It was quite unusual when most ministers and politicians, along with Vice President Paramananda Jha and Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, showed up at a reception hosted by General Gaurav Shumsher Rana to celebrate his elevation as the Chief of the Nepal Army in the second week of September. With the tussle between the President and the Prime Minister and its political fallout looming large, it was only natural for Bhattarai to be on the right side, although he spared no occasion in the past to humiliate and defame the Nepal Army. As the Prime Minister, he continues to block the supply of arms from India, for regular training and professional purposes of the NA.
Bhattarai tried to extract some political advantage for the Maoist combatants when Gen. Chhatraman Singh Gurung was the army chief. Bhattarai had to depend on the Nepal Army and deploy its personnel when his own combatants sort of 'revolted' against the leadership. Is Bhattarai's change of attitude towards the Nepal Army an outcome of his change of heart? Or, something dictated by necessity? After all, the Unified Communist Party led by Prachanda and Bhattarai have all through been consistent—even after their joining the peace process—that after the Monarchy, the Nepal Army, the Judiciary and the Media must be either dismantled, or turned into pliable instruments, so that the capture of the state power would become a smoother affair.
President Ram Baran Yadav does not seem to be somebody with the courage to act against unethical and unconstitutional continuation of Bhattarai in power, but the fact that the President, as per the constitution, is also its guardian, is enough for him to send the chill down the spines of Prime Minister Bhattarai, who has not concealed his ambition to stick to the post indefinitely and illegally. Apart from that, the President also happens to be the Supreme Commander of the Nepal Army, and that equation will always make any unpopular and megalomaniac Prime Minister nervous. Bhattarai's presence in the Army quarters for Gen. Rana's reception should be analyzed in this context. And the recent promotion of Raju Basnet to the rank of Brigadier General, something the prime Minister himself had stalled a few times in the past, is no less significant. Has the army become stronger? Or, the Prime Minister weaker? Or, is Bhattarai stooping to conquer? They are natural questions in the current context.
Moreover, it is the time, Nepal army has been accepted as the most dependable state bearing institution in the absence of the Monarchy that was removed illegally, based on the resolution moved by a 'Minister' who had lost the mandate of the people, and had no right to even enter the Constituent Assembly as per the constitution. Nor had G.P. Koirala—given the fact that he had not taken the fresh oath of office and secrecy after the election to Parliament cum constituent assembly, the right to enter the House as the Prime Minister. All that was done in a haste, to demoralize mainly the Nepal Army, and also to issue a message to the judiciary that they should be answerable to the new political bosses, and for that, no norms or constitutional niceties or due processes were required. Big democracies like UN, India, US, UK or the Scandinavian countries, promptly endorsed the norm-less parliamentary coup and recognized that whatever their ally—Maoists and the Nepali Congress -- did should be accepted as valid.
But in the days and moths and years that followed, Maoists’ real intentions stood exposed. They have been consistently destroying or trying to destroy all the institutions without creating any legitimate alternative with an objective to transfer the power of the state (or those institutions) to the party. The Monarchy was removed in a haste as the army, the judiciary and all other institutions had to turn to the new 'revolutionary' force for patronage, in the absence of the firmly established and deeply entrenched institution.
The Election Commission is going to be without its officiating Chief Commissioner next month, while the other remaining two commissioners will retire in the coming two months. Bhattarai knows he can continue in power only without election, and the election will not be possible without the Chief and other commissioners. Both Prachanda and the Prime Minister's wife, besides some other senior leaders of the Party, have been accused of minting money. The Prime Minister has provided immunity to them by not constituting the Commission of Inquiry Into the Abuse of Authority (CIAA).
What the guardian possibly needs to do is to solicit support of the Big political parties at least and entrust the Chief Justice or any retired, credible Chief Justice, to head a probe commission into all these corrupt deeds. Even the Civil society leaders can form a citizens' probe to make these leaders, who are plundering the nation, accountable.
But the politics in the country has all been about power. Maoists have sized up the NC and UML leaders and their greed for power. And the Civil Society leaders are no less power hungry. But where the Maoists have failed so far is to get the Nepal Army as an institution in the trap of their greed and power equation. That is what makes Bhattarai adopt a new tactic vis-à-vis the Nepal Army.