It is now official. The fourth phase of the Maoist campaign for civil supremacy will be directed against India. Civil supremacy is not the priority anymore.
Nationalism and Anti Indianism:
In the just concluded Politburo meeting of the UCPN (M), the party on receiving the political report of Prachanda, has decided to take up the issue of nationalism as central to the political strategy to be followed henceforth.
The issue of nationalism is unfortunately equated with anti Indianism and this is understood by all the political circles in Nepal. This is nothing new and has been the official approach from the Panchayat days
The slogan for the fourth phase that has threatened total strike from 24th of this month- is ìDialogue and Struggle with the Indian State and Solidarity with the Indian peopleî
This crude attempt to separate the Govt. of India with the people of India on their campaign against India may not sell in India but could whip up strong anti Indianism and protests in Nepal.
A decision has been taken to send the five top leaders to five different ìdisputed border locationsî- the Kalapani, Susta, Pashupathi Nagar, Laxmanpur and Khurdalautan. There are plans to publicly burn copies of Indo Nepal Treaty of 1950 as well as other agreements (Sugauli treaty?) and hold demonstrations in front of the Indian Embassy at Kathmandu. The top leaders are hoping to inspect the small dams constructed within the Indian side to investigate whether the construction works on the Indian side have any adverse effect on Nepali side.
While inspection from the Nepali side should be welcomed, I hope the Govt. of India will be firm to ensure that visitors from the other side are allowed to inspect the structures only on an official request from Govt. Of Nepal and prior permission taken.
Dinanath Sharma, one of the top leaders of the Maoists and said to be close to Prachanda described the theme of the fourth phase of their agitation as follows. ìIt is our conclusion that we cannot become free citizens without liberation from national self capitulation. Hence the need for keeping nationalism and independence as the centre of our movement.î
The focus on civil supremacy is now shifted to preservation of nationalism (read anti Indianism)
Narrow Nationalist Posturing!
One analyst, Anil Bhattarai has called this move as ìnarrow nationalist posturing.î He pointed out, in his brilliant essay how India comes in for help when portions of the country are facing total famine. In view of the famine conditions prevailing in Karnali Region, in the districts of Humla, Jumla, Mugu and Kalikot, all the families including elders and children have started moving towards India!
The point is, both countries need each other for the regional stability.
The Maoists do not seem to be concerned about major problems facing the country on food, clean water, health care, public transportation, housing, restoration of degraded landscape and many more. Power cut in Kathmandu is going to increase from 8 hours to 12 hours a day and may go even up to 18 hours! The country is producing less than 700 megawatts when total realisable power is above 80,000 megawatts!
Maoists believe that mobilising masses should be part of their ultimate strategy to capture power rather than suggesting or helping the common people on the many day to day problems facing them! To whip up the masses they have found anti Indianism as the best weapon. But this may go awry.
Consider the following statements of the Maoist leaders in the last three weeks
Narayan Kaji Shrestha on 21st December said that the fourth phase of the agitation will be on ìprotection of national independenceî and against foreign interference in Nepalís internal affairs. He charged that regional hegemony prevailed in Nepalís internal affairs and all nationalist forces should unite to fight against foreign interference.
Kiran said on 27th- ìWhat we have perceived is that the civilian supremacy was abducted not only from within the country but foreign powers are also responsible for it. He hinted at changing the focus of the agitation to preserving nationalism from civilian supremacy.
This change has been effected since they have by now realised that they can get nothing more out of the civilian supremacy issue. He was more specific earlier on the 26th when he said that the focus will be on the issue of national sovereignty and fighting ìIndian expansionismî Strangely he suggested that even the Presidentís move in cancelling the sacking order of Army Chief had the backing of India!
Prachanda on 30th December accused foreign powers of attempting to stop the changes in Nepal. Earlier he said that the Indian Army Chiefís statement that the Maoist combatants should not be integrated en masse, during the visit of Nepal Armyís Chief as ìnaked interference in Nepali Internal Affairsî!
Baburam Bhattarai on 27th December claimed that foreign interference is on the rise in Nepal.
Official Indian reaction on the systematic condemnation of India is not known. The Indian Army Chiefís comment on PLA integration, if true was unfortunate. But I see a bigger design of the Maoists in condemning India by all the top leaders of the party. But they should also know that India will be concerned if destabilsing forces continue to run riot in a neighbouring country having an open border with free flow of people to either side.
PMís Visit to China
Prime Minister Madhav Nepalís visit to China was considered a success. He met the top leaders of China including Hu Jintao and Wen JiaPao. The visit included a trip to Xian and Shanghai.
Prime Minster Madhav Nepal is said to have briefed the Chinese leaders about the latest political developments in Nepal including the ongoing peace and constitution making process. Hu Jintao is said to have told the Prime Minister that he wants to see peace, stability and development in Nepal. President Hu did not touch on the present ongoing phased agitation of the Maoists on the issue of civilian supremacy or on the national independence.
Chinese help has been assured in improving land and air connections, development of districts of Nepal bordering China, support in hydro power construction, infrastructure development, health, education, human resource development, promotion of trade ties and human resource development. Construction of the road to Tibet through Rasuwa pass will be completed by this October.
The successful visit of Madhav Nepal is considered to be an indicator of Chinese support to the government which has been condemned by the Maoists as an illegitimate one. The message is more to the Maoists.
Prachandaís Mysterious Visit to Hongkong:
Prachanda made a mysterious one day visit to Hongkong along with his close confidante Krishna Bahadur Mahara on the 7th of this month ostensibly to attend an NRN function. It is reported from Hongkong that Prachanda was not available for three hours and no one knew (except the Chinese authorities) where he went and whom he met.
Some positive developments have also taken place and the Maoists have relented on some issues. This is interesting and there has to be some reason for the Maoists to change their line. These include
1. The Special Committee on the integration and rehabilitation of UCPN Maoist combatants headed by the Prime Minister, approved the action plan made out by the PM. The plan envisages completion of integration within 112 days. The UCPN (M) has formally agreed in principle to the plan. But they have demanded that there should be an agreement first on the number of ex combatants to be integrated with the National Army.
There are 19602 combatants waiting to be integrated/rehabilitated that includes 15756 males and 3846 females. A number of 5000 to be integrated into the regular army is being talked about and this figure was the one that was privately supposed to have been accepted by G.P. Koirala when the latter was the Prime Minister. There has been no confirmation yet on the figure and G.P. has not so far openly confirmed or contested. Perhaps his then Home Minister K.P. Sitaula could throw some light on it.
2. Discharge of disqualified combatants has begun from 7th of this month. There are 4008 in number to be discharged. The first batch of over 200 left Dudhouli camp in the presence of UNMIN representative and Pasang of PLA. Each discharged person was given a sum of Rs 22000- (10,000 from UNMIN and another 12,000 from the PLA personnel in the camp). It was a moving farewell and Pasang told those discharged to stay committed to the peace process.
3. There was a general agreement that constitution making and the PLA integration should go on simultaneously and that the new constitution will be implemented only after the integration is completed The Government is planning to request the extension of UNMIN to May 15 of this year.
4. The UCPN (M) has also agreed to assist in the procedure for the 7th amendment of the interim constitution to pave the way for oath taking in oneís mother tongue by the President and the Vice President. This would result in activating the post of Vice President once again by a joint resolution in the House tosolve the impasse created by the then Vice President in not taking the oath in Nepali.
These moves show that the Maoists have realised the folly of continuing their agitation that comes in the way of completing the peace process and at the same time continue the agitation at a higher level to mobilise the masses to be directed against India under the cover of preserving oneís national independence.
( Courtesy: www.southasiaanalysis.org.The writer, Dr S.Chandrasekharan, is Director, South Asia Analysis Group, New Delhi,India.Email: email@example.com)