Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
One clear choice

Today the political parties stand bewildered by three choices. The first is to struggle on their own. The second is to forge an alliance with the Maoists. The third is to form a power equation with the king. Till now there has been more talk than action on any two of these three forces coming together. Hence, there is no immediate possibility of a new alignment. The king has a clear-cut objective: to eliminate the Maoists and then carry on with active monarchy. Irrespective of what he says, his goals are pretty clear. That raises the question: what are the goals of the parties? What do they mean when they say that they are against autocracy? Does that mean uprooting monarchy or only activating democracy? Students, intellectuals and Maoists have pushed for a republican system while some party leaders have been saying that if the country could only return to its pre-1 February 2005 or pre-4 October 2002 state, the autocracy would disappear. The fact remains that the king does not care much for the parties. Now they must reach a conclusion-whether or not to recognise the king. They should also be clear on whether their movement should aim to return the king to his earlier status or move toward a sweeping change.

The parties also need to understand who the real enemy of democracy is, the king or the Maoists? The Maoists have played an equal role in disrupting the democratic process. It was their 'people's movement' launched in 1996 that derailed the democratic process and provided the king with a platform to end democracy in the country. That is why the parties need to decide who they wouldlike to sideline first: the king or the Maoists. There has been talk of an alliance between the parties and the Maoists. But the parties lack confidence on that front. They are apprehensive that the government will label them terrorists and are equally concerned that in days ahead they will have to confront an armed group. Today, the parties are compelled to shake hands with the Maoists. If they are debating whether to voice Maoist slogans that should not be a problem at all. If the slogans are appropriate it does not matter who chants them. It is absurd to say that the constituent assembly is the slogan of the Maoists only. This is one issue on which the Maoists and the parties can forge an alliance. Once there is an agreement we will have a political outlet. I do not subscribe to the idea of surrendering arms. Who knows how many arms the Maoist have? If the Maoists offer up 10 pieces of arms to surrender, we would have to believe them. We must remember that the Nepali Congress has not yet submitted the arms of its own militia from its underground days.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)