Nepal : Maoist Must Reclaim Shangri La
For the Maoists to transit from the gun to the debate in resolution of economic and political issues in the country is likely to be a difficult process. This is particularly so for the large number of cadres spread throughout the country. Under the circumstances the ability of the central leadership to keep these forces under control needs to be seen. While expecting immediate stability in political and law and order situation in Nepal may be over optimistic, there could be reasonable modicum of order at least in cities as Kathmandu. The Madhes region however will continue to be turbulent in the days ahead.
The most contentious issue is the process of integration of the Nepal Army and the PLA which is not likely to be smooth. There may be requirement of a neutral force as the UNMIN for a further period of six months to one year as the Nepal Army till recently did not seem to be amenable to come under a government led by Prachanda or Bhattarai. In a meeting held on 15 April however the Joint Monitoring Coordination Committee (JMCC) comprising the Maoists, Nepal Army and United Nations, Nepal Army Brigadier General Sihva Ram Pradhan said that the Nepal Army will completely obey the directions of the next government. Pradhan also stated that Nepal Army has always been working under the government's directives.
The question of declaration of the country as a republic is likely to be settled during the first sitting of the CA. Dr Bhattarai indicated the other complexity of the type of system, Presidential or Prime Minister when he stated, 'We must reach a political consensus because the constitution would need to be amended to set up a presidential system. Unless we have a political consensus, we can't amend the constitution. So, we can't simply go for an executive president. In case of political differences, we may have to follow the present form of governance'. Rumors are already afloat of Prachanda taking over as the Prime Minister with G P Koirala as the President. This would be a good compromise provided all parties are willing to work towards its success. The CPN UML which has perhaps lost the maximum particularly as its General Secretary Nepal could not win in the hustings and the MPRF may act as spoilers. The MPRF has already indicated that it would want the Terai to be one province rather than the federal system favoured by other parties based in the hills.
The economy should be the greatest concern for the new government. While Bhattarai indicated that, there was no dearth of resources, support in technology and skills building was essential, ' We need foreign investments. I am sure if we really work together, we can achieve rapid economic growth in a short span of time'. But the ultimate test would be political stability as Dr Bhattarai said, 'What we need right now is political stability. We cannot think of rapid economic growth sans political stability. Now the CA results have given some hope for political stability. Secondly, there must be a strong leadership. Above all, we have yet to start restructuring the state'
There is no doubt that the problems in Nepal are many but in the final analysis, Maoist victory in Nepal provides them an historic opportunity of building an egalitarian society, the dream of every communist and take Nepal on the path of development and prosperity. Prachanda and Bhattarai hopefully are as good statesmen as they have been guerrilla leaders.
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Col. Rahul K. Bhonsle
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