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  • The recent elections in Nepal


    by Desi Italiana
    20th April, 2008 at 3:07 pm    

    “I don’t even think the election is going to take place,” one Nepali told me. Two other Nepalis, instead, decisively said, “It is going to happen. And let me tell you- the Maoists are going to win.”

    Wildly contrasting forecasts made for a very confusing and occasionally gloomy time in Nepal; there was an uneasy mixed atmosphere of both cynicism and optimism. Some people thought the Constituent Assembly election- which will entrust the incoming government with rewriting the constitution, of which the first step is to abolish the monarchy and officially declare Nepal a secular republic, heralding a new era of democracy- wasn’t even going to take place. After all, they had been delayed twice. Then, voices whispered that the now deposed King Gyanendra- who threw out the elected government in 2002 and then took total control in February 2005 until the democratic movement in April 2006 ended monarchic rule and placed the army under civilian control- was devising some devious plot to thwart the elections. Perhaps, these rumors went, he would incite violence from behind the scenes and accuse the candidates as culprits; people would then be too fearful, distrustful, or disillusioned with the voting process.

    But Nepalis continue to surprise all.

    Elections did indeed take place, and the outcome has caught everyone off-guard. High voter turnout was unexpected too. Fear of violence on election day caused many to assume that voters would lock themselves in their houses and would not dare go to the polling stations. Again, wrong. Voter turnout was around 67 percent. Most voters hit the polls early in the day (partly because of wanting to avoid long lines and the oppressive heat in the afternoon, see my photo above), but there is no doubt that Nepalis enthusiastically participated and waited with bated breath. Everyone was glued to their TV sets (those who were not experiencing load-shedding, that is), and as the results rolled in, large demonstrations spontaneously erupted in the streets of Kathmandu, and proud voters waved the red sickle and hammer flags.

    Political commentators, ordinary Nepalis, journalists, and observers were stunned when the first votes were being counted and the Maoists were leading by such a large margin. Now, that lead has gotten smaller. So far, they have won 117 seats out of 240 as they squeezed the 74 registered parties, of which the royalist Rashtriya Prajatantra Party, the now stagnant and redundant Nepali Congress, the bland UML, whose platform rode on the Maoists’ coattails, and the ethnic-based Madhesi Janadhikar Forum. They won’t capture an absolute majority, but they have emerged as the largest party. The fact that the elites especially were surprised just shows how woefully they were out of touch with people’s aspirations.

    The most unlikely people voted for them. I asked one middle class, Bahoun (Brahmin) woman who she cast her vote in favor of. “The Maoists,” she said resolutely.

    “Let’s see what they can do. Desi Italiana, the king didn’t do anything for us. People have gotten poorer and poorer. Peasants are increasingly slipping into poverty. The people in the countryside have been neglected. And Kathmandu wasn’t like the way it is right now 15 years ago. They seem to have a plan, and if they can push through with it, we will be all for the better. So far, they have done what they say they are going to do.”

    Another young man from the Tarai, who could not vote because his residency is in Biratnagar while he lives in Kathmandu, passionately prayed that the Maoists would win:

    “Desi Italiana, I hope they win. They should win. And they have thought of everything- development, uplifting people, and improving Nepal. They also say that they are going to close the Indo-Nepali border and revisit the Indo-Nepali Treaty of Peace and Friendship. And the Maoists do what they say they are going to do. They said that they were going to abolish the monarchy; they did that. They said that the were going to declare Nepal a secular country. They did. They said that they were going to hold the CA elections. They did.”

    The people I conversed with* all said, “Let’s see what they can do.” It’s a common sentiment. People are just really tired and want a radical, new change. If decades of monarchical rule did nothing for Nepalis, why not try something new? There’s widespread belief that the royal family did absolutely nothing to improve the lives of Nepalis, 30% of whom live under the poverty line; 60 percent have no access to electricity; 55% of Nepalis have no access to toilets; and only 46% have access to basic sanitation. Nepalis are hopeful that the Maoists will usher in the “Naya Nepal.” And soon.

    Let’s not forget the bloody, decade-long “People’s War” launched by the Maoists against “oppressors”, which cost more than 14,000 lives, of which 8,200 of them were killed by the security forces, and an estimated 1,000 to 4,000 people “disappeared” at the hands of the army. More than half of those killed was when the army got involved, and the number of deaths dramatically increased.

    The elections have now officially legitimized the Maoists’ entry into the political process. What I fear is that they prove to be like other parties- parties that got their start from grassroots political mobilization to entirely reform structures where the ruling interests once reigned supreme; and then, once legitimate, become mainstream and abandon the platform that got them voted in the first place. If the Maoists disappoint all of the faith that Nepalis have placed in the ex-insurgent Maoists, the more dire consequence is that perhaps one day, people will be disillusioned with democracy, voting, and so on.

    What about India? New Delhi isn’t looking forward to a more consolidated ‘Red Belt‘ linking Indian Maoists who Prime Minister Singh called the “biggest threat” to India’s internal security (but conceded that oppression, underdevelopment, and inequality are the roots of the Maoist insurgency in India). Officially, they have pledged their support to the future government. The CPI(M) has welcomed its neighbour’s development:

    “The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) welcomes the results of the election to the Constituent Assembly in Nepal. This is a clear and unambiguous verdict against the monarchy and for the transition towards a democratic republic. The elections are notable for the impressive performance of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists).

    With the formation of the Constituent Assembly, work will now begin for the formation of a democratic republic on federal lines with the cooperation of all the political parties of the Eight Party Alliance that assiduously worked with the Nepali people for this historic development.

    The change in Nepal should be the basis for the consolidation of bilateral relations between India and Nepal on the basis of equality and cooperation.

    The Government of India, having welcomed the elections and the results in Nepal, should now make it clear that it has nothing in common with the negative and hostile stand taken by USA which declared the Maoists to be a terrorist organisation.”

    The BJP, on the other hand, didn’t lose a moment to insert its saffron rhetoric:

    “Till recently, Nepal was a Hindu nation and because it was a Hindu nation, it dealt equitably with its citizens belonging to other faiths. Now, Nepal is being declared a secular state. We hope that under the new dispensation, Nepal will not become anti-Hindu and anti-India.”

    I am not even Nepali, and it’s not about the Maoists specifically coming into power, but I have been swept up in the tide of hope that is washing over this Himalayan country: hoping that the incoming government will alleviate poverty and improve people’s lives.

    Is that too much to ask of the Maoists?

    *I’d like to point out that I was in Kathmandu only; the people I spoke with were people from different parts of Nepal but residing in Kathmandu for one reason or another.
    ———————-

    This is a guest post. Desi Italiana blogs here.


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    1. Rumbold — on 20th April, 2008 at 3:13 pm  

      Brilliant piece Desi. Really comprehensive.

    2. Desi Italiana — on 20th April, 2008 at 3:23 pm  

      Thanks :)

    3. s johal — on 20th April, 2008 at 3:26 pm  

      very good article, the only loosers are US imperialism and their cronnies . It is only a matter of time when the Indian maoist will do away with the currupt Indian State

    4. halima — on 20th April, 2008 at 3:29 pm  

      Hi Desi

      Very nice article - and nice to see some original reporting, I’ve read so many articles on the Nepal elections in the past week but so few have any direct quotes from the people on the ground.

      Interesting to note also the types of candidates each party put up for selection - the Maoists being most diverse of the parties, must’ve also helped turn the tide in their favour.

    5. Desi Italiana — on 20th April, 2008 at 5:19 pm  

      How come the voting map came out so big? And what’s that old man in the Frontline flashplayer doing smack in the middle of central Nepal?

    6. kELvi — on 20th April, 2008 at 11:00 pm  

      “They also say that they are going to close the Indo-Nepali border and revisit the Indo-Nepali Treaty of Peace and Friendship. And the Maoists do what they say they are going to do.” Dubious.

      The open border has benefited Nepalis immensely allowing them unfettered access to the Indian job market. It has also benefited India’s Maoist terrorists and Nepal’s Maoist terrorists (that’s right cold blooded murders are just that) allowing the one to slip into the other’s territory for R&R. The Madhesis are unfortunately the likely spoilers for both varieties of Maoists. The Nepal Maoists are an elite led movement movement, just as the Indian Maoists are. But the Madhesis and the Gorkhas are hard working people of the soil. The Nepal Madhesis have ridden on the back of the Madhesi and underclass discontent to foment an antidiluvian ideology of Communism that the world has left behind on the dung heap og history. The anti-India sentiment has been nurtured for long by China and later Pakistan supported elements in Nepal. Remember that the IC184 hijack that saw the release of the 9/11 ringleaders was hatched in Kathmandu. Prachanda will be listened to in India because he enjoys the support of India’s commies with whom the Congress has hatched a compromise to enable it consolidate the hold of the Sonia parivar on India. The facile and craven “root cause” explanations for terrorism whether Maoist of jihadist is ludicrous. Maoists thrive because the state does not come down harshly enough on them. As long as India has dodderers like Shivraj Patil for a Home Minister the Maoists have nothing to fear. A strong “man” like Jayalalitha or Mayavati would give these scum the short shrift. Maoists in fact are the cause for poverty and deprivation. In any area they control they seek to denude it of all economic potential so that the people are left with no alternative but take up armed rebellion. The Nepal Maoists have accomplished this and the Indian Maoists too are following suit. The first order aim of Maoists is to reorder society and break down all its productive and regenerative institutions. Cultural revolution, collectivisation, Juche, PolPotism are all variations on the theme. The message is clear. IF India’s Red Belt is to prosper the Maoists should be stamped out ruthlessly. Maoists undeerstand and fear the power of a State. As KPS Gill India’s first supercop put it, Punjab terrorism wasn’t stamped out by the people, it was stamped out by a well trained constabulary armed to the teeth that acted with clinical efficiency. It is understandable that the Congress that made a deal with the Maoists in AP during the 2004 elections would be loath to stamp out Maoist terror in the Red Belt because it affects some Opposition ruled states such as Bihar, Chattisgarh, and Orissa. Keping things on the boil in these states would help the Congress swing the vote back to it. It is a cynical shortsighted and stupid policy and entirely in keepin with Neruvian naivette and utopia that sadly has guided Indian political and diplomatic policy for many years. It is understandable that the Nepal Maoists would like to minimise the influence of Hinduism - since it is the glue that holds the nation together and old links must be broken expect the Maoists to go to any lengths. Hindus have time and again shown the talent to lop off the branch they sit on. This wont be the first time.

    7. Nyrone — on 21st April, 2008 at 1:50 am  

      What an excellent piece!
      We just did a story on this. It’s funny how the MSM don’t care about these elections, mostly because the results are not going the way they wanted them to go.
      If they did, you can bet this would have constituted a ‘news story’ all over..

      The report is here:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABa3q88S7Gs

    8. kELvi — on 21st April, 2008 at 3:32 am  

      That should have read

      “The Nepal Maaoists have ridden on the back of the Madhesi and underclass discontent to foment an antidiluvian ideology of Communism that the world has left behind on the dung heap of history.”

    9. Desi Italiana — on 21st April, 2008 at 5:34 am  

      Kelvi,

      There are so many inaccuracies in your comment which is fueled more by ideology, uneven understanding of what is going on in Nepal at the moment, skewed view of Indo-Nepali relationship (like you don’t seem to think that it’s Indians- not Nepalis- who benefit from Nepali migration over the border, who get exploited as hell in India), the situation of the majority of Nepalis, and your “Hindus lopping off the branch that they sit on” baqwaas that I’m not going to bother to tear it apart. I think your comment speaks for yourself.

      But this particular line really got on my nerves the most:

      “But the Madhesis and the Gorkhas are hard working people of the soil.”

      Madhesis HAVE been, undoubtedly, oppressed immensely by the jamindars, Bahouns, and Chhetris, but FYI, it’s not only Madhesis and Gorkhas who are “hard-working people of the soil” and get oppressed. You forgot about the poor people, the lower castes, the migrants, and everyone else. Poverty pretty much runs across the spectrum here except for the few at the top. Come to other parts of Nepal, and you’ll see that the majority of Nepalis- whether they are Madhesi or Gorkha- are “hard-working people of the soil” who rarely get anything back from all of the back-breaking labor they put in every day in their lives.

    10. Desi Italiana — on 21st April, 2008 at 5:38 am  

      “IF India’s RED BELT is to PROSPER the Maoists should be STAMPED out ruthlessly.”

      Above makes no sense.

      Why not try to write a comment that doesn’t have outdated, Cold War-style ideological blinders (in your case, anti-Maoists/Communists/)?

      I am all down for criticizing the Maoists, if it’s founded and rooted in the things that are going on right now. Your comment, on the other hand, is just rhetoric which stands on ideology rather than looking at what’s going on at the moment.

      PS. The Maoists are not really “Maoists” ala Chinese Maoism. Thought you should know that.

    11. Desi Italiana — on 21st April, 2008 at 5:42 am  

      Sorry for the snark, but really. It’s one thing to litter your comment with inaccuracies, it’s another thing to write a gigantic post on rhetoric and then end with these lines:

      “It is understandable that the Nepal Maoists would like to minimise the influence of Hinduism - since it is the glue that holds the nation together and old links must be broken expect the Maoists to go to any lengths. Hindus have time and again shown the talent to lop off the branch they sit on. This wont be the first time.”

    12. douglas clark — on 21st April, 2008 at 6:21 am  

      kelvi,

      Err…

      I’m not entirely sure that the human race is over communism. It suits a certain agenda to say so, yours perhaps. But it is an idea that is unlikely to go away. Are you a Republican, by any chance?

      It makes more sense than you seem to realise.

      Comparing and contrasting it to a religion is just ridiculous.

      On a more hopeful note, let us assume that neo con nut cases will be left on the dung hill of history sometime soon. I trust you are not a neo con nut case?

    13. Desi Italiana — on 21st April, 2008 at 6:32 am  

      Douglas, let it be. Kelvi’s comment rings of Indian right winger tone- rabid frothing at the mouth over the “Red Menance,” India-centrism when it comes to politics in other South Asian countries, and lamenting the absence of officially declared Hindu countries.

      BTW, how has my jaanam been doing?

    14. douglas clark — on 21st April, 2008 at 7:32 am  

      Desi,

      Apologies for taking a Eurocentric view! It is just me! And I can’t help it any more than Kelvi can.

      I don’t know what jaanam is, or how it is doing. The internet doesn’t help on this.

      Great article, btw.

      How is Nepal? I’d like to see you writing a lot more about it.

      douglas

    15. s johal — on 21st April, 2008 at 11:01 am  

      kelvi KS Gill was recently sent to chitisgarh to wipe out the ‘maoist terrorist’ but fled with is tail between his legs, maybe you should now call the Americans.

    16. Desi Italiana — on 21st April, 2008 at 1:51 pm  

      Johal:

      “KS Gill was recently sent to chitisgarh to wipe out the ‘maoist terrorist’”

      KS Gill is also really unapologetic about how he “tamed” the Punjab insurgency by wiping out innocent Punjabis in the 80′s and 90′s: http://hrw.org/reports/2007/india1007/

    17. kELvi — on 21st April, 2008 at 2:27 pm  

      Above makes no sense. Desi, it wouldn’t if you lived in the lap of luxury protected by the rule of law. It would make sense if you were a poverty racked inhabitant of Central India’s forests who must give away their first born to be raised as a Maoist rebel. Not surprising at all. Amartya Sen’s mentor Joan Robinson sang paens of praise to Mao when she lived comfortably in Oxford. A blind fascination with thuggish communist regimes goes all the way back to Wells and Shaw. A clear eyed condemnation of these apologists and their objects of fascination goes back to Russell, who as early as 1918 exposed the false promise of the Bolshevik Revolution. Desi Italiana the Cold War was about confronting Communist States. That rhetoric is outdated because there are hardly any left today save Cuba, N.Korea, and Waste Bengal - smirk. If Nepal wants to travel down the path trodden by Hungary, Romania, East Germany etc., good luck. This rhetoric is about confronting Statehood aspiring extreme violence movements. Whether it is the ULFA or Manipur separatists or LTTE or jihadis or Maoists/Naxals it is a very serious matter. Anything ideological is suspect. Totalitarian regimes are religious - as in doctrine or rules - and proceed from dogma. These movements arise and flourish because of a weakened state dabbling in too many areas rather than staying focused on maintaining the rule of law.

      Doug,

      Ideas never die but lose respectability. In that sense National Socialism is no longer respectable in any sense of the term. A Hitler admirer can be imprisoned in many parts of Europe or at least invites endless insults and ridicule if it is a Bal Thackeray - although not if it is a jihadi/Muslim Brotherhood collaborator - as was the late grand mufti of Jerusalem - Yasser arafat’s uncle. But Stalin/Mao/Lenin/Kim admirers (worshippers) invite no opprobium in spite carrying the torch for these mass murderers whose reign almost apsn the 20th century. The communist/extreme socialist (to distinguish it from the modern Western/Anglo welfare states - the sort all of use like to live in) model stands so throughly discredited that only a tyrant like Kim or Fidel who is unanswerable to his people or doesn’t give a darn for them would think of running with it. Even India’s Stalin worshipping commie party hacks know that you can’t put the genie back into the bottle and wind it back to the good old days of de facto extreme socialism in India. But Prachanda belongs to the ranks of the deluded JNU elite and a fair number of Nepal’s commies still go misty eyed over portraits of vintage commie thugs like Ceausescu, Honecker, Kador, Jaruzelski, Hoxha etc. So it remains to be seen where Nepal heads. Fascism is a more curious creature and I like to define it as a subtly or invisibly totalitarian regime where the political process is not robust enough to keep out the interests of the rich or those who are stuck firmly in the past. In all other contexts fascism is simply a name for something we don’t like, much like the way the terms righ wing are thrown about (here) and left wing (in the Spectator/National Review etc.) I am neither (as if you cared) and find things to like and detest in both of them. Fascism isn’t dead and shares much with a religious line of thought I’d rather not name - in it it believes that prosperity is a reward for the blessed/deserving and poverty is a well visited curse upon the undeserving or wicked etc.,

      Desi, you cannot talk about the Indian subcontinent - or South Asia if you want to be PC - without talking about India. India is the hub of the region whther you like it or not - geographically, historically, and economically. Anti Indian sentiment of course wasn’t invented by the Maoists and the royals too have profited immensely from it. Although I must say I am yet to find any in the many Nepalese I have been prvileged to meet and know. Anti Indian sentiment is a powerful motivator because its logic is clear. Look at the map and you will know why, watch TV and the movies you will know why.

      If India must grow at >10% to wipe out poverty Nepal must grow in excess of 15%. Anyone who can bring about wholesome development is welcome.

      Johal, KPS Gill is a policing expert at large and has been deputed to many parts of India to revamp policing. FYI it is Gill who oversaw the reconstitution of the Gujarat police following the 2002 riots and has continued to pull up its leadership for its incompetence where and when possible. KPS Gill is our finest cop and has a very long track record of success starting from his earliest days in India’s North East. He is however not an active police officer any longer for several years now and serves purely as a consultant. KPS Gill is no stranger to death threats and has faced them in one or another for decades. The current Indian administration for reasons I have explained earlier is dragging its feet seeking political advantage. Where its own CMs have turned the tide Naxal/Maoist extermination has returned to its usual pace as in AP where the current CM Samuel Reddy has resumed the no-tolerance policy of his prdecessor Chandrababu Naidu. The AP police are now working with the Orissa police and helping them get their act together. There’s nothing glorious about such movements and its leaders have always been - like Che Guevara - have been little better than bloodthirsty thugs.

    18. Desi Italiana — on 21st April, 2008 at 4:31 pm  

      Kelvi-

      Are you purposely writing inarticulate comments that sound like an incoherent rant just to flamebait me? Am I wasting my time responding to you? Probably. But I’ll take one last shot.

      “Desi, it wouldn’t if you lived in the lap of luxury protected by the rule of law.”

      When I said “the above makes no sense,” it was specifically directed towards the line I quoted. Did you read it? Maybe you made a mistake, but it makes no freaking sense. Is the following line logical?

      ““IF India’s RED BELT is to PROSPER the Maoists should be STAMPED out ruthlessly.”

      Then:

      “Anything ideological is suspect. Totalitarian regimes are religious - as in doctrine or rules - and proceed from dogma.”

      First, you seem to be under the fog about something. Are you saying that non-”totalitarian regimes” are not ideological?

      Secondly, what makes the Nepali Maoists “totalitarian”? I am prepared to totally listen (and it also remains to be seen as totalitarian they will be) to concrete examples. But please don’t spout bullshit rooted in nothing.

      Thirdly, you keep droning on and on about Indian Maoists, jihadists, Commies, etc. Do you know why I think you are just using ideological blinders and not even looking at the electoral situation? Because you keep lumping all these groups together. The Indian Maoists are not the same as the Nepali Maoists, get your facts straight.

      Quick question: what is the platform of the Nepali Maoists? What are their politics?

      Fourthly, you say that “anything ideological is suspect.” Look at your own comments.

      And finally:

      “Desi, you cannot talk about the Indian subcontinent - or South Asia if you want to be PC - without talking about India. India is the hub of the region whther you like it or not - geographically, historically, and economically.”

      No one can deny that India is a rmajor egional factor. But why the hell are bringing in India for some stupid shit like this?

      “It is a cynical shortsighted and stupid policy and entirely in keepin with Neruvian naivette and utopia that sadly has guided Indian political and diplomatic policy for many years. It is understandable that the Nepal Maoists would like to minimise the influence of Hinduism - since it is the glue that holds the nation together and old links must be broken expect the Maoists to go to any lengths. Hindus have time and again shown the talent to lop off the branch they sit on. This wont be the first time.”

      Are you from the Hindu Defense Army or something? You sound like the reps from the Indian VHP who mourned the coming of secularism to Nepal.

      Whether you are sad or pissed off that Nepal is no longer a Hindu monarchy is irrelevant, because Nepalis have voted a party which wants to declare Nepal a secular country. Likewise, the desires of Indian Hindus w/r/t Nepal being an officially Hindu country or not are irrelevant. Why the hell should Nepalis care about what Indians want Nepal to be? They shouldn’t have to.

      Nepalis voted the Maoists in. Get over it.

    19. Desi Italiana — on 21st April, 2008 at 4:35 pm  

      Just to make it clear for folks who don’t know what’s going w/r/t Nepal being a secular country, Nepal has become a “secular” country when the Maoists entered the so-called “peace process”, but Nepal is not OFFICIALLY (meaning law-wise, etc) a secular country yet. That will happen when the CA rewrites the constitution, and the official status of the country (move from monarchy to republic and secular) has yet to be voted in officially.

    20. Desi Italiana — on 21st April, 2008 at 4:58 pm  

      Kelvi:

      “KPS Gill is a policing expert at large and has been deputed to many parts of India to revamp policing. FYI it is Gill who oversaw the reconstitution of the Gujarat police following the 2002 riots”

      Interesting how you refer to what happened in Gujarat 2002 as “riots”.

      But on to Gill:

      You talk about the “rule of law” and being against “totalitarianism”- doesn’t it strike you as the least bit hypocritical to call someone like Gill a “fine policeman”? Have you any idea how much he has violated the “rule of law” which you refer to in your comments? To use Gill’s appointment to “restructure” the police which helped to massacre innocent Gujarati Muslims as your example (of what I don’t know since your comments are totally illogical and incoherent; I am not sure what the hell Gill and the clashes between the Indian Maoists and the Indian security forces have anything to do with the elections in Nepal) is like putting George Bush on the board to investigate and beat back war crimes in Iraq.

      Goodbye, Kelvi the joker.

    21. kELvi — on 21st April, 2008 at 6:37 pm  

      Desi Italiana,

      I don’t draw distinctions between ideological groups. It doesn’t matter one bit. The Nepal Maoists and the Indian Maoists are bloodthirsty thugs first. It doesn’t matter if the one follows the Lin Biao line and the other follows the Zhou En Lai line. Sustained organized violence and terror against innocents is a staple of all these movements. It doesn’t matter if some jihadi group webcasts its executions and someone like ULFA takes hostages and claims their safety is the responsibility of “Bharat Sarkar”. You seem to be carrying a can for extremist thugs and are trying every possible gambit to save their name - root cause, poverty, “state terrorism”, ideological nuance. To all that I have just two words - “Courtiers’ Reply”.

      ““IF India’s RED BELT is to PROSPER the Maoists should be STAMPED out ruthlessly.” Surely it is not too much to expect you to understand that the words RED BELT here are used interchangeably with Central India or “resource rich states” or some such things. Or is it too much?

      “Why the hell should Nepalis care about what Indians want Nepal to be? They shouldn’t have to.” And who in the blazes is going to tell them whether they should or not? Soft power, cultural influence, shared values, shared interests etc., do these things mean anything to you? So you can scream all you want. There will always be Indians and Nepalis trying to build connections that bypass elite thugs like the Maoists.

      If you are in the habit of reading anything more than the complete works of Mao/Arafat/Fidel etc., you would surely have read what Gill himself had to say about the Gujarat Police. I know fully well what a difference Gill made to terrorism in Punjab. If all that butchery and bloodshed has been wiped out Gill deserves credit. Darn, these were thugs who would hold up buses, segregate Hindus and Sikhs and then kill the Hindus in cold blood, or simply walk into a wedding and kill every uniformed officer in sight. One of the most critical events occurred when Ambassador Abid Hussein was straining every nerve to stave off a US House resolution criticising India’s police action in Punjab a few hours after terrorists gunned down a few score people on an Amritsar bound train. Since Gill’s report on Gujarat police is available for you to read, I have a hard time figuring out whether the GWB parallel you draw is a result of your ignorance or worse. There’s a point beyond which extreme hacks whether Alex Cockburn, Raimundo or Vijay Prashad; Ann Coulter, D’Souza or Jonah Goldberg stop making sense. You aren’t yet there, but aren’t very far off.

    22. s johal — on 21st April, 2008 at 10:36 pm  

      mr kelvi, in your long article you fail to mention how these’ ‘maoist terrorist thugs’ won a landslide. you are right that Mr Gill finished of the Khalitanis terrorist in the Punjab. They were the creation of Indra Gandhi, when their perpose was served they were got rid of in 24 hour. They failed to build a base amongnst the Punjabi Sikhs because of their antipeople stance. were as the maoist are fish in sea,whether the are in Nepal or anywhere else in the world they adopt the same statagy. Maybe the following article will be of help to you and other to understanding the maoist a little bit better: Maoism in India - a brief report

      The latest issue of Monde Diplomatique (English edition) has given extremely useful information about the successes of the Maoist movement in India, about which one generally hears very little - as indeed one heard very little about the Nepalese Maoist movement until it had effectively conquered 80% of the country.

      Many people assumed that the Naxalite movement of the late 1960′s simply died away, but far from it. Inspired by the Naxalite uprising in Bengal, “armed Maoist groups sprang up in the jungle and remote countryside. Their military activities were sporadic until September 2004 when the two main movements - the People’s War Group in central India and the Maoist Communist Centre of India, which is active in Bihar - joined forces to create a single, banned, Maoist party …

      “Since then Naxalites have spread to 16 of 28 states. By this August they were active in 192 administrative districts out of 602, along a red corridor of 92,000 km2 from the Nepalese border to India’s southwest coast …” (Cedric Gouverneur, ‘State-backed militias versus communist Naxalites - India’s undeclared war’, Le Monde Diplomatique, December 2007). And further:

      “Naxalite fighters are estimated to number 10,000 to 20,000. They receive logistical support from 40,000 more” (ibid.). They are also able to manufacture arms in various hidden workshops, including rifles and rockets.

      The Maoists were able to gain support from the masses because the government and local authorities completely ignore the interests of the poor. Ajai Satni, director of the Institute of Conflict Management in New Delhi, explained the Maoists’ methods: “They study the social conditions in a given area. Through sympathetic organisations they mobilise the masses around specific causes and raise their political consciousness. Then they identify the most highly motivated people and turn them into fighters. When the violence begins, it’s already too late for the state to do anything.”

      An example of a Maoist-controlled area is Chhattisgarh, which “is in the middle of the red corridor. Here 3,000 rebels control some 25,000 km2. The population in the south of the state is 80% Adivasi, poor, mainly illiterate ‘tribals’ whose only contact with the state has been the arbitrary power of corrupt civil servants. The Naxalites filled the void…

      “Adivasi peasants and hunter-gatherers, who had suffered extortion at the hands of the police, forest rangers and money lenders, were grateful to the Naxalites for ridding them of their tormentors, sometimes with punishment. The Naxalites also get them a better price for the leaves they gather from tendu trees, to make bidis (hand-rolled cigarettes)…”

      It is no wonder then that the Maoist movement in India is growing rapidly and is expected by the Indian government to spread to Gujerat, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.

      Indian government response

      The Indian government in dealing with the Maoists is resorting to methods copied from British imperialism. It is herding up villagers and transferring them to heavily guarded concentration camps to make it impossible for them to provide support to the guerrillas. “The head of the administration in the Dantewada district in the south of Chhattisgarh, K R Pisda, said: ‘the district has a population of 700,000 who used to live in 1,153 villages. Today 644 villages are deserted and their 53,000 inhabitants are in 27 camps’ …

      “The camps - strategic centres - are ringed with barbed wire and protected by machine gun nests …” Conditions in the camps are appalling, with malnutrition being rife. Furthermore, there is a “police state atmosphere” as anyone thought by the authorities to be sympathetic to the Maoists is likely to face summary execution or worse. Meanwhile the land which villagers have been forced off is being sold off to developers:

      “Several local journalists and commentators believe that the Chhattisgarh government´s policy of clearing the countryside goes beyond defeating the Naxalites: it also favours large-scale industrial projects. The population of the state may be poor, but under the ground lie riches. A fifth of India’s iron ore reserves are in this region, but the Adivasis know from experience that they will not benefit from industrialisation. The Bailadillci mines, which contain 1.2 bn tonnes of ore, won’t employ Adivasis as they say they are under-qualified. … Since India gained independence in 1947, millions of ‘tribals’ have been displaced to make way for developments which have brought them no benefit.

      “In Kalinga Nagar in the neighbouring state of Orissa, the Adivasis blocked a road for a year to prevent the sale of their land to the Indian industrial group Tata. On 2 January 2006 13 protesters were killed in a confrontation with the police. ‘We made uncultivated land fertile’, said the protesters’ spokesman, Ravinda Jarekar. ‘No amount of compensation will make up for that, and we know that Tata will not give us jobs’ …”

      The Indian government is also taking a leaf out of the book of South American dictatorships which create militias to go round killing people suspected of sympathising with the rebels. In Chhattisgarh the Salwa Judum militia was created in June 2005 from a handful of degenerates willing to sell their neighbours for a few paise (100paise = 1 rupee). While these people harass the villagers, burning down their homes and murdering them at will, they are no match for real Maoist guerrillas. The police openly admit that they will take the bus rather than travel in a police car in order to avoid being ambushed.

      These vicious tactics on the part of the authorities might seem unbeatable, but in fact they have the opposite effect, forcing villagers to support the Maoists if they are to defend their right to remain in their villages and have protection from depredations on the part of the Salwa Judum. Even Le Monde Diplomatique has to admit that despite the use of all these despicable tactics in Vietnam, the US imperialists still lost. “Indian economic growth needs industrialisation. But industrialisation, for which ordinary people pay the price, can also cause fear. And injustice fuels the Naxalites’ cause …” Le Monde Diplomatique then makes the seemingly wise observation that “The best response to rebellion is a well-run state which observes the rule of law. A counter-terrorism policy that is undemocratic and morally dubious merely plays into the rebels’ hands”. This advice, so self-evidently true, however, the exploiter elements - in India or even in Britain for that matter! - are never willing to follow. Capitalism would not be capitalism if it did not strive for the maximum of profit, and the maximum of profit is something totally incompatible with caring for the welfare of the masses of people whom the capitalists regard as just so much inconvenient vermin, deserving of nothing other than eradication

    23. Sid — on 21st April, 2008 at 11:51 pm  

      Kanak Mani Dixit:


      However, election-related malfeasance cannot explain the extent of the Maoist victory and would deny the populace the agency and rational choice it exercised last Thursday. A major reason for the win seems to be voters’ desire to keep the Maoists from returning to the ‘people’s war’ and suffering attendant miseries. The imperfect peace process, made so by the absence of rule of law and state administration over the last two years, left the population beleaguered and worried of a return to that horrific period. Much of the electorate seems to have decided, en masse, to give the CPN (Maoist) the prize of government so that the dire threats of a ‘return to the jungle’ would not be implemented. To that extent, this was a vote under duress.

      That said, the urban analyst is required to respond with sobriety to the Maoist victory, because this was also an indication of the scale of unrelenting deprivation from which the people sought release. The hold of the Maoists’ populist promise has been strong in a country whose workforce continues to migrate in massive numbers to India and overseas because of high levels of poverty. Against this backdrop, both the UML and the NC were seen as failed establishmentarian forces, while the Maoists projected themselves as true agents of change. The vote swept much of the political old guard entirely out of the picture.

      With the flexibility available to a new entrant, the Maoists also filled their candidatures with members of the deprived communities, including the Dalits, the janajati ethnic category and women. They laid claim, with justification, to having introduced all the salient issues that had been placed before the electorate, including the demands for inclusion, federalism, secularism, and an overturning of economic relations to serve the underclass.

    24. kELvi — on 22nd April, 2008 at 4:41 am  

      Johal,

      There’s a lot more info available on SATP.org a info clearing house run by KPS Gill and his his occasional collaborators. The article you have quoted from is a mish-mash of quote mines and 2nd and 3rd hand reports. The Salwa Judum is a militia, and these have been very successfully trained and used in many parts of India including Punjab, J&K, and the North East. India’s rural terrorists have dispersed and regrouped many times over hte last 60 years beginning from the 1948 Telengana revolt that was ruthlessly stamped out by C. Rajagopalachari when he was CM of the old Madras Presidency. The Naxalbari movement began as a left-of-left movement and was put down by SS Ray and the CPI(M) who followed him into power delivered them the coup-de-grace. The remnants of the movement including the colleagues of the late thug Charu Mazumdar have been running a thriving extortion racket in Siliguri and avoid police interference by sharing their loot with the CPI(M). The latest instalment of rural terrorism has grown and thrived thanks to the weakest administration we have had in years - the Congress led admin at the centre which seems to take leftist gibberish too seriously. In a country where 60% of the population is employed in agriculture and yet contribute to barely 20% of the GDP, widespread rural deprivation is but natural. The solution is not to lie back and play dead as India’s “intellectuals” demand. Industrialisation must be vigorously pursued and rural terrorism put down with an iron hand. Rural natural resource led industrialisation has an excellent record of development in India, TATA Steel being a notable example of public service. And buddy those quaint notions about the evil of profits have long gone the way of the dod and even Prakash Karat and YEchury find them silly. Terrorists understand the power of vioolence and also know when to cut their losses and run. Terrorism cannot flourish unless it can suck the blood out of a terrorised populace. Maoists spend a little more time killing the inhabitants of the forests than they do fighting the police. And when the common folk cannot bear the depredations of terrorists (usually involves keeping them well fed and drunk and satisfied) people do fight back. Lynchings of Maoist terrorists in AP are a common occurrence these days.

      And also read KPS Gill’s excellent book on the corrupt core of the Punjab terrorism movement, available on his website.

    25. Desi Italiana — on 22nd April, 2008 at 5:17 am  

      Kevli,

      In your long, long, long comments, you keep bitching about Indian Maoists. You have not, in one instance, talked about the Nepali Maoists, their politics or nothing.

      The post is on Nepali Maoists. Not Indian Maoists, but Nepali Maoists.

      See the title?

      “The Recent Elections in NEPAL.”

      “Since Gill’s report on Gujarat police is available for you to read, I have a hard time figuring out whether the GWB parallel you draw is a result of your ignorance or worse. There’s a point beyond which extreme hacks whether Alex Cockburn, Raimundo or Vijay Prashad; Ann Coulter, D’Souza or Jonah Goldberg stop making sense. You aren’t yet there, but aren’t very far off.”

      Why are do you keep talking about KS Gill? Is he your uuncleji?

      And please. Likening me to Anne Coulter is ridiculous. I don’t fancy men like D’Souza.

      PS. You are a very bad habit of lumping wildly different people into the same category. You should stop doing that, because it makes you seem like you don’t know what you are talking about.

    26. Desi Italiana — on 22nd April, 2008 at 5:29 am  

      Sid, thanks for linking Kanak Mani Dixit’s piece.

      Kelvi, you should read that article. It mentions the Nepali Maoists more than you do in your comments.

    27. s johal — on 24th April, 2008 at 3:50 pm  

      Checkout this new Website that i have just come across set up by the Nepal Maoist http://www.cpnm.org

    28. Desi Italiana — on 29th May, 2008 at 5:44 am  

      Namaste Picklers-

      Nepal has officially abolished the monarchy, and it is a Federal Democratic Republic!

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