The Maoists have had two chances to rule this country, and they have squandered both. They have flouted the rule of law, failed in governance, and their public support base is eroding. Senior civil servants and secretaries are resigning because of pressure from ministers, cadre and power-hungry Maoist unions. It is therefore stupid to expect a party like this to give people their rights or improve their livelihoods. Worse, the Maoists are openly coddling those found guilty of murder and other crimes and granting mass pardon to 367 people facing such charges. It's as if the Maoist prime minister wants to convey the message that his party can do anything, commit any crime and get away with it. Such impunity has further tarnished the domestic and international reputation of the party. It took a German minister to draw attention to this during a recent visit, and warn that aid to Nepal may be affected if the general amnesty proposal went through.
It is now clear that however much the Maoists talk about their 'people's war' for societal transformation, all they have tried to do in the past four years is demolish democracy and support authoritarianism. The party still seems to think it needs guns to ensure victory in elections and doesn't want to disarm, and its leaders keep threatening to return to the jungle, wage a people's revolt or unleash rivers of blood.
In the midst of all this, the supreme leader of the Maoists, Prachanda, after waging a war that killed 15,000 Nepalis, disappeared and displaced thousands more has suddenly decided to become a follower of Gautam Buddha, the prince of peace and compassion. This could be considered a positive move if Prachanda suddenly had pangs of conscience about the suffering he unleashed, or because he is scared of being dragged to the war crimes tribunal. All the world's religions and laws prohibit the taking of human life, yet leaders who celebrate violence and boast about their killings want to be seen as believers of non-violence. But first, the Maoist leader and his followers have to prove to us that they really mean it.
Why don't the adherents of Prachandapath mark the next auspicious full moon day by meditating for enlightenment under the Bodhi tree? Let the former guerrillas in the camps and YCLs also shave their heads, dress in monks' robes and chant "Buddham saranam gachhami, dhamam saranam gachhami, sangam saranam gachhami"? And let them say that they have forever forsaken the path of violence. Only then will it suit Prachanda and his disciples to lead the committee on Lumbini and welcome Ban Ki-moon. The UN chief's visit may have been cancelled for now, but at some point he should come and bear witness to this transformation of the Maoists to a truly non-violent party.