From Singha Darbar, it is only 300 metres to the Royal Nepali Army headquarters in Bhadrakali. But they may as well be poles apart. It is pretty clear where decisions are made these days on security matters, on victims of human rights violations, about war and peace. The army, quite literally, calls the shots.
There is really no point, therefore, for civil society representatives to blame this hapless government for dragging its feet on talks, or for the UML to say that its peace agenda is being ignored by the prime minister, or for the international community to fault the coalition government for sidelining negotiations. The decisions are taken elsewhere.
Where this government could do more is rush to deliver priority services to priority areas, shortlist the hotspots for immediate relief and rehabilitation, and maybe start by helping at least those it has promised to compensate: the victims of Maoist violence. But in this vacuous state, where no one seems to know who is in charge, when even the simplest decisions are taken in excruciating slow motion, we are not so hopeful.
The incredibly rapid spread of the Maoist revolution in Nepal is not because it is a particularly brilliant idea whose time has come, or that it is a militarily strong force. It is because successive governments in Kathmandu have been so inert. That is why we have a situation where the government simply does not exist in about 80 percent of the country it governs. That doesn't mean the Maoists are there either, but they effectively fill the vacuum. This is also why they dare to call for a blockade of the Valley, hoping to test whether the time is ripe to bring the battle to the capital. How the government responds to this direct threat, what it does to assuage the citizens will be closely watched.
In a kingdom of mediocrity, it seems even our revolutionaries suffer the curse. Instead of building on their early support, this uprising is spinning out of control and into the hands of rampaging warlords.
When Mao Zedong said "political power comes out of the barrel of a gun" he probably didn't mean it to be taken so literally-you don't win people over by holding a gun to their temples. People may broadly support many of the Maoists' goals, but few agree with their methods. It may be wiser for them to make the jump to mainstream politics, while there is still a country worth saving.