On the Green Left Weekly discussion list an questions was recently posted, "Is Nepal Headed for More Turmoil?". This is a response to that question.
Is Nepal heading for Fresh turmoil? That’s an interesting question. The current political situation in Nepal is very turbulent, tense, polarised and volatile. It is very possible, even very likely, that more "turmoil" is on the horizon. At any rate the current situation cannot continue. The Maoist government has struggled to carry out its election promises, particularly the budget by and large remains unimplemented in many of its respects. The coalition partners, while taking part in government, talk and act more like opposition, and align more closely with the opposition. Something has to give.
Within the parliament it appears that moves are being made to try and derail the Maoist led government. The Nepali Congress, with the backing of international forces and the elite in the Nepali Army, is trying to build a broad "democratic alliance" within the parliament against the Maoist led government. The NC justifies this move by accusing the Maoists of "authoritarian" and "anti-democratic" practices. In these accusations and attempts to undermine the government they are getting increasing amounts of support from parties within the government.
Both the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN(UML)) and the Madhesi Peoples Rights Forum (MJF) while being minor parties in the government, have shamelessly been getting closer to the NC's efforts to undermine it. Recently leaders in the UML has referred to the Peoples Liberation Army, which waits in cantonments under the supervision of the United Nations to be integrated with the old Royalist Military into a new National Army, as being criminal elements. This goes against the spirit of the peace agreement, and one of the very first obligations of the government, which is to carry out the ongoing peace process to a conclusion.
Increasingly the UML, the MJF and the NC are adopting the talk of the need to protect “democracy” and are talking more and more blatantly about displacing the Maoist government, despite its clear electoral victory in April last year.
The fact of the matter is that these parties could have the numbers to be able to topple the government within the current government. It is not in the class interests of the NC to allow the Maoist government to continue, and the bureaucratic UML and the MJF feel much more secure in a coalition that will simply maintain the status quo, and therefore maintain their positions in the political elite.
This would be tragic if the real power was in the parliament but Nepal, in the last ten years has proven more graphically than anywhere else that the power in any society lies not in any parliamentary institution, but rather with the masses of people in the streets.
All of the major changes in Nepal in the last few years have been on the back of massive peoples movement. The Parliamentary system set up after the 1990 peoples movement in the more than 10 years of its existence proved unable to achieve the secular and republican aspirations of the people. Even with a government led by the UML in 1994, supposedly "communists", was completely and totally incapable of taking any action to bring about radical change. In contrast to this the People's War led by the Maoists, and the Peoples Movement of 2006 which was led by the Maoists and the Seven Party Alliance was able to completely change the political reality of Nepal. The most democratic event in Nepal’s history didn’t involve a vote! It has only been through "turmoil" that the people of Nepal have been able to realise their aspirations.
And this will be the nature of any "turmoil" that may break out in Nepal. As I said earlier, something has to give in the political situation there, but the tragedy would not necessarily be a change in the form of government and another peoples movement. There is no point to a stable government when the government is unable to institute even the most basic of their plans and therefore it would be more tragic if the current static situation continued. If there are moves by the opposition NC and its allies to topple the government, or if the plans and programs of the Maoists continue to be held back by either the state apparatus or their government partners, the UCPN(M) leaders are now talking about the need for a new peoples movement.
Late last year the UCPN(M) had an extensive set of meetings which devised a new party strategy to progress the revolution. As they see it, they must struggle on three fronts. One, in the government and parliament, to provide relief to the people and to begin the development of the country. Two, in the writing of the new constitution, so to set up a pro-peoples constitution, in the interest of the workers and peasants. The third front, and most important one, is the street struggle, to provide the pressure necessary to bring about the changes that the people of desperately want and need, and to overcome the resistance of all the right wing forces.
In this context, more “turmoil” is very likely. Ruling classes have yet to roll over and give up their power, privilege and position in a society without a fight, and the “turmoil” of the last few years has resulted in far more progress to an equal, socially just, democratic and secular nation than any other period of stability and peace.