I haven’t been very optimistic about the possibility of the Maoists joining the multi-party democratic system. If they do, I will be the first one to salute them despite their past actions. However, I also want them to apologize to the people of Nepal who suffered so much due to their cruel and inhuman acts. I am pleased by the announcement of the three months truce offered by the Maoist. Could it be another Maoist ploy as they very much expect the seven-party government to reciprocate immediately? We can’t ignore that.
We all know that the senior Maoist cadres have been deprived of free movement inside the country for the last two years and they may have been seeking an opportunity to reorganize and regroup and to free their jailed cadres. The Maoists were used to enjoying bilateral ceasefires every year or so before King Gyanendra’s February 2005 proclamation. They have been pushed to villages and jungles since then, and their activities and extortions in city areas have largely declined. They may very well be looking for an opportunity to re-start extortions in city areas. The seven-party government should watch the Maoists’ activities very carefully and never completely trust them. We have to wait and see. We will know in a month or so if the Maoist extortion restarts in city areas or not. If it does, we can conclude with certainty that the Maoists are nothing more than thugs, with no long term vision of the country. We, the Nepalese people, should not tolerate their extortions and atrocities any more. I want to be proven wrong here.
Are the Maoists ready to compromise? Have they given up their dream of establishing a Maoist state? Have they renounced the Prachanda Path? Have they realized that in today’s open world, Maoism cannot survive? Who knows? If nothing has changed inside the Maoist leadership circle, why have they softened themselves? Is it external factor or internal wisdom that has brought about this change?
The Indian Factor
It is common knowledge that India has been playing a villainous role since 2007 B.S. when it comes to strengthening the democratic institution in Nepal. They prefer dealing with a dictator rather than with a sovereign and democratic government. They helped King Mahendra end the first multi-party government and supported the Panchayat system for 30 years. When King Birendra did not let them dictate him, they pulled the plug and supported the opposition openly. But they did not want to see a complete democracy in Nepal. They skillfully influenced parties to give significant power to the King in the 2047 constitution. When the democratic governments started challenging India on several strategically important deals, India got upset and started giving shelter and support to the Maoists and encouraged them to destabilize the nascent multi-party system.
History shows that India does not want stable democracy in Nepal. I am, however, pleased by India’s changed stance last week. The government spokesperson clearly supported the Nepalese mass movement. It may just be the external official stand but it could also signal a change in the Indian government’s mentality as it is being led by a western lady and as it now dreams of being a super power. If so, no one knows that more than the Maoists who have been thriving under Indian blessing from day one. Prachanda and Baburam live in India under the protection of Indian leaders and secret service officers. India can very well tell the Maoists to do what they (the Indian government) want or cease all help. The current ceasefire may well be because the Indian order has forced Prachanda to bow down.
Let us not forget that India provided the platform for the Maoists and the SPA leaders to forge an alliance against King Gyanendra. That happened after the King and his cronies openly started showing their diplomatic and strategic proximity to China. King Gyanendra’s government imported arms from China and Pakistan. That was too much for India to tolerate and it lit the fire and let the King sweat and it ordered the Maoists to align with the parties.
When people get old, they either get scared or wiser. I do not think that communists ever get wiser. Because the communists are fundamentalists and they do not listen to others and they do not read non-communist literature. Someone who does not listen to others or pay attention to other viewpoints never gets wiser. I have had many discussions with communists and religious fundamentalists. I have never been able to make them listen to me. I used to think it was my problem that I was not convincing enough. I consulted many of my friends and heard the same thing from them too. These fundamentalists never want to think out of the box. They are so tightly pre-occupied. They want to say what they know and never want to accept they are wrong. But, getting old is a scary thing for fools who have not done anything in their life other than scaring helpless people. Both Prachanda and Baburam are in their fifties and they probably have been diagnosed with some common disease or the other like diabetes, hypertension, depression and musculoskeletal disorders. Neither their guns and nor their cadres can save them from these diseases or prevent them from getting older. Ten years have passed and they have not achieved anything other than killing innocent people and retarding the country’s development by 50 years. They are becoming more unpopular every day. All these stuff may have really scared the hell out of them and they may have been looking for a face saving exit. If they are already thinking so, we have an opportunity to have the Maoists problem resolved. If not today, they will get to this thinking mode tomorrow. Let us wait. Let us not be fooled by their ploys.
“We are losing” Factor
It is difficult to read the enemy’s mind. Who knows what the Maoists are thinking? They have grown to become a ten to fifteen thousand guerilla organization and a serious lack of discipline exists among lower level commandos. Even if Prachanda announces a ceasefire, incidents of killings, kidnappings and extortion continues in the field. Many of their unit level commanders have fled to India with millions of rupees of extorted money. Cases of raping and cheating have become common among guerilla commanders. High level leaders have been enjoying luxurious lives either in India or some remote part of Nepal. I am sure that the Maoist high command is very much aware of these facts and is worried about things gradually slipping out of control even among their rank and file. This kind of problem is not uncommon in any underground and banned organization when the movement passes a decade and size of members reaches thousands. It becomes difficult to pass high level orders to the rank and file and high level leaders gradually get exposed of their weaknesses. The rank and file starts worrying about their future and they have only one choice – to divert illegally amassed wealth to their pocket. Underground guerilla organizations lose steam with growth, like in every other organization. Open and legal organizations change leadership constantly to energize the organization and leaders get fired for incompetence. This does not happen in communist organizations even if they are open. Prachanda will remain supreme no matter how disastrous his leadership proves to be. The challenger will either be killed or harshly punished. To protect himself Prachanda will not change the people around his circle. This makes the people lower in the ranks almost impossible to break the circle. This kind of organization promotes frustration and mistrust among rank and file. This is happening with the Maoist organization now. Prachanda and Baburam may very well be aware of this and may have decided to seek a soft landing. If they have, nothing could be better news for Nepal than this one.
“Good Enough” Factor
Maoists maybe thinking that they have achieved what they could possibly have achieved. They are perhaps debating whether to expect more than what they have achieved could back fire. Both Baburam and Prachanda have been notoriously known around the world. Both of them probably think that of being famous; well, we consider that being notorious. I am sure they have amassed significant wealth extorting millions of Nepalese for a decade. They have mobilized thousands of guerillas and punished thousands of innocent (whomsoever they consider enemy of their revolution) – I am sure they consider this a huge success. With all these cruelties (which they call achievement and success) they have reached the peak of their career. They may want to capitalize on it and enter mainstream politics. They probably do not know once they give up arms, people will leave them just like ants walk away from dead animal. I hope they consider the “good enough” factor and come to mainstream politics.
No matter what the factor maybe, I would love to see the Maoists joining the multi-party democratic system and help us build the country. Thanks to the Maoists, over the last ten years, we have learned some fundamental things as Nepalese. We have constantly neglected the people in villages and remote parts of the country and focused on cities and towns. Villagers remain unemployed and harassed and humiliated by the Nepalese police and armies. They were left helpless. The Maoists came as saviors to those helpless and rode on their back. Now again those villagers are being tortured by the Maoists. The Nepalese government needs to focus to form policies to attract private entrepreneurs to generate jobs for the millions of unemployed in remote areas of the country. If that does not happen, another group will evolve even if the Maoists join the mainstream.