Nepali Times Asian Paints
INDU NEPAL
Politically Cracked
Alone in the echo chamber


INDU NEPAL


KIRAN PANDAY

The initial disparagement that met Pushpa Kamal Dahal's announcement last week that he would turn universities into barracks "if the regressive elements do not stop plotting" against the Maoist Party seems to have swiftly been replaced by the chatter over the shooting incident implicating ex-prince Paras in Chitwan.

Not one to miss a chance to grab the headlines, his party pounced once again on the "regressive elements" by claiming that the shooting incident was engineered by India, and the person who was allegedly shot at should be investigated because "it involves the issue of nationality."

It would seem that resorting to Tea Party extremism, and hoping for things to become true if you repeat them a hundred times, is unbecoming for the largest party in the country. Is this an indication of the immaturity of our politics?

2011 will mark five years since the Maoists left the 'jungle'. In 2006, Dahal was seen in Kathmandu for the first time, and his arrival was greeted with a mix of trepidation and excitement. He had led a war that had cost 13,000 lives, but his party had also fought for the people ignored by the state and the ruling elite in Kathmandu. "Will he be a hero or a villain," a commentator asked at the time. "It will depend on what he can deliver in Nepal's future set-up," was the answer.

Five years is a substantial time if you are among those who like to get things done. That is how long it took to build the atom bomb, the Achilles' heel of modern international relations. It took the same time to build the first space shuttle. Historians say it took even less time to build a pyramid, although admittedly the Pharaohs used thousands of slaves.

The point is it is possible to lead change that can have lasting effects into the future in five years. Dahal led his party through a comfortable election victory, and led a government with some clear indications of success like a surge in national revenue collection. But he lacked agility in situations that required teamwork. Yet he did something unheard of in Nepali politics, and resigned from the government after losing a tug-of-war over the dismissal of the army chief.

Almost everyone agrees the Maoists won the election because they promised change from the same old politics. But with a lack of vision and an outdated ideology, they seem to have lost their edge through complacency, unable to compete in the realm of realpolitik, and continually resorting to threats of violence.

As with other parties, the Maoists' mode of operation now seems to be to create enough noise to keep the people on top busy without doing anything for those at the bottom. Dahal's contribution in the past five years, especially in the last couple of years, has been to feed the noise in that echo chamber. Of late it is the laughable endorsement of the argument that India staged the shooting incident in Chitwan.

When a party's leader leadership fails to make a government work and starts losing the support of his peers, it is time for him to resign and make way for a new leader. This is an opportunity for Dahal to take the high road, and resign once again. This solution is simpler than the war we have been promised.

READ ALSO:
Who's bad?, EDITORIAL
Hollow loktantra, PRASHANT JHA
Aiding impunity, DAMAKANT JAYSHI



1. jange
In 2006, Dahal was seen in Kathmandu for the first time, and his arrival was greeted with a mix of trepidation and excitement.

And also loathing and disgust. Why leave them out?

He had led a war that had cost 13,000 lives, but his party had also fought for the people ignored by the state and the ruling elite in Kathmandu.

Do you really believe that the Maoists were fighting for the people? by killing them? The Maoists fought to get themselves into power.

But he lacked agility in situations that required teamwork.

He is just a mafia don. That is why he couldn't manage a government.

Yet he did something unheard of in Nepali politics, and resigned from the government after losing a tug-of-war over the dismissal of the army chief.

No, he resigned because he lost the confidence of his coalition partners and could not have commanded a majority in parliament.

Almost everyone agrees the Maoists won the election because they promised change from the same old politics.

Don't know who you have been talking to but most people that I have met agree that the Maoists won a lot of seats because of fear and intimidation. I expect a journalist to be less gullible than me.

But with a lack of vision and an outdated ideology, they seem to have lost their edge through complacency, unable to compete in the realm of realpolitik, and continually resorting to threats of violence.

The only vision they had or have is to be in power. They can never accomplish anything except through violence.

When a party's leader leadership fails to make a government work and starts losing the support of his peers, it is time for him to resign and make way for a new leader.

Mafia dons don't retire. They leave their post through other means.


2. Arthur
Ok this call for Prachanda to resign Maoist party leadership is at a much higher level than Prashant Jha's personal attacks.

It is at least a political critique, claiming that he has failed to deliver change over 5 years. That is the sort of critique one can discuss.

As for the political immaturity of some recent statements from Maoists about the Paras incident, there seems no reason to blame that on Prachanda or indeed on the Maoist party as such. The reports of immature remarks have not been reports of official party statements. Good leadership cannot ensure that no party member ever makes a politically immature statement unless you want a Maoist party with no internal diversity.

Isn't the growing public frustration over the failure to deliver a new Nepal itself a change?

Sure, many KTM elite types will be happy to blame Prachanda for the paralysis, at the very same time as they support blocking every move forward. But aren't most of the people frustrated by the current situation drawing rather different conclusions?

For example are the people who voted for Madheshi parties now frustrated at the Maoists, or frustrated at the parties they voted for? What about the UMLs and Congress? Are their supporters happy with their achievements in blocking the largest party from governing?

It seems to me that there aren't likely to be many Maoist supporters who have moved over to supporting the obstructionist parties as a result of the Maoist failure to overcome their obstruction!

Perhaps some other leader would be less hated by elites.

But do these elites really matter as much as they used to? In the course of five years a return to civil war has been avoided and it has become more and more difficult for anyone to hope that would work. So the frustrated elite cannot block the frustrated masses from eventually making the changes required.

It seems that even Nepali Times is growing bored at waiting for the old order to collapse in complete banktuptcy. Hurry up Maoists and put an end to the misery, seems to be the underlying point of the article! Fortunately the party is patient enough to let the old order fully demonstrate its complete uselessness to the point where nobody who actually matters has the slightest doubt about the need to move on.



3. Bhaicha
Nepal will now be ruled by the Warlords. Stalin was nothing without his army. So was Mao. So  Mohan Baidya Kiran  is justified to say what he says. 
One party proletarian dictatorship is in your destiny poor Nepalese.


4. Slarti

According to the election commission site, the Maoists got 29.28% of the total PR votes of 10739078, which is 3144204, that is over 3 million Maoist supporters, of a total of nearly 11 million actual voters. Since PR results should be representative of party support so here is the support for NC at 21.14%, and UML 20.3%, the rest were also ran.

Funnily though for the Madhesi's appear to have voted in a far more concentrated and strategic manner because given that 50% of the country is down there, the MPRF got only 6.3%, TMLP 3.2%, pretty bad actually and yet the number of seats they got in FPTP were pretty high in relation to the votes. 

This next bit is a little confusing because what I have done is simply taken the number of votes for the winning candidate only and added them up, the Maoist voters hit the bulls eye most frequently which means that there voting was concentrated, that is they got votes in hordes, so the split here is 

Maoists won 120 seats of the 239 in total. So in PR they get about 30% votes but in FPTP they have 50% seats, and at what rate did they strike for a winner? Of the 3144204 votes, 2208062 were backing the winning candidate, that is 70% of the Maoist voters voted for the winning candidate. Great stuff, right? 

What about the NC and UML? In case of NC, of the 2269883 that is well over 2 mil right, only 23.6% were voting for the winning candidate. and the UML, 22.2% of their voters ended up voting for a winning candidate, tallies for the latter two, right. 

Guess about Madhesi lights, MPRF 63% of voters in PR voted for the winner, and TMLP? nearly 30%.

So what was it about the voters of the Maoists that gave them such a huge strike rate?

Another interesting fact is that 60 of the Maoist candidates won by a margin of more that 6000, with about 30% of total voting populace's support, 30 by more than 10000, 8 of them by over 20,000 and the top two had over a 30,000 and 40000 margin.

Contrast that with UML whose highest winning margin was 6469 and the congress which scraped through with the best margin of 9395, in Rautahat. 

 



5. Slarti

In Gorkha, there are potentially 210974 voters according to the 2001 census. (I have eliminated the up to 9 year populace because they would not be old enough yet) of whom 115847 voted for Maoists. This means that 115847/210974 or 55% of the voting population. Nothing wrong with that, but the thing is that in the three constituencies, the vote for the 2nd and 3rd candidates were (in total) 34459. That is in three Gorkha constituencies a total of six opponents of the Maoists got 34459.

So, the total number of votes cast for the top three candidates in all three constituencies of Gorkha equals 150306, the Maoist corner an incredible 115847/150306= 77% of that vote. I have pasted the table down here, I am not sure if it will stick in the comment box. Notably, 150306 also compute as 71% of the voting eligible pop. (Not as per election commission, but as part of the census calculated population of Gorkha).

Notably, Gorkha is only 57% literate, or was at the time of 2001, that is 7 years before the election, so it is to be expected that heightened terrorism would have had an impact there. The worst impacted would have been the village dwellers. 

1

Gorkha

1

Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists)

Parbati Thapa Shrestha

40606

2

Gorkha

1

Nepali Congress

Chiranjibi Wagle

9142

3

Gorkha

1

Communist Party of Nepal (UML)

Baburam Thapa

4339

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

Gorkha

2

Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists)

Baburam Bhattrai

46272

2

Gorkha

2

Nepali Congress

Chandra Prasad Neupane

6143

3

Gorkha

2

Communist Party of Nepal (UML)

Hari Prasad Kafle

2083

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

Gorkha

3

Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists)

Amar Bahadur Gurung (Tamu)

28969

2

Gorkha

3

Nepali Congress

Chinkaji Shrestha

7442

3

Gorkha

3

Communist Party of Nepal (UML)

Bikal Kumar Shrestha

5310

 But, if you want an eye opener, go to the stats for Rolpa. Potential voting eligible population according to the census could have been 146686. There are two seats in the district and the top three candidates in each (that is 6) got a total of 79,094 that is 54%. Of that 54%, 77% voted for the Maoist candidates. The margins in the two constituencies, the winner in const. 1 got 26505 with the closest getting 4946 and in 2, the winner got 34220 against the second best of 6029.



6. Slarti

Another interesting fact about elections in Nepal, the voter turnout in 91 was 65.15, in 94 it was 61.86% and in 99 it was 65.79%. What was it is 2008? 63.29%.  For the series, NC secured 37.75% or over 2.7 mil votes in 91, 33.38% for over 2.6 mil in 94 and finally 36.14% for over 3.2 mil in 99. 

I have better stats on Gorkha election in 08, total number of voters according to EC, 2,49,945, those who turned up to vote 165795, that is an attendance of 66.33%, of which 4412 votes were invalid. So, of the total valid votes of 161383, the Maoists got 115847, 71.78% of the votes.  

None of the stats I have posted in themselves means that the election was totally fishy but numbers reveal a lot about choices made, if you find out where they were made? in what conditions they were made? the probability that they would be made given historic choices? what is perceived as the rational thing to do by the maker of the choice, even as it defies conventional wisdom? who people perceive to be the winners, and a whole host of factors such as whether people want to turn up to vote or are asked to do so.

Does not at all mean they rigged it, just that the stats are revealing and beg for more detailed inquiry. An interesting point would be to look at the intensity of conflict map and the election results, you would find that very interesting.



7. Slarti
"Five years is a substantial time if you are among those who like to get things done.

You are right Indu, five years is a long time to get things done but for that you have to first know what it is that you want getting done. The politicians in Nepal do not have a synthesis by which they can deliver. There were two immediate objectives, easy to do and easy to be done with and they got it done.

However, when you want peace, you are supposed to define the conditions for it, clear path that you would follow towards it, and set deadlines and ensure that failure to meet them is penalised. Same is the case for democracy, federalism, secularism and everything else. You need to have specific milestones.

Moreover, what is the vision for the country, I don't understand any? So they want economic prosperity, is that all? Is everything that is happening for that purpose alone? That's what you hear BRB and PKD talking about. Is the vision of society any different for anybody in UML or in NC. I don't see how.

They all appear to convert Nepal into a country that is not Nepal. Into a vision of some blank headed college graduates who talk of how as soon as we all get together, everything will be sorted. They are not college kids are they? They have to see the real world now.


8. Anish
Of course, Maoist rigged the CA election and of course they won it through fear and intimidation but other political parties had no moral strength to challenge them. It's what they had been doing for years. But, I dont understand why so-called ' नागरिक समाज' and international observers turned blind eye towards the enormities of Maoist. What could have convinced them that Maoist had abandoned their ultimate goal of turning Nepal into North Korea?


9. Battisputali
Dear Slarti, 

I am sorta offended with your regressive[ :) ]comparison of Nepal's political leaders with 'college graduates' who are called 'blank headed'.  :/

Some college kids see the world better than some of our politicians. May i point out to those kids who have taken the initiative to set up wind turbines (mentioned in Rubina's article)?, or the recent college graduates that run Arthalaya? or the college graduates who help Mahabir Pun with that man's important work? These recent graduates have of course turned their vision into concrete action. I could provide other examples but i fear i might use a lot of the comment space. 

Now,more importantly,an assignment for you: as a citizen of Nepal that clearly cares a lot for it, what is your vision for the country? 

[Just to clarify so that you don't answer with an angry rant, I ask out of due respect for you and the country you so care for]


10. jange
8. Anish
Of course, Maoist rigged the CA election and of course they won it through fear and intimidation but other political parties had no moral strength to challenge them. It's what they had been doing for years. But, I dont understand why so-called ' नागरिक समाज' and international observers turned blind eye towards the enormities of Maoist. What could have convinced them that Maoist had abandoned their ultimate goal of turning Nepal into North Korea?

My suggestion to you is to ask the question to these people who claim to be the " Nagarik Samaj". This is one way of getting them to be responsible for their complicity in creating the present situation. My own experience of asking them why they turned a blind eye has been varied: embarrassed silence, tirade against anyone and everyone, incomprehensible Marxist/maoist/trotskist etc. jargon and so on. A few have said it was due to fear, and some that they expected that the small amount of violence would eventually lead to a much better situation and that it would be worth it. Try it. It's not as hard as it appears.

As for the international or donor community it is in their interest to have some sort of turmoil- either personal or for their own countries. You can really blame them for furthering their own interests even though it is at the expense of Nepalis life and limb. I did meet quite a few foreign aid workers who regarded the Maoist violence as a jolly adventure and a good opportunity as it gave them an opportunity to make good money without doing too much.


11. Slarti

Dear Battisputli, I am not offended by you saying that I deliver angry rants, I always like to think of myself as a reasonable person but then so does everybody I guess. To defend my comments would be unnecessary, if they look like rants I apologise to you.

Let me answer your question at the start, I don't have a vision for Nepal, I am mostly a homemaker and a lowly clerk who just wants to be happy. And I can't under the daily tirade of fools who insult everything I hold dear. My religion, my society – which has many faults like every other society - and a whole lot more.

I am too smart and too well read to have a single vision for the country. I don't waste my time on that and I am humble and reasonable enough to know that my focus has to be the well-being of my family and ensuring that my and family's behaviour towards others is respectful.

I am not political; most people are not because politics is the sideshow of the society, not the centre of it. God is, family is, children are, traditions are, most things are, but not politics.

I write because I have seen a world destroyed and misrepresented by those who repeatedly show themselves to be mediocre fools.

A small portion of politics obsessed people who could not know how hard it is to produce a pin or food have taken over the country with the help of people who are extremely savvy talking about the vision thing, but not good at doing anything.

I am dissatisfied with this situation because I have seen with my own two eyes how a party affiliated rowdy crowd destroys life. For example, with my own ears and eyes I heard a bunch of buffoons back in 2062/63 about assaulting an old pahari man who asked me where the police station was. Not one of them was capable of providing for themselves, nobody destroyed their lives, they themselves did, they are just not brave enough to accept that responsibility. This happened because of how the media presented their view as the consensus in Tarai.

The town that I refer to is devoid of any life in it. There is no cheer left in the town or in the villages.

I am not a pahari, I can easily walk away from any of these arguments and shut myself out of Nepal, but I won't. I love this country and its traditions and the variety of people, and its incredible physical beauty too much to let myself get bullied out of here, at least spiritually. I will not even be cowed down by the bahun-chettri, trader bourgeois comprador, cahones (Spanish for balls, in editorial, bravo) and a whole host of gobbledegook that people like Indu and Prashant and CK are capable of producing.

What I hope for will take a lot of time to express in a single comment, I simply don't have the time or the inclination for it.



12. Nirmal

Speaking on the urgent need to encourage the emergence of new faces to take charge of the situation arising, especially from the Maoists is something new but remains a priority from now on. A possible replacement of current Maoist head. Meanwhile, Mr. Bhattarai is arguing within and outside party walls that the debate should not be on names but on ideas, and I do not know if he is saying this to stop the �rumours�. Because, really, does he think that the concepts can be separated from the leadership. I hope that in their hearts(not in behaviour), they would not hesitate TO THINK even a second of something fundamental in politics: the ideas that drive a political project are welded to the personality of those who run, interpret and make decisions. It is therefore absurd to suggest a discussion of ways to take UCPN Maoists or say the NC on the sidelines of the discussion about the profile of those who must lead these acronyms. Leadership is not the icing on the cake i.e. writing a political paper beyond its main supporter, but a sum of will, vision and concepts.

Right now, It is more difficult to bear ideas that serve to redraw a political narrative to delete the faces that have burned in our democratic contest. But the birth of leaders is a task where personal desires and the formulation of a new project advance in parallel, emerging from a subtle, laborious and obscure dialectic between the intuitions of a small group of individuals and forces that they get together under a banner. Take a classic case to illustrate this: J. F. Kennedy was not yet the leader of the New Frontier when on January 2, 1960 announced that he would compete in the Demos primary for the nomination of candidate for U.S. presidency. The ideas of the legendary president amassed as his team was winning a tough battle against the other candidates and against the various sectors that saw him as a mediocre senator and son of a millionaire father. The paradox is that most internal resistance came initially from the more progressive wing of the party, which was then superseded by a presidential program of ambitious reforms. Kennedy still did not know what it would be Kennedy when he dived into the deep end of American politics but later discovered it marvellously.

Let�s get back to our own country and the present. The Maoists and the NC must roll up their sleeves, the UML makes no meaning being or not being, being and nonbeing. In a way, the NC is called to recreate itself, but in Sanepa durbar they do not use this verb , being overly dramatic. The Maoists, however, needs to find its centre of gravity on a political map, it is subject to long-range mutations. Without clear ideas (well except the tactics and marketing circumstantial), Prachanda alone can not assume this challenge, and it is of no use if not �those brilliant theories written by so called ideologues�, while no figure in the Maoists appear who can adapt to the reality.



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