Kathmandu Before and After the General Strike
Posted by hetty7 on August 23, 2010
This article is from The Red Star – Issue 15, June, 2010
Kathmandu – Before and After the General Strike
by Somat Ghimire
Just before starting the general strike, UCPN Maoist organized all party gathering at a hotel Yak and Yeti. Writers, journalists, traders and businessmen and workers of civil society were present in the gathering.
These all expressed their opinion on the starting phase of the programme. Then, UCPN Maoist Chairman Prachanda gave a short cut speech on the basis of the expressed opinion. The opinion of all the participators was that the movement should be run in a peaceful manner. However, there was a suspicion that Maoist will not hold the movement peacefully; rather it will somehow be violent. This means that the essence of the opinion of the participators was that UCPN Maoist would not hold the peaceful movement. They thought that Maoist has not such type of efficiency, tactics and belief in some extent. The intellectuals were primarily broadcasting their assumptions from media that the movement will be violent. This scenario created by the propaganda showed that Maoist would enter into the valley with their violent activities from Thankot blockade. Likewise, some other groups of Maoists would enter into Kathmandu Valley through Banepa blockade with naked knives in their hands. And, some other had propagated that Maoist would enter Kathmandu by beating all the street walking people and porters through Nuwakot blockade. Extreme chaos would be created in Kathmandu. This was the traditional forecasting of the fortune tellers of Nepalese politics.
Frequent failure analysts , but fortunate still having licensed to analyze, became failure once again. Maoist with the people came to Kathmandu with small bags on their backs and slippers on their feet. They entered in a very common and usual dress of the country men whom the urban elites often dislike. They stayed in different places of Kathmandu peacefully. They sang songs, danced and claimed rights from the streets peacefully. Kathmandu then embarassed. Kathmandu began to be perplexed. The elites waited one, two, three…days for violent actions from Maoist side but in vain. Movement ran peacefully. The movement was gentle and ocean like. Then, different conspiracies were hatched.
First of all, the public media initiated an incident. The media started to take and broadcast the interviews of those who roast and burn corns on the open street. The media started talking with cart-drivers and porters. The lower class people who had never been in touch with the media began to appear in media. The media got a very important issue to show that even the poor worker is against the movement run by Maoists. This idea of divide and rule or poor against poor was clearly understood by most of the people; however the media showed it shamelessly. Neither there was happiness on the past nor in the present to those corn roasters. However, the expression of the media was such provocative that there was socialism for the corn roasters and the porters and their class before starting the movement. At this time, the intension of the media was quite different. It is crystal clear. The elites, intellectuals and wealthy class people were not only against the movement, but also came to the street with weapons for retaliation under the banner of peace.
Nevertheless, it is a different topic to be discussed whether Maoist postponed the indefinite general strike due to the forementioned reasons or any other causes. But Maoist chose a different way by postponing the long prepared general strike within six days. Maoist showed its public support without creating social conflict. Many analysts and intellectuals put forward their logic that ‘Maoist went back’, ‘ Maoist opened the way for argument’ etc. These were the logics expressed according to their own convenience. This logic will get their verdict in coming days.
The demonstration was grand. Some criticized it as a grand demonstration for a little game., some other said that it was only organized for the change of Prime Minister. However, nobody yet has any answer why Madhav Nepal should remain for the post of Prime Minister. Nobody has its logical answer and even Madhav Nepal has only cowardice logics which are meaningless in themselves. The formation of national united government has no option. This has been justified by the 9 month Prachanada government and Madhav Nepal’s government. It was misfortune to all go into majority system. This mistake should be realized all and there is no other alternative than to go into the system of consensus by amending the constitution again. The other way than that is encounter and war.
However, the present complexity is not only linked with the change of government. The background of the complexity is far deeper, the contemporary day to day political events have provided no leisure time to dig out the deep. Power sharing in the government is not a main key rather it is the struggle of power. In the past, UCPN Maoist was exercising power that was advancing ahead. It had People’s Liberation Army, People’s court, contemporary reformatories and local government. Though they were not well managed. It was exercising as a bold alternative power. Singhadurbar was being compressed that time.
In this period, the local government was talking its own shape. In this process a different politics of 12-point understanding and peace process started. Now, Maoist has felt that the party has been kept excluded from all the bodies of the state power. On the other hand, the government side thinks that the Maoist is in the process of seizing central power. The essence of complexity lies in it. The question of when the constitution is made will remain unanswered until and unless the suspicion among them is not made clear because the constitution has not been built in the stipulated date. So far as UCPN Maoist does not agree to swim in the traditional pond and government alliance does not want to make a modern pond to swim in. The political outlet of the complexity is clearly too far.
The hope with the expectation of starting of a new or fresh debate or positive reaction, in political arena after the postponement of the general strike, has been changed into pessimism. The old dilapidated and random issues did not invite a fresh debate. Those issues were continued which were not taken to the conclusions and same style and processes went on. Negotiation and consensus were held in a big number formally and informally even for the wealthy and businessmen also held negotiation. After Prachanda’s popular speech of Baneshwor; where no word was left to ridicule and satire the present government that day they held negotiation celebrating feasts. In fact, it was flexibility. However, no achievement was gained even after the wholesale negotiation. The negotiation has not been freed from the trifle debates. The subjects of the debates have become army integration and give the seized land in war period back to the owners.
There are so many limitations in the effort to address the above mentioned two questions. Maoist cannot give the seized land back to their owners. Maoist could not put the reality clearly at the time when 12-point understanding was made. The landless people who are inhabited there on the seized land in war period, cannot go anywhere from there without package programme or without any management. Whether Prachanda would give order or police would be mobilized to chase them away. Therefore, it is worthless to repeat the demand by coalition government to Maoist because it cannot implement the demand practically though it is positive towards it. It needs an integrated plan for its solution. The ownership of the demand should be transformed to the government from Maoist. Otherwise, it will be only a trifle thing and obstacle for advancement. Maoist cannot go anywhere by avoiding and dishonouring the People’s Liberation Army which UCPN-Maoist fought a war relying upon. So long as the question of the liberation of the army is considered to be the only concern to Maoist, the knot of the political problem does not untie. The ownership of solving the question should be transferred under the ownership of the government because the problem does not solve by blaming UCPN-Maoist to be the civilian party. To talk only about the number of PLA, without taking the decision on the process, procedures and the principles, is not to understand the seriousness of Nepalese politics. The task of the government and the political parties is to create a favorable situation for army integration even if Maoist does not want.
In the condition of not being prepared to make principal decision on national united government, PLA integration and the seized land back, a quite different aspect will be the way out of Nepalese politics. Madhav Kumar Nepal, a leader without stand, is taking his stand. Probably he might have preached in Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan. It would better to take the vote of trust to Madhav Nepal, if he does not want to resign from the post. But he is not so courageous person who is ready to take the vote of trust in CA. Many parties have withdrawn their vote for trust from 22 party coalition. Some of the constituent assembly members of the UML are demanding Madhav Nepal’s resignation. If we do not concern all these things, we will go then. Logic can be put forward that it is not necessary to take the vote of trust, which is clearly in minority.
But misfortune! the talk about process and procedure in the contemporary political field of Nepal is being interpreted differently. People coming down to the street is being expressed as a crime even in the period of democratic republic. The peaceful struggles are being defined differently. Is democratic republic only a game to be played by the defeated and cowards to ban the civil demonstration in the street? In normal situation, all these activities could have been limited within CA. But in the period of drafting a new constitution and the necessity of building national united commitment, these activities could not be limited within the CA. However, the peaceful demonstration in the street has been considered to be illegal. But at the same time the essence of the democracy has been forgotten in the way that to come to the street peacefully for building a national commitment is to accept the democracy at all.
The reality has not hidden from our eyes that the demonstrators have gone back with their bare hands singing, dancing and reciting slogans in the streets though some of the analysts have presented them as the trained troops of knives, chains, sticks and spears. The team or gathering that demonstrates peacefully with bare hands has a different mentality though the rebellious heart cannot be cooled down with small efforts. To come to the street is hard work. However, one cannot go away from the street without being satisfied in his or her mission. Now Kathmandu seems to be peaceful and pleased and it has forgotten the demonstrators. But the demonstrators have probably not forgotten Kathmandu. It is still left to see what type of strategy will be made by the leadership of UCPN-Maoist in coming days under the pressure of grass root level cadres and the people. Maoist can not go flexibly ahead then we the flexibility of Maoist does not work till May 28, the stipulated date of writing construction. We can not even imagine how will be the obligatory steps of Maoist in the future. A clear scenario of revolt fusing rural and urban has been seen before our eyes if no agreement is made to open the way by the government till May 28.