Print Edition - 2015-11-22 | Free the Words
The not-so-new force
- BRB’s party will be just another breakaway group of the erstwhile united Maoist party
Nov 22, 2015-
Former prime minister and leader of the UCPN (Maoist) Baburam Bhattarai quit his party some weeks ago to form a ‘new political force’ which he has been advocating for since quite some time. Soon, he will launch his new party. After years and years of a violent insurgency, misrule, political instability, economic stagnation, anarchy, social and communal friction and the likelihood of national disintegration, for which all the existing political forces and parties have to share the blame, the Nepali people, of course, are in search of a new force that can rehabilitate and reconstruct the country. However, they are also wary of old leaders who form or break parties just to serve their personal and factional interests, ambitions and ideologies. Will Bhattarai be any different? Let us make an examination.
Fascinated by his educational record, intellectual persona, simple and humble lifestyle, and a commitment to change and do something new, people looked upon him with respect and hope till some years ago. Not anymore. Even the middle class and the educated lot had great expectations from him, something unusual for a hard-line communist leader. Now they hate him the most. The disappointment and anger of the people is not without reason.
The common people, except for some brainwashed party cadres and activists, have become sick and tired of ‘isms’, identity politics and agitations and rights campaigns of all kinds, all of which have nearly devastated the country in the last two decades. They just yearn for peace, prosperity, stability, speedy economic development, a functional and inclusive democracy, good governance, communal harmony and national independence and integration. Catching the mood of the people, will Bhattarai distance his new party from ism- and identity-based politics of all kinds? Will it condemn, or at least, refrain from violence, agitations, shutdowns and strikes and anarchic acts of all kinds? Will his party, without any ideological hangover, judge issues on merit and thus ensure the cooperation of the people from all walks of life in nation-building?
Unfortunately, the indications, so far, have been to the contrary. Even today, Bhattarai is busy fuelling the violent agitation of the Madhesis who, working in obvious collusion with India, have been blocking the supply of essential goods, especially petroleum products and medicines for the last two months. Despite the great pain and suffering the agitation and blockade has inflicted on the people, Bhattarai has not only supported it blindly, but has also defended India. By saying and doing so, he has antagonised the hill people and reinforced the people’s belief that he is of dubious character as far as his ‘Delhi connection’ is concerned.
Master of conflict
A former prime minister of the country should not defend a foreign perpetrator or champion one regional agenda at the expense of the interests of other regions. Yet, he has been supporting each and every demand of Madhes-centric parties and activists, irrespective of the merit of their demands. In fact, Bhattarai was the one who instigated the controversial theory that Madhesis are a separate nationality. Given the dangers of geopolitics, this was a totally uncalled for and dangerous interpretation of Nepal’s political demography. Even the Madhesis have not claimed to be of a different nationality, at least not before Bhattarai said so. Bhattarai, who should have maintained a balanced position where communities are polarised, chose to fuel their divisiveness.
Bhattarai was the main architect and co-leader of the brutal communist insurgency that lasted 10 long years and devastated the country. Again, it was he who became instrumental in making compromises, thus abandoning the goals of the revolution. Thereafter, his party has assumed power several times, but never fulfilled most of the promises it made during the revolution. Instead, once in mainstream politics and power, his party men, including his close associates, resorted to all kinds of evils including corruption. As party leader and prime minister, he barely tried to control and correct those tendencies or the people. Far from so, serious allegations of corruption were labelled against his wife who is also a senior party leader and his close associates when he was prime minister. The allegations were never refuted; although personally he has not been tainted by corruption.
Bhattarai seems to be a master of conflict. Whenever and wherever he can, he creates or provokes conflicts that result in unrest, agitation and revolution. When ‘inter-class conflict’ does not work, he switches to inter-ethnic conflict. ‘Destroy now to reconstruct later’ seems to be his method and mantra. He does not believe in reforms, evolution and peaceful means as instruments of change. For him, radical and violent ‘leap forwards’ are the only way to free the people from ‘oppression’, and to provide justice to them.
Same old story
Does Bhattarai ever repent for the loss of lives and livelihoods, properties and prosperities, and well being and opportunities incurred on account of his imprudent conflicts and revolutions? No, on the contrary, he has always tried to glorify his bloody insurgency. Meted out to establish a ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’, the violent insurgency claimed 17,000 lives, maimed hundreds of others, made 1,500 or so disappeared, displaced nearly 100,000 people from their villages and hometowns, and destroyed and looted billions of rupees worth of public and private properties. However, at the end of the day, the Maoist party joined the same bourgeois regime, enjoyed the benefits of power the way other bourgeois parties did, and kept splitting over and over again. Bhattarai’s new force too will not be a non-communist force, that is why non-communist faces have refused to join his party.
A news report published in this daily on November 19 said, “The new party will be guided by Marxist ideology to attain socialist goals, according to (its) leaders.” It added, “Bhattarai’s new political force is likely to be dominated by former UCPN (Maoist) leaders after his earlier plan to include civil society leaders, intellectuals, businessmen and apolitical people did not succeed. Bhattarai is (soon) organising a national gathering of his supporters, (who), according to leaders, are not ‘fresh faces’ but former leaders and cadres of the UCPN (Maoist) who left the party with Bhattarai. His supporters pressed him not to provide any powerful positions to non-partisan people.”
How can a party built on the foundations of the same old rank and file that has been tried, tested and failed and that is intolerant towards ‘non-partisan people’ be a fresh party? How can a party built on the premises of the same old date-expired ideology that has a gory past and that offers a disastrous prescription (ethnic discord) for the future can become a constructive force? It will be just another breakaway group of the erstwhile united Maoist party, like many other previous breakaway groups.
Published: 22-11-2015 08:17