The split within the Maoists is seen by many as a final test of their commitment to peace, and a test of the resolve and authority of Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai.
However, this remains a metropolitan discussion, centred around the politics of the CA and trading of policies for money and position that has long defined Nepali politics. One faction of the Maoist party has already taken the discussion out of the Kathmandu back-rooms to articulate its position on a broader stage. For the last month, a Maoist cultural program, dominated by the hardline Kiran faction, has gone around the country laying out its critique of the peace process and more pointedly of both the position and integrity of the party leadership.
This program is a step above those organised during the 'People's War', with a red tent, a sound system and headset microphones giving the performance the air of a tv show. The backdrop of the performance reveals its priorities: an armed PLA fighter in silhouette in front of a colourful explosion. The content has also evolved from traditional songs and dances of Nepal's ethnic groups to a well acted, and often hilarious, drama.
The show tells the story of a Maoist CA member allied to Prachanda's faction who now lives comfortably in Kathmandu with a new young wife, and spends his evenings in bars taking money for favours from businessmen. He has short shrift with idealistic party members from his rural district, while his constituents live in poverty, nostalgic for the 'People's Government'. The penultimate scene refers directly to the issue over which the Kiran faction has chosen to fight the party leadership: control of the PLA's weapons.
A bizarre dance piece shows a group of PLA fighters committing to both the revolution and to never giving up their weapons, representing an almost obscene worship of the gun as a source of political power. The whole impression, sometimes looking like a North Korean Bollywood drama, nevertheless both entertains and moves the audience. The show's denouement comes when a young party worker rejects the CA member's bribes to work for his faction and returns to his village with a wounded PLA veteran, the wife of a man disappeared in the conflict, and an armed and uniformed PLA fighter, vowing to "continue the revolution". The message is clear: a significant faction of the Maoist party appears to remain committed to armed revolution as the only route to pursuing their political aims.
The show clearly targets not the general public, but the party faithful, and appears to represent preparation for either an effort to overturn the leadership or, more likely, to break finally with a party that in their view has been compromised politically and ethically, and failed in five years of peace to advance the Maoist agenda in its heartlands. It is a message that will presumably delight those who have always maintained that in signing the CPA the Maoists were simply engaged in a confidence trick, confirming that there is no partner for peace.
What the message really represents however is even more disturbing. It is a statement that Nepal's politics has become so corrosive and so driven by patronage that any party coming close to power will be both compromised and consumed by it, abandoning both principle and ideology for the next pay-off. The Maoist leadership has now itself been swallowed up by this and increasingly alienated from its traditional base. The scary truth is that the radicals within the Maoists have been proved right by the gridlock of the last five years: there appears no capacity in the Nepali political system for social transformation, not even, it seems, for effective governance.
The narratives that drive the political logic of the cultural programme are that many rural Nepalis remain in the state of poverty and social exclusion that provided such fertile soil for the 'People's War', and that the sacrifices made by its victims appear to have been for nothing. The poorest communities who provided the fighters for both sides of the conflict have seen no significant change in their lives since the end of the war.
If the frightening message currently being heard from radical Maoists does lead to a second 'People's War', the blame will lie not only with those who pick up guns, but with an establishment that has tolerated and fed a political culture that exists largely to sustain those at its heart. Baburam Bhattarai's challenge is to quickly prove to both the radicals in his own party and to the party's traditional constituency that this need no longer be the case.
Simon Robins is a researcher and activist working with victims of conflict in Nepal and elsewhere www.simonrobins.com
Key questions, ANURAG ACHARYA Handing over the keys to weapons containers has sparked an open mutiny in the Maoist party
1. jange If the frightening message currently being heard from radical Maoists does lead to a second 'People's War', the blame will lie not only with those who pick up guns, but with an establishment that has tolerated and fed a political culture that exists largely to sustain those at its heart.
Blame the system, not yourself. For every one of those that chose violence there are a thousand that chose non-violence.
It is time that these people were told the truth. They fought for a mafia organisation, not a political party.
23 SEPT 2011 | 10:51 AM NST
2. who cares who exactly are the victims?
those teachers who had nothing ot do with the war and were hung by the maoist just to send message to other villagers "not to oppose or reject or decline to support them"
those poor who get killed by security force in mexico for working for drug lords or those poor in nepal who kill the teachers for not supporting them..
robin's case is similar to those bollywood movie where some evil rapist is presented as a hero just for being nice to some heroin.
robin, you would have seen the true face of maoist if you had had visited remote area as a tourist during the war and it would have been even clearer if you had had opposed to pay them donation.
dont forget to visit as a tourist in next war.
23 SEPT 2011 | 5:50 PM NST
3. who cares SIMON ROBINS, you are not some secret agent, are you?
23 SEPT 2011 | 5:53 PM NST
But is it true that any party reaching towards power will become corrupt? If that is the message of the cultural program it is not a revolutionary message but a cynical one, thoroughly consistent with the world outlook of Nepali Times.
In fact, as jange confirms with his comment, it is entirely consistent with the world outlook of even more reactionary opponents of Nepali Times.
It seems more likely that the inability of Nepal's establishment to accept transformation will result in the isolation and defeat of that establishment rather than a split in the Maoists.
Interestingly it has already rendered the old parties so completely irrelevant that all attention is focussed on different views among Maoists!
With the degeneration largely appeared after nineties, one of the first signs of deterioration was the mass exodus of the leftist minded(for not to mention so called violence loving kamreds) people into better-accomodated sectors. In the corridors of a political party there were feudal party officials, behind the walls of private homes there were racist politicos and civil society leaders or as a media company there were propagators of religious extremism, all those who previously taught what democracy meant for all in Nepal. The shortage of Democrats was never tried to be alleviated, in simple words, the cure was worst than the disease. This not only displayed a lack of training of Democracy but for over years ignorance meant knowledge, running a remote control to turn on or off the screen to see favorite hindi serials was more important than to know our own geography or grammar of any nepali languages
And then we started to reap the rewards of improvisation, the low level of moral integrity of those who arrive in the power, the lack of ethics among the bureaucrats or students and the almost total loss of social recognition that once surrounded the figure of the journalist and civil society member . After tinkering in every way possible with the alchemy of Democratic learning, now the Kangress, UML , the Maoists or the Madhesi parties try to repair the damage occurred with the help of the peace process or constitution writing. It has expanded, for example, the violence, corruption, moral degradation among those who bear responsibility to run the country. This deactivation of Democracy has finally greeted with relief by Mafia culture.
Now, it seems this beautiful country belongs to either violent revolutionaries or corrupt and inept elite class which just promotes simulation rather than political allegiance.
23 SEPT 2011 | 7:31 PM NST
How did the author come to the conclusion that "significant faction of the Maoist party remain committed to armed revolution"? Is he insinuating that everyone who came to see a "free" show believes in the content of the show? Did he conduct any (non) scientific poll to gauge the viewer's opinion? Or is his conclusion based on the fact that people were watching a show that glorified armed revolution? There have been other articles in this publication which stated that most PLA combatants want to go back home and live a normal life. Some are happy at getting a chance to compete for an opportunity to be included in the Nepalese Army. So, Simon's conclusion that they still want armed revolution as they are watching a show that is glorifies the gun seems a bit premature. I agree that Kiran and his high level generals might still have a real zeal to re-start the armed revolution but I doubt all the audience watching the show were willing to pick up arms after the show was over.
23 SEPT 2011 | 7:49 PM NST
7. who cares 5. Nirmal,
the cure was worst than the disease.
the perfect phrase that describes my inner thought regarding nepal's past and present.
many many thanks
23 SEPT 2011 | 11:04 PM NST
8. Rabi It is a statement that Nepal's politics has become so corrosive and so driven by patronage that any party coming close to power will be both compromised and consumed by it, abandoning both principle and ideology for the next pay-off.
This is not a correct reading of the current situation.
The present problem for Prachanda and Baburam is not because of corrosive politics,but because they have not been truthful either with their partymen or with the Nepali people.
Now Bhattarai and Prachanda are blaming the other parties for not helping them implement the 4 point agreement.
Did Baburam or Prachanda or the Madhesi leaders discuss with anybody else other than some foreign government agents before they crafted this4 point deal? The whole process seems to have been maliciously designed to isolate and make the NC, UML and all other parties irrelevant in Nepali politics.
For many of the Madhesi ministers, credibility with the public is not even an issue. They are shielded from accountability to their public by a horde of opportunists in the media for whom ethnic identity trumps everything including belief in any political philosophy or ideology. Any charges against the politiicans of corruption ,lapses in integrity or character is always deflected with a chorus from them accusing everyone of anti-Madhesi bias.
But for the Prachanda and Baburam factions of the Maoist party, being from an ideology based party, their very credibility has come under question before the public.
By excluding their own party members and the other parties before forging this deal secretly ,done under the directives of a foreign government, their credibility in the Nepali public eyes has suffered immensely.
Maybe that was the whole intention of this deal-to expose the always nationalist-sounding Prachanda as an opportunist.
Paradoxically this has strengthened the Baidya faction in the Maoist party,which has beenusing this as a national sovereignty issue with strong resonance among many party members and the public.
It could potentially help the other parties like NC and UML but only if their leadership can act with courage and foresight, and not let the Maoist hardliners hijack the issue and present themselves as the sole champions of national sovereignty.
It is an illusion and deceiving the public to think that deals like the 4 points,5 points or 7 points can bring lasting peace.
If it is serious about bringing peace for the people,the present Maoist led government needs to direct its party to stick to the spirit of the original 12 point agreement and then ask other parties to do the same.
The people are tired of all these political games.
24 SEPT 2011 | 12:07 PM NST
The political elite are all corrupt. During the war not one high ranking politician on both sides were killed or assacinated, those who died were the grassroot/poor people. The corrupt politicians all survived (what a surprise). Until the elite, good for nothing/corrupt politicians are taken out, Nepal and its politics will always remain the same. While the country is bankrupted their coffers are filled to the brim or even over spilling.
24 SEPT 2011 | 3:03 AM NST
DEAR #9 BRAIN,
IT IS TRUE ALL WARS STAGED IN WORLD BY POLITICAL WORKERS FOR SELF INTREST , INNOCENT ARE KILLED
NOW YOU JUDGE YOURSELF WHERE ARE YOU?
25 SEPT 2011 | 5:57 PM NST
11. Tashi lama In the name of so called "People's War" Upper level cunning politicians took full advantage by misusing the power and lived a luxurious life, while the common comrades of lower level toiled with their blood and tears to fight for the revolution.
This indeed is the true face and reality of so called people's war, where cunning and clever rules, innocent and honest comrades are always at the fore front of the war, they are the ones who suffers and sacrifice their precious lives, but the clever and cunning leaders reaps the fruit of their sacrifice! Widows and orphans of the martyrs are left wandering without being paid any compensation, but still these sheep like innocent people still want to become an escape goat of so called "PEOPLE'S WAR" I feel pity on these foolish people who still have faith in the violence! knowing not the true nature of their leaders!
Bechara, lata haru ko asha, ajjai janyudh ma! Bechara-bewakuf haru, kahi ley aaonla buddhi!
27 SEPT 2011 | 8:43 AM NST
My humble request ! one mistake acceptable, second mistake tolerable to some extent, repetition of same mistake time and again is as someone told is like being flock of SHEEP. All Magars, Gurungs, Tamangs, Rai, Sunuwars, Limbu, Tharus, Himali tribals people and other Adivasi Janajati and Dalits and Madhesis rise up !!!! There is a historic need for you people to rise to develop Nepal. A day will come for sure. When would that be?
28 SEPT 2011 | 3:57 PM NST
13. sano bhai
Jange said: "Blame the system, not yourself. For every one of those that chose violence there are a thousand that chose non-violence."
Wrong. You may have been spared of the violence, you may have had choice between taking up the arms or not. But do not talk for the thousands of children indoctrinated during the war, who were taken by force in the ranks of the People's Liberation Army.
Also, the system is viable as long as it's people are either adherants or in the contrary non-adherants but non-reactionary. The system is everybody and englobes us all. to think that only it's political and governing body is the system is absolutely false. We are in our own way, accomplices to the courrupted institution of the times.
Jange said:"It is time that these people were told the truth. They fought for a mafia organisation, not a political party."
in politics, Truth is what we define it to be.
Again, you forget that the comarades in arms are for the most, young abducted teenagers, that they were enrolled by force and endoctrinated. Today, they are maybe 20 to 25 years old and have only the maoist vision as guideline.
For them, the only truth is that anyone who does not adhere to the political vision of the maoist is an imperialist and that you must be "putten aside" for a "Purer Nepal" according to their vision.