Conflict and revolution have become a culture of the country. Be it chanting slogans against Panchayat system in 1990, or suffering armed conflict for a decade starting 1996, the Madhesh Movement, the Tharuhat movement and the like. However, the warring parties have always reached a negotiated settlement. The Maoists, as well, who took up arms, handed them over and entered a negotiated comprehensive peace agreement. Ten years on, the recurrence of another cycle of armed revolt seems to be in the making. An armed outfit named as Nepal Communist Party and led by Netra Bikram Chand “Biplab” has decided to up the ante. The government has outlawed the outfit and has followed coercive course of action against them.
Securitization failed in the past in dealing with the erstwhile Maoist. Same course of action would be compelled to fail again. Going by the speech of the Home Minister in the parliament, the outfit is getting stronger. The government, specially, the Home Minister and the Prime Minister, has been addressing the issue in fuelling the resurgence of violence rather than contain9mg it peacefully. Nevertheless, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Prachanda, NCP-Co Chair and erstwhile Maoist Supremo claims that the environment for talks is in the making, however. Unfortunate coincidence in Nepalese politics, the ones leading the government and the others revolting were once together against the state in the past. When many have come into the mainstream politics of ballots, some have separated themselves and have bullets with them.
The armed struggle of the past ended in a peaceful settlement and with the promulgation of constitution as an outcome of two successive constituent assemblies, the country has introduced federal model of governance in the country. After the elections for all three tiers of government – local, provincial, and federal – the country has travelled the course for more than a year now. However, the performance of the governments and the leaderships no way matches the spirit of federalism that was thought to be a panacea for all ills in the country, and all hopes are weakening.
Contemporarily, the country is tri-polarized: i) the ruling party NCP at one pole, ii) the opposition NC and RPP-N and Monarchy at the other, and iii) the fringe parties like Nayashakti, RJP-N, and other leftist groups including Biplab on the third. The country will have three courses ahead – i) the incumbent government with increased corruption and impunity; ii) instability in the name of religion; and iii) merger of fringe leftist parties on the agenda of inclusive democracy, good governance, and prosperity.
The decade of armed struggle in Nepal that started in 1996 ended in a peace agreement. The recent events have indicated resurgence of violence in the country once again. And as violence generates its own logic, the outlawed armed outfit reasoned their violence as the outcome of police killing of its cadre in Bhojpur. The multiple bomb blasts carried out in the capital in the last week of May claimed four lives and injured seven.
Ironically, the government seems to have strong inclination towards centralization of power at the federal level and mostly within the prime minister. The anti-federal bureaucracy, security agencies, and leadership at helm do not show any symptom of course correction. The activity of the president and the desires of power and glamour has created more hatred than love towards the institution. Various laws that the federal parliament has brought up is against the constitution, more specifically against federalism. The greed to hold more budget at the discretion of federal government and development budget allocation to parliamentarians are another example of anti-federal characteristic of the government.
The government should think themselves to be the sole representative and authority of the country. There would not have been the armed struggle had the multi-party democracy delivered as per the aspiration of the people. But now, with federalism, it is not only decentralization, but sharing of power among the federal government, seven provinces, and 753 local governments, which is the need of the hour.
They must be well aware of the fact that when the government doesn’t deliver what it should and focuses on gaining power, it will aggravate public dissatisfaction, frustration, discontent, and anger. The leadership must be very careful about this in the days to come or else the possibility of another cycle of armed violence cannot be overruled. The government, instead of containing the party through talks, again seems to be on the path of inviting another round of violent conflict. There is the security agency and there are the revolutionaries who would not be scared to take up arms. The performance of the government has not gathered required inertia of resentments against them. Until then, the government shall keep dancing in its own beats. When the people are compelled to change the music again for good, the stage will no more be there for them. The achievement made so far at a huge cost of lives and transitional injuries that the country suffered could be jeopardized should the government opt for securitization and forceful containment of the outlawed armed outfit.
The government should deliver in the spirit of Nepal’s Constitution, with commitment to institutionalizing federalism, as the model has been decided as a resolution to all conflicts in the country. The demands of the outfit and any other parties who have concerns can hence be discussed and considered if that is in the best interest of the country and the people. Divisions, deviation, and detachment of political forces can never provide required momentum for the agenda of good governance, inclusive democracy, and prosperity.
solutions to conflicts have always come through peaceful negotiations, talks
and sharing of power. Peace is possible only through peaceful means and not
 The erstwhile Maoist now merged into NCP is in the Government of the day.
Author: Milan Karki