It seems Comrade Baburam has had an epiphany and he wants the whole world to know
Photo: Gopen Rai
Just what this country needs, thought your scribe while reading the news, another political party promising salvation. A recent article reported that Baburam Bhattarai (BRB)
, Maoist ideologue, ex-PM
, and recent absconder from the Maoist Party, had summoned foreign diplomats and donors to announce the launch of something called the New Force Campaign. It seems Comrade Baburam has had an epiphany and he wants the whole world to know.
Sounding like a born-again free-market crusader, he explained the New Force was conceived to fulfill his dream of transforming Nepal from the economic basket-case he did so much to create into a shining beacon of capitalist prosperity and political integrity.
Maintaining a straight face throughout, he declared his Campaign was committed to rapid economic transformation, something he’s already achieved, come to think of it, for all his cronies and entire extended family. A further promise of jobs for all has precedent in the full employment enjoyed by everyone close to him and his wife while he was PM.
This absurd sales pitch from someone whose ideologically driven policies decimated Nepal’s economy sparked an eerie sense of déjà vu, going back to the last time comrade BRB set about convincing the UN and embassy crowd that the Maoists would abide by the terms of the 2006 Peace Agreement.
As Prachanda’s constant side-kick and the party’s token intellectual, the ever-serious BRB was the perfect foil to El Supremo’s obvious pathological tendencies. The only Maoist honcho who resisted the temptation to adopt a cool nom de guerre like Cloud or Awesome, his grim sobriety played an instrumental role in convincing UNMIN under Ian Martin that the Maoists had 30,000 fighters for the UN cantonments
(they actually had about 7000, as admitted by Prachanda in the leaked Shaktikor tapes). He personally assured all players the Party would no longer engage in illegal activities like murder, extortion, armed robbery and kidnapping (the end of the war led to a tsunami of all such crimes lasting several years, orchestrated by the YCL wing of the Maoist party.)
Here he is at it again, and it would be fascinating to know if any of the assembled dignitaries actually believed him. The last bunch certainly did and one wonders if he scanned the crowd to see if any of the diplomats he fooled back then were still around. What will be much more interesting still, of course, is whether the Nepali people forget the damage his class-war policies have wreaked and can ever take him seriously again.
In most countries a public figure’s record means something. In 1996 BRB presented the hapless Deuba government with a 40 point list and a deadline, threatening war if the demands weren’t met in time. One of the key ultimatums was ‘the domination of foreign capital in Nepal must be stopped’. His party couldn’t wait for the deadline to expire before launching the Pointless War
and Maoist trade unions continued to harass, extort and shut down Indian firms operating in Nepal for the next 10 years.
With the new-found faith of the convert, BRB’s now telling anyone who listens that Nepal must attract plenty of foreign investment to achieve prosperity and he’s the only man with the vision to do it. He could have saved everybody a whole lot of trouble if he’d thought of that 20 years ago, when strong economic growth of 6-7% in the 1990s was squashed by the outbreak of the war he declared.
His recent revelation that political stability is the need of the hour was a hoot, considering he’s made a career of destabilising the state, while his assertion that full transparency in government is the only option forward had us wishing once again he practiced what he preached when he had the chance.
Let’s not forget BRB’s chaotic 18 months at the helm of a Maoist/Madhesi coalition was heralded at the time as Nepal’s most corrupt government in history. His efforts to distance himself from the rampant nepotism and graft of his tenure are forever hampered by the antics of his better half, Hisila Yami, whose avarice became the stuff of folklore.
As if to prove the past will continue to haunt him, another article in the same newspaper reported the Supreme Court decision that war-time cases
of heinous crimes, dismissed by BRB himself, will be re-instated. This momentous verdict might explain why BRB’s suddenly in such a hurry to get back in power so he can dismiss them all over again.
Or perhaps the Hand is over analysing and the motives behind this historic launch are simply too noble for us mere mortals to ever comprehend. As an ideologically pure Marxist, it may be BRB’s manifest destiny to fulfill the words of his omniscient leader, Karl Marx, who famously stated ‘History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.’
His former party made sure we had the tragedy of a devastating war so perhaps his new party is destined to guide the nation towards a new era that fulfills the second phase of his guru’s prophesy: New Farce.
May the force be with you, David Seddon
Maoists tricked UNMIN
History will not forgive Bhattarai, Anurag Acharya