Nepali Times Asian Paints
By The Way
Divided we stand



The Maoist party today is as near to splitting as it has ever got. But it doesn't quite seem to be able to get around to dividing.

The leadership has tried to give the internal rifts a positive spin, by characterising it as a normal two-line struggle, and portraying it as proof of a vibrant internal democracy within the party. Furthermore, at negotiations with other parties the Maoists have exploited the hardline pressure for concessions they would perhaps not get.

The party establishment is under immense pressure from the NC and UML to implement past agreements, including the issue of the return of property. They have convinced the Maoist chairman to accompany them to Bardiya district where the cadre of hardline faction of Mohan Baidya have refused to return seized property. Baidya has also instructed loyalists within the PLA rank not to take part in the integration process and instead choose rehabilitation package which fetches them an average of Rs 650,000 each. The Baidya faction reportedly is banking on this funding to launch an even more decisive struggle in the future.

Pushpa Kamal Dahal and his supporters have rubbished the possibility of another 'People's War' and instructed Maoist fighters to participate in the integration process. Dahal is right. There might not be another 'People's War' not because he says so but because even within the PLA ranks, people are thoroughly disillusioned with war as a means to liberate Nepali society (see 'A war of words', #579 by Rubeena Mahato).

When the Maoists launched their armed insurrection 15 years ago, they looked for a cause to add "iron and fire" to their revolution. Objective conditions were ripe from Mechi to Mahakali, from the Himal to the Tarai with the excluded, the disenfranchised and the disowned. But there was no common enemy, as there was in the Russian Revolution. The Maoists had declared the "feudal monarchy" as their target, but it was hard for them to convince people to take up arms against a popular constitutional monarch in the mid-1990s.

Which is why the call for autonomous ethnic states was a desperate move by the Maoists to galvanise their revolution and give it focus. As Marxists, they argued that Brahminical hegemony manifested as class in Nepal's predominantly Hindu society which was protected by the institution of monarchy. This was, at best, only half true.

The leadership failed to take Nepal's demographic complexities into consideration before setting out to dismantle the superstructure of the state. During the war, they used ethnic liberation as a slogan to recruit fighters, and later pushed the autonomous ethnic provinces as a ploy to garner votes in the 2008 elections. Now, they have come to see they let the genie out of the bottle.

Yes, Brahminical caste oppression in a Hindu society was responsible for discrimination against Dalits and Janajatis. But when it came to geographical remoteness and poverty, Nepal suffered as a nation. Muslims are the most impoverished community in Nepal and surveys show that many Brahmin and Chhetri communities in the hills are as poor as others.

Neither was the political elite in Kathmandu and other urban areas, an exclusive club of Brahmins and Chhetris. It is not surprising that inspite of conspicuous Brahminical dominance of the political leadership, the lists of powerful Janajati and Madhesi leaders in all the mainstream parties are quite long. No matter how revolutionary the parties claim to be, they have all undermined Dalit and women representation at decision-making levels.

The people's movement of 1990 did not usher in the kind of change that the people had hoped for, which is why the Maoists managed to mobilise popular support for their movement in the countryside. But although the 'people's war' thrived on the ethnic agenda, Maoist ideologues realise today that they underestimated the dangers of abusing an ethnic debate in a country where no single community dominates any geographic area.

Last week's protest by the indigenous caucus in the CA forced the party leadership to backtrack on a tabled resolution to form a technical comittee on state restructuring. The group of 119 CA members from across the political spectrum warned their party leadership of dire consequences if their demands are not addressed in state restructuring. The indigenous caucus of CA members has a declared agenda of establishing ethnic federal states with rights to delf determination.

The ethnic agenda used to be carried by Limbuwan and Madhesi militants, now it is CA members from Janajati backgrounds who have stepped up. This is an indication of which way the nation is going if the ethnic debate spills over in poltiics. We don't want to go there.

Read also:

Now, the constitution

1. who cares
how much are west, india, china, japan, russia willing to pay for a piece of nepali land?

may be its time to sell it in auction.

who is going to be the most radical to introduce this idea?

since, its just a matter of time, there will not be nepal,,, so the first person to push nepal to that path will likely to earn in billions. 

2. jange

Why bother trying to explain?

The whole Maoist charade is a big scam and you fell for it- hook line and sinker.

3. Benjamin Franklin

Remind us: where exactly don't you want to go?  After all, Nepal's Interim Constitution 2007 explicitly calls for a multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-religious, federal republic of Nepal. 

The truth is that most of the three major parties are dominated by the six percent of Nepal who are Brahmin men.  Look at most photos of the party leadership on the front page of the newspapers -- 80-90% Brahmin men.  Look at the civil service, media and CDOs.  In truth, the Madheshi and Janjati leaders have been few at the upper echelon of power (especially if you separate Newars from other IPs).  For over a century, except one, every PM has been a Brahmin or Chhetri. 

The nation has always been rigidly divided b/n the upper castes and everyone else.  It's been mono-cultural centralism for so long that the high caste elites are simply afraid to permit Nepal to become what/who it actually is below the frozen, discriminatory structures of the past.

Why did no one complain about the poor governance of 75 districts from the 1970s-90s -- but now 10-12 provinces are inconceivable, unaffordable, excessive.  After all, no one seriously wants to separate from Nepal.  Where would they go?  There is an effort to create a more a sensible equation re-distributing power and authority back to where people live and respecting the cultural heritage of the rich variety of Nepalis across Nepal. 

Don't be so fearful, Mr. Acharya.  There is hope and opportunity and resilience in the future of Nepal -- for everyone.  Some provinces will carry the legitimate name of the plurality culture that has lived there since time immemorial, others will carry the common territorial name.  Everyone will have equal rights, but the demographics of the states will be different from the past.  India has not only survived but thrived with a variety of linguistic, cultural, religious states; so will Nepal. 

Don't fear what is different from you or your past.  Embrace it, as other Nepalis learned over the 20th C. to embrace Khas Nepali language, a discriminatory caste system, Nepali nationalism, a selfish 'Thakuri' royalty and the great traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism. 

In truth, Nepalis will build a more successful country when everyone feels a part of it -- which wasn't true in the very recent past.


4. K. K. Sharma

. The ethnic issue, more in the hills, and regional issues, more in the Terai, are here to stay,  Once unleased they have developed their  own momentum and dyanamics. There is no possibility now of going back. More thoughts is required on how to handle such issues.  And what role will geopolitics play in all this.? As it is, some countries are already dealing directly with DDCs and VDCs, and INGOs and Christian Churches with various communities.

5. Tashi Lama
C=Cunning & confused
O=Outlawed & obsessed
M=Moron & muted
M=Murderer of mankind
U=Unruly & stubborn
N=Nonsense & nasty
I=Idiots of illeterates
S=Stupids of Stalin
T=Terrorist of human kind

Communist created terror and confusion in this world, we don't have to go far, just look at the one party ruled Capitalist Communist of China and then looks at North Korea, where are armies are well fed and the people are starving. In reality Communist ideology confuses peoples mind sets and creates only trouble after trouble.

Down with party of hypocrites!

6. Soni
"Furthermore, at negotiations with other parties the Maoists have exploited the hardline pressure for concessions they would perhaps not get."

People have pointed out to this fact for the past year, and yet you choose to believe in the rubbish that there really are any differences. Clearly, the Maoists are succeeding in fooling some people all the time. There are no differences in the Maoist party. This is just a drama.

7. Arthur
Benjamin Franklin #3, I agree. But it is fairly clear where the writer does not want to go:

" it is CA members from Janajati backgrounds who have stepped up. This is an indication of which way the nation is going..."
Imagine how distressing it must be for a person like this to see CA members from Janajati backgrounds! Who knows where that sort of thing could lead?  

8. Nirmal
I heard Prachanda/Baburam and other Maobadis claiming that with ethnic federal states they are correcting the injustice done to these ethnic communities by late Prithvi Narayan Shah at the time of unification, in order to strengthen their vote banks. But what I see has nothing to do with justice, even less about cultural identity of 21st century. The Maoists and these traditional political parties lot have obliged us to go through kinda Backwards time travel where these racio-ethnic communities come out to claim their "racial rights" with their particular costumes and flags but unfortunately this time there will be no any King of Shah dynasty to unify the country. Today, there are plenty of netas here and there who tell them, "Don't worry we will help you to fight for your racial rights." How pathetic!

9. Rabi
# 8 Nirmal.

Baburam and Prachanda have lost their Maost ideology, and now are trying to play the race card to get elected in the next election. People can see through their patronizing tricks. Why they expect people of other ethnic groups to vote for them by playing the race card is not clear.
The best response would be for all the people to unite and elect a deserving and competent person from a dalit community to be the president or the prime-minister in the next election.
Mark my words,Prachanda and Baburam will do everything possible to prevent that from happening.

10. Nirmal

I'm afraid all this talk on federalism is going to be lots of noise for scant results. Because the very base is wrongly put. And what do you think of those who outrightly reject any racial arrangement being done? I think we are for more bark than actually we bite where we should. For sure, the majority of us are outraged by these top guns of the parties who don't even care on the specific reforms that they first ought to carry within their parties, but I would say that erroneously they are quite realistic. Then who we should ask to stop such arrangement? To this government led by Baburam? The hero of janjatis, Prachanda? The Mesiahs of madhesis or young leaders who look modern in their get up and language or the media? Do we have real power to stop this? No one mentioned above can no longer solve this conundrum seriously, as everyone of us have got bogged down in too much racio-ethnic details, Rabi my friend these political parties are too docile in front of these racial entities. To follow the racial guidelines is clearly a treason for all the democrats. I'm not asking for a federal structure that neglects individual's right to identity but what we all should demand is that the federal governance should be strong enough to impose its rules on these leaders or parties with exclusive racial identities in order to protect individual's physical and moral integrity i.e. the human dignity. Well the NC desires so but it can't. And may be by doing so there is a risc of increasing nationalisms of different races. But one day they will have to come out of their ethnic circles, I suppose. And they will see(now they don't want) that beyond their ethnic boundaries the demographic reality is quite different. And If they are emotionally attached to the homeland as it is and not as they wish it should be, they must start to assume that in all the streets/suburbs/villages/cities/mountains/plains there live diverse cultures of Nepal together. It is high time they bear this in mind and stop recreating those primitives and homogeneous nations of the past that are impossible to exist or never existed and abandon their idea to return to "those ideal nations" in the future. This is not called cultural identity it is purely a fantasy because they think that they are heirs of those who had immense luck to be born there and hence consider themselves superiors to those newcomers and are entitled to impose the conditions upon them.

11. Laxmi Limbu
Which is why the call for autonomous ethnic states was a desperate move by the Maoists to galvanise their revolution and give it focus. As Marxists, they argued that Brahminical hegemony manifested as class in Nepal's predominantly Hindu society which was protected by the institution of monarchy. This was, at best, only half true.

Mr. Sharma, You know the proverb in Khas Bhasa called 'Aachanoko chot Khukhurilai kay taha'.  So please analyse the history again then write some meaningful article, that will sound worthwhile. 

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)