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Updated: April 30, 2013 11:44 IST
Listening to his ‘old friend’

How Nepali Maoists chose democracy

Prashant Jha
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Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma
The Hindu Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

Prachanda talks of how his party made fundamental changes to its ideology

In August 2010, at the nadir of relations between India and Nepali Maoists, the former Foreign Secretary, Shyam Saran, went to Kathmandu as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s special envoy.

With the Maoists blaming India for blocking their ascent to power, Mr. Saran conveyed a clear message to Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’: “You can either be a revolutionary force with a coercive apparatus or a civilian party abiding by the discipline of multiparty democracy. Make a choice.”

Almost three years later, Mr. Prachanda — at a function chaired by his ‘old friend’ Mr. Saran in the Indian capital on Monday evening — declared that the party had made a choice in favour of ‘democracy’ and ‘progressive nationalism.’

The Maoist leader announced that his party, through a national congress in the southern town of Hetauda in February, made three fundamental changes to its ideology.

“One, we have accepted peaceful transition, peaceful multiparty democratic politics.” Mr. Prachanda referred to the integration and rehabilitation of the ‘Maoist armed cadres’ as proof, and pointed out, “My party has also given up its ruling mandate, to form a government led by the Chief Justice, to hold elections in a free, fair, and acceptable manner.”

The second shift was the ‘focus on economic prosperity and development’ as a party strategy. He thanked India for being Nepal’s biggest development partner, sought investment in a range of sectors, and said, “Economic development is essential for political stability, and a prosperous and developed Nepal will help address the security concerns of our neighbours.”

He also floated the idea of ‘trilateral cooperation’ between China, India and Nepal in hydropower and for the development of Lumbini. Mr. Prachanda was quick to add this was a ‘long-term vision,’ not meant to ‘undermine or replace’ bilateral relations between the countries.

And three, in a reference to apprehensions about the sporadic ‘anti-Indian’ rhetoric emanating from the Maoist leadership and its broader strategic vision, Mr. Prachanda said, “For the first time, we have criticised narrow nationalism, feudal nationalism and adopted progressive nationalism. We want good relations with India. Our relations must be the best example of bilateral ties in the rest of the world.” He added that on his visit to Beijing last week, where he met President Xi Jinping, the Chinese leadership too encouraged them to have good ties with India.

This, Mr. Prachanda said, was where they differed with the “dogmatic and sectarian” view of extremist colleagues like Mohan Vaidya ‘Kiran’, who have split and continue to criticise Indian ‘expansionism’.

So why did he not make the choice earlier? In a meeting with National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon on Monday morning, Mr. Prachanda said that had he acted earlier, the “engine would have moved, but the bogies would have got left behind.”

“It took time because we were attempting something unique, and needed to get our cadre and machinery along. But now, the choice is made,” he told The Hindu.

While the services of Mr.Shyam Saran should in no way be diminished,
it is a gross oversimplification to say that the Maoists chose
democracy because Mr. Saran told him to, "Make a choice."

The real reason why the Maoists in general, and Mr. Dahal & Mr.
Bhattarai in particular, chose democracy is because the people of
Nepal demanded it. As with his previous articles with Nepalnews.com,
Mr. Prashant Jha has a knack for political writing which is only
tarnished by his inclination to: a) oversimplify items to make tidy
little articles and b) to attribute all of Nepal's decisions to South
Block.

In truth, the Maoists realized that they would be faced with a
counter-revolution of the general public if they forced their archaic
ideology on everyone. This, coupled with the realities of Nepal being
landlocked by India, are the main factors for their change of heart.

from:  Arty
Posted on: May 3, 2013 at 02:10 IST

Prachanda says that he and his party have chosen Democracy over Communism. Just a week ago he was hobnobbing with the likes of Xi Jinping in Beijing telling the Chinese that the Communist movement in Nepal is still going strong under his political vision and guidance. So beware

from:  Shankar Jha
Posted on: Apr 30, 2013 at 08:12 IST

Mr.Prachanda has made a choice in switching over to a Democratic form of
Governance.Likewise,our own Maoists and Naxalites should give up the Gun Culture and
come in the mainstream of India's Greatest,Unprecedented,exercise of a Nation Building.

from:  Ashok Prabhu
Posted on: Apr 30, 2013 at 07:08 IST

Can't trust this guys. Its almost like leaders in our sub continent are affiliated to money and not to progress of others.

There was money to be made as maoist in violence so they did that, now there is money to be made as politicians so now they are no longer maoist.

What has really changed on the ground for common Nepalise citizen.

Nothing. It was same before and is same now

from:  Sandip
Posted on: Apr 30, 2013 at 04:33 IST

This article makes it sound as if this change in Nepalese leadership
came about because Shyam Saran went to Nepal with this "clear message"
about the two choices. It was but one of the many factors; the most
important one being the voice of Nepalese citizens themselves.
Please spread the message of great friendship among nations without
implying that one government has this level of control over the other.

from:  Risav Karna
Posted on: Apr 30, 2013 at 04:24 IST
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