Nepali Times
Plain Speaking
Resurrection, deconstructed


Protesters burn an effigy symbolising the Constituent Assembly in Baneswor, Kathmandu, on 28 May, 2010

On the night of 27 May, NC's Krishna Sitaula and Amresh Singh met Prachanda. They told him the PM would not resign the next day, and deserved an honourable exit. If the Maoists extended the CA and moved one step on the peace process, the NC would get the PM to resign in a few days. Prachanda did not buy that. The NC negotiators had a similar conversation with Dr Bhattarai the same night and early next morning, and also met the PM to assure him of full support.

On the final day, all top leaders were in the CA, but the core negotiators were Sitaula, Singh, Bhim Rawal and Krishna Bahadur Mahara. The Maoists first proposed that extension and resignation happen together: demand rejected. The Maoists then suggested that the PM could commit to 'resigning' in his speech, and privately agree to quit in two days. The other side said the PM would at best commit to 'opening the way' and the term 'resignation' would not figure in any agreement. Talks were stuck on this point through the day.

And then the UML cracked, with multiple voices demanding the PM could not hold the CA hostage. The revolt within was led by Bamdev Gautam, and younger MPs like Rabindra Adhikari. The Maoists were thrilled. Prachanda told a few aides that either the UML would blink or it would split if the PM did not resign.

Fissures within the NC had also started appearing. A few MPs even shouted at Sher Bahadur Deuba and Sitaula for not being flexible enough. Ram Chandra Poudel kept calling the PM to come to the CA, even as other NC negotiators told him to come only after a deal since he would be subject to tremendous pressure in the CA.

But the focus was clearly on the internal UML rift. The CA complex was abuzz with reports that 64 MPs had met the CA chairman, threatening to surround the well of the house and chant slogans against their own PM. Rumours circulated that they had decided to register a different party. Subash Nembang himself was angry with the PM, and had even advised him to quit a few days earlier. At this heated moment, towards late evening, KP Oli arrived in the house.

Oli realised the game had changed, and the fracture within was serious. Even his erstwhile supporters, like Bishnu Poudel and Pradeep Gyawali, angrily told him history would judge him and the UML very harshly if the CA ceased to exist. Oli could see that if they did not show some flexibility, the CA could be dissolved and the party could split. And if there was a deal of some sort, his rival Jhalnath Khanal would take all the credit and emerge stronger.

Even as NC leaders waited outside, Oli met Prachanda Ė on a one-on-one basis, and with Khanal. He asked what the Maoists wanted; Prachanda insisted on the term resignation in the agreement. Oli immediately agreed. This is when the narratives diverge. The Maoists claim Oli gave them a guarantee the PM would go in five days; Oli claims he only said that the PM would go in five days if the Maoists implemented commitments in the same time-frame.

But the UML-Maoist deal upset NC leaders who had spent the day fighting hard to prevent any commitment to resign in the deal. They told Oli NC would sign on but not own the agreement, as this had been done without consulting them, breaking the spirit of the alliance. Deuba spoke to the PM on the phone and both expressed unhappiness at what had happened. The NC's sense was that this had handed the Maoists a victory when they would have, ultimately, unconditionally extended before the hour of midnight. Oli tried to reassure them that the deal was vaguely worded, and could be interpreted anyway they wanted.

So what do we have post 28 May? The Maoists gained some political capital on the day, which has been partly neutralised by the insistence of others that they move on the PLA first. Within the Maoists, Dr Bhattarai and his line prevailed but Prachanda continues to remain central to any deal-making. In the UML, Khanal was pro-active, but Oli ensured he could not take all the credit. He has now firmly positioned himself as representing the other pole in Nepali politics and an indispensable interlocutor. The NC maintained a relatively coherent stand, but got locked in its stated positions. The internal dynamics of the UML and the Maoists will be the key determinant of politics in the coming weeks.

Magic wand, Dhruba Simkhada
Complicity journalism, CK Lal
Revisiting Crapmandu, Rabi Thapa
Professionalism and transparency, Artha Beed
Mťnage ŗ trois, Ass

1. Great
Excellent piece. investigative and insightful! It seems obvious to all that Maoists have been duped this round. PM Nepal is looking more and more pathetic every day for his carnal lust for the chair.

2. fatlang_futlung
Yes, this is certainly a very good piece!

3. KiranL
I second the first two comments. This is very sharp and insighful column, this goes beyond journalism and is considered opinion based on behind-the-scenes interviews and research. This is why I read Nepali Times every week. Thank you, Prashant Jha.

4. bb
It is nice to find Prashata moving from Teraism to Nepalism. His vision has broadened now. This is an indication of his maturing journalism and analysis. A great person takes care of all not only of his entourage. I want to see his comments on other communities in Nepal, not only vis-a-vis Bahun and Chetris, which is also an issue in Madhesi dogma, probably more than in  so called Pahari community. One day Pashant will be a star journalist of Nepal, not of a particular region. He deserves more. He has shown all the sign of his forward movement.

5. jange
Political gossip masquerading as analysis.

There was never any doubt th the CA term would be extended. All the members and parties had too much to lose and nothing to gain by not extending it.

The Maoists thought that by playing a game of "chicken" they could extract some concessions from the other parties.

No political issues have been resolved by extending the CA. It is business as usual for another year and the same "drama" will be re-enacted next year.

6. Nirmal
Political gossip masquerading as analysis.
Jange let's take it as general socio-political activities then it'll be a fair one, Prashant alone does not deserve this. Status quo from the Maoists has not been analysed in this article. The NC has moved one step forward and the article ignores this reference.

Although it's been tried to demonstrate that the Maoists side won(and this topic really intrigues the Maoists). Actually the date alone occupied the front pages of the political agenda from those days. Was the Maoists given some concrete guidance to describe the pact as historical as they mentioned it at the very first days of doing it? No. Had they revealed(understanding by other political parties) something of their mind ie Janasambhidhan? Neither. Had they extended a hand to those who were negotiating at that time? The contrary: all took it as an ultimatum. The option was "with the agreement or no agreement," which always gives much authority. But in content, there is not even a word.

7. Hermann
PJ says Baburam,s line prevailed over  Mohan Biadya,s,and still Prachanda prevails.The great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is going on silently a la Nepalese way.Baburam will either be Liu Shoaqi or Den Xiaoping ! Spot the Four.:Jiang Qing, Lin Biao ,Wang Hongwen,Ziang Chunqiao.Red guards are there already for  spreadingchaos.Criticizing intelliectualism as liberal bourgeousie has already startwed from  Tundikhel..

8. jange
Do I now need to understand Chinese history and politics in order to understand Nepali politics????

9. Nirmal
Definately, the disapearance of Maobadi daktaarsaap seemed chor police ko khel, simply there are things to guess; it is resulted that he was treated with the best version of abduction and kidnapping ever happened in criminalised politics of Nepal. The violence using revolutionaries should learn something from "counter-revolutionary with hundutva spirit"party. even the victim, was delighted to explain his experience before public opinion. Something is miserably failing kamreds, time for grand strategic shift or the sheer tactics to go with internal immovilism will pose serious threat to the significance of the Maoists.

10. Sargam
Such a bizarre article, just to hog the limelight the Maoists are spinning politics in Nepal. Never anything can be constructed from something deconstructed. A pen-pusher doesn't make the politics of Nepal.

 As of now Maoists are waiting in the lurch to avail themselves of the opportunity when UML gets divided and those hardliners join the Maoists to participate in the loot.

The government looks like a bunch of jerks and stupid ones at that.

11. Arthur
The focus on detail does look more like political gossip than analysis. It leads naturally to the (preordained) conclusion that internal dynamics of UMLs and Maoists will be the key determinants of politics in coming weeks, Presumably Congress are already so irrelevant that their internal dynamics don't matter (though one interesting bit of gossip was the mention of some kangresis panicking and shouting at Deuba and Sitaula).

Less naturally this focus provides yet another occasion for a reminder that Prashant Jha prefers Bhatterai to Prachanda.

Taking a broader view the outcome is that the MKN government is now a complete "lame duck" having actually announced its own resignation. The longer they hold on the less support they will have, now at an intensified rate as a result of their open bad faith.

The "clever tactics" of pretending to agree and then repudiating that agreement will of course be enthusiastically cheered by anti-Maoists as a blow against Maoists. But it has a different effect on people in between, who can see more clearly what kind of political principles (or lack of them) each side really represents.

The key determinants of politics remain as they were, quite independent of "internal dynamics". Completing the peace process by democratizing the Nepal Army and integrating the two armies remain a simple necessity as already agreed. A new constitution will have to be agreed and elections will have to be held under it. The alliance between UMLs and Congress and their joint opposition to federalism, peace process and constitution will continue to weaken both, even more rapidly than before.

These key determinants will in turn affect internal dynamics, further intensifying the split in the UMLs and further consolidating the unity of the Maoists around the flexible tactics they have been pursuing and perhaps uniting the Maoists with some of the anti-Maoist Madheshi and other smaller parties against the dying coalition as it has less and less to offer anybody.

12. Sargam
Essential is not what you have but what you make of it.

More precisely, it has become evident that the Maoists will never share powers with other parties and their only reason to be for the time being is  to hog the limelight. But they forgot that now we are on a war footing. They can no more rule the roost by making a caricature or a spoof of all democratic institutions of Nepal.

We've had enough of their affront. Now it's high time we took the good end of the rope by simply following what all democratic nations would do instead of walking out of it on a whim or else.

We have to do like Peru did in the recent past. The army and the democratic forces  must go together, hand in hand,  to disband the Maoists and their clique.

Everywhere when ever the nation was in peril the army and the patriots united themselves to do away with such limbs of Satan.

We have learned sufficiently from our past mistakes. Now it is time to act.

If Madhav Kumar Nepal as a Bahun doesn't have the guts and grinta necessary to wage wars against the recalcitrant Maoists he should resign immediately and hand over the helm of the nation to an able person who has the capacity to dismantle the Maoists' anxious and nail-biting status. And bring peace and harmony in the country. He shouldn't forget that he has all the legitimacy with him to thwart the Maoists' assaults.

We need to bag the honors not the reprimands. They have crossed the red line!?! 

13. hange

A key determinant that has been missed in this article as well as the follow-on comments is the YCL.  This pseudo-student terror group needs to be disbanded and its members trained to be productive members of society.  This will not only pave the way for a more normalised political situation in which real constitution-writing can take place, but also prove once and for all that the Maoists are finally transforming into a democratic political party versus the ruthless band of extortionists that they currently are.

14. Arthur
hange #13, the Maoist student organization is the All Nepal National Independent Student Union (Revolutionary). The YCL is not a student organization. Calling it a "pseudo-student" terror group merely underlines that you know nothing about it.

15. Bissey
History is repeating. The political parties in Nepal has never been able to draft a constitution. Same thing happend in 2007BS and Mahendra took over the power in 2017BS. But this time it is Maoist. Our country is falling in the hands of communists!!!

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)