Nepal’s Maoist ‘People’s War’ flounders on 15th anniversary

February 12th, 2011 - 1:45 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, Feb 12 (IANS) The armed insurrection begun by Nepal’s Maoist guerrillas on Feb 12, 1996, with just three guns, crude bombs and an iron will to change society stands directionless on its 15th anniversary, its once vaunted top leaders now fighting for power, among themselves and with other parties.The 10-year “People’s War” that against all odds overthrew Nepal’s omnipotent royal dynasty and transformed the world’s only Hindu kingdom into a secular, federal republic, has little to draw cheer from today, with the party still unable to form the government.

Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, the revolutionary who led the civil war, had planned his party’s return to power this month and celebrating the anniversary with pomp.

To ensure that, he withdrew from the prime ministerial election this month and supported communist chief Jhala Nath Khanal in the hope of forming a puppet government whose strings his party would pull.

The stratagem boomeranged after Khanal, who had earlier betrayed his old ally, the Nepali Congress, and even his own party comrade Madhav Kumar Nepal, reneged on his deal with Prachanda.

Consequently, the Maoist standing committee Friday directed the party not to join Khanal’s government and the former guerrillas warned they could withdraw support if the pact was not followed.

Now the Maoists are resuming the training of cadre, a controversial exercise begun last month but put off after a serious rift between Prachanda and his deputy, Baburam Bhattarai.

Four such camps, starting from Wednesday in Pokhara city, will be held in three more key towns and a week-long “mass mobilisation” programme from Feb 26.

The earlier training sessions urged the cadre to ready for a fresh “people’s revolt” with India as the main obstacle.

Another nationwide mass mobilisation is being planned from this week till early April, the details of which are yet to be announced.

Though the insurgency started Feb 12, 1996, the Maoists will celebrate it Sunday, following the Nepali calendar date of Phalgun 1. Maoist top leaders will be heading towards Rolpa, the remote, underdeveloped district in midwestern Nepal where the red revolt started.

With a critical constitutional deadline looming May 28, the new Maoist muscle-flexing is certain to add to the fears and uncertainty griping the republic.

The Khanal government has to promulgate the new constitution by May 28 or face the dissolution of parliament and the interim constitution.

The new PM, with no support for him in parliament after the Maoists decided not to join his government, will not be able to meet the challenge save for a miracle.

Ironically, the Maoist war was fought for a new constitution written, for the first time, by the people themselves. The failure to achieve the target, after the killing of over 16,000 people and the loss of 15 years, would lessen support for the Maoist movement.

Nearly 20,000 fighters, who had formed the backbone of the war, lie ignored in their primitive camps with neither the party nor the government serious about their rehabilitation.

Thousands of war-wounded have not received any compensation or justice and almost 1,000 people remain missing still.

Though the Maoists led the government from 2008 to 2009, they failed to establish commissions to find the fate of the disappeared and punish the people guilty of extrajudicial arrests, torture and executions.

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