What started as focus on protest against military supremacy has silently lead to focus on support for civil supremacy. The retirement of Rukman Katwal, the ex-military chief (the main person who triggered the present crisis) has de-facto diverted the attention of United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) [CPN (Maoist)] to support for civil supremacy. This means it has now shifted its attention to House supremacy whereby unconstitutional move of the President over-ruling the rule of then prime-minister’s order should be tabled for discussion in the House. However this shift has not brought any consensus between the Maoists and the governing old main stream parties. At present Maoists ‘ both hands are full of agendas. The right hand represents Civil supremacy, making people’s republic constitution, adhering to peace agreement, safeguarding nationhood and making national coalition government. The left hand represents upholding class, ethnicity, regional, gender, and Dalit issues. In contrast the governing old main stream parties have no agenda except to stay in power by hook or crook. Without shame they are alleging Maoists are using civil supremacy as a ploy to capture state power. They forget that the Maoists had resigned from Government not once but thrice on their own volition on moral ground.
Among all the above agendas civil supremacy stands tall as it is on this footing that all the rest issues can flourish, sustain and get institutionalized leading to democracy, peace, stability within the country. To make this point heard the United National People’s Movement (UNPM) a united front of UCPN (Maoist) declared package of protests spanning 13 days. It started with warm-up of movement with historic torch rallies (Masal) throughout the country on 1st November 2009. This was followed by the encirclement of 58 municipalities, nearly 4000 village development offices throughout the country on 2nd November. This was followed by gherao of 75 Chief District Offices in all the 75 districts on 4th and 5th November. This was followed by blockade of Capital valley, Kathmandu from six entry points on 10th November. The climax of the whole package of protests was the encirclement of Singha Darbar, the secretariat of Government of Nepal from eight points, for two days on 12th and 13th November. Thus for 13 days, it paralyzed the whole functioning of the present government!
The success of this protest lies in the fact that it mobilized all sections of society. Cine artists came forward to show their solidarity by singing dancing and airing their views, painters came to portray the current mood in their canvas, poets came to give befitting poems with lyrics to surcharge the mood of people. Cultural groups belonging to Newar, Magars, Tamangs, Kumals, Dalits etc performed their dances and songs truly giving festive mood to the whole movement. The most important hall mark of the whole street movement was the presence of senior leaders including Prachanda the chairperson of UCPN(Maoist), Baburam Bhattarai, the President of UNPM, and vice-chairperson of UCPN(Maoist) who stood to the ground from dawn to dust cheering and controlling the people and cadres. The speeches focusing on civilian supremacy could not help influencing civil police as they are more than aware of the effect of democratization of military institution on their own relationship with the military institution. The speakers tried to harness their support every now and then by reminding them of their class, ethnic, regional and gender fraternity. No wonder there was least skirmishes with them except in few spots which were brought to control within short period. The beauty of the movement was that by chanting for enforcement of civilian supremacy, democracy, and peace, it imbued the strength of civilians, the strength of street protest, the strength of legal struggle, the power of collective people, the power of disciplined mass, the power of peaceful protest! Another hall mark of the present movement was that it tried to prevent inconvenience to the people as much as possible. On the other hand the movement tried to harass and embarrass the government as much as possible. The Ministers’ last-minute face-saving attempt to enter Singhdarwar right at dawn exposed them further as it seemed as if they were underground and illegal while the movement was legal and over-ground. If those Parties who are in government had any sense of dignity, responsibility and maturity they should have by now resigned.
Those international observers, conflict management experts and political analysts studying conflict in South Asia must have noted the big difference between people’s movement in Nepal and the rest of South Asia. Nearly 100 people have been killed in Pakistan and Afghanistan all together within this period while many more have been injured and maimed. More than that, Maoists are political force who are not only working for restructuring of state but are also struggling for inclusive and proportional representation of all oppressed nationality, class, regions, Dalits in all state functioning. While movements in Pakistan and Afghanistan are limited to securing their culture, religion against the influence of imperialist forces without giving much heeds to restructure of politico-economic structure. While in Pakistan and Afghanistan UN agencies are facing tough resistance on their technical role, in Nepal people are welcoming them for their broader outlook to bring peace and stability.
It is important to note that Maoists do what they say, and where they make mistake they say sorry and try to rectify it. During wartime, they were damn serious about war, and during peace periods they are damn serious about peace process. During the war period they upheld ideological supremacy over military and now during peace period they are upholding civilian supremacy over military supremacy.
The problem of Nepali Congress is that the Party is not upholding its own agendas such as civilian supremacy, rule of law, Legislature supremacy, Constitution supremacy, commitment to peace agreement, respect for voters verdict. And the problem with UML is it is following Nepali Congress’s road. What makes Nepali Congress pathetically defensive is that they are contradicting their own stand. They recently passed for collective leadership as against strong president within their own Party. It is strange that they are advocating president supremacy as against prime-minister supremacy within the prime-ministerial system which they themselves chose! So the problem lies not with the Maoists but with the Nepali Congress and its stooge UML who are not able to play their historical roles as demanded by the occasion. Therefore they are to be blamed if the third higher form of movement are launched after 20th November, the last ultimatum date given to the government for arriving at national consensus to solve the present crisis. International stakeholders particularly India and China should too do their part of homework to bring democracy, stability, and peace to Nepal.
15th November 2009