Nepali Times
State Of The State
Waiting for Goit


PATNA-Biharis are flummoxed by the fact that Nepalis across the border have put their faith in the hands of Maoists.

Naxalites have been active here in Bihar and Jharkhand for nearly 40 years. But when violent revolutionaries in India have entered the electoral fray their performance is so poor, that people here have a wait-and-see approach. Perhaps there is a lesson from the Nepali Maoists for Indian Naxals, but don't bet on it.

For Goit, former Maoist leader and the founder of the Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha peaceful polls in Nepal seems to have been a disappointment. Despite dire warnings from various armed groups Madhesis voted in overwhelming numbers.

Voters in the Tarai taught mainstreamers and Maoists the fundamental lesson of identity politics: beware the fury of the spurned. Promises about peace and prosperity are all fine, but for the marginalised, identity and respect matter more.

Goit should have taken it as a reaffirmation of his faith, but he looks uncomfortable at the rise of Upendra Yadav, a junior to him in the class war as well as in ethnic mobilisation.

We meet Goit in a modest apartment in an ordinary locality of Patna. He claims to have travelled by train to keep our appointment. He has his bag of books and articles within close reach, there are no visible armed bodyguards. He sits stiffly in a wooden chair and talks like a man obsessed. For Goit, Mahanta Thakur is more important for the cause of Madhesis than Upendra Yadav. Even when in the NC, Thakur has been consistent about issues of concern to common Madhesis.

The man who came out of the Maoist fold to raise arms for the rights of Madhesis shows his fundamental differences with Madhes-centred parties espousing the same cause.

"We prefer the term Tarai over Madhes, do not consider ourselves Nepali citizens, detest being described as people of Indian origin, believe in armed struggle, and are working for the liberation of Madhes rather than creation of a new federal democratic republic of Nepal," Goit says.

The tools to achieve those gains are straight out of the Maoist strategy handbook: guns, pens, songs and paintings to make people rise against the old order. The fact that people of the Tarai may have found better methods to achieve nobler aims escapes \'revolutionaries' schooled in the ideology of all-or-nothing.

Preference of the Tarai over Madhes is a matter of choice. Madhesis not being "Nepali citizens" is hardly a new argument, it has been the position of every political party following the Mahendra Path of unitary identity. But there is a possibility of all Madhesis being equal citizens of a new entity yet to be created, the identity of being a builder of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, can't be dismissed as easily as Goit does. It may appear to be a noble and unachievable goal at the moment, but it's a lot less impractical than dreams of creating an independent Tarai state.

Guns can forge nations, but the result is seldom better than what can be achieved through peaceful struggle, sincere negotiations and honourable settlements that are honestly implemented. Goit's resentment against the "Indian origin" tag is understandable. How about "Indic origin"-a politically neutral term that describes belongingness to a shared South Asian civilisation?

The problem with Goit is that he is too deeply committed to his cause to accept dissent. That is the paradox of armed revolutionaries: they want to listen and refine their strategy but can't use guns without a sense of finality.

After over two hours of heated conversations that went around in circles, we leave Goit to his books in the sparsely furnished apartment. He admits that he isn't keeping well, but is in "better condition than Girija Prasad Koirala".

Had the politics of Nepal not gone haywire, people like Goit could have been a great asset for the formation of an inclusive and federal Nepal. Sadly, he too will probably wilt like the fiery and fearless Ram Raja Prasad Singh.

Perhaps Goit realises the futility of his dreams but refuses to wake up. Should he choose to we all will benefit from his erudition and energy.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)