A man is slapped hard on the face for no apparent reason, for no personal provocation whatsoever! The normal impulse would be to sympathies with the victim. But while Chhabilal Dahal aka Pushpa Kamal Dahal nurses his cheek, there seem to be no sympathies being wasted on this particular man. While most will agree that slapping politicians is not the right solution, ninety-nine percent of Nepalis think the resounding thappad that brought the all powerful chairman comrade down to earth (literally) was well-deserved.
Nepalese, desperate for peace had overlooked the blood of thousands of fellow Nepalese on the hands of Prachanda, the Fierce and pinned their hopes on him. This mysterious man, an enigma, an underground leader of a bloody conflict held the nation to ransom for more than decade. If his rise was meteoric in the ten years of war, so is the fall from grace.
The man has no equal in craftiness as the opposition desperately trying to form a consensus government in one meeting after another and President Yadav with his one appeal after another will vouch for. In spite of his formidable skills of moving the goalposts, doublespeak and hypocrisy, somewhere down the line Prachanda did not only lose credibility but apparently, also lost the pulse of people. The masses were being treated by Maoist leadership as if they were a tap that you can open and close as you wish but uprisings have their own dynamics. The UCPN Maoist, as a so called ‘revolutionary’ party was unable to make an honest transition to a ‘democratic’ party and not only the people, but its own cadre felt let down. The UCPN Maoist who had been exploiting the public frustration for their rise into power through violent insurgency is now at the receiving end of the same frustration. They have failed to gauge the brutal strength of the Frankenstein monster they have created, a fatal cocktail of disillusioned 'armed' rebels fed by increasingly frustrating poverty, lack of opportunities and an all-round failure of all state systems.
Surprisingly it is only the political parties who are oblivious to this phenomenon—they seem totally unable to read the writing on the wall. The inability of the political parties to understand the sentiments of the people and act accordingly has been a chronic pathology. However the reverberations from this slap are a serious warning to all those political leaders that lie and sell false hopes and dreams to people-to be afraid, to be very, very afraid. While PKD ruminates over what hit him, what is to stop if some of his cadre, schooled in violence, intolerance, destruction and anarchy boomerang as suicide bombers? The moment calls for extreme caution on how UCPN Maoists handle the situation.
UCPN Maoist is characteristically intolerant, opinionated and has murdered people for far less. Their fancifulness in choosing targets is legendary. Let us recall the incident how Ganesh Chiluwal was murdered--his protest was non-violent demonstration, he nowhere near had touched these men. Chiluwal, the founder of Maoist Victims Association was gunned down in broad daylight for the impudence of having ‘insulted’ Maoist chairman. The Maoists even hailed this murder on their website. Chiluwal’s crime was to organize a rally in Kathmandu one evening and burn the effigies of Prachanda and Baburam. Retaliation was quick as he was shot dead next day in cold blood as a lesson. People were ‘cut down to size’ literally on even flimsier signs of dissent. This style of silencing dissent or avenging insult is still the preferred style of the Young Communist League as apparent from the way they beat up the already bloodied and unarmed Kunwar. Puspa Kamal Dahal, who in his rhetoric claims to have left the war behind, is very well aware that the former style of silencing with a barrel will be counterproductive. However, we have yet to see maturity in how they handle the aftermath. It is clear that the UCPN Maoist are as flabbergasted and at a loss as to where Padam Kunwar came from as they sometimes claim it to be a planned conspiracy and sometime the act of a deranged mind. The feeble attempts to somehow save face, dilute the disgrace and draw consolation from the fact that politicians from other parties were also attacked, is just not a good enough excuse. It is high time the UCPN Maoist indulged in some real introspection and self-analysis. It would be very easy to declare Padam Kunwar insane, or blame the thappad on a sinister conspiracy, a foreign hand as Maoist is wont to do. It will be convenient to find the man dead in custody, and call it a suicide. But it will be very unfortunate too. For, if they truly believe in their often touted ‘culture of self analysis and introspection’, the Maoists leadership should rise above their own shame and anger to felicitate the young man for opening their eyes. But for all their melodramatic acumen, Maoist will not be able does it.
Sharma is now with Centre for International & European Law Faculty of Law and Criminology Vrije Universiteit Brussel. firstname.lastname@example.org