517 HIKES and counting

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Aneesh Lohani

HIKE

Political Ironies

 

The Maoists:

 

The Maoists insurgency and tactics were carbon copies of ” the people’s war” as practiced by the Khmer Rouge, Sendero Luminoso, the Naxalites, the Shining Path of Peru (Prachanda Path for Nepal)., etc. The tactics were a) Mass Line: parallel administration aimed to resolve local problems aligned with political aspirations of the party – kangaroo courts, punishments for gamblers and drunks — and later — garbage collection in the cities, etc. b) United Front: alliance with people with similar concerns, but not ideologically inclined to the Maoists – these included not only ideologues, intellectuals and students, but also underprivileged job seekers, violated women, unsuspecting adolescents, ethnic groups, vagrants, village outcasts, etc looking for opportunities. Money robbed through banks, via extortion and kidnapping allowed the Maoists to administer their parallel society and strengthen their machine. Military: the military graduated from being defensive to transitional to offensive. Violence and terror were intentional tactics to gain military and political ground. They used these tactics to great effect while expanding their reign over various districts where they were not popular (other than Rukkum). The tactics of Mobile Warfare: centralized police forces – ill equipped with weapons, intelligence gathering, administrative backing and strategic warfare training — spread into small pockets to counter the terror were brutally attacked by pre-placed mobile forces. Police posts and district offices, etc were vandalized, burned, looted by armies of hundreds and thousands. The goal: abolish all semblances of state presence in the districts, and do the same with more districts, and expand and then dominate the populace alienated from the state until you capture the nucleus. Political warfare: agreeing to political solutions, but using the ceasefire to place mobile forces strategically to further strengthen their military position and psychological warfare.

 

Conclusion:

 

The Maoists expansion was more of a result of government incompetence; lack of developmental agenda, poverty alleviation, participatory democracy, intelligence gathering, powerful institutions of public service and security (the SPA legacy) and historically perpetuated disparity in wealth distribution, poor infrastructure (the Almighty legacy) rather than Maoists’ ideology and legitimacy. To add to the burden, military wasn’t deployed by the very “supposedly” loved King Birendra, for the Maoists tactics were predictable. Majority of the people who found themselves under Maoists threat are now themselves rising in various parts of the country under different factions. Why? Once the Maoists joined the government and their parallel administrations receded in the countryside – that was providing social and economic opportunities to the masses – these groups started their own insurgencies. So, what was the Maoists popularity base? Was it ideological following, or simply a cry for bread and equal treatment that the Maoists, through their parallel administration, were doing something about? Is the Maoists movement a circumstantial event in history, or is communism brewing in the masses’ consciousness? Put simply, people hardly care about ideology as long as their demands are met.

On the other hand, are the comrades still following the shining path, unified front, mobile warfare and parallel administration? The YCL and various counter organizations formed under them could just be a subtle form of mobile warfare, now applied in the urban jungle (Kathmandu)? Why would the comrades not place the YCL in the cantonments where they actually belong, rather than putting young job seekers in their place? The tactics of Mass Line also receded with the YCL’s “rare” good service to society. Is this the phase of the Maoists’ offensive? They have virtually infiltrated all positions of the state hierarchy and created parallel organizations to compete with established organizations. Did they join the government to do just this – to prepare for an October Revolution? Their leaving the government and putting forth preconditions in the eleventh hour smack of their bargaining might – an offensive. Or, are the comrades now divided between the democratically aware (the leadership) and the unilateralists (ultra leftists) with the former fearing for their lives if they ignore the rank and file? Or, have the comrades found themselves in unchartered territory under the changed context?

 

The SPA

 

Before, the 12 point understanding between the Maoists and the SPA, the latter was busy in their franchise: brickbats and road pyrotechnics against the monarchy. At that time, the national mood was either a) maybe the king can bring peace, b) and defeat the Maoists militarily, or c) hold dialogue with the comrades, or d) maybe the King will have some sense and align with the SPA to fight a common enemy, or e) a rare miracle of all three joining hands and having momo to celebrate their unity. The SPA drama on the streets, then, defined the joke of the day – participated by daily allowance seekers and cadres alike. They weren’t gaining ground, except for the bricks that were scattered across the streets, painting the roads muddy red. I remember one such joke. I was working at my office with sobbing eyes. Why? Because air travels and so does tear gas. Then the hooligans entered my office, chased by the police (earlier the hooligans were chasing the police and vice versa). Without asking, they approached the water bottle, drank it dry, took out a few photocopy papers and went away with the bottle. I heard someone in the office objecting and he was told not to object, for they (the hooligans) were doing such great things for democracy and the country by protesting. Right! Entering someone else’s office, grabbing water bottles and paper without asking is democratic! Those who think that’s lack of common courtesy are regressive, of course. The protests were going nowhere until our southern brothers entered the scene. Then came the pressure from the CPI(M), the left organ of the coalition government of Indian Congress Party. RAW figured out that the only way for the king to give up power was for the comrades and the SPA to forge a relationship. Yes, the SPA lot didn’t even have the brains to figure this out themselves and was, naturally, guided by the Indians. Naturally, the SPA agreed with an unknown entity and gave into each of their demands. The Nepali people agreed to the EPA unity for peace, not for communism, YCL, labor unions, etc. The king was opposed, because he was standing against peace that could be achieved through the EPA unity. Now, guess who is derailing the prospects for peace and CA election – the comrades, themselves.

 

Conclusion:

 

The SPA was able to fool the innocent Nepali protesters into believing that peace can be achieved. Their objective was to get back into power, of course. Purnabiram! The SPA made a deal with various factions to get people on the streets. Now, the SPA is mum about these factions committing crime – a taste of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” arrangement. No wonder there is any law and order. Now the EPA has managed to postpone the November elections indefinitely. If the SPA bows down to the Maoists, they’ll lose legitimacy in the eyes of the public and the international community. But, if they don’t bow down to the Maoists, the peace process will be tough process. A tough situation to be in, yet the Nepali people have little or no say in it. We are left to hope that a date will be fixed as early as possible. Even the international community is hoping. Since the EPA came into power, more people have died compared to Jana Andola I and II taken together. Furthermore, the very fact that the country is burning under communal violence on the brink of collapse and disintegration points to the fact that the EPA lot could not, did not and have not represented all Nepalis as a whole. Nepal was declared a secular state, because Prachanda – a Christian – cajoled Girija. But, they are the new kings of Nepal. Girija: Shree 4.6 and Prachanda: 4.2. No, 4.4 – 13,000 deaths count for something! In reality, 86.5% of Nepalese people are Hindus. No wonder, Terai broke. Besides, Nepal has been a paragon of religious harmony and brotherhood for centuries – where did the secular deal come from?. Even the present American Presidential Debate is strongly focused on religion to garner votes. Why did the Maoists quit the government? Because, the EPA were all set to rig the CA, but couldn’t agree on the Maoists’ demand to get all their 87 lawmakers elected. It’s simple. One party representative runs in a constituency and others agree not to run there – victory is, thus, guaranteed. That was the plan, but the comrades wanted to personally design the constitution. Shree 4.4 also wants to be president in 2 years.

How does one judge a majority, anyway? How does one define an uprising in terms of numbers and of people’s aspirations as a whole? Can 2 to 5 lacks people represent a whole nation of 2 crores +? The parties have so conveniently hijacked the national agenda by citing an uprising of few lacks, while deserting the rest. All Nepali people are equal and deserve to be treated equally. What about the sms polls on the telly – the majority of the people are against impunity, law vacuum, inaction of the parties and Maoists atrocities? Do they count? Or, is that  irrelevant. All the civilized methods of democratic practices are rendered helpless here and acrobatics of a few on the streets are judged legitimate. What an irony.