Print Edition - 2014-06-29  |  Free the Words

Hearts and minds

  • The ultimate goal of the recent working alliance between the five communist parties is suspect
- Jainendra Jeevan
Hearts and minds

Jun 28, 2014-

Five communist parties that believe in Maoism—four of which used to be a single party till some years ago—have decided to form a ‘working alliance’. The ultimate goal of this working alliance, according to them, is to unite. The objective and modality of this alliance or unity, however, hasn’t been perceptible so far. A large number of people in the democratic camp, therefore, rightly fear that, as a result, the UCPN (Maoist) may again drift toward extremism, which it has been surmounting for sometime.

Though two out of the four parties are splinter groups, the one that split two years ago—the CPN-Maoist—was roughly one-third in size and strength of the mother party, the UCPN (Maoist). Despite his efforts and manoeuvres, party president Prachanda was unable to avert the split; though his dubious leadership style and opaque handling of the huge party fund was also one of the reasons for the split. However, once the split took place, he left no stone unturned to sideline, weaken and even annihilate the breakaway group, rather than to form an alliance, much less unite, with the latter. Now, it is the same Prachanda who is taking the lead and working hard for an alliance.

Writing on the wall

In any case, the choice is theirs. If the rationale behind a working alliance is to make the party bigger and stronger so as to serve Nepali people better, that’s great! If, on the other hand, the intention is to reverse the peace process, as some Maoists intend to do, the Nepali people will say no. Similarly, if the purpose is to spoil the constitution-making process, which, given the composition of the present Constituent Assembly (CA), is unlikely to promulgate a constitution that suits the Maoist agenda, the Nepali people will again vote no. If the whole exercise is just a ploy by Prachanda to further weaken his intra-party rival Baburam Bhattarai and his supporters (as he often plays such tricks), the Nepali people have no interest in such games.

The people’s scepticism is not without reason. Just the other day, CP Gajurel, one of the top leaders of the CPN-Maoist, said in public that owing to differences in their respective political course, party unity was not possible and that the alliance is just a gambit to take the UCPN (Maoist) out of the CA as his party doesn’t recognise the body. (The CPN-Maoist boycotted the November CA polls and has adopted rebellion as its political course). If it hasn’t yet started its armed offensive like in 1996, it is because the party wants to consolidate its political and combative power first, which, however, is nothing more than a daydream. Political, socio-economic, strategic or geopolitical factors are no longer favourable for any such misadventure. Much water has flown in the Karnali during the last two decades. People won’t support their violence and powers—both domestic and foreign—will try to crush them, the way violent communist revolts were crushed all over the world during the last 50 years or so. The results of the general elections held last November and the recent by-elections are clear indications to the Maoists of what people want and do not want.

 

For whose benefit?

On the other hand, Prachanda, known for his Machiavellian tactics, has recently been emphasising that the constitution should be finalised on the basis of consensus (of different political forces, both in and out of the CA, hinting at the CPN-Maoist), and not on the basis of voting (in the House). During the tenure of the previous CA, when his party was largest in the House, he used to plea just the opposite. At that time, Prachanda argued that if consensus cannot be achieved, the statute should be decided through voting. Yes, a constitution should be such that all groups and communities find their voice.

The legitimate demands and aspirations of the CPN-Maoist and its allied parties, therefore, must be addressed in the constitution. A roundtable conference of all stakeholders, as advocated by them, can be held for discussions and negotiations. However, their demand that the CA be replaced by (an unelected) political assembly and that the latter be entrusted to write/promulgate the constitution is simply unacceptable. Theoretically, consensus is best; but practically, it is too ideal a condition. In the absence of consensus, we have to follow the rules of the game. After all, the sovereign CA, which represents and reflects the people’s will, is meant to write a constitution. If it were not so, why is there a CA in the first place and why on earth did the UCPN (Maoist) take part in the CA polls? As such, the party has no right to undermine the CA just because its position in the House, or for that matter in national polity, has slid.

Wrong side of history

If the CPN-Maoist has become weaker, it is because it is on the wrong side of history. The sooner it realises this, the better. The party tried to disrupt the process and goals of peace building and constitution writing, as it believes in endless revolution. But the people are sick and tired of revolutions which are too frequent in this country. Revolutions of the past hardly raised the people’s living standards; people, therefore, want stability, peace and development instead of another misguided revolution. By fearlessly defying the CPN-Maoist’s call to boycott the polls, the Nepali people have already rejected their political line and ideology.

The Maoist parties’ calculation that party unity or a working alliance may save or revive them may be true to some extent. After all, strong and united political parties are the cornerstones of democracy. Parties ought not to be weak and fragmented for democracy to flourish. Nonetheless, unity among dogmatists doesn’t make dogma work; to succeed, political parties have to adopt a political line and a system that works. In the 21st century, no party can survive and thrive if it sticks to a dead ideology and believes in the use of force rather than in winning the hearts and minds of the people.

Published: 29-06-2014 08:39

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