Soon after landing, Maoist Chairman Dahal ( Prachanda), on his return from China, convened a press conference at the airport and revealed that he had asked the Chinese officials to hold talks with the Indian Government in the presence of Nepalese Representatives to form strategies on Nepal.
This statement of Prachanda is intriguing on many counts
Firstly, he wants to tell the world that India is the villain for the problems now faced in Nepal.
Secondly, though his visit to China was ostensibly to attend the Shanghai expo along with the head of his party’s international department, Krishna Bahadur Mahara, he has indicated openly what was suspected all along that he approached the Chinese to intervene on Nepal’s current situation in view of its perceived Indian involvement.
Thirdly, the problems faced by Nepal are the result of Maoists’ own foot dragging in taking the peace process to its logical end and they are now more intent on leading the government once again before the new constitution or even integration could take place.
Three weeks ago, the PLA leader Barsha Man Pun made it clear that the PLA will not be dismantled until the new constitution is promulgated. That the party is in no mood to go ahead with the integration was confirmed when it said that progress on integration and rehabilitation can take place only after the extended plenum of the party that is set to meet on November 14.
One of the members of Special Committee on the integration observed that the “Maoists are not serious about integrating and are avoiding the meetings.” He said “we are where we were.”
There is hardly any time left as the UNMIN is set to leave by January 14.
It looks that the Press Conference itself is the result of the advice of the Chinese to make up with India. There are indications that back channel communications with India have started with the Maoists trying to make up for the anti India postures they have taken all along as it has not helped them to form a Maoist led consensus government. Surprisingly, Baburam Bhattarai a few days ago said in Biratnagar that he would be willing to lead a consensus government if other parties agree. They appear to be desperate to lead the government once again at any cost!
Prachanda left for China on 22nd October at a crucial time when his presence in Kathmandu as coordinator of the task force on the constitution drafting committee was essential to finish the recommendations before 24th of October. The dead line had to be extended by 11 days because of his absence.
It is certain that he visited China to seek the advice of the Chinese on the present stalemate and what his party should do. He met top government officials and leaders of the Chinese Communist Party.
The Chinese have advised Dahal, besides making up with India, to do the following. This was revealed by one of his close aides who accompanied him. The points of “advice” were
1. The Party ( UCPN-M) should take people into confidence.
2. Misunderstanding with other parties should be sorted out and not dragged on.
3. Reconnect political transformation with economic development ( sound advice!)
4. Create a concrete environment for the Chinese to assist them. (Recall the taped conversation of Mahara)
5. Focus on the peace process and the constitution drafting.
The last one is the most important and if only the Maoists are keen to bring about stability in Nepal they should focus on the twin tasks. It is now clear that the extended plenum meeting of the Maoists set to begin on November 15 will discuss all the points of advice given and this is in the interest of the party’s unity itself that rather than trying to force its leadership on others to form the government.
Some progress is seen made in the high-level task force formed to narrow down the differences on the contentious issues. The Chinese advice is seen to be working. The task force has agreed to uphold the independence of the judiciary and also have an independent mechanism that will appoint judges and members of the constitutional bodies. The judiciary will also be the final authority to interpret the constitution.
Some progress is also known to have been made in the most important issue of all- whether to have a President as the executive head or have a Prime Ministerial system. The Maoists have been insisting on an Executive Head with a unicameral legislature with no opposition and this is being opposed by all other parties.
Ramchandra Paudel lost the Prime Ministerial election for the fifteenth time on November 1st and he is determined to go on contesting. This may look ridiculous but there is a purpose in this madness. He has been reviled and abused by the media and the opposition, but he is doing a great service to the country.
So long as he continues contesting, the Speaker cannot change the rules for election of Prime Minister and once he withdraws it is almost certain that the Maoists will come back to lead the government without fulfilling their commitments in completing the peace process. And Paudel is not doing on his own but on instructions from his party which thinks that the Maoists cannot be brought round by any other way!
Prachanda’s visit to China and subsequent developments in Nepal should make India think of what it had brought itself to, after initiating the 12 point agreement in end November 2005!