“Prachandaji, I am told that your political paper to be presented at the party plenum still talks about ‘revolt’, about ‘people’s republic’ and vows to keep the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) intact; what’s this?” Nepali Congress (NC) President Sushil Koirala asked Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal at a meeting during the last round of talks held at Gokarna Resorts. He gave a sly smile and pointing toward Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, said, “Sushilji, you won’t understand why we, communist leaders, write such things but he (prime minister) does.” Everyone laughed. And such a serious issue was quickly brushed aside, never to be talked about again for the rest of the meeting.
Dahal is currently at Palungtar for the party plenum. He will surely face many disgruntled cadres who will ask him why the party has deviated from its goal of securing a People’s Republic. They will also press for clarifications on why the party was getting unnecessarily entangled in this parliamentary politics, and why he was shying away from taking the plunge for a revolt or a complete revolution. No prizes for guessing Dahal´s response. Palungtar will be Shaktikhor II in terms of lies and deceptions. He will yet again talk of revolution but pass a political line of peace and constitution through the plenum. He will tell the cadres that People’s Republic is still the party’s goal and that the party leadership is focused on achieving just that. He will also tell them that the party´s public pledge of peaceful, competitive politics is just meant to deceive the bourgeois, who make unnecessary noises about peace, constitution and democracy. Satisfied, the cadres will head home convinced that the revolution is still on—Kranti Jaari Chha!
Dahal is having the best of both worlds—he portrays himself as a great pragmatist-politician before the leaders of the other parties and the international community, and as a true revolutionary before his cadres.
And the political parties, the international community and his own cadres keep on asking themselves, keep on wondering: Who really is he?
Both peace and revolution are realities for Dahal — and they simultaneously exist in his mind and intermingle in the same space. He can be as much a revolutionary zealot as he can be a flexible politician, who understands realities on the ground and has great skills to adapt to them.
The reality and a part of the current complication is that, he is both.
In candid conversation once, after some pegs of whisky, with some senior NC leaders with whom he at one time shared great bonhomie, he said: I really don´t know who I am. A part of me says I am a revolutionary, a leader of a revolution. And another part of me says, I am a leader leading my party in the peace process.
Both peace and revolution are his realities—and they simultaneously exist in his mind and intermingle in the same space. He can be as much a revolutionary zealot as he can a flexible politician, who understands realities on the ground and has great skill in adapting to them.
Because of this duality, he faces pressure from both sides. And from within.
His cadres want him to remain committed to the ideals of revolution, but at the same time, they genuinely fear that he might, one day, trade in those ideals for power.
The international community, the mainstream political parties, civil society and a large section of the media, all of whom together formed a formidable coalition against the abusive monarchy in 2006, want the Maoists to give up their revolutionary dreams once and for all and become part of a peaceful, democratic polity. But at the same time, they fear that the Maoists may never fully embrace peaceful politics, may work to continue the present chaos, and given a favorable situation they might actually try to grab power by force.
For four years since the end of war, Dahal managed to maneuver both sides with promises and deceptions as he was receiving a lot by way of benefit of the doubt, perhaps more than he actually deserved.
No longer. And that’s the challenge Dahal faces once he returns to Kathmandu from the Palungtar plenum.
The international community and mainstream parties, mainly the NC, have toughened their stance. India has remained tough on the Maoists for long, but now even the Americans and the Brits seem to be losing patience. And both have conveyed their unequivocal message to Dahal – he must prove his sincerity through action. He had once assured the Americans that he would return seized property and de-barrack the Young Communist League unilaterally before the plenum and pledged to sort out the PLA issue after it.
Nothing happened before the plenum and nothing is likely to happen after. Before resolving the PLA issue, Dahal wants a guarantee that he will become the next prime minister. He once asked a diplomat from a powerful Western country if his country could guarantee that.
Dahal´s attempt to placate the Indians is yet to bear any fruit. He has publicly said that he will visit Delhi after the plenum but the Indians have not committed themselves to any high-level meeting with him.
Now Dahal seems to be split between two options.
First, negotiate the best deal possible for the PLA and conclude the peace process; write the constitution and in the meantime keep on pressing for a government under his leadership.
Second, don’t make compromises but also don’t opt for bigger confrontations with the mainstream political parties and the state. The essence of this strategy is to drag the present stalemate till May 28, 2011, the day the current deadline for the Constituent Assembly (CA) expires. On May 29, the CA will be gone, and the relevance of the 12-point agreement based on which the Maoists and the parties have come this far will be over.
The Maoists will blame the parties in power for the lack of agreement, for the failure to draft the constitution and for the dismissal of the CA.
The Maoists will still not go back to the jungle but remain in the cities, in towns and in villages and demand and push (through protests and strikes) for a new agreement, a new power-sharing deal.
The second option is fraught with danger and Dahal understands that, but won´t rule it out just yet.
I fully agree with the essence of this write-up that Prachanda is now trapped in the self created contradictions. His much controversial video tape in which he seemed to be playing more an actor than a grave political leader was only an example to show how cunning and ambition driven politician he is. Other political parties loudly criticised him for trying to fool them . But in reality he was making fools of his cadres and trying to ensure that his power does not slip off his hands . He underst
Dok Raj Adhikari
The entire analysis is focused on a single person; the evidence is based on ´who said what and when´, as if to prove that a particular ´neta ji´ (leader) is the fulcrum of the entire gamut of political narratives in Nepal. Isn´t that rather too simplistic or even naive for a sophisticated audience? Isn´t the other side equally split and dithering to make historic choices mandated by the People´s Movement-II? One wonders why the ´oldies´ are