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EDITORIALS

sale to the beneficiary, i e, to help last mile authentication; at the second step the RC parrots a Planning Commission proposal. The proposal envisages that when a beneficiary buys his/her ration, she/he would swipe her/his card. The dealer would then be reimbursed the difference between the market and subsidised price with a small commission. The Planning Commission idea can be traced to a PDS report submitted by a software-vending

company to the World Bank. Though the commission favoured procurement by FCI, the RC, like the software company proposal, suggests that grain be channelled through the open market. This amounts, in effect, to cash transfers through smart cards. Over the past few months, it has become clear that the centre is intent on using every opportunity to push for a system of cash transfers. The RC report is the most recent example of this effort.

At the Crossroads
Will the prolonged political deadlock in Nepal thrust the Maoists to regain the revolutionary road?

epals prolonged political deadlock continues even as the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) monitoring the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that has yet to be implemented ceased operations on 15 January and the 28 May deadline for the Constituent Assembly to produce a draft constitution approaches with little progress made. Indeed, there is no prospect of a new constitution being agreed upon by that date. But more ominous is the fact that despite the efforts of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) [UCPN(M)] to implement the CPA, especially the integration of the Maoist Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) with the Nepal Army, all the other parties are opposed to the merger of the two armies. Integration is at the core of the CPA. Under the CPA, the combatants of the PLA were placed in cantonments monitored by the UNMIN pending the merger of the two armies. The Nepal Army formerly the Royal Nepal Army was, before 2006, under the control of the king (the monarchy was abolished only in 2008). Its officer corps is high caste, some at the apex intermarried with royalty, and given their indoctrination, many of them still owe loyalty to the former monarch. They hold a grudge at having to yield control to an elected executive (and legislature) composed of civilians. More importantly, they are fiercely opposed to the politically indoctrinated and unprofessional troops of the PLA polluting their disciplined national force. The top brass of the Army violated the terms of the CPA, ignoring the objections of the UNMIN and its complaints to the Nepalese government. It refused to take orders from the defence minister in the Prachanda government (August 2008-May 2009). Indeed, Prachanda tried to sack the army chief for violating the terms of the CPA, but the president intervened to back the general. Thereupon, Prachanda resigned as prime minister, and his party has since stepped up its efforts at popular protests, both tactics more Gandhian than Maoist. The current government in Kathmandu is illegitimate it is there in office supported by the Nepal Army because it is not implementing the core terms of the CPA and is not asserting civilian control over that army. The Maoists, although they want to bring in New Democracy in alliance with the workers, peasants, the middle class and nationalist capitalists, envisage a political system with multiparty competition, and have displayed immense flexibility about the means to be deployed. They are talking of respect for the CPA, civilian control of the armed forces, a new constitution which puts in place a democracy that takes into account the interests of the workers, the

peasants, the oppressed nationalities and the janjatis (ethnic groups), women and dalits. No, they are not calling for all power to the soviets of workers, peasants and soldiers deputies, but their reactionary opponents find their demands deeply disturbing. The reactionaries have ganged up against them, but given the numbers in the Constituent Assembly, the support of the Maoists is essential if any other party wants to form the government. The Maoists, on their part, need the support of the Nepali Congress or the CPN (United Marxist-Leninist) to form a government, but neither of these parties seems to be likely to go along with them on the question of integration of the PLA and the Nepal Army, as also their plan for federation of the republic. As regards the issue of federation, the Madhesi parties, though small, have been bargaining for a disproportionate influence. Let us make no bones about it: there is a political crisis in Nepal that is deepening. The government and the political parties that keep it in place are not committed to the implementation of the CPA or the question of elected civilian executive (and legislative) control of the Army. The Maoists have shown that they can not only fight the Peoples War, but win an election, bring about the demise of the monarchy, proclaim Nepal a secular democratic republic and convene a constituent assembly. But they have had to fight tooth and nail to institutionalise these gains. They got the terms to end the Peoples War written into the CPA, at the core of which is the integration of the two armies, but the whole establishment has ganged up against them and is hindering the process. Perhaps they will be left with no alternative but to go back to the court of the people. The time might then come for them to feel strongly, once again, that without the PLA the people will get nothing. A time may come when the people too will realise that the current path of peaceful means is no longer viable. The Maoists may then resort to violent means once again. Even Baburam Bhattarai, foremost among the Maoist leadership in pushing the path of peaceful means as much as is possible, has not given up the alternative, the strategy of Peoples War combined with the tactic of urban insurrection. Delivering the Third Anuradha Ghandy Memorial Lecture in Mumbai on 14 January, Bhattarai reiterated that the revolution in Nepal is not by any means over yet. Mass mobilisations are certain, beginning 13 February, which is Peoples War day, and intensifying on 7 April, which is Jan Andolan day. Will the Nepali Maoists regain the revolutionary road? Frankly, sitting in our offices in Lower Parel in Indias financial capital, we have no idea what may happen in Nepal in the coming months.
january 22, 2011 vol xlvI no 4 EPW Economic & Political Weekly