|ALL SMILES: State security with submachine guns and armed bodygaurds of Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal share a joke at a well-attended Maoist campaign rally in Dang on Tuesday. Elsewhere, YCL continued its violent attacks on rallies by other parties.|
The recent escalation of campaign violence was not totally unexpected, but what is worrying is that it seems to be part of a deliberate plan to derail elections two weeks before polling date.
The khukuri attack on ex-NC minister Bal Bahadur KC in Solu on Wednesday was only the latest in a series of violent attacks on the UML, RPP and RJP rallies all over the country.
"The YCL's intimidation and attacks are much more widespread and serious than it is reported in the media," UML leader Amrit Bohara told Nepali Times, "it was getting too much, and in Solu we saw that people are beginning to resist."
Most politicians are convinced that it is not likely that the top comrades don't know what is happening given the coordinated nationwide nature of the attacks.
Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal has said his cadre have also been killed in Rolpa and Solu, and blamed the media for being in the payroll of "foreign powers" to give the Maoists bad publicity.
Election rallies by Maoist leaders are well-attended and the crowds have warmed up to their message of change. If it wasn't for the YCL and Dahal playing victim, the Maoists seem to have a fair chance of doing well.
What is puzzling to many is that the only one who will benefit from the polls being put off a third time is king Gyanendra, and why the Maoists helping him.
At the Election Commission, officials are visibly worried about the violence. But the Maoists seem so panicked about possible humiliation at the polls that they don't care what the EC or international observers think about their behaviour.
The UML's Madhab Kumar Nepal urges the Maoists to learn from the JVP in Sri Lanka and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. "They should realise that in a democracy there is life after elections," he said.
Political analyst Nilambar Acharya says it is too early to conclude that the Maoists don't want elections. "But they are definitely getting worried that they may not do too well," he says, "and this nervousness is manifested in the violence."