Political Shenanigans in Nepal Continue Apace

If you've been following our news section on Nepal, you may have noted that Comrade Prachanda has resigned as the head of the Nepalese Government.  Prachanda is the head of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), also simply known as 'The Maoists' in the press- though I do believe there are other groups of Maoists operating in Nepal.  A facebook friend was kind enough to start a conversation about this on his/her status message and I thought I would continue in that vein here.  I am writing with the understanding that I am not a Nepal expert and know about as much as one could with a typical South Asia focused social science education (i.e. minimal and cursory attention to Nepal).  That topic of how Nepal is (not) considered in academia is for another day, though it does relate here to the quality of what I am writing and how offbase it might potentially be as well as possible Indocentism in the frameworks I use to understand affairs in Nepal. 

To take a few steps back, there were several major issues of contention when Nepal's old system was ended and the new one was begun with the election of the CPN(M) as the largest political party.  Among them were: the fate of the armed forces; whether the monarchy would continue or be completely eliminated; which political parties would win in the jostle for power; the intentions and effectiveness of the Indian political parties and particularly Congress; how rural-urban relations would work in the new politics; whether the 'new' politics would even be new; and very importantly, what would happen to the land that the Maoists had redistributed, the judiciary arrangements they had introduced in the territory they controlled, etc.  I am going to stick to only one way of speaking here - namely describing the current state of play on a surface political level.  To go further would, again,  require a level of knowledge about Nepal that I don't have but I am hoping that others who have it might be able to chime in if they see fit.  As a result, I can't hope to address most of the most important things, but just give a glimpse into how I see things, and that in an  overly apologetic and guilt-laden way :)

When the Maoists ended their armed struggle, a more informed friend of mine commented that the real khala (games) was about to begin.  Little did I know what this meant.  In the last year or two, the Maoists have run the government- in coalition I believe -  though they have not used their clout to get everything they wanted or in any way force their will on the other parties.   The strategy has seemed at points a bit blinkered to me because they've focused on issues like which party controls what post or whether the monarchy is allowed to continue in symbolic form or abolished (I believe it was abolished), but not as much on whether or not the gains they had made militarily or in ensuring the permanency of land reforms.  However, I am writing from an external vantage point on the basis of snippets here and there, and even from that vantage point, it seems that certain important victories were won.  Most notably for me is the idea that a radical change in society and governance can happen on something like a class basis and not be completely coopted into existing structures; the Maoists still continue to exist as an independent and strong political and military force, as far as I know, while the monarchy is gone. 

I am guessing, then, that with the latest maneuvers- a conflict over the continuing independent existence of a Maoist military in the courts and the government formally collapsing- the khala is continuing, and perhaps the military conflict perhaps has not ended.  This would mean to me that the resignation of Prachanda is anything but the downfall of the Maoists (as opposed to, for example, what the situation in Sri Lanka represents for the LTTE), but rather a resumption of the contests for power outside the formal government rather than inside and behind (a single set of) closed doors.   Another way to put my highly infomed guess :) is the significance of this time in governance by the Maoists is that it mainly functioned as a way of repositioning and accomplishing what various sides could without wholly conceding their leverage, without a full integration of all forces into one political and civil society.  

Perhaps I am wrong and there will be swift elections yet, but I think that when you have two or more semi-independent military/political forces in a society, it means that you can't have a single institution of governance (i.e. 'the Nepali government')- to draw a limited analogy, sort of like Hezbollah and 'the Lebanese government' in Lebanon.   That doesn't necessarily mean, however, that there will be a return to full-on-war or polarization; there is in my mind still space for a variety of options as people/events continue on.

It is not clear to me what alternative to 'root for' - to offer moral support to from a radical/humanist perspective - mainly because of lack of information about all parties involved as well as Nepalese society, looking at this from the outside with limited knowledge and with even less information about what the actual strategies of the different players are.  The ideas that 1) an election is intrinsically better than any other outcome simply on principle (i.e. the liberal idea) and 2) that purposeless or all-consuming warfare is useful as long as it's in the name of 'the revolution' are both easily rejected straw men, but beyond these thoughts, it is hard to know what to hope for. 

Which is to say - your highly informed guesses, links, and other matter, are more than welcome below, given the normal subtext rearing its ugly head again:  how can a South Asianist education can be so inadequate at equipping me with the tools to understand various geographical and thematic aspects of the really existing South Asia(s)? Please feel free to explain and bring in the theory of passive revolution :)


Dr Anonymous confesses his ignorance about the current state of Nepalese politics in form and function while trying to talk about it anyway.

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