Nepali Times
Proximate breakthrough

BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATERS: A woman crosses the Mahakali on the western border of Nepal
Appearances can be deceptive. In the space of a week, the public has been treated to the spectacle of Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal flinging invective at Kathmandu's middle class and media, followed by a contrite apology to a selected 'civil society' group at the Yak & Yeti hotel on Wednesday.

After listening to a range of opinions on what his party had to do, Dahal promised the UCPN (Maoist) was willing to proceed with compromises on the peace process and constitution-writing. This included placing the PLA under control of the Special Committee, disbanding the YCL barracks within a few days as required, and resolving disputes related to the constitutional draft.<

To the cynic, this would seem to be merely another ploy to mollify Kathmandu's business and intellectual elite, who were simultaneously emboldened by last Friday's peace assembly and offended by Dahal's attack on them the following day. Indeed, Sher Bahadur Deuba was quick to respond to Dahal on Thursday with a "we will believe it when we see it" response.

But it is clear that the Maoists are on the back foot, and more amenable to a deal than before the general strike. "This is positive, because the main obstacles to the peace process and constitution-writing have in fact been put up by the Maoists," says journalist Kanak Mani Dixit. "Despite the Maoist bluster of not talking with the government, there have been relentless backroom parleys over the last week that have taken us closer to a package compromise than ever before."

It was thanks to the hardliners that the party went in for the indefinite general strike, not heeding the advice of leaders like Baburam Bhattarai and Barshaman Pun. This adventurism, akin to the commander-in-chief episode of a year ago that forced the Maoists to exit government, served to dramatically weaken the Maoists. Their cadre is disgruntled, and the party leaders are seen to have buckled to the peaceniks and the international community, especially big-brother India.

Equally, the solid alliance between UML and NC leaders to resist the Maoist attempt to force a government change through street protest is credited with forcing Dahal to pull back, added to the Kathmandu public's refusal to heed his call to join in, and the danger of a snowballing backlash countrywide.

There are two sticking points as we go to press. First, the ruling alliance of 22 parties is unwilling to concede to the Maoist demand for a quid pro quo in the form of the resignation of the government in response to the Maoists calling off their general strike. Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal is in a mind to leave once the peace process deal is sealed, after which he will formally propose extension of the Constituent Assembly's term.

The main disagreement revolves around the immediate fate of the ex-combatants in cantonments. The other political forces want the Maoists to specify a number for security force integration, and will consider between 3,000-7,000. The Maoist leaders would rather that all 19,000-plus ex-combatants be considered for integration, with a final selection made according to the existing standards of the Nepal Army, Armed Police and Nepal Police.

There is a detailed agreement document of a couple of pages doing the rounds, worked out by NC and UML leaders, and what is needed now is further parleys and the Maoists signing on. We are closer to an agreement than the political static would have us believe.

Edging closer? - By Dewan Rai
Relief and despair - Publisher's note
Less revolting - BY Kiran Nepal
Letting go - By Prashant Jha

1. npasl
bhattarai et al would do much better to just start another party.

2. pravasi nepali
We don't need a politically indoctrinated goons in the party. Were the maoists cadres fighting for upholdin their party's ideals or for their jobs really?

3. Herman
Yes ,the gathering in the Luxury Yak and Yeti hotel was a selectand hand- picked group   of intelectualsand self-styled Maoist the likes of Sundar Mani Dixit ,Barbara Adams and company.why a few more of the flock were missing, we missed them very much.

4. kabulekanchho

The baddies will do anything to come to power including backward bending at least a dozen times. They are really scared now what will happen to their gang if they continue to stay outside Singha Darbar Mojgriha. Senior baddies know if they are out of power for long they will just disappear from the political scene as a potent force; some of their cadres will join Matrika gang, some various ethnic gangs operating all over the country, some will be swallowed by mainstream and corrupt parties like UML and Congress, Prachanda will vanish like a self styled Nepali Mandela M C Adhikari . As regards to Baidhya, Badal and sundries, they will join "bhumigat forever Comrade" M B Singh. So the whole charade of initiatives and amenability is just for survival. One does not have to be rocket scientist to understand this, just go back 2 months and anyalyze "who said what" from this outfit the thugs.

5. kabulekanchho
@ Herman,
fully agree with you when you named two bright stars from Nepali intelligentsia. By the way who distributes this " intellectual takma" these days in our beloved Gaijatraland? After reading one interview of Sundar Dixit in one of the magazine a some months ago and Babara didi's speech to the baddies Tauke, it (being called an intellectual) sounds more like a slur. And you rightly said the company is not complete without the likes of one Doctor "Hariyalee" Pande!

6. Kancha dai
Can we still believe and trust our comrades. They always have sinister agendas.  They deceived the general public and showed ruthless tatics to make personal gains. We have seen enough for their promises to the poor and I am quite sure the people will no more believe in them. This the fact whether you accept it or not. It is time for the denizens of Kathmandu Valley to decide on the fate of the place and oppose all strikes and bandhs and move forward for economic advancement. No more political rhetorics please. We need action. I can also make false promises to the poor by saying that all cadres will receive a house in Kathmandua and a job in the Government. Let us make Kathmandu a business hub not a political mesh. Let us create employment opportunies for the people so that our sisters do not need to go south to work as sex workers. These are some of the agendas we need to advocate. We are not in interested who is going to be the prime minister or the ambassador. For that you need to sacrifice on all fronts.

7. Arthur
"...the solid alliance between UML and NC leaders to resist the Maoist attempt to force a government change..."

What a solid foundation! The NC hardly exists in the districts, let alone the villages and a majority of the UMLs have already demanded a government change.

As for "Kathmandu's business and intellectual elite" even the anti-strike "peace rally" gave no support for the present government, and the FNCCI has threatened to stop paying taxes if it hasn't gone soon!

If there is a deal it will be because the other parties have realised that they have no alternative and would rather face elections a few months later as part of a Maoist-led coalition that has carried out the peace agreement and drafted a constitution.

If there is no deal the NC and UML will have to face earlier elections as a failed government.

It isn't the Maoists that are on the back foot.

8. jange
# 6 Can we still believe and trust our comrades.

Of course, we can. Just ask Prashant Jha and CK Lal.

9. Kamal Kishor

Yes. The Dahal and Co. have no alternatives left than be amenable to compromise after people first of all snubbed them with not participating and then slapped them by participating in civil society's call. Now, they are trying to make a bold face but in futile. Their cadres are disgruntled, dismayed and very angry with the leadership.


When you are on the wrong side of history and playing into the hands of extremism inside the party, you have to face the waterloo. It is now the time for Dahal and Co. to snub the hardliners inside the party and move to the center position.


They can do it first of all by starting dialogue with not their henchmen inside the civil society such as Pandey and Shresthas but being more inclusive of those who might help them bridge the gap with NC and UML.  A broader civil society group might give them a big face lift and help them come to dialogue with NC and UML. The ball is completely in their court as they have to really redefine their philosophy (presently based on: terror and intimidation brings power) and their organizational principles and structure (which is now based on give the cadres and local leaders all the power to plunder the natural resources and people). From the start of their armed struggle, they have been buying the loyalty of their cadres by giving them many lucrative incentives including money, sex and power. They should stop doing that. Participation in political activities has to be voluntary in a democratic system and definitely not based on money, sex and power. They have developed an organization which is dictatorial and has antagonized the people.


The civil society need to engage them in dialogue and discussion and help them reorient their whole strategy and politics. They won't be able to do it themselves; the civil society has to come forward to help them. NC and UML have to help build a favorable condition for that.


This is the right moment for all to make it sure that the extremism inside the Maoists party be completely rebuffed and weakened to an extent that the party moves to the center. That will insure that the breakthrough is solid and permanent.

10. rishav
The Maoist have shown weakness in being forced to end their indefinite strike by the civil society pressure. The scary and intimidating Maoists have shown vulnerability in their mass mobilization threat tactics. People are not so fearful of a evil demon if they know it can actually bleed, therefore showing signs of weakness.

By playing their major card of street agitation and bandh this has surely created doubt in their leaders mind of what they can do next? Do they now become more extreme as reports suggest in places like Kavre where forced donations are being handed out as well as threats to families of security personnel. This action in itself will ultimately back fire on them as did the indefinite strike.

Even the Great Prachanda had to apologize to the civil society group of whom he had threatened the day after the strike ended. The power of politics have now shifted to the civil society leaders and as a group are too powerful for any political party to mess with.  

At least this indefinite strike incident has shown the lower level Maoist cadres what the true reality of how powerful or influential their party and leaders really are. The Maoists are now in a mood to ease their political rigid stance, and therefore more amicable for serious negotiations which is ultimately good for Nepal.

A weakened "back footed" Maoist have at least cooled the ego of prachanda and co. Therefore, hopefully will allow diplomacy and the Maoists to give up on certain crazy looney left demands and become more realistic.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)