Nepali Times
Plain Speaking
Widening gulf


It is only a matter of time before the 2006 political framework collapses.

As the three political documents in the Maoist plenum make clear, there is no question of 'dissolving and dismantling' the PLA. The Maoists will move on the PLA only after meeting three conditions – Dahal gets back to power; integration leads to some kind of structural change in the NA or gives the Maoists space in the security structure through a new force; and the Maoists get close to getting a constitution that meets their political line and the demands of their support base.

Most other parties are not in the mood to allow the Maoists back to power. They see the plenum discussions as only confirming their worst fears of Maoist intentions, of the shift away from a federal democratic republic to a people's republic. The budget antics of the Maoists would have weakened even the Jhalanath Khanal segment within the UML that speaks of allying with the former rebels – incidentally, the finance minister is related to Khanal.

And on integration in the NA, go no further than the latest issue of the thoughtful Maoist-leaning journal Rato Jhilko, in which a relatively moderate former NA officer has responded to a paper by Barsha Man Pun. There is a wide, though not necessarily unbridgeable, gulf in the understanding of a range of issues – integration, its necessity, nature and modalities, security sector reform, a new national army, and related issues.

Add to this the plenum rhetoric on India, which has only hardened Delhi's resolve to support the anti-Maoist forces back in Nepal.

It is not an easy situation for anyone. But since the UML, NC and Madhesi parties are at least in power, they can live with the status quo. It is the Maoists who are itching for change. Now to alter the balance of power, they could do two things. They either have to revive the spirit of the 2006-8 days – it was a strategy that fetched them tremendous gains but also required them to make structural compromises. Or they have to inflict sufficient damage on the other side, and bully them into submission. But they are not prepared to make the compromises required for the first; nor does the other side need them as much. The second is a high-risk approach, and could well boomerang.

The status quo cannot last for too long. The deadlock over integration and power-sharing, increased public acrimony, and rising belligerence on both sides are all signs of a coming showdown. Two looming deadlines – January 15 and May 28 – only add to the urgency of the situation.

The four-point agreement between the government and the Maoists in September held that all the remaining tasks of the peace process would be completed in four months, timed with UNMIN's exit. Integration cannot possibly happen in a month and a half, especially now that Dahal has made it clear to his party that the PLA will be kept intact.

So will the government request another extension of UNMIN? Will the Security Council (SC) accept it? What will be India's stand on the first major issue it will have to deal with as it enters the SC? Will there be a request for a downgraded technical mission, with an even more limited political presence, and can the SC live with that? If UNMIN does leave, what happens to the cantonments and who monitors them, even nominally? How will the Maoists play it? Does it mean the end of the Agreement on the Monitoring of the Management of Arms and Armies?

What happens to UNMIN will have implications for the CA. While one cannot discount the possibility of 601 MPs giving themselves another extension, it will be a lot more difficult for them to do so. The tussle over power-sharing is so crucial because each side wants to ensure that they are in power on May 29.

Non-Maoists fear that if Dahal is allowed back to power, he will consolidate control over the state and be in an advantageous position – irrespective of whether the CA stays or goes. The Maoists fear that even if the president does not take over directly he will use his discretion, with Indian and army backing, to give legitimacy to a non-Maoist government in a post-CA context. If this happens, as is likely, the Maoists will claim the reactionaries have derailed the CA process, and launch mass revolts. If the protests are non-violent, aka May, the state will have a low-key response; if it is violent, the NP and APF will manage if possible, with the NA stepping in if absolutely necessary.

More than others, the politicians know this is dangerous as the form of the new conflict will be uncertain. But it appears that, contrary to hopes, certain fundamental ideological and political conflicts that characterise Nepali society will be fought out on the streets, not the CA.

Two-faced, yes. Two-souled?, EDITORIAL
Is the CPA still relevant?, DAMAKANT JAYSHI

1. Arthur
This is much more like objective analysis!

Ok, so the deadlock may end up with conflict in the streets and that is dangerous.

It is also the way that most countries have shifted from regimes that try to govern without elections to regimes where failed governments are accountable to the voters, the army has no voice in politics, and the largest party leads the government.

2. K. K. Sharma
Yes, what Prasanta says seems plausible. In spite of what the brains of Nepali intellectuals think, simple logic tells us that " The fundamental differences are never resolved by consensus" So quite right... not CA but the streets will be the decisive factor.

3. who cares
ready or not,

here i come.

4. Slarti
Making predictions based on past experience requires an honest and fact based evaluation of the past, not wishful interpretation.

"It is only a matter of time before the 2006 political framework collapses." 

Everybody talks about this but nobody appears to have agreed on what exactly was that political framework which is collapsing. Secondly, what should be taken as the basis of that "political framework"? 

Undoubtedly, many would agree that it has to be the 12 point agreement and the interim constitution. I don't need to quote the specific provisions and points in each and how they have been violated repeatedly except to illustrate it by pointing out that there have been seven amendments to the constitution - each endorsed by the full house, for the benefit of the house members.

"Most other parties are not in the mood to allow the Maoists back to power."

Political parties are never in the mood to allow anybody to power other than, of course, themselves. The basis of evaluating political parties on this kernel is false and misleading. The fact is that these parties were and are in a catch-22, can't swallow, can't spit, or if you know your maithili Saanp, chuchunder ke peir. 

A lot can be said but their plight is akin to someone who has sold their soul to the devil, they simply can't get what they want and their only destiny is the end, its a matter of when.

"They either have to revive the spirit of the 2006-8 days � it was a strategy that fetched them tremendous gains but also required them to make structural compromises."

There was no "spirit" of 2006-08, those were the days when everybody thought they were going to make it, while the Maoists prepared to "break the legs" of their opponents to make sure, in the words of their boss, that the results were in their favor. 

Surely, as a journalist of a serious magazine you ought to be able to research that for yourself and arrive at your conclusion instead of your wish. 

"certain fundamental ideological and political conflicts that characterise Nepali society will be fought out on the streets"

There are two players in Nepali politics who do all the damage - the civil society crooks who derive their earnings (and status) from their political masters, the journalists for whom the conflict is a manna from heaven because they have a demand to sate and jobs to save, and the politically oriented goons who have never provided for their family, never shown respect for their own people but must wax eloquent about politics and what not.

That there will be a fight on the streets I am not convinced but then again if there is one, at least it would give us all some more clarity and a better understanding of how to deal with the stalemate that will emerge after that, right? Because we are not coming out of the death grip of politicians and their crony politics obsessed journalist, are we?

5. Slarti
As far as the comprehensive peace agreement between the seven party alliance and the Maoist is concerned, any claim that the basis still stands is to deny the events that occurred following the signing. Kidnappings, loot and murder, the spread of disharmony, the violence of words and everything that could ever be done to disturb peace has been done. To hope, expect or imply that anything could come off that agreement would be an insult to the intelligence of the general populace. 

But then whoever respected that in the first place!!!

6. chasing_che
if it needs to be decidedon the  streets , then be it. At least we will be ruled by the stronger ones . Its much better than the uncleared gender assholes, who neither are elected nor are nominated...had seen both 10 years of sheer misgovernance and obsolete policies and the war....I should say I would never ever love to get ruled by these assholes again..

7. jange
It is only a matter of time before the 2006 political framework collapses.

It collapsed long ago when the Maoists refused to carry out their part of the bargain according to the agreement.

Now, even well wishers such as this authour can't keep up the pretense that the framework is still standing or that the Maoists have any intention of abiding by it.

Prashant Jha realises the obvious!!! Hardly news is it?

8. rishav
The stalemate.

who benefits, who loses?

601 CA members benfit they get paid for doing no productive work.

Maoits beneift as they get to feed their PLA force, also earning themselves from the Government and Foreign donors.

People who wanted to divide the country based on ethnic lines will lose out , as it seems the majority of parties are not enthuisiastic about it, and sideline the issue without creating controversy.

Ultimately it is the people who will lose out, not having a strong government with no clear mandate, extreme political groups trying to force the way into power.

The Foreign players will get involved as they have previously and currently have had an impact. But really it will be the Nepali leaders who will shape our future and only hope they have the ability to come up with a solution.

The people are growing more frsutrated, their patience with all parties has dwindled. They are also not happy with the plans and directions in which the country is heading, which could also explain the current stalemate. If the stalemate continues a reactivation of the old constituion of 1990 may come into to force as an interim measure if they all fail.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)