After being responsible for the death of more than 13,000 people over the last 10 years of violent Maoist movement in Nepal, the Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who calls himself Prachanda, the ferocious, has offered to the political parties of Nepal a sort of parliamentary system based on ?competitive´ democracy.
He has made this offer in an interview published in The Hindu. Only three months ago, the same Prachanda had told the BBC Nepali Service, when asked if he felt remorse at the killing of those 13,000 plus people, that ?the whole movement had to be analysed in historical and scientific evolutionary process? (The Indian Express, 28-11-2005). In the meantime, King Gyanendra, in his speech on Democracy Day on February 19, sought the co-operation of the democratic political parties to join him in his talks to break the impasse. The political parties, now allied with the Maoists, expectedly rejected this offer.
Incidentally, media reports of the Democracy Day described this day, celebrated every year on the seventh day of the solar month of Phalgun, corresponding to February 18 or 19, as a commemoration to the victory of the people in their struggle for restoration of democracy in April 1990. This is incorrect. This day is celebrated on the anniversary of the establishment of a democratic government in Nepal on February 18, 1951, after the victory of the struggle launched by the Nepali Congress Party on November 6, 1950. It was on November 6, 1950, that the late King Tribhuvana with his entire family except the child Prince Gyanendra had suddenly taken asylum in the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu. Subsequent events had resulted in the end of the autocratic Rana rule and establishment of a democratic government. That child Prince is now King Gyanendra.
That the Prachanda´s offer is being pursued by some elements in this country who are apparently ?charmed´ by the sudden change of heart of those people who are basically terrorists is apparent from simultaneous publication of articles eulogising the leader of the Maoist movement in Nepal in more than one Indian newspaper. This should create apprehensions among people who value parliamentary democracy because, in this country, certain ?human rights´ groups have become active in favour of Maoists and have started condemning the security forces for committing excesses against these Maoists.
The support extended to the Maoist terrorists demonstrates the tremendous clout Prachanda and his followers have gained in the Indian establishment, a major cause for concern for those who are conscious of the threat to this country´s security from various sources. Only day-dreamers or people with vested interests will consider the offer of Prachanda a ?charming´ one.
Various theories are being floated by many people about the rationale behind the ?charming´ offer of Prachanda. One of them is that there is a change of heart among Nepali Maoists, which appears to be farcical. Another theory is that the Maoists have realised that while the Royal Nepal Army may not be able to defeat them in the ongoing battle, the Maoists also cannot capture Kathmandu and install their ?people´s democracy´ of the type Mao Ze Dong had established in China in 1949, which had resulted in a widespread massacre of ?reactionaries´ then and during the ?cultural revolution´ of 1967-1971.
Besides, the United States, which has been harping on re-establishment of parliamentary democracy in Nepal, has suddenly started denouncing the seven-party agreement with the Maoists in November 2005. The Government of India, which has adopted an ambivalent attitude towards the developments inNepal, has not opposed this agreement, to the best of this reporter´s knowledge, although one does feel that the surrender of the democratic political parties to the Maoists is a bad omen for India.
It cannot be forgotten that it was Deoba who had recommended the imposition of emergency in Nepal in 2002 and then the dissolution of the Pratinidhi Sabha on May 22, 2002. He had continued in office in a care-taker capacity till general elections, which had never come and were unlikely to come in view of the violence indulged in by the Maoists. After this, the King on October 4, 2002, dissolved that government and assumed all powers in his hands. He had dismissed Deoba for his ?incompetence´ in holding elections.
A procession of nominated Prime Ministers ensued thereafter and the last such Prime Minister was none other than Deoba himself and he had described this appointment as his ?re-instatement´.
It was this government that the King had dismissed on February 1, 2005. Emergency was imposed, but it could not continue for more than three months because of constitutional requirement.
The Constitution drafted by these political parties and promulgated by King Birendra on November 10, 1990, is still in force. The King has to abide by it because the Constitution clearly states in the Preamble that Nepal will have a multi-party democracy and constitutional monarchy. For another, in this age, the concept of an absolute monarchy, even in an extremely under-developed country, is considered an anachronism. The King has promised to hold elections for the Pratinidhi Sabha before the next Nepali year (ending April 12/13, 2007). The recently-held municipal elections are not a total failure because people did take part in voting?although in miniscule number. This should encourage the King to stick to the date he has announced.
The reason why the democratic political parties have virtually surrendered themselves to the Maoists is that they have lost faith in the King´s commitment to parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy.
Since India cannot and should not let the political parties of Nepal surrender themselves to the Maoists?which will have serious security consideration for India?the Government of India might get involved in Track-II diplomacy in order to convince the King and the political parties to work together for the restoration of parliamentary democracy. This will be in the interest of Nepal, its people, the present ruler and the future generation of Nepal.