From The Kathmandu Post (20 December, 2012)
With the evident winding-down of the prime-ministership of Baburam Bhattarai, we need to understand what kind of ideologue the people have suffered as their head of government for the past year-and-half. This will be opportunity for all who make up the decision-taking and opinion-making categories in the country to introspect on how it is that such a personality came to be head of government. And what other dangers may lie in future because of the willingness to countenance un-democratic leaders who take pride in their record of violence and impunity.
Our civil society stalwarts, columnists, editors and scholar-consultants need to evaluate their continuing role in this national debacle, in which a ritualistic radical with zero tolerance for representative democracy was allowed to run roughshod over the polity. Likewise, many donors and diplomats as well as and heads of INGOs and NGOs might do well to see what kind of romantic idealism allowed them to turn a blind eye to the Leninist-Maoist demagogue that is Baburam Bhattarai, implacably for a centralised state and against rule of law and bona fide federalism.
The leaders and cadre of the Nepali Congress, the CPN (UML) and the other parties need to analyse their abject inability to play the role of opposition as Bhattarai’s government promoted impunity and dismantled, one-by-one, the institutions of state. And why were so many Madhesbadi leaders with democratic socialisation willing to go into a coalition under the 4-point agreement that, among other things, calls for cancellation of cases against those accused of atrocities?
Keys to the nation
Baburam Bhattarai’s abhorrence of pluralism and open society has been evident throughout his political career. It was he who in 1996 drafted the 40-point demand that started the “people’s war” against our infant parliamentary democracy, barely five years old. Amidst the royal palace massacre of June 2001, he announced that his underground party had maintained a “working unity” with the monarchy.
Bhattarai believes that the Cambodian holocaust is a Western exaggeration targeted at the good comrades of the Khmer Rouge. Upon viewing the photograph of the murdered Muktinath Adhikary in an exhibition, he wrote that the killing of the Lamjung school-teacher was “to be understood in historical perspective”.
Bhattarai has striven to convince many Western ambassadors that he is in fact a social democrat in Maoist garb, whereas he is a Maobaadi in Maobaadi clothing. The draft constitution put forward by his party, with its readymade formula for one-party, commissar-led rule, is the output of Bhattarai’s fertile mind. Anything to get the party consolidated in power is his credo, and in the present context he is perhaps more dangerous for the people than Pushpa Kamal Dahal—whose career has taken such a beating that his main aim now is to remain relevant by every which way possible, and ideology be damned.
As far as geopolitics is concerned, Bhattarai believes that friendship with external “agencies” is nothing to be ashamed of. Meanwhile, he sheds copious crocodile tears and expresses dismay upon discovering, as prime minister, that “the key to the country actually lies elsewhere”. A false statement, to begin with, but also fraudulent, coming from a man who seeks to maintain his hold on power by promoting the perception that he has the backing of India.
But then, the goal of introducing a “New Democratic Revolution” is so important to Bhattarai that the geopolitical weakening of the nation-state, the impoverishment of the populace, and continuity of the political instability are sacrifices that can easily be made on the road to a Nepali paradise inhabited by comrades Lenin and Mao.
The 2009 interview
The “Shaktikhor videotape” left nothing to the imagination as far as Puspha Kamal Dahal’s plans of state capture were concerned. The equivalent documentation proving Bhattarai’s consistent commitment to the ideology of state capture is found in the interview with the World People’s Resistance Movement (Britain), dated 26 October 2009. Here, too, nothing is left to the imagination. (see http://www.wprmbritain.org/?p=926)
Four years into the peace process, more than a year after the elections brought the Maoists to the centre of the Nepali establishment and into government, Bhattarai the “revolutionary” remained unrepentant, and committed to the goals of the “people’s war”. All actions suggesting compromise by the Maoists were merely tactical according to him, including “the issues of Constituent Assembly, abolition of the monarchy and establishment of a bourgeois democratic republic.” Agreement with the parliamentary parties in 2006 did not signify a departure from the “basic principle of armed Protracted People’s War (PPW)”, and he reassures us that the Maoist have not “adopted (the) peaceful path of social development.”
After the Assembly elections of April 2008, the Maoists participated in the coalition government in order to “work within the bureaucracy, within the Army, within the police and within the judiciary, in order to build our support base through those state structures, which would help us for future revolutionary activities.” After April 2009, when Dahal resigned as prime minister, “another tactical shift was made to fight the bourgeois democrat parties who are backed by imperialism and the expansionist forces.” This was the “fusion of the strategy of PPW and the tactic of general insurrection … to mount a final insurrection to capture state power.” A “sort of flux” was created to further destabilise the state.
Bhattarai’s Shangri-La starts with the Paris Commune and ends with the “the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution under Comrade Mao Zedong (supported by) the people’s committees and Red Guards”. According to him, the Cultural Revolution “was the pinnacle of the development of revolutionary ideas, (and) all revolutionaries must make (it) their point of departure.” Whereas in China, Mao Zedong was able to directly implement revolutionary policies, the Nepali Maoists had to develop a different. Says the present prime minister of Nepal: “In our case it has meant cutting up the state part by part, in fact we are devouring it part by part. Ultimately we will be able to smash it and then replace it with a new state.”
“The practice of democracy in imperialist counties is a form of bourgeois democracy, a ritual that deceives the masses of people and perpetuates the rule of their class state.” In Bhattarai’s socialist utopia, elections will be such that, “only the progressive forces, the democratic forces and people will be allowed to compete.” It becomes clear why Baburam Bhattarai is not enthusiastic about elections in April-May 2013.