Netra Bikram Chand-led CPN has started to intensify violence and destruction against the democratic system of governance.
A citizen was killed when the party detonated a bomb in front of Ncell head office in Nakkhu, Lalitpur a few weeks ago. The state has also started to resist the violence of Maoists. The party claims that the state has murdered its three cadres until now.
The cycle of violence and counter-violence will deepen if there is no course correction. Nobody wins in any kind of violence, or war for that matter. Who lost how much is the only thing mentioned in the balance sheet of violence and war.
Are we trying to push the country into the vicious cycle of violence to view such details about losses? This is the right time to think with a cool head if we don’t. It will be too late otherwise.
Everybody knows Chand does not like the current democratic system, the parliamentary system. The ‘people’s war’ youths including him waged under leadership of Pushpa Kamal Dahal did not aim for democracy. They aimed for one-party communist regime. Chand has trodden the violent path to complete the revolution that Dahal abandoned.
We want to remind Chand that Dahal did not abandon the revolution. He rested it after it became impossible.
Chand would definitely remember that the guns of Maoists started to cool when the attack by the ‘People’s Liberation Army’ on Khara, Rukum failed. Dahal and Baburam Bhattarai started to focus on getting a safe landing for the ‘People’s War’ after that. Chand was also on board then. He was also among the leaders who made a safe landing in Kathmandu from Rolpa.
Chand split the party in coordination with another Maoist leader Mohan Baidya five years after the party joined the peace process and got to lead the government. He has now chosen the path of violent politics splitting even from Baidya.
Chand and his cadres may not like the path of peaceful politics and democracy. That is fine. Many citizens may also dislike the current political system like Chand does. That is also fine. But tens of millions of Nepalis do not like the violent path of Chand, the autocratic communist rule, and his leadership. They do not believe he will transform the country. And they like the current system despite all the flaws of democracy.
How should we decide which system to adopt in such a scenario? Through peaceful mandate of people or guns?
The current government elected by the people has many weaknesses. There is lack of good governance. Development is sluggish and corruption uncontrolled as in the past. There is no improvement in people’s lives and employment. The disappointment of the general public is rising as their aspirations remain unfulfilled.
But what is also true is there was no good governance even under the government led by Dahal when Chand was together in CPN (Maoist). Corruption was not controlled even in the ministry headed by Khadga Bahadur Bishwokarma. Economic growth rate did not catapult like Bhattarai wished even during his government.
Challenges of development, good governance and corruption control are far more complex and multi-dimensional than Chand’s slogans.
Political parties always chanted the slogan of development as if development were easy. Nepali Congress believed there will be development immediately after ushering of democracy overthrowing the Panchayat regime. The Maoists felt there will be development after the country becomes a republic. Chand’s Maoists believe that communist system will bring development and good governance.
Development and good governance are not related just to the leaders, government, bureaucracy and state. The role of general public in development, or lack of it, is not smaller. Development does not gather momentum and corruption get controlled merely due to wish of somebody. Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli would easily beat Chand if it were so.
This does not mean that the current incompetence of the government is the destiny of Nepalis. There are many things this government needs to do and has not been able to do. But the people will get to decide whether to continue with the current government or replace it during the coming election by evaluating its works. Democratic system gives that right to the people through periodic elections.
It is, therefore, the government’s duty to resist and defeat Chand’s party if it picks up arms to overthrow this system that guarantees this right to the citizens. Chand and his cadres must understand that.
We also want to tell the government here that there should be no haste in the issue that plunges the country into violence. It is the responsibility of the state to exercise plenty of restraint and allow plenty of time. The government seems to be a bit arrogant on this issue.
It did not make adequate consultations about destructive activities of the Maoists even inside the ruling party, forget about the main opposition party despite the need of consultation and unity among all those supporting the democratic system on the issue.
The public must be informed about the demands of Chand and the efforts by the government for dialogue. The government and all those who believe in democracy must warn Chand to not move ahead in the path of violence.
The government taking everybody by surprise suddenly announced the ban on Chand-led party without consulting anyone. The nature of this ban is still unclear. The party’s destructive activities are already banned by the law. Acts of killing people, detonating bombs and extortion are illegal.
But the Constitution has granted the right to peaceful assembly to even Chand’s Maoists as it has done to others. No Cabinet decision can take away that right.
The government by announcing the ban without any constitutional and legal ground has triggered a dispute with the opposition and even within the ruling party. There have been strong criticisms about this even in the media.
The Chand’s party seems to be elated on seeing the dispute among democratic parties on the issue of ban. We want to tell Chand that the leaders have made differing comments considering the intra-party equation and immediate profit-loss of the ruling and opposition parties.
This division will disappear if the Maoists really move ahead on the path of violence. All the supporters of democracy will, and must, come together.
The benefits that Dahal-led Maoists reaped when the palace and the democratic parties were divided will not be available now. The statement of Dahal that the situations then and now are different is right in that sense.
But the manner in which he justified the violence in the past, and called it unjustifiable now is wrong. The violence against constitutional democracy waged by him was as wrong as the violence against republican democracy now is.
It would have been easier to convince Chand had he resorted to self-criticism for past violence instead of begging for his life in public. That would have given him the moral capital to criticize Chand.
Chand, therefore, must learn from the fate of the CPN (Maoist) led by Dahal and not from Dahal’s sermon.
Dahal has merged his party with CPN-UML after struggling to hold his own in open politics.
The current time will not allow Chand, who is eager to return to the path 23 years after the then CPN (Maoist) started ‘people’s war’, anywhere near the current fate of Dahal. Time has become far ruthless and stronger now.
We believe that Chand can carve a place for himself amidst the current malpractices by treading the tough path of democracy instead of the cowardly path of violence. We wish that he treads that path. We wish him for the courage needed to do that.