Nepal: interesting times
by Sandhya Jain on 12 May 2009 4 Comments

When Chinese wish the wrath of heaven upon one, they invoke it gently: ‘may you live in interesting times,’ a euphemism for living without peace and stability. A prolonged spell of ‘interesting times’ is now upon our Himalayan neighbour, ironically Beijing’s budding ally.

At the time of writing, President Ram Baran Yadav’s deadline for government formation seemed unlikely to fructify, though CPN-UML (109 seats) and Nepali Congress (114 seats) were frontrunners in forging a new coalition. Yet former Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, alias Prachanda, whose attempts to grab totalitarian power by infiltrating and taking over the Army triggered the current crisis, may also succeed in sticking to power.

Prachanda has made overtures to CPN-UML leader Jhalanath Khanal, the likely opposition candidate for Prime Ministership. The Nepali Congress and 22 other political parties support him, though the Madeshi People’s Rights Forum (53 seats) is undecided. A major hitch is Prachanda’s determination to block government formation until the exit of the Army chief, and threat to return to the violence that rent the once-Hindu kingdom for over a decade.

Nepali Hindu backlash against the Christian-Maoist leadership has now unfurled, and will continue no matter what political deals are struck in the immediate future. The mask of secular-atheist-democracy worn by Maoists in their decade-long assault upon the Hindu kingdom is off; the monarchy has paid the price of conspiracy married to its own ineptitude; but now political parties, institutions like the Army, temples and devotees, and the people in general, recognise that they face a Christian tyrant in Prachanda. China can ignore this Western-Christian infiltration in it’s ‘near abroad’ at its own peril; fresh attempts to evangelize in Afghanistan have recently come to light.

Nepal’s quest for Hindu reaffirmation shows in the timely surfacing of a video of Prachanda revealing plans to permanently capture State power by stuffing PLA cadres into the Army. The video pertains to a meeting with PLA cadres in Chitwan, on 2 January 2008, when G.P. Koirala led the interim government.

Prachanda’s bragging that Maoists had tricked everyone into believing their armed combatants numbered 35,000, when they were less than 8000, exposes the complicity of the United Nation’s Political Mission in Nepal in validating 20,000 Maoist soldiers for induction into the regular Army. The integration of politically conscious Maoist goons into the professional Army was resisted by Army chief Gen. Rukmangad Katawal, which triggered the current crisis.

UNMIN is no innocent taken for a ride. The United Nations is neither neutral nor apolitical; it was conceived, like the League of Nations before it, as an instrument for continuing Western domination in the post-Second World War era. Racism is subtly institutionalized in its mandate, as witnessed by its relentless usage against former colonies and regions that could not be tamed in the pre-War era. Anyone who does not agree with this assessment should explain why the services of South Africa Apartheid expert, Gen. Jan Smuts, were utilized in preparing the Charter of both the League of Nations and the United Nations! South Africa was not a member of either body – but Smuts was a racist par excellence.

To return to Nepal, Gen. Katawal had a royal upbringing as adopted son of late King Mahendra. He and the loyalist Nepali Congress to which President Ram Baran Yadav belongs would recognize the danger Maoists pose to the autonomy of the Himalayan kingdom and the integrity of its ancient ethos.

Prachanda showed his true face blatantly with the dismissal of South Indian Brahmin priests of the famed Pashupatinath Temple on 1 January 2009. Their replacement with Nepali citizens without religious lineage or training enraged Nepali Bhandari priests (protectors of the temple’s assets and managers of its administrative affairs), who roused devotees and took up cudgels against this gross interference in the nation’s holiest shrine. An appeal by deposed King Gyanendra to the people to not politicize the temple issue made Prachanda beat a tactical retreat.

But soon after this episode, Hindu devotees returning from Gorakhpur (India) were humiliated by the seizure of their copies of the Bhagwat Gita. These incidents underline the persisting threat to Nepal’s millennia-old Hindu culture and civilisational ethos since the political ascent of the Maoists and the abolition of the Hindu Kingdom.

It is pertinent that immediately after the Maoist takeover, the Vatican appointed a Bishop and expanded evangelical activity in Nepal. The top Maoist leadership is Christian; hence evangelism could be complicit in the temple crisis and the current political crisis.

The video showed Prachanda bragging that Maoists formed the Young Communist League with thousands of youths (goons hated in civil society for kidnappings, extortions, even murder, and grabbing property worth millions which has still not been restored to its rightful owners) “who now add to our strength,” a euphemism for their skills in street violence. He admitted having “enough money” to prepare a good battle plan for revolt and State takeover.

The current crisis began when Prachanda suddenly dismissed Gen Katawal on 3 May and appointed loyalist Gen Kul Bahadur Khadka in his place. That the move was intrinsically divisive was evident when four ruling alliance partners, the CPN-UML, Madhesi People’s Rights’ Forum, Sadbhavana Party and CPN-United, boycotted the cabinet meeting that took the decision. Maoist urgency followed Gen Katawal’s decision to reinstate eight generals retired by the government, halt military recruitments, and not participate in the National Games.

The CPN-UML exited the government and threatened a no-confidence motion; the General refused to step down; President Ram Baran Yadav on the appeal of 22 out of 24 political parties to “protect the constitution” and prevent total capture of power by Maoists, asked the Army chief to stay put. The main opposition Nepali Congress rejected the sacking of the army chief and warned of street protests.

The Prachanda-gate video makes it clear that Maoists cadre strength was always grossly exaggerated. As the fighters validated by UN are still confined in UN-monitored barracks, it is clear that the crowds on the streets were simply rented, like those seen in the “coloured revolutions” of Central Asia, which could suggest foreign funding. Now that the truth is known, there is no need to be intimidated; the Army and nationalist political parties should do the needful to contain this menace.

The author is Editor,  

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