Prachanda Still Astride the Seat of Power
By Stephen Mauldin at May 08, 2009
The cartoon (by R Sagar in the Himalayan Times May 8, 2009), seems a perfect caption to the picture I have been drawing of the Maobadi in my recent articles. We can see how the last couple of day’s events have verified and filled in that picture. In the last post I said:
<i>The strategy of acquiring effective state power on behalf and for the use of the people has not changed. The tactics of quitting the government are aimed at paralyzing the remaining parties and the eventual return of the Maoists in a majority government, a government that cannot be formed until Yadav’s decision is reversed, possibly requiring as well Yadav’s removal and replacement by Singh or another who would not pull the Yadav stunt. In effect a new government of this type would enable a return to a politics of consensus, but not including the influence of international interests. </i>
I had also earlier made some argument based on the distribution of Constituent Assembly seats. Though the totals relationships were correct I did have some wrong information about the exact numbers which are correct I hope here:
The above comprise 553 of the 601 total and the remaining 48 seats are shared by 17 other parties. The majority count is 301. This emphasizes the position of the three party 83 seat block concerned with the Tarai region. As of today May 8, 2009, the MJF says it will back the UML lead government proposed by the NC (NC + UML + MJF = 276). If the Tarai block including TMDP and Sadbhavana stay with MJF then the total would be 306, enough.
Enough except there are factions in all the parties that favor the Maoists leading the new government. The Tarai block had been very split until G. P. Kiorala of NC promised to honor previous agreements made these groups before the CA vote, agreements that would have been in effect if the NC had won the elections. The Maoists nonetheless envision a Federation much required by the MJF which is contrary to the scheme of a U.K. type of parliamentary government formulated by the NC and UML. The Tarai groups definitely want the regional autonomy. In addition to these “soft” seats, the UML minority faction led by Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal has been an ally to Prachanda and in fact his nod to the firing of Katawal is what led to his present isolation and the choice of Madhav Kumar Nepal as the NC pick for the new UML PM.
Meanwhile the National Army released a video of Prachanda, “commissioned for” by none other than General Katawal (planning the recording in advance), wherein PM Dahal in discourse to his PLA commanders in the run up to the CA elections reveals: plan to change the integration to unit by unit contrary to the CPA, a deception committed in the verification of combatants in setting up cantonment, the diversion of funds earmarked for cantonments being diverted in large part for weapons and other preparations for revolt. Basically it’s been a well timed insertion of fodder into the theories of totalitarian take-over by the Maobadi.
The video scandal has cut across not only the demands for reversal of the Katawal decision, but a far more important story in the Supreme Court requiring of President Yadav and General Katawal explanations of why their actions are not unconstitutional. This comes in the wake of Maobadi central committee decisions including the requirement that the President retract the decision and Katawal be sacked at last. If not, then the Maoists will not join government. The SC decision could put an end to the Katawal question by ruling the President wrong, paving the way for the UCPN(M) to join government.
There could be some tightness in the numbers, but many factors support the likely numerical superiority of the Maobadi. Over-riding all that is the simple fact that Maoist deputies are disrupting the House and they intend to do so until the Yadav decision is corrected. The YCL in some districts are attacking and threatening rival party cadre. Maoist street demonstrations continue to disrupt the city daily. The MJF swing to the NC plan of a UML led government may be irrelevant if the Maoists can block all progress till they get what they want.
If the UML and MJF can cooperate, then why not the Maoists and the NC. A house controlled by a UCPN(M) led majority, with supremacy established over the army, could emerge with Katawal gone and a new President from any of the parties, even the NC. Such would be a national government with all the parties involved. This could come to pass in the wake of a SC decision that the President’s argument is false. The interim constitution clearly reflects a British style parliamentary democracy wherein no authority is granted to a head of state; in which case a failure of consensus could not occur since authority is granted to the cabinet whose ministers serve with the PM, who makes final decisions whether there is consensus or not.
The Maobadi tactics appear to be working inasmuch as Prachanda having left the chair still stands astride the chair and decides who sits or doesn’t . The Maoist tactics bypass consensus when decisions on vital issues to its vision are at stake. The need for civilian control of the army is one such issue. The means of House disruptions and street actions demanding civilian authority are taken as a sign of Maoist authoritarian intent. Contrary to that picture, the PM stepping down shows a democratic intent – but clearly we are not talking about your granddaddy’s democracy.