There's a point there, but our Maoists have already shown they are different from Mao's Maoists by winning an election." Really? This is what Dixit means by the "golden middle", he doesn't have to make up his mind. Have the Maoists really shown that they are different from Mao's Maoists? Not a day goes by without them breaking some's legs, extorting businessmen, threatening someone to get contracts or seizing property. The only way they are different from Mao is that they think Mao was moderate. The Maoists don't want to turn Nepal into Switzerland, they want to turn it into Cambodia. Ultimately, they are Pol Potists.

16. jange
Kamred Arthur,

Whatever made you think I advocate military rule!!??

The Maoists did not conduct a civil war. They merely terrorised a lot of people. It was a case of Mafia gone wild- with political slogans.

The Maoists are a bunch of losers who need the backing of violence to present their case.

The people of Nepal have seen the Maoists for what they are.

The people of Nepal will refuse to be intimidated by the Maoists any longer which is why the Maoists will not win- and the maoists know that.

The maoists are incompetent- couldn't even carry out a revolution successfully. But then they are not revolutionaries, just Mafia.

The maoists have repeatedly fooled psuedo liberals like the publishers of this magazine but even they are beginning to see sense.

17. Arthur
So here in these comments we have a small sample of Kunda Dixit's "resurgent religio-monarchist rightwing". Not very impressive are they?

Unable to explain why Nepal should not aspire to something better than African living standards, and unable to explain how a military that could not defeat the Maoists before could hope to do so in another civil war, they are reduced to whining impotently about "Maoist violence".

Sad really. What remains puzzling is why on earth Kunda Dixit hopes or expects Maoists to be intimidated by such a pathetic "resurgence". What is it about such people that ANYBODY could find frightening?

18. jange
Thank you kamred Arthur for so succinctly explaining the Maoist position.

As in comment #17 intimidation and fear is the source of all authourity. The maoists are more intimidating than A, B C, X, Y, Z, therefore they are right. Kamed, legitimacy does not come from being able to incite fear or ability to intimidate. Once people refuse to be intimidated even that little bit of temporary power is lost. And people are refusing to be intimidated.

Stripped of the ability to intimidate, the Maoists' words mean very little. Kamred Prachanda has already demonstrated that he can morph from a Maoist to a free marketer to a cow eating, buffalo worshipping, India loving, anti imperialist, India hating....(add in any ism you can think of) in the space of a single day.

19. Arthur
jange "Whatever made you think I advocate military rule!!??"

That about sums up the "resurgence". Lots of noisy shouting against the Maoists and their program of federalism, secularism and republic, but so completely discredited and rejected that they cannot even admit what they actually stand for.

Interestingly, while not admitting it, jange carefully refrains from explicitly denying it either.

Its obvious because there is no other point to jange's endless diatribes against everyone but the military. But it is also pointless because the military has already proved that it cannot govern Nepal and is so discredited that its advocates can only cover themselves as "the only institution that stands in the way of a total Maoist takeover".

They cannot stand FOR anything - except cynical laughter at the very idea of Nepal becoming a modern country.

20. Johan
Jange can speak for himself, but I don't think he (she?) is espousing military rule. However, both Jange and Arthur are wrong: the 2006 ceasefire came out of the realization by both the Maoist army and the royal army that there was a military stalemate. Neither side could win, and the Maoists further reaslied that the international (read India and China) powers would not countenance a Maoist military victory. Comrade Arthur, being holier than the Pope, will of course never admit this even if the Maoist leadership itself has done so. The Comrade is so brain-washed we all know what he is going to say even before he says it.

21. WS
"Nepal's Maoists do not want anything like North Korea, but have aspirations for something like Switzerland" I think you had  intended to say "Nepal's Maoists do not want anything like Switzerland, but have aspirations for something like North Korea" where  everybody forced to be crazy about dear leader (who has now declared himself the guardian of democracy and civilian supremacy and more self awarded titles are forthcoming) and any dissent not tolerated. Don't you see the relentless violence against dissenter or people with different view than dear and supreme leader !!! Either you must be very stupid not to see your dear pompus leader's vision or he and his bully school has taught his doublespeak language.

22. jange
I think Johan has got to the heart of the issue. At the time of the 12 point agreement the core issues were fudged or ignored so as to make it easy for the Maoists to sign the agreement. It is this magnanimity (or foolishness) of the non Maoist side that is now being used to create confusion, presumably to increase bargaining power.

The agreement was worded in such a way as to allow the two sides to believe the following:

On the Maoist side-
- we won the war.
- our violence is/was justified and legitimate
-The agreement demonstrates that the whole country is behind us.
- we are the only party representing change(agragami). The rest are ...
- we can use the cessation of fighting (by the other side) as a means to consolidate our gains.

on the other side-
- we have made the Maoists see the error of their ways
- we are giving them a chance to get back to the mainstream
- we will sign whatever we need to sign to get the Maoists on board so that the Maoist leadership can save face and not have too much problem with their followers. We have to do this so that the maoist leaders do not lose control of their followers which would be an even worse situation.
- we will agree to rmoving the monarchy and agree to the CA to allow the Maoists to claim some "achievement" for their violent campaign.
- we can use this as an opportunity to further our own political agenda

Its the chickens coming home to roost! The fudge won't carry further. As can be seen in this article and the comments (thank you kamred) the two sides are arguing from their own perspective of what the reality is.

For whatever reasons, the Maoists have failed to morph themselves into a political party. They have failed at every opportunity given to them. I am really surprised. Their level of political understanding approaches that of Gyanendra. In fact it wouldn't be too far off to say that they are reflections of each other.

Which is why we we get the farcical situation of the NT writing articles such as this even while the maoists are beating them up. And why this article gets up the noses of people like kamred Arthur.

23. Nirmal
I think Jange has point in making clear that one of the condition indispensable to be a political party is to be in the political battlefield san arms. There should be no far right, far left or whatever excuse to be dispensed off it. I wish NT and other media make a clear stance over a party carrying arms and giving birth to militarised outfits, this bhidtantra is a dangerous ploy to infame the current republicanism. No excuse for arms or muscle to any Tom Dick Harry, that is what Jange is for usually as general theme. And the politics of centre should condemn impunity and violence whosoever does favor so. Let's not confuse politics of centre with spot geographic that will be in benefits of all.

24. Arthur
Johan, obviously if either side had won a military victory there would have been no "Comprehensive Peace Agreement". My point was (and is) that the military could not win before so there is no point threatening "right-military shift" now. I also pointed out that the Maoists have never threatened to "return to the jungle". They continue to support the terms of the peace agreement (and are doing so from within Kathmandu and other cities, not just the surrounding countryside).

Having reached a peace agreement instead of continuing a military stalemate, what remains is to carry it out. The agreement included democratizing the Nepal Army and integrating the Maoist Army. There cannot be peace with two armies in one country. A year has been wasted on pretending that democratization and integration can be avoided.

jange, first congratulations on presenting an analysis and argument for discussion instead of just repeating the mantra again.

Certainly the agreement allowed both sides to believe what they wanted. The precise details of those beliefs can be argued about, but rather than getting bogged down in that, let's look at the fundamentals, and especially at your own beliefs.

A fundamental is that both sides expected to benefit (at the expense of course of the third side, which lost). Recognizing that is at least a start, although it should not be necessary. How else could there be an agreement?

Have both sides expectations been met? The Congress and the UMLs hoped that the Maoists would morph into a political party like themselves and that a deal with them would further their own political agenda against the Royalists rather than a fundamental change.

Instead the Royalists became completely insignificant (reduced to writing angry comments on the internet), the Congress largely collapsed and the UMLs lost so much of their support base to the Maoists that instead of becoming the largest party as they hoped and expected, they and the Congress together won less seats than the Maoists.

The Maoists not only became a "mainstream" political party, but the largest one, with an effective organization in every ward, while the others failed to re-establish their organizations in most of the country despite being allowed to do so by the ceasefire.

You can call that failing to morph into a political party and being a mafia, but that is just your way of describing the same facts - that they did not morph into party like the UMLs but continued with their previous agenda to actually change Nepal.

Like it or not, the largest mainstream party in Nepal remains determined to actually change Nepal rather than join the old system under which Nepal became a failed state.

So whether you call overthrowing the monarchy and holding Constituent Assembly elections "winning the war" or not, the Maoists have every reason to believe that they did rather well and the others have every reason to believe that they did not do so well.

Do you actually disagree with that? In describing the beliefs the "others" had, aren't you admitting that their grasp of reality was rather poor? Surely you cannot expect reality to change to suit their beliefs!

So what is your own belief? Obviously you don't agree that the People's War was justified and legitimate or that the whole country is behind the Maoists. But do you disagree with the Maoists that the peace agreement has allowed them to consolidate their gains? Do you disagree that the overwhelming majority of the country wants matters to be settled through a Constituent Assembly rather than by Royal decree?

What remains is the reality. Nepalese have had enough of civil war and the mainstream does want to move forward with a secular federal democratic republic in which policies are decided through elections rather than the old system.

Congress and the UMLs can join the royalists in being very disappointed about that. But they are stuck with it. Threats to use the army instead of elections are pointless.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)