By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan
Prime Minister Madhav Nepal announced this afternoon that he will be tendering his resignation to the President. He said that he will keep serving the nation in his individual capacity even though he will be giving up his prime ministership. He did not fail to mention that the Maoists had failed to keep the promise to abide by the peace path and hoped that they would turn into a civilian party.
It is expected that Madhav Nepal would be asked to stay on as a care taker Prime minister until new arrangements are made.
It is not clear whether the three major political parties have come to an understanding on forming a “consensus ” government and the party/person to lead the government. Details are still awaited.
The most important development in the last few days has been the politburo meeting of the Maoists.
Frustrated over lack of progress after the three point agreement, the Politburo of the CPN ( Maoist) which had a marathon meeting for over twelve days finally decided to take a strong stand on the question of PLA integration and this in turn would affect the peace process itself.
The hardened stand taken by Prachanda is a reflection of his own weakened position in the party and he appears to have come in for strong criticism over his style of functioning and lack of a clear-cut stand on various issues that confront the party now. The party is now scheduled to have an “extended central committee meeting” scheduled sometime in September where the ideological issues which have clouded the party style in dealing with the current situation will be discussed in detail.
Madhav Nepal has been unfairly criticised by his own colleagues, particularly the chairman Jhalanath Khanal and he was never allowed to function freely. Khanal made a surprising statement a few days ago that the present government had failed in all fields. In what way did his party chaired by him helpMadhav Nepal? Angered by the snide remarks of his own party men, Madhav Nepal has finally given up. It should have hurt him more that even his close friend and colleague K.P.Oli volunteered with the offer that Nepal would resign soon without even consulting him!
There are indications that even among the Maoists, there is some pressure on Prachanda to give up and let another member take charge as Prime minister in the event the party is to lead a unity government.
By 15th June itself, the Maoist leader had conceded that the probability of his party leading a national unity government had become slim due to “various factors” though the party should not stop trying to form such a government.
In presenting the political report in the Politburo meeting that commenced a day earlier, he said that the ruling parties have demanded a concrete integration and rehabilitation model and the number of combatants to be integrated before the current PM’s resignation. He added that it would be impossible to fix the number to be integrated without consulting the combatants. He suggested four choices for the party.
1. Formation of a separate security force consisting of only the Maoist combatants.
2. Formation of a separate security force with equal numbers from Army, Police and the Maoist combatants.
3. Integration of PLA combatants into the security force on a unit wise basis
4. Voluntary rehabilitation of a certain number of combatants.
The formula of one combatant- one weapon or fixing a figure of 3000- 5000 or establishing norms and standards for recruitment into a security force are not acceptable. He said that the other two main parties the UML and the Nepali Congress want to dismantle the PLA rather than integrate them and this is not acceptable to the party.
Many members in the politburo while responding to the political report wanted the party to be firm and some suggested that the integration need be thought of only after the new constitution is drafted and implemented. They agreed with Prachanda that the chances of the party leading the government have become slimmer as foreign powers ( India?) are backing them.
While the pressure on Prachanda to nominate someone else as Prime minister came internally, it was made out that the reactionary forces are trying to split the party by “suggesting an alternative to Prachanda for leadership.”
The politburo at the end of the session decided that “forming a separate force of PLA and giving it a special responsibility would be the best alternative. The reasoning given was that the CPA ( Comprehensive Peace Agreement) and the interim constitution recognised both the Nepalese Army and the PLA on an equal footing and other suggestion other than bulk entry would be against the CPA. There is no doubt that peace agreement gave parity that was uncalled for at that time but G P.Koirala and the interlocutor Krishna Prasad Sitaula went ahead with the arrangement. The impression given to everyone was that the Maoists had won though in actual fact all that can be said was that the PLA had reached a plateau and could not have gone further.
Other decisions taken at the politburo meeting included
- Not to let the budget be passed unless the three point agreement is implemented.
- To take up tasks on the three fronts – the street, parliament and the government to effectively establish people’s federal republic.
- Identified the external and internal reactionary forces as hindrance to its goal and these to be taken care of in the extended central committee meeting to be held in September. For this the state and the district level committees will meet to strengthen the party ideologically and politically.
- the party to develop stringent struggle plans to counter attacks on its leaders and cadres in different parts of the country.
- the party will lead the next government but kept the option of who would lead to be decided later. ( clearly an internal struggle against the leadership of Prachanda)
Madhav Nepal maintained that he would be happy if the parties reach an agreement to form a new government be it a majority or a consensus one.
Now that he has resigned it remains to be seen whether the Maoists will go ahead with the dismantling of the para military structure of the YCL. It looks doubtful. One outcome that can be expected is that the budget will be passed soon and everyone will get his/her salary next month!