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People’s Victory in Nepal: U.S. and Indian Reactions

 

Analytical Monthly Review, published in Kharagpur, West Bengal, India, is a sister edition of Monthly Review.  Its November 2006 issue features the following editorial.  — Ed.

The November 8, 2006 agreement between the seven parties alliance (“SPA”) and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (“CPN(M)”) brings peace, confirms the subjection of king and army to the joint command of the SPA and CPN(M), and is a resounding victory for the people of Nepal.

Important provisions of the November 8 agreement include:

  1. Constituent assembly elections to be held by mid-June of 2007.  Members shall be chosen as follows: 205 in first-past-the-post constituency elections; 204 elected by proportional representation; and 16 citizens whose lives have earned them national dignity are to be appointed by the new government that will include the CPN(M).  It is for the parties to see that their candidates proportionally include women, regions, and the marginalized and discriminated against peoples;
  2. An interim single national government to administer the country until the elections, a government that will include the CPN(M), in place of the present situation where de facto multiple authorities co-exist.  The new authorities on both national, district and local levels are to be constituted by agreement between the SPA and CPN(M) and operate by consensus.  The interim Constitution already prepared by an eminent committee shall be put into effect, providing an agreed governmental structure.
  3. The Nepal Army placed under the command of the new government that includes the CPN(M), “fixing the numbers, democratizing the institution to make it an inclusive and national army.”  In the meantime, both the present Nepal Army and the Peoples Liberation Army shall alike be confined to barracks under UN watch, and fed and supported by the national government.  The arms of the PLA (almost entirely seized from the erstwhile Royal Nepal Army!) shall be put under lock, and with a “proportionate” number of the arms of the Nepal Army also put under lock.
  4. King Gyanendra removed from any authority over the national administration, the property of his murdered brother and sister-in-law, the late King Birendra and Queen Aishworya, converted into a trust to be utilized for the national welfare, and property nationalized which Gyanendra has acquired as king.  In short, Gyanendra is not to disburse any funds he cannot prove were his prior to the murders of June 2001.  And finally, in all senses of the word, “the first meeting of the constituent assembly will decide the future of the monarchy.”

It is safe to say that there are persons in the palace and army headquarters not happy with these developments, but they have kept their silence.  The only audible dissent from the general rejoicing was the voice of U.S. Ambassador Moriarty, in comments described by the Kantipur newspaper of November 8, 2006 as “guarded.”

Moriarty asserted that the agreement between the SPA and CPN(M) was unimportant compared to “eliminating the fear of the Maoists from the hearts and minds of Nepalese” — a nebulous state of affairs of which no doubt only the United States could be an adequate judge.  And to date the United States has not distinguished between eliminating the fear of Maoists and eliminating the Maoists themselves.

Yet there are times when the gradual action of molecular forces accumulates and breaks through, and it then appears that a fundamental change has taken place overnight.  November 8, 2006 fell on such a cusp.  By November 9th U.S. imperial military supremo Rumsfeld was gone with neither ceremony nor thanks.  On November 9th the U.S. Kathmandu mission quickly saw the wisdom of expressing its pleasure at the November 8 Agreement, along with the rest of the world.  By November 10th Moriarty was being quoted as saying that he “hailed the landmark accord, adding that the agreement had been historic in the real sense of the word.”  We must therefore disagree with the Kantipur editors; Moriarty’s “unimportant” words of November 8th were unguarded, a slip before the new mask was in place.

As for the other primary source of foreign intervention in Nepal, the government of India made no such slips and stated the appropriate words from the start.  But its practice differed.  As of the date we write (November 10th), numerous members of the CPN(M) are in Indian jails as political prisoners; this despite sixth months of negotiations undertaken from the Nepal side to secure their release, after requests from both the interim government and the CPN(M) leadership, after appeals from leading figures in India itself, and after explicit and public requests from Nepal’s Foreign Minister, K. P. Sharma Oli.  Every day they remain in jail serves as an added reminder of the history of India’s imperial arrogance in its relations with its Himalayan neighbors, and in particular the history of Sikkim.

Two cases deserve special attention, both because the persons involved are top leaders of the CPN(M), and because the West Bengal left front government is de jure responsible for their continuing detention.

Mohan Vaidya (“Comrade Kiran”), a member of the standing committee of the CPN(M) and leading figure in the peoples war in eastern Nepal, crossed into West Bengal for a needed eye operation in March 2004.  He was arrested by the West Bengal police in Siliguri and has been held to date as a political prisoner.

C. P. Gajurel (“Comrade Gaurav”), a member of the politburo of the CPN(M) and an expert on international relations, was arrested in Chennai in August 2003 as he prepared to board a flight to Europe.  In October 2006 he was released from detention in Chennai in a move that, at first, sparked hope that an end to the continued detention of CPN(M) prisoners in India was at hand.  But at the very last moment C. P. Gajurel was re-arrested by the West Bengal police, transported from Chennai, and held in West Bengal as a political prisoner.

This incident can only be seen as a hostile intervention at a critical moment in the negotiations in Nepal that led to the historic November 8 agreement.  At least as a matter of form the West Bengal police are commanded from the Writers Building, with Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee himself the minister in charge of Home Department, and more particularly Srikumar Mukherjee, minister of state in the same department.  It would not surprise us to find out that these Eminences were only following orders, or only informed after the fact.  If that be the case, who then was ultimately in charge? S outh Block?  The question of who was responsible for this outrage demands an answer.

We hope and trust that before this issue of AMR is distributed that Comrades Gaurav and Kiran, and indeed all the CPN(M) political prisoners in India, shall be released.  Be that as it will, the detention of C. P. Gajurel by the West Bengal police has been but hostage-taking as a means of conducting international relations, a barbarous relic, and must be condemned.



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