- Rajan Karki , Chief Editor, The Gorkha Express Weekly, Nepal
The United States of America had established its official diplomatic relations with Nepal in 1947 and the US embassy was officially opened in Kathmandu in 1959. Ever since then the relations between the two countries have always been warm and friendly. It goes without saying that the US policy objectives towards Nepal have durably centered on helping Nepal to build a prosperous and stable democratic society.
No doubt USA had also ratified Nepal’s proposal of declaring Nepal as Zone of peace.
Then the US President was Ronald Reagan.But the question is whether the USA still standing steadfast on its declared policy even as of today or it is otherwise? Does it not appear that USA has discarded its noble policy to keep its old friend Nepal free from external intervention and infringement? An acknowledged lone super power and a democratic nation like USA must understand well that India's sole objective is fulfillment of her own self-centered interests and in doing so it will always adopt the formula of use and throw.
USA must understand and see India through this inner fiber and recognize India's internal political strategy. It is crystal clear that in the previous decades, India had signed security treaty with the then USSR also. Is it an indication of good future for the USA to become
detracted and take on to a wrong path? Like in Iraq and Afghanistan, America's present day Nepal policy, carries the latent negative impact which may bring in with it a calamity for the entire South Asian region. Ultimately, the US will be the loser in South Asia.
On account of these doubtful queries, I have become unhappy towards the US policy of looking towards Nepal through India's eye lens only. We in Nepal had become fully assured that the lamp of Loktantra (Republic) had already been ignited in Nepal but repentantly what I find today is that, after seizing the reins of power from the grip of the populace, we have been sadly experiencing only intermittent fire crackers and long for political stability, that has become an elusive one, which, in addition, is associated with unity among the population and also there is the crisis of trust. The unity remains in a fractured state.
Sad indeed that you, the US, have been looking at Nepal since long through Indian eye lens and in the meantime the change of 1990 took place in Nepal. This change brought the Panchayat system and the role of active Monarchy to an end and later the foundation of multiparty democracy were laid down. Then parliament comprised of 205 members which was taken as Lower House of people’s representatives and in addition 60 members were selected/nominated which was named as State assembly or upper house. After 30 years, in the year 1991, the first clear, independent and impartial election took place where in the democratic Nepali congress secured majority of the parliamentary seats. But after the election the incumbent government could not complete its five years tenure in office. Mid-term election took place, and after this election for the first time in a country which had monarchy, the CPM UML made its first communist government. Till mid-1994, Manmohan Adhikari became Prime Minister. In the election of 1999, the Nepali Congress became the major party. Since 1991, during all along those 12 years, individuals like KP Bhattarai, Girija Prasad Koirala, Sher Bahadur Deuba, Surya Bahadur Thapa, Lokendra Bahadur Chand became Prime Minister. Yet political instability existed and Nepal continued to become as if like wobbly sail boat in the tidal waters of the Atlantic or Pacific.
Sher Bahadur Deuba of Nepali Congress became Prime Minister on Feb. 13, 1996 itself. The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) had launched its Insurgency (people's war). The entire 75 districts of Nepal were affected by this people's war which caused killing of 17 thousand people and colossal loss to Nepal’s development infrastructure.
The said people's war continued for 10 years 9 months 5 days only. On November 22, 2005, India tacitly brought together the then 7 parliamentary parties and the underground CPM-Maoist in the same place and India itself drafted the historic and unexpected 12-point memorandum of understanding (MOU) for peace and democracy, in which both sides were made to agree and later sent to Nepal.
In this agreement also, USA remained as a witness. Till then Nepal's monarchy had become extremely unpopular. In June 1, 2001, then Crown Prince Dipendra Bir Bikram Shah had already caused the Palace Massacre. The seven parties then made Prince Gyanendra Shah as the new King of Nepal. During the very period, compulsion arose for the King to take into his own hands the reins of state power and had desired to handover the power to the political parties after conducting fresh election.
On February 1, 2005, the parliament was dissolved and the king took powers in his own hands.Unfortunately for the 240 years long institution of monarchy, with the ambitions to carry out the function of a Prime Minister came as a suicidal attempt.
After the King took the governance of state under his direct rule, the Seven Parties turned hostile and begun acting like rebels which, in the meantime gave birth to the 12 points memorandum of understanding, as stated earlier, which was concluded and signed in Delhi and the CPM Maoist also supported the movement against the ruling monarch. The Maoist militants came to the open and supported the movement in the streets and by time the people also had become agitated and the mass movement followed up.
Even the so-called communist, who used to say that the Parliament is nothing more than a shop of selling dog's meat by displaying goat's head, ultimately wanted change and joined with Nepali Congress to spread the common flame of movement. It appeared that the movement may not bring to an end to Nepali monarchy institution.
For 19 days in series, the movement continued and headed towards the climax against King Gyanendra's autocratic rule. In the meanwhile, the Indian government by sending Dr. Karan Singh assumed the role of a negotiator to fulfill its own political interests. India had proposed to support the King and thwart the people's movement if Nepal's security and foreign policy was handed over to India. But this was out rightly rejected by King Gyanendra. Thereafter followed the dialogue between agitating force, King and Karan Singh, and according to the consensus arrived at the conclusion of this meet, the King on April 21, 2006, made the proclamation wherein he made a statement that "power owned be returned to the people". But CPM Maoist disagreed and the movement continued, the street protests increased. 21 people got killed in the movement.In the end on the midnight of April 24, 2006, King Gyanendra had to announce the revival of the dissolved parliament. There after the movement ended and thus after the parliament was restored, Girija Prasad Koirala became Prime Minister who was sworn in by the King himself.
On 19 May, 2006 the Parliament made decision to empower complete Judicial and executive power(s) to Nepal Government. In that very situation when King was still in authority, Girija Prasad had become the Executive head of the Nation. Thus Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala wrote a letter informing the UN Head Quarters regarding holding of Constitution Assembly election in the month of April and appealed for receiving the demanded international cooperation.
On April 10, 2008, the constitution assembly election took place. 240 persons got elected and 361 persons were nominated as assembly members. What a paradox? A new CA body took shape which saw the presence of the nominated ones in greater numbers than the elected ones. Even today in the USA itself no such special preference has been awarded to the nominated members than to the elected ones in the constitution assembly and the senate. Yet the constitution assembly came into existence in Nepal. All had expected that CPN Maoist will secure a few seats in the CA poll. The observation conducted by both UN and Carter Center (Nepal) also declared CPN Maoist as the largest party. This was the most surprising election result. Outcome of this result jolted all the way from Delhi to Washington. The days of replacement of democratic leadership headed government to the CPN Maoist drew closer. CPM Maoist leader Prachanda (Pushpa Kamal Dahal) who was well versed and had digested Mao's "RED BOOK", tactical equilibrium strategy, seduced the NC leader and then Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala that he would be made the first president of Republic Nepal. This way Girija Prasad got trapped in the political net web set by CPN Maoist and subsequently Girija Prasad Koirala sacrificed altogether the chartered principle of Nepali Congress. He had become feeble compared to the communists and under the compulsive but yet in a dramatic situation, Girija Prasad Koirala sent his loyal follower and the then Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula, to the Constitution Assembly meeting along with the proposal to implement the scheme of declaring Nepal as a Republic. Krishna Prasad Sitaula was the NC leader who had already lost the election.
As soon as the proposal of declaration of republic was placed in the House, without any demanded debate, the speaker of the house, Subhash Nembang instantly announced the proposal was being approved from the House.Subash Nembang had become the speaker as leader of CPM-UML. On 2008 May 28, an official announcement was made which ended the monarchy from Nepal and the country declared to have become the Republic of Nepal. Only 4 members had raised their voice against the proposal. The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), CPN (UML), the Nepali Congress (NC) and Madhesi Morcha had taken the mandate to write and complete the constitution. But even in 4 years, they could not complete the task and on the very day of May 27, 2012, the Constitution Assembly was dissolved. The effort made by the government led by Dr. Baburam Bhattarai (Maoist), had made two attempts to hold election of Constitution Assembly which vanished in the ethereal medium.Now by elevating the Chief Justice (Khilraj Regmi) as the new chairman of council of ministers, it has already been decided that the second CA poll will be held November 19, 2013. Now the question remains as to whether the election will be held on this specified date or not?
There still is the lack for a dependable basis that the poll will be held on time. Essentially the problem has been created by the faction which has emerged a splinter of the main unified communist party of Nepal (Maoist). This new faction party communist party of Nepal Maoist has demanded that the Presidential decree and of the four party consortium must be scrapped, and a round table conference be held. A new government under the political leadership must be constituted, and the elections dates be deferred and above all the incumbent party less government should tender its resignation. These are the fundamental issues of disagreements raised by the dissenting new faction Communist Party of Nepal-the NCP-Maoists.
Such is the political picture of Nepal that provides a general view of the prevailing political situation in Nepal. Now the question arises is that autocracy had to be removed, lasting peace and Loktantra were to be established as per the mandate given by the people. In essence, there still is hovering a pertinent question as to how and why Hindu religion and monarchy had been removed from Nepal with the consensus of the political leaders only which definitely lacks the people's mandate?
There is still no prevalence of peace, the situation appears as if there is only the end: the war and conflict. If Loktantra (people's democracy), has really been established then why is Nepal not being goaded to the path of Loktantra even till today? Why the so called political leaders themselves are abusing, the very values, principle and morale of Loktantra? In such a politically turbulent atmosphere, will the conduct of the forthcoming November poll bring in the real Loktantra (people's democracy)? Will that election be able to settle and iron out political issues to everybody’s satisfaction?
Such are the hair-raising queries to which there seems to be no positive answers being made available from any quarters. Even when there was monarchy, a Communist Government was functioning in 1994. After the election of Constitution Assembly on 10 Aug, 2008, Comrade Prachanda (Maoist) became Prime Minister. On May 25, 2009 Comrade Madhav Kumar Nepal (UML) assumed the nation’s Prime Minister Ship, and similarly on 6 Feb, 2011, Jhalanath Khanal (UML) became Nepal PM, likewise on 29 August, 2011 Dr. Baburam Bhattarai (Maoist) had run the Government as the country’s PM. Notably, from 14 March 2013, Khil Raj Regmi (Chief Justice) on the very proposal of the Unified Maoist Party, has been leading the command of Government and trying to accomplish the conduct of the election. But this Government has not achieved any success so far in establishing political consensus and in managing the needed election oriented environment. This speaks of the prevailing political uncertainty that remains even as of today.
The burning question echoing in the political atmosphere is what would be the turn of events and what untoward may happen at time of the CA poll?
The palpable reality that is being questioned is that whether there is going to be election or not? The election has two sides of the coin, in other words, both head and tail, have been occupied by Maoists. Nowhere one could find the democratic forces to be in a weighty and influential position.
Analyzing the election results of 2008 wherein 64% of the Communists headed the Parliament, it once again appears that 2013 election even increased number of Communists is likely to become popular ultimately. The election for the Unified Maoist Party is to eye gaining the State authority at any cost. Till now Comrade Prachanda was kingpin of politics, now he is daring to capture and bring the entire country in his grip. He is therefore spreading the net of this very strategy. It is going to be only the democratic forces, who will get entrappedin this net and suffocate and suffer finally, for example, like what means to a fish not being in water.
And the US is watching these events in leisure only to repent later. Time will tell the US.