Confused Leadership, Derailed Polity and Bewildered People
Confused Leadership, Derailed Polity and Bewildered People
Lunched by politically unknown group Madhesi People’s Right Forum (MPRF), the agitation in terai has flared up from a small district town of Lahan in eastern Nepal to major cities. Despite its sudden and surprising flare up, political leaders, who are working under a derailed polity, seem to be confused how things went out of control. As Nepal has seen a series of such kinds of well intended and well planned agitations in the past, this also will have its limitation. Some predict it as a wave of Balkanization while others see it as a conspiracy of Royalist, regressive elements backed by Hindu fundamentalists from India . Confused and failing to analyze the agitation in its proper term, political leaders, who always prescribe similar medicine as quack doctors, are again prescribing amendment in newly promulgated constitution overlooking demands of various indigenous groups – which have already announced new rounds of agitations. Situated between two militarily and economically powerful, stable and vibrant neighbors, Nepal, which has unique advantages for its survival as an independent nation, is forced to go through a series of violent agitations and political instability in days to come
By KESHAB POUDEL
* “As a prime minister, I am also morally responsible on painful incident in Lahan. The incident is also the result of Maoists’ arrogance of gun,” said prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala – Annapurna Post January 23. * “Palace is in Coma,” said vice present of Nepali Congress Sushil Koirala – Gorkhapatra January 24.
* “The palace is actively backing the agitation in terai,” Ramchandra Poudel, general secretary of Nepali Congress.
* “Dr. Upendra Yadav was with us. He was arrested by Indian police in New Delhi along with leaders of Madhesi Mukti Morcha Matrika Prasad Yadav and Suresh Ale Magar. Later on Indian police handed over Yadav and Magar to Nepal Army but Dr. Yadav was allowed to live in New Delhi,” said Maoist leader Prachanda in Kantipur Television Bahas Program in 27 January. “We have not imagined that there would be such a huge participation in our agitation,” said Dr. Upendra Yadav, chairman of (MPRF) – Kantipur Television 25 January.
“They are carrying many truck loads of people from Bihar , India.,” said CPN-Maoist leader Dr. Baburam Bhattarai – Radio Sagarmatha, January 27. “The demand of terai is genuine but the faces involved in the agitation are affiliated with regressive and reactionary forces,” said CPN-UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal – Chhalfal on January 28. “If we just term the agitation in terai as being instigated by palace, we are just trying to escape from the reality of terai’s problems.” said Dr. Devendra Raj Pandey leader of Civil Society for Peace and Democracy – Kantipur Television, January 26. (See box)
These remarks expressed by various political leaders in the last week showed that there was confusion regarding the problem of terai and nobody comprehends it fully. If NC general secretary Ram Chandra was correct, what about the remarks made by vice president Sushil Koirala. If Koirala is to be believed, the Palace is already in a coma, so how can it launch such a strong violence as Poudel claimed?
Although Maoist leaders Prachanda and Dr. Bhattarai have their own dimensions to analyze it, they share their views with NC leader Poudel. Following the visit of Terai, Civil Society leader Dr. Pandey drew another conclusion – different than those leaders.
Above all, prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala has already taken all responsibility By expressing contradictory remarks, they are confusing people. Nobody is sure whom to believe.
All those statements indicate that persons who count much in present politics and in government are quite ignorant of the situation of the country and much confused in their views. Many question, do they discuss all the problems before publicly making their comments?
“The whole country is bewildered how these leaders are going to deal with the problem of terai when their mind is unclear about the country and reality of the situation. What can we expect from them,” said a political analyst. “Leaders of Terai agitations are amazed how they picked up the enthusiasm of the people in the street and pushed them to the do or to die mode. They do not know when and how it will end. They, like all others in the street, are bewildered creatures.”
T erai incident took place after Maoist cadres opened fire at the workers of Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF also known as MPRF) in Lahan, 400 kilometer east of Capital on January 20 when one of its workers were killed.
Ignorant Leaders Are they really so ignorant and confused about this country? If that is their true capability, how come that they reached to the power which, at present, is exercised absolutely by them. But that is not the fact.
“Any person of average prudence and knowledge in this country knows the cause of the trouble and a result of total destabilization. They know the interest behind that very well. Though the players behind the scene are invisible, these politicians know that very well and are hands in gloves for the promotion of natural interest,” said the analyst. “To run an organized political force is not the sole motto for the sake of democracy. The personal position in the power structure counts very much. To reach into the power and to maintain one’s position, it requires a lot of concessions and compromises to seen and unseen as well as external factors. Culmination of all these interest and free play of all these compels a person to issue confusing statements and to keep the people always in confusion.”
Many see this is not only the stupidity of politicians. “Confused mind of the people is strength of some persons to be in the power and to prolong their stay in the power also. The confused mind of the people is a helping factor. It is therefore not the stupidity of our politicians but the lack of honesty and integrity towards the cause for which they all the time swear in the name of people and in the name of democracy. For that they have relinquished the much-used term Prajatantra for democracy and adopted a new euphemism of Loktantra, which has same meaning of democracy,” said the analyst.
Loktantra has been dramatically introduced in the public domain. Amazingly, the whole nation has suddenly switched over to this terminology when one is incapable of delivering tangible change in the life of the people qualitatively. According to analyst, demagogues have several examples everywhere – coining new words and phrases to keep the mass of people intact behind them. Nepal is in a pathetic situation of such nature.
The prominent politicians who are in power game have long experience of playing the game of musical chair in the power politics. Some have the record of mainstreaming continuously in the top leadership of the party. Some of them have a record of becoming the head of the executive as prime minister for even six turns by playing multiple roles at same time.
” How much prime minister Koirala is impatient at his core of hearts can be seen form his most frequent flight to and from Biratnagar to find a salvage from the inbuilt machinations, which has impinged him as well as his soul,” said the analyst.
“Whenever I feel tired, I prefer to visit my hometown,” prime minister Koirala used to say when addressing the media.
This is not for the first time when political waves emerged abruptly and ended mysteriously in Nepal . When Maoism was not popular even in Maoist country, there was a Maoist upsurge into the power through 19-days stage-managed popular uprising. After ten months, another wave has erupted allover the country – particularly one half of the country. In the southern plains, there appear a new wave of regionalism.
In the last one week what Nepalese living in south saw was a cleansing operation against the Maoist indoctrination? Even in the hills, which is another half of this country, a wave of indigenous movement is already in the process to challenge the Maoists ideology. “In the cycle of one year, the world was told that there was a red star over Nepal under Maoist banner, now the world has come to see reverse wave against the reds,” said the analyst. “In fact, the common people have always been the same – neither they are extreme leftist nor extreme rightist. As a people of multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi cultural nation, the country is essentially moderate and harmonious.”
The agitation flared up following the clashes between Maoists and the workers of MPRF in Lahan. However, the forum workers are now targeting the offices of not only CPN-Maoists but also that of the CPN-UML.
Along with MPRF, two factions of Jantantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM) – breakaway factions of Maoists – have already destroyed the Maoists and CPN-UML’s offices in terai including in the CPN-UML general secretary’s home town Gaur.
“As another group led by Janajati Mahasangh (federation of indigenous community) has already announced its program in the hills, they could repeat similar things in the hill as three regional parties have done in terai,” said the analyst.
Interestingly, no other than Maoist leaders themselves are provoking the people of terai by terming them as a bunch of criminals and supporters of regressive forces. “There is no sense to negotiate with the so called band of criminals,” said Maoist leader Dr. Bhattarai.
Nepal ’s Strength
For the past two hundred years, Nepal has seen many ups and downs in the quest to survive as an independent nation. Situated between two major powers, all its rulers had to go through one or other wave of instability.
“It is the lesson of Nepal ’s history that it survived as an independent nation due to few decisive factors. The first factor has always been mentioned as its advantage – the geopolitical situation. Two equally powerful neighbors on both the sides of this country feel the same that Nepal is a soft belly of their security,” said the analyst.
“Any attempt to wipe out Nepal as an independent nation would have a very severe implications for its integrity and survival. Elimination of Nepal as an independent country by one would inevitably destroy the integrity of other.”
Another equally important factor for Nepal ’s survival between two biggest Asian powers is its mosaic of multi-ethnic, multi-racial and multi-linguistic composition. Census of 2001 has listed 103 caste/ethnic groups including unidentified groups. According to the census 2001, there is no group in absolute majority. Chhetri consists of 15.8 percent, Brahman-hill 12.74 percent, Magar 7.14 percent, Tharu 6.75 percent, Tamang 5.64, Newar 5.5, Muslim 4.3, Kami 3.9, Yadav 3.9 Rai 2.8, Gurung 2.4 and Damai/Dhobi 1.7 percent. In terms of population distribution by mother tongue, 48.61 percent speak Nepali, 12.3 percent Maithali, 7.53 percent Bhhojpuri, 5.86 Tharu, 5.19 Tamang, 3.63 Newari, 3.39 Magar and 2.47 Awadhi. There are 92 different languages spoken in Nepal with 93 categorized as unidentified. In terms of religion, Hindu Population is largest with 11 percent Buddhist, 4.2 percent Islam and 3.6 percent following Kirat religion.
“Not a single ethnic or a linguistic group is in overwhelming majority. All are in minority but very much interdependent and therefore harmonized among themselves. Whatever might have been exaggerated and converted into a sponsored media, the ground reality has something different to suggest,” said the analyst.
In his recent article in The Himalayan Times on January 29, former election commissioner Birendra Mishra argues that Nepal is India centric and the country has nothing to do with Tibet because of geography. “Had India not helped the Maoists and SPA to unite, the out dated monarchy would have existed till now,” writes Mishra.
Even yesterday’s revolutionaries like Dr. Baburam Bhattarai had in radio interview to Sagarmatha said several trucks load of persons from Bihar state of India have come to participate in violent agitation in terai.
“In the context of maintaining harmony and peace among the communists in Nepal , it is historically seen that some of the neighbors could go beyond the limit to destabilize the country. Nepal cannot be like Afghanistan or Cambodia because of its close proximity with both the regional powers,” said the analyst.
The most unfortunate part of this instability and disorder are destruction of democratic values and norms which had evolved brick by brick with a zeal for magnificent edifice. The loss of public properties and lives of people came next to that though that is also very serious and irreparable in many sense.
Question of Balkanization
The demands of terai people are varied. From the demand for separate independent state of terai through Balkanization of Nepal, all kinds of threat and warning are coming from various sources. There is nothing harmful in expressing the views but the ground reality of Nepal permits nothing as it is surrounded by not only one power but two equally powerful nations.
“Total destruction of Nepal will jeopardize the other’s security and integrity in total. This was the fact in the past and this will remain same in the future also. Enlightened Nepalese at the core of their heart know it very well,” said the analyst.
Even a Maoist leader C.P. Gajurel who hailed India ’s greatest influence in Nepal assured that his party will follow equi-distance between India and China . As long as Nepal ’s geo-strategic reality is there, no matter who comes to power, they cannot ally with only one of the neighbor.
Will to survive is a supporting factor but the habit and the ways of thinking is much more important than that. That has endured Nepal yet as an independent nation. Because of these compulsions of harmony in diversity, any disintegration of Nepal will forced to be subordinate to different directions. The compulsion of geography was not there in Balkanization of Europe.
“And actually, Nepal is not a hyphen between two great countries of glorious civilization but is a link country with varied but harmonious culture since time immemorial. Presence of two powerful, stable and vibrant neighbors are unique advantages of Nepal at this time than that of Balkan countries which did not have that support. Others may back and quit from Nepal but the two will have to swim or sink together up to the last,” said the analyst.
The problems of terai are not only the problems of terai which is coming into prominence. Problems are there with every class of the people to be addressed by the state properly. Even there are adjustments coming up in the hills in the interior who were vocal claiming that they belong to the original tribes and inhabitants.
Several such groups in the hill have been associated with the discontent of terai also. Even in Kathmandu valley, there is resentment among the community of original inhabitants. It was not properly dealt in the past and even in democracy there is no such touchstone to fulfill all needs and genuine demands of all.
The democracy is a bit slower process to resolve such problems. The glaring example of which is the present day India , the largest democracy and other democratic countries in the subcontinent. Democratic process needs time and time needs patience. Unfortunately, extremists destroy the both.
On the one extreme there was undemocratic extremism of traditional character and on the other extreme was another extremism even equipped with arms in the name of utopian revolution. They have created a hybrid of extremism with mixed character.
From arms to the peaceful agitation and from street to the seat of power, all these things are done in the name of meek, submissive and silent people. The quality of life of people has not even changed much as they remain as a show piece for donor agencies and world at large as poorest among poor. But whoever is in the forefront in the name of people gets into higher and higher graph of economic prosperity and all-round opportunities. The people at large do not aspire that kind of miraculous improvement in the quality of life – they only want to live a bit better.
According to the National Planning Commission, the poverty has declined drastically from 41 to 29 percent but the gap between rich and poor has increased. The index shows the more leaders are vociferous and unruly having no discipline and values, the lower goes the quality of life.
As a quack physician, who prescribes the same medicine of different brands to keep the patient for their gain, the front runner leaders have also been prescribing all the times different models of constitution using changed words with basically the same content. The fifth constitution was recently scrapped out unceremoniously and the sixth constitution since the day of its promulgation has produced flame along with the leaders like Jwala Singh (Flame in translation) of JTMM.
During half a century, Nepal has undergone various forms of political experiments. Rana’s autocracy to multi-party democracy and from party less to again multi-party democracy. Now the sixth constitution has brought a hybrid form of partly autocratic and partly democratic structure.
Nepal needs understanding; people need the real representative and for that a free and fair polity, But the saying is not proved correct in Nepal that the people get the government that they deserve. In fact, the people have not been able to get what they deserve.
Full of ContradictionsPolitical leaders have their own way of interpreting terai’s problems. One can see they are full of contradictions in their statements .
“As a prime minister, I am also morally responsible on painful incident in Lahan. The incident is also the result of Maoists’ arrogance of gun,” said prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala – Annapurna Post January 23.
“Palace is in a coma as its fate will be decided by the Constituent Assembly,” said vice present of Nepali Congress Sushil Koirala – Gorkhapatra January 24. “The palace is actively backing the agitation in terai,” Ram Chandra Poudel, general secretary of Nepali Congress.
“We discussed about the evidences that revealed the involvement of palace in fuelling riots there,” Minister for Agriculture and Cooperatives and member of Nepali Congress Central Working Committee Mahanta Thakur – The Statesman January 24.
“I don’t see any significance in holding dialogue with an organization that has no capacity and strength of their own,” said Maoist leader Prachanda – The Himalayan Times, January 24. “There is no question of holding dialogue with any organization including the Jantantrick Terai Mukti Morcha which have no standing and capacity of their own but have been orchestrated by the Palace and Hindu fundamentalists.”
“Dr. Upendra Yadav was with us. He was arrested by Indian police in New Delhi along with leaders of Madhesi Mukti Morcha Matrika Prasad Yadav and Suresh Ale Magar. Indian police handed over Matrika Yadav and Suresh Ale Magar to Nepal Army whereas Dr. Upendra Yadav was released. Dr. Yadav stayed more than six months in New Delhi . You must understand the situation – Dr. Yadav, who was released when two of our comrades were handed over to face most harsh situation,” said Maoist leader Prachanda in Kantipur Television Bahas Program on 27 January.
“We should hold talks with Madhesi Janadhikar Forum and Terai Jantantrick Mukti Morcha. But we cannot deny addressing the problems of Madhesi on the ground that they are backed by palace and regressive elements,” said Nepali Congress leader Dr. Rambaran Yadav.
“If we just term the agitation in terai as instigated by palace or other regressive elements, we are just trying to escape from the reality of terai’s problems. The agitation in terai is the expression of suppression of voice of terai by our rulers. Do not try to get rid of the issues of penetration by ignoring the genuine issue of terai. Darbar will utilize the opportunity if it gets it. That is not the issue now but the issue now is to address the question raised by people. We have not seen any communal hatred in terai,” said Dr. Devendra Raj Pandey leader of Civil Society for Peace and Democracy (in Kantipur Television, January 26) Pandey was speaking from Janakpur on the way to his visit to violence-hit Terai.
“We have solid information that the royalists had provoked the violence with the support of Hindu fundamentalists,” said Dr. Baburam Bhattarai
“We have not imagined that there would be such huge participation in our agitation,” Dr. Upendra Yadav, chairman of Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF). “This is spontaneous reactions against the oppression of Madhesi.” – Kantipur Television 25 January.
“They are carrying many truck loads of people from Bihar , India to create the violence in terai. There is no question of negotiation with any of these forces backed by Palace and Hindu fundamentalists from India . We have to now declare Nepal as a Republic state so that the possibility of conspiracy dies forever,” said CPN-Maoist leader Dr. Baburam Bhattarai – Radio Sagarmatha, January 27.
“Dr. Upendra Yadav flared up this agitation following his meeting in Gorakhpur with Hindu fundamentalists,” said Maoist supreme Prachanda. “The faces taking part in the violent agitations are unknown figures,” Kantipur Television’s Bahas Program on 27, January.
“I was not alone to participate in Gorakhpur meeting. Leaders of all political parties including a leader of Nepali Congress were there too. Some issued a doctored photograph published in local newspaper to destroy my image,” said Dr. Upendra Yadav in Kantipur Television.
“The demand of terai is genuine as we have been pressing for the government to fulfill their demands. But the faces involved in the agitation show that regressive and reactionary forces are backing it,” said CPN-UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal – South Asia Free Media Association on January 26.
” Siraha, Lahan, Janakpur, Birgunj and Biratnagar are burning. By labeling the people of Janakpur and Madhesi community as monarchists and communal, some leaders are fuelling the fire,” Brishesh Chandra Lal, former mayor of Janakpur, – Kantipur on 26 January.
“When leaders of seven parties ignore genuine agitation of Terai’s people using force to suppress their voice, it is my moral obligation to resign from the cabinet.,” Hridayes Tripathi, Minister of Trade, Commerce and Supply and leader of Nepal Sadvabana Party (Anandadevi). (Gorkhapatra January 31)
(Compiled by KESHAB POUDEL)
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