नागरिक अधिकारको पक्षमा कि दमनकारी सत्ता संरचनाको पक्षमा ? [Guest Post]


हामीलाई यो लेख इमेलबाट प्राप्त भएको हो। पाहुना ब्लगको रुपमा यहाँ प्रकाशित गर्दै छौँ।
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नेपालमा कसैको पक्ष लिन भन्दा विपक्ष लिन सजिलो र सुरक्षित छ। मेरो अनुभवमा सामाजिक सञ्जालमा रचनात्मक बहस गर्नभन्दा कसैलाई सत्तोसराप गाली गरे धेरै चर्चा र समर्थन पाइन्छ। यसो गर्न धेरै जानकारी वा प्रमाण पनि चाहिन्न– शंकामात्र पर्याप्त हुन्छ। सामाजिक सञ्जालका अधिकांश गाली गलौज राजनीतिक प्रतिशोधमा पनि आधारित छन्।

यो लेख सर्वसाधारण नागरिकको तर्फबाट लेख्दैछु। ट्विटरमा यसवापत मलाई आरोप लगाउनेहरुको कमी नभएको हैन। तर, त्यस्ता फाल्तु र अनर्गल आरोपको पर्वाह गर्ने भए म यो सब गरिरहेको नै हुने थिइन। यसो गर्नुको पछाडि मसँग निश्चित कारणहरु छन्।

म हरेक दिन ट्विटर र फेसबुकमा रवीन्द्र मिश्र र कनकमणि दीक्षितहरूलाई मान्छेले अनेक अमर्यादित गाली गरेको देख्छु। खगेन्द्र सङ्ग्रौला, सीके लाल, हरि रोका, प्रशान्त झा, नरेन्द्रजङ् पिटर, बाबुराम भट्टराई र यस्तै अरूले यी दुईका विरोधमा व्यक्तिगत गालीगलौज सार्वजनिक रूपमा गरिरहेका हुन्छन्। उनीहरुमाथि व्यक्तिगत आक्रमण गर्दै समाचार माध्यम र चर्चित ब्लगहरूले समेत लामालामा लेख लेख्छन्। प्रतिशोधात्मक गालीगलौजको स्तर यति निम्न छ कि यसको उद्दरणसमेत अशोभनीय सुनिन्छ।

आफूविरुद्ध लक्षित निम्नस्तरका गालीगलौजका बाबजुद कसैले राम्रो प्रश्न सोधे र छलफल गर्न खोजे यी दुई र यीजस्ता अरुले जवाफ फर्काइरहेको देख्छु। बरु माथि उल्लेख गरेका विरोध गर्ने लेखकहरु सामाजिक सङ्जालमा सकेसम्म देखा पर्दैनन्। आफ्नो धारणा राख्छन् तर अन्तर्क्रिया गर्न चाहाँदैनन्। यिनिहरूका कुरा दोश्रो र तेश्रो चरणबाट प्रशोधन गरेर एकोहोरो विरोध गर्ने दोस्रो दर्जाका हुल्लडबाजसमेत कुनै छलफल र बहस गर्न तयार हुँदैनन्। तयार भए पनि सोहि व्यक्तिगत गालीगलौज र आधारहीन आरोपहरु भन्दा माथि उठ्न सक्दैनन्।

यसो भए तापनि जवाफमा मिश्र वा दीक्षितहरूले सन्तुलन गुमाएको देखेको छैन। मलाई विश्वास छ मिश्र वा दीक्षितहरुलाई आफ्नो विरुद्धमा आलोचनात्मक अभियान चलाउनेहरूका बारे प्रशस्तै यस्ता गोप्य कुरा थाहा छ जुन प्रकाशमा ल्याउँदा चर्चा बटुल्न सकिन्छ। तर यि र ती बारेको फरक नै यहि हो, र हामीले बुझ्नुपर्ने कुरा पनि।

रवीन्द्र मिश्र, कनकमणि दीक्षित र यस्तै अरु मानिसमा कमीकमजोरी होलान् तर उनिहरूले देखाएको शालिनता हाम्रो सुसंस्कृत भविष्यको परिचायक हो। यिनिहरु आलोचना सहन सक्छन्। मर्यादित बहस र तर्क गर्छन्। आ-आफ्नो भएको दक्षता र विवेक प्रयोग गरेर समाजको उत्थानको लागि लागिपरेका छन्। नागरिक अधिकारको निम्ति सके संगठित भएर, नसके एक्लै-एक्लै दमनकारीहरुसँग लडिरहेका छन्। भविष्यले हाम्रो समयका सबैभन्दा प्रेरणादायक व्यक्तिहरु को हुन् भनेर सोध्यो भने यि दुई मानिसहरुको नाम नआए पनि यिनीहरू जस्तै मानिसको नाम आउनुपर्छ। किनकी हामी समुन्नत समाज बन्ने हो भने हामीले अबलम्बन गर्नुपर्ने चरित्र यस्तै हो।

नागरिकहरुलाई जनदुश्मन र अन्य आरोप लगाएर भौतिक र सार्वजनिक आक्रमण गर्ने क्रम जारी छ। यसको विरोध गर्नुपर्छ

नागरिकहरुलाई जनदुश्मन र अन्य आरोप लगाएर भौतिक र सार्वजनिक आक्रमण गर्ने क्रम जारी छ। यसको विरोध गर्नुपर्छ

प्रष्ट पार्न चाहन्छु कि यिनीहरुबाट खराब काम हुनै सक्दैन वा भएकै नहोला भन्न खोजेको हैन। यिनले खराब वा गैह्रकानुनी काम गरेको भेटिए यिनलाई कानुन अनुसार कारवाही होस्। तर संभावनाहरुको आधारमा कसैलाई गाली नै गर्नुपर्ने वा सही चिजको समर्थन गर्न नहुने भन्ने होइन। मेरो यिनिहरूमाथिको समर्थन तबसम्म कायम रहन्छ जबसम्म सार्वजनिक जीवनमा यिनीहरु अहिलेजस्तै दागमुक्त भएर रहन्छन्। त्यसो नरहेको दिन तपाईँसँगै म पनि आलोचनामा उत्रौँला।

अर्को कुरा, यिनको बिरुद्ध देशको सबैभन्दा शक्तिशाली र धनी पार्टी र तिनले सञ्चालन गरेका संस्था, लेखक, सम्पादकहरु खुलेरै उत्रँदा पनि मैले कुनै भरपर्दो आरोप भेटेको छैन। अहिले त विपक्षी दल सँगै सत्ताधारी दल, विदेशीका एजेन्सी, तिनका बिचौलिया पनि पछि परेका छन्। यति मेहेनत गरेको विपक्षीले यिनको बारेमा के-के सम्म छानविन गरेन होला अहिलेसम्म? के निहुँ भेट्टाउँला र उछितो काँडौला भनेर बसेकाहरूले केहि गल्ति भेट्टाएको भए बाकिँ राख्थे होला अहिलेसम्म?

एकछिनलाई यि व्यक्तिको ठाउँमा आफुलाई राखौँ, आफ्ना नातेदार वा सन्तानलाई राखौँ। के नेपालमा कसैले स्वतन्त्र प्राज्ञिक काम गर्नै नपाउने हो? कसैले राज्यका दमन र गलत कदमहरु विरुद्ध आवाज उठाउनै नपाउने हो? त्यसो भए भविष्यका सन्ततीहरुको निम्ति कस्तो नेपाल बनाउँदै छौँ हामी? नेपालमा भएका अध्ययन-अनुसन्धान संस्थाहरु राजनीतिक हस्तक्षेपले भुत्ते भइसके। राज्यश्रोतमा पार्टीवालाहरुको मात्र हक लाग्नेजस्तो स्थिति छ। उद्योग धन्दा र स्वतन्त्र तवरले व्यापार-व्यसाय गर्न पाउने वातावरण छैन। यस्तो स्थिति भएको राज्य र तिनका पार्टीहरुको दास बन्नु बाहेक सुरक्षा र समर्थन पाउने अरु के तरीका छ? यिनलाई मन नपर्ने जे काम गरेपनि चौतर्फी आक्रमणको शिकार बन्नुपर्ने यो देशमा कोहि स्वतन्त्र काम गर्न सक्ने क्षमता भएको मान्छे किन बस्ने?

प्रतिष्ठित भनिएका सञ्चारमाध्यमका त कुरै छोडौँ ब्लगका नाममा समाचार र लेख प्रकाशित गरेर संसारभरका नेपालीसँग डलर र रियाल खातामा पठाउन रोइकराइगर्दै अनुरोध गर्ने माइसन्सारले समेत बौद्धिक ढंगको प्रतिष्ठित पत्रिकाका सञ्चालक र प्रकाशकविरुद्धमा दुईपैसे टिप्पणीका साथ गालीगलौजको अभियानमा उत्रनु हामी सबैका लागि लज्जाको विषय हो।

एकछिन दीक्षित र मिश्रलाई पर राखौ। हामी आफू, आफ्ना सन्तान, नातेदार वा मित्रहरुलाई सोचौँ। केहि गर्ने क्षमता भए र स्वतन्त्रसँग आफ्नो विचार राख्न चाहे यस्तो वातावरण भएको देशमा उनीहरू के आशले बस्लान्? दीक्षित र मिश्रसँग त यस्ता आलोचनासँग जुध्नसक्ने क्षमता र शक्ति होला। तर हाम्रा छोरा-छोरी वा साथीभाईमाथि यसरी सत्ता र शक्ति खनिए उनीहरूसँग के विकल्प हुन्छ? त्यस्तो डर र त्रास भएको समाजमा के प्रगती सम्भव हुन्छ?

मिश्र र दिक्षितका सबै काम-कुरामा मेरो सहमति नहोला। हुन आवश्यक पनि छैन। मलाई परोपकार नै समाज परिवर्तनको आधार हो जस्तो लाग्दैन, तर विमती राख्ने, विरोध गर्ने एउटा मर्यादित तरीका हुन्छ। यिनलाई विरोध गर्नेहरुले अति अमर्यादित गाली गलौजको प्रयोग गरेको देख्छु। त्यस्तालाई किन जवाफ दिनु पर्यो जस्तो लाग्छ। तर यिनले जवाफमा गाली गर्दैनन्, राम्रो शब्दमा सकेको जवाफ दिन्छन्। यहि “मैले जे भने पनि यसले गाली गर्ने हैन क्यारे” भन्ने ढुक्ख भएर यस्तो अमर्यादित बन्ने बल आएको हो कि?

मिश्रजीले चलाउनुभएको हेल्प नेपाल नेटवर्क भन्ने संस्था र त्यसका कामहरु कमी-कमजोरी सहित पनि निकै सह्रानिय लाग्छ मलाई। राज्यका सबै अङ्ग र निकाय धराशायी भएको आजको हाम्रो परिस्थितिमा त्यत्तिको लगन, निष्ठा र इच्छाशक्तिले त्यत्रो ठूलो सञ्जाल चलाउनु चानचुने काम होइन। त्यो पनि नेपाल जस्तो खुट्टा तान्न सिपालु र गालीगलौज लाई मख्ख पर्न लायक उपलब्धि मान्ने समाजमा। त्यत्तिको काम कुनै अरु क्षेत्रमा अरुले गरेको मलाई थाहा छैन। नेपाललाई परनिर्भर नबनाउन आफ्नै सबल अर्थतन्त्र, बजार र उद्योग-उद्यमहरु चाहिन्छन्। तर साथैमा यस्ता आफैँले आफैँलाई सहयोग गर्ने कार्यक्रम र योजनाहरु पनि चाहिन्छन्। आफ्ना समाजका समस्याहरु समाधान गर्ने आफैँले यसरी पहल गर्नु हाम्रो समाज सक्षम र सभ्य बन्दै गइरहेको कुराको साक्षी हो। त्यसैले नै मैले भनेको यस्ता मानिसहरु हाम्रा सुसंस्कृत भविष्यका प्रतिनीधिहरु हुन्।

हिमाल साउथएसियन भन्ने प्रकाशन (यो पत्रिका होइन) र संस्था हामीले समर्थन गर्नुपर्ने कुरा हो। नेपालका प्राज्ञिक शोध वा अनुषन्धान लुप्त बनिसकेको आजको समयमा केहि नभएपनि दक्षिण एसियामा यो संस्थाले नेपालको तर्फबाट प्राज्ञिक प्रतिनिधित्व गरेको छ। नेपालमा मात्र नभएर समग्र दक्षिण एशियाका प्राज्ञिक वा वौद्धिक क्षेत्रमा सक्रिय मानिसले हिमाल साउथएशियन महत्त्वका साथ पढ्छन् ।

पत्रिकाका लागि आवश्यक सन्दर्भसामग्री उत्पादन गर्ने कामका लागि यस क्षेत्रमा विद्वान वा प्राज्ञिक व्यक्तिहरूलाई निम्ता गर्ने, छलफल गराउने, अरु देशमा नेपालको तर्फबाट विचार पुर्याउने निजी क्षेत्रको यो प्राज्ञिक काम त हामीले देशभित्रैबाट श्रोत जुटाएर सहयोग गर्नुपर्ने हो। तर नेपालको आर्थिक र औद्योगिक क्षेत्र धरासायि बनाइएकोले सबै क्षेत्रमा झैँ यसमा पनि विदेशीको सहयोग को भर पर्नुपर्ने स्थिति रहेछ। त्यो पनि अनुसन्धान, सोध कार्य र यस्ता प्राज्ञिक कामहरु गर्न सबैतिर यस्तो रकम लिने गरिन्छ। यो त विदेशी दुतावासले दिएको छात्रवृत्तिमा कोहि पढ्न गयो भने त्यसको विरोध गरेको जस्तो भएन र? यो सहयोग आउनुअघि नै दुई दशक देखि यस संस्थाले उच्च गुणस्तरको पत्रिका र बहस चलाइरहेको हो। नत्र कुनै पत्याउने आधार नभएको शंकास्पद प्रोजेक्टमा रकम आएको भए विरोध गर्ने एउटा आधार पनि हुन्थ्यो। तर देशी-विदेशी विज्ञहरुको टोलीले अनुगमन गर्ने र संचालन गर्ने यो काममा षडयन्त्र र दुरुपयोगको आरोप लगाउँदा हामीले केहि प्रश्न गर्नु पर्दैन?

आलोचना अस्वाभाविक होइन। तर, आलोचनाका निश्चित पद्दति हुन्छन्, तरिका हुन्छन्। आलोचनाको बहानामा बचाऊमा आक्रामक गालीगलौज गर्दैनन् भन्दैमा यिनको अपमान गर्नु, यिमाथि आक्रमण हुँदा खुच्चिङ् भनेर चुप लागेर बस्नु नालायकी हो। हामीले त्यस्तै किसिमको समाज बनाउन खोजेको भए अर्कै कुरा। नत्र हामीले यिनिहरुलाई यस्ता आक्रमण हुँदा बचाऊ गर्नुपर्छ।

आफ्ना विरोधीलाई जनदुश्मन भनेर जिउँदै घुँडा भाँचेर निर्दोष मानिसलाई मार्ने, नाबालक सन्तानका आँखाअगाडि बाबुआमाको निर्मम हत्या गर्ने, नभएका लडाकुको नाममा देशको ढुकुटी र विदेशीको सहयोगबाट प्राप्त अरबौँको रकम झ्वाम पार्ने र नेपालका सांसद् किन्न भनेर चीनियाँसँग पैसा माग्ने,अपराधीका विगतका कर्तुत बिर्सेर हामी उनीहरूले चलाएको व्यक्तिविशेषविरुद्धको अभियानमा सामेल हुनु लज्जास्पद कुरा हो।

जनदुश्मन वा विदेशीको मतियारका नाममा व्यक्तिविशेषको मनोबल घटाउने र ध्यान अन्यत्रै मोड्ने कामको विरोध गर्नुपर्छ। अहिले त झन् पुरै सत्ता-संरचना र मिडियाको तप्का समेत यिनिहरुको विरोधमा खुलेर लागेको अवस्था छ। यस्तोमा हामी आफुजस्तै यी नागरिकहरुको पक्षमा उभिने कि दमनको मतियार बनेको सत्ता र उसको सहयोगी मिडियाको पक्षमा? म र तपाईँ मात्रै होइन, यिनको पक्षमा समाजका सबै जागरुक पक्षहरू उभिनु जरुरी छ।

आफुले चिनेका नेताहरुलाई पनि भन्नुहोस्, यिनलाई तारो बनाउने कामको विरोध होस्। कोहि नेताले यो पढ्दै हुनुहुन्छ भने तपाँई पनि केहि गर्नुहोस्, चुप नलाग्नुहोस्। नत्र भविष्यले हाम्रो समयको उपलब्धि के हो भनेर सोध्यो भने उत्तर शून्य होला, र त्यसको जिम्मेवार तपाईँ- हामी नै हौँला।

व्यक्तिविशेषले गर्ने गलत कामको कानुनअनुसार छानविन हुनुपर्छ। प्रचलित कानुनविरोधी काम कसैबाट भएमा उनीहरूमाथि कारवाही हुनुपर्छ। तर, शंका र प्रतिशोधका आधारमा व्यक्तिविशेषका विरुद्ध राज्य वा राजनीतिक दल खनिएको आजको अवस्था नागरिक अधिकार सङ्कटमा परेको सङ्केत हो। विगतको द्वन्द्वका क्रममा मानवअधिकार उल्लङ्घनका जघन्य अपराधमा संलग्नलाई उन्मुक्ति दिलाउने अभिप्रायले माओवादीले चलाएको यो सुनियोजित अभियानलाई साथ दिनु भनेको निरङ्कुशताको मतियार बन्नु हो।

——————-

हरेक दुखद् परिस्थितिमा केही सुखद् सङ्केत हुन्छन्। माओवादी र सत्ताधारीहरुको यो निर्लज्ज अभियानलाई सबैले औँठाछाप लगाएर समर्थन गरेका छैनन्। यसको उदाहरण सेतोपाटीले आज लेखेको सम्पादकीय हो । सेतोपाटीलाई धन्यवाद सहित यस विषयमा मैले प्रकाशीत गरेको टिप्पणी यसप्रकार छ:

नेपाली समाजमा अझै पनि आशा गर्ने प्रशस्त ठाउँहरु छन् भन्ने एउटा प्रमाण हो यो सम्पादकीय ।

नेपाली समाज अतिवाद र निर्लज्जताको सामु लम्पसार परेर कहिल्यै झुक्ने छैन भन्ने सम्भावना जिवितै रहेको देख्दा निकै खुशी लाग्छ । यस्ता सम्पादकीय लेख्ने सक्ने पत्रकार-सम्पादक, संचार माध्यम र तिनलाई साथ दिएर सघैँ उभिन सक्ने जागरुक समाज जिवित रहेसम्म नेपाली जनता र हाम्रो प्रगतीको आशालाई केहि सीमित अतिवादीहरु र तिनको असभ्य हर्कतले हराउन सक्ने छैन।

Guest Blog: The purity of CK Lal


Note: I received this article by email. Here’s the note that was included in the email:

“I posted this as a comment on republica website. But like many times before I think they will not publish it this time too. It would be nice if you could publish it in your blog. Many people should read this.”


by Gopinath Chaudhary


This is concerning CK Lal‘s op-ed in Republica “The Restoration of Plutarchy” (http://myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=70405)

Supposedly, this is one of Nepal’s finest writers. Look at the language, the tone and the level of arguments. His racist slurs against Nepal’s hill communities seem to have subdued in this article, but in his Nepali articles, he continues to abuse the hill communities with racist slurs like “chari-chuchhe” (meaning sharp nosed cunning Bahun), “thug pandit”, “clever puret” and so on. Apparently, words like “thyapche” (flat-nosed) are racist, but not if Lal uses similar words against others. Only that in the English pundit and Nepali “pandit” don’t exactly sound the same. CK Lal is a racist.

The level of argument is even more shameful. Where is the pulse of the society or the greater sense of direction of our polity and so on? Only personal grudges against a few politicians, parties and ethnic communities. For example, why have none of the previous governments (even those headed by Lal’s “pure” and “truthful” parties and ethnic communities, like Maoist and Madheshi parties) not been more inclusive?

And what is with someone asking for restroom in the morning? Is that political analysis? Give me a break now.

Finally, the most important issue. Lal, like always, is trying to fabricate truth. Yes, auspicious hours are consulted, prayers are offered. Read NASA rocket launch records or Indian space missions for that purpose. They’re seen calling the names of their respective deities. Nepal, a society where people still have no surety of life (thanks to Lal’s “pure” people), such superstitions are bound to be even more common, because there’s no law or predictability to depend on, but only impunity and chaos.

Furthermore, Sushil Koirala ignored the auspicious hours and took oath in a supposedly unauspicious hour. For those who can read Nepali, here is the news that mentions that Wednesday, 29th of Magh was determined as the auspicious day for the oath-taking ceremony (http://www.onlinechautari.com/2014/02/13769). In reality, Koirala took oath one day ahead of that day, on the 28th (http://nagariknews.com/main-story/story/13494).

More to this: In 2009, a member of Lal’s “pure race,” a minister from the supposedly revolutionary and progressive Madheshi party had postponed his oath-taking ceremony because the day was not auspicious according to the priests: (http://archives.nagariknews.com/2010/archive/2223-2009-06-23-08-59-11.html).

So much for your progressiveness Lal.

Citizens’ Statement – Rejection of UCPN-Maoist’s walk-out from vote-counting


We’re never short of drama in Nepal. As the votes are being counted, it seems that the Maoist party is in for a huge loss. And guess what happens? As Ushaft has been repeating in these blogs many times, they’d not allow any election to happen if they don’t win. For them, it is not about democracy, or about elections. It is just about “utilizing” this process, this generosity and magnanimity offered by the people of Nepal, and destroying the very foundations of democracy and institutions of Nepal in favor for a authoritarian rule of their own. We’ve already talked about how the self-obsessed Baburam Bhattarai and Prachanda tried all possible means to intimidate opposition, manipulate voters and make the results in their favor, by hook or crook. After what has been a largely fair and peaceful elections, now they are threatening that they’ll boycott the whole process until the counting is not done according to their terms and conditions.

Let’s not forget that the Maoist party is a big part of all this. But the echo-chamber has no lesser share of the blame. We should unequivocally condemn this echo chamber in what is transpiring right now in Nepal.

A citizens’ statement, released today, is included below.


Citizens’ Statement – Rejection of UCPN-Maoist’s walk-out from vote-counting

21 November 2013, Thursday

We hereby express our strong objection to the overnight move by the UPCN (Maoist) to walk out of the Constituent Assembly ballot-counting process, a full dozen hours after the exercise began. We welcome the commitment of the Election Commission and the Government of Nepal to continue with the process of ballot-counting and declaring winning candidates. We reject any and all demands being employed by the UCPN (Maoist) to obstruct the vote tallying process, including the call for ‘negotiations’, and ask for uninterrupted continuation of the electoral procedures.

We are all aware of the intense involvement of the committed Nepali electorate in the Constituent Assembly elections of 19 November. The UCPN (Maoist) leaders, including Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Vice-Chairman Baburam Bhattarai, have themselves publicly praised management of the elections and security arrangements.

We also note that the UCPN (Maoist) had taken the political lead in all developments related to these polls, from the establishment of the interim election government to defining the electoral regulations and process, up to the conclusion of the balloting-casting. We find the midnight statement released by the UCPN (Maoist) spokesperson as well as the views expressed by Chairman Dahal in the morning of 21 November to be wholly contradictory to the involvements of the party listed above.

At this critical hour, as a party which is supposed to have abandoned the use of violence in favour of peaceful politics, we demand that the UCPN (Maoist) accept the democratic process. We call on it to accept the people’s verdict, take care that its actions not be an embarrassment before the world, return to participate in the ballot-counting process, and prove its commitment to democracy through its deeds.

Signatories:

Amuda Shrestha, Chandrakishore, Charan Prasai, Kanak Mani Dixit and Subodh Raj Pyakurel

Contact: 9851029859, 9855025917, 9851042681, 9851053209, 9851026841


This is the seventh post in my election-update series. The first one is here, the second one is here, the third one is here, the fourth one is here, the fifth one is here, and the sixth one is here. The first post contains the definition of the Nepalese “echo chamber,” a theme which will be referred to throughout this series. The third one describes how a lot of money and violence is being used right now to manipulate results. The fourth one describes the general mood in Nepal right now, and the fifth one explains why a result contrary to the general mood is more likely. The sixth one summarizes the events from the polling day.

 

Nepal Election Update: How was the polling day?


This is the sixth post in my election-update series. The first one is here, the second one is here, the third one is here, the fourth one is here, and the fifth one is here. The first post contains the definition of the Nepalese “echo chamber,” a theme which will be referred to throughout this series. The third one describes how a lot of money and violence is being used right now to manipulate results. The fourth one describes the general mood in Nepal right now, and the fifth one explains why a result contrary to the general mood is more likely.


Polling in Nepal, mountains in the background (picture: Dhruba Dangal)

Polling in Nepal, mountains in the background (picture: Dhruba Dangal)

Let me start this blog on a positive note. Although we have to wait until all reports are in, news so far indicate that polling day was full of better things that I first expected. Than everybody first expected. There were explosions and bombs yesterday too (the polling day), but a record-breaking turnout has been estimated. Extreme cases of violence have been reported from relatively few places and polling was peaceful at other places. Again, I’ll stress that we should wait for all reports before giving a final verdict. Several polling stations in Nepal are in very remote places and accurate reports can take time to come in also because of fear and intimidation.

Altogether, it was an encouraging scene on the polling day. Like I wrote on the fourth post, the general mood of the people was indeed to defy the threats and intimidation, and make it to the polling stations to cast vote.

Baburam and Prachanda accused of capturing booths

Let’s be clear first that Gorkha is Baburam Bhattarai’s (Maoist’s 2nd man and former Prime Minister) home turf and he’s very strong there. I think he would have won there comfortably even without capturing polling stations. But there are multiple reports of several polling centers being captured by his people. Gorkha is so favorable place for Baburam that he could have set it up all from before- the police and polling offers favorable to him are likely to have been posted there. As a result, the irregularities that he has been accused of may never be investigated. Prachanda, the Maoist Chairman has also been accused of capturing polling stations in his constituency in Eastern Terai. Similarly, two Nepali Congress candidates (one Amresh Kumar Singh, is believed by many to be Indian intelligence agency’s man inside Nepali Congress) from Eastern Terai and one UML candidate from Okhaldhunga have been accused of capturing booths (none of the UML and NC candidates are the top-rung leaders like Baburam and Prachanda- it is important to remember that at local levels, many parties use dirty tricks, but my point is that only the Maoist party has the nationwide network, resources and a willpower from the very top leadership to use such tactics as their main strategy).

Why did Baburam resort to such tactics at his home turf? In 2008 elections, Gorkha was a scene of violent activities by the Maoists. The opposition were treated very harshly and their activities were obstructed by the Maoists. This time was not very different either. Baburam is not known for believing in democratic values or for being a kind and understanding man. He is one of the strictest ideologues in his party, and he would rule the country with an iron fist, if he could (well, he tried, while he was the Prime Minister). He won the 2008 elections by securing the most number of votes by any candidate in Nepal. In fact, it is said that he got more votes than there were voters in that area. The total number of voters in a revised voters-list of in his area is less than the total votes he got last time. That was a record victory, and being the self-obsessed megalomaniac that he is, he’d not want to be seen as less popular this time around. That explains why polling centers at his constituency have been captured. Prachanda, his main competitor in the party, would not want to be left behind.

What would the results be like?

Given that the polling has been encouraging (if after all reports are in, we get a different picture, then its a separate story), my prediction of a clear majority for the Maoist party needs to be revised. Please remember that a peaceful polling day does not guarantee a free and fair election. With the amount of irregularities, reports of vote buying, explosions, intimidation, and violations of code conduct, most of the election can be decided much ahead of polling day. That’s what I discussed in my previous post. This post assumes that despite all such threats, and intimidation, the voters made it to the polling station because they are desperate to make their make choices that can reflect the mood of the nation in results.

What was observed regarding the general mood of the people remains true, and was evident in the large numbers that thronged the polling centers. There were casualties and bombs hurled at kids in the streets of Kathmandu. But people seemed to be very keen on casting their votes.

However, just before the polling day, we got reports of several irregularities. Two days before polling, the official campaigning period ended and every candidate was supposed to remain silent. However, Baburam Bhattarai was seen campaigning villages in Rupandehi (this is the second place he’s contesting from). We even got reports from Rupandehi itself that his team was offering cash (ranging from NRs 2,000 at some places to NRs 10,000 at some places, per vote) to people in some villages there. Such activities by the Maoists in some areas of Kathmandu and outside have already been mentioned in the previous post. There were also reports that the Maoists were offering cash to anyone who would produce picture-proofs from inside the polling stations. The Election Commission was quick to announce that it would not allow cell phones or similar devices inside the stations. A national television station (ABC TV) which is reportedly owned by some Maoist leaders, was ordered to shut down by the Election Commission because of its blatant and excessive violation of the election code of conduct. The TV did not oblige and kept broadcasting Maoist propaganda material.

Expecting brighter days ahead: It was a clear polling day in Kathmandu (picture: Rajesh KC @phalano

Expecting brighter days ahead: It was a clear polling day in Kathmandu (picture: Rajesh KC @phalano

Guesses

I’m not using any scientific method here, just trying to guess. It is just a gut feeling, and is very likely to fail. But just because the echo-chamber would later reprimand us for doing so, we should not feel deterred to publish our guesses.

I think that it will be difficult for any party to gain majority, especially because of the proportional voting system in Nepal. Given the general mood, I’d think the Maoists would get less seats in the FPTP (first past the post) voting system compared to their seats from 2008 elections. I’m just making a wild guess here, but I’m inclined to think they’ll have less than 100 seats, maybe even 80. Maoists may perform better in the proportional system though and make up for the lost FPTP seats. It has been assumed that the proportional voting will yield many surprises this time.

During last election, RPP-N, a pro-monarchy party that got enough proportional votes for only a couple of seats is said to have performed well in this election. The politics of ethnicity that was escalated by the coalition of Maoist and Madheshi parties is said to have angered many voters and they could register their protest votes by voting for RPP-N, a party that has been against republicanism. It’d be interesting to see whose voter base they have benefited the most from. The echo-chamber is saying that they’ll hurt the NC and UML, because, well they’re “rightist” parties. It could be possible (but not for the same reason), but Ushaft would make a proposition of the nature everyone fears making because the echo-chamber quickly gangs up and personally abuses anyone making it. I’d say that it is also likely for RPP-N to benefit from the Maoist voters in the proportional system. The Maoists, although they seem to be in the opposite end of the spectrum from RPP-N, have many times in the past tried to cozy up to the Royalists because, in their own words, “they are more nationalistic.” Given an opportunity, the Maoist party is the most likely candidate to team up with RPP-N, because their enemies have been common in the past (the democratic parties not close to the monarchy). I’d like to believe that the RPP-N, at present has more democratic credentials than the Maoists have, but they’d not mind getting a few extra votes from their secret admirers.

Nepal election results already decided


More info (22nd Nov): Followups to this blog post can be seen here: How was the polling day? and Citizens’ Statement about Maoists’ walkout from vote counting. I have made some revisions about my prediction made on this post on the blog post written after polling closed across Nepal, and the results that are coming out right now confirm the general mood in Nepal I had described in an earlier post.


This is the fifth post in my election-update series. The first one is here, the second one is here, the third one is here, and the fourth one is here. The first post contains the definition of the Nepalese “echo chamber,” a theme which will be referred to throughout this series. The third one describes how a lot of money and violence is being used right now to manipulate results. The fourth one describes the general mood in Nepal right now.


The world is used to seeing Robert Mugabe manipulate elections for his favor time after time, for decades now. The international community does not lack the expertise and experience to identify the rigging and manipulation of elections in places like Russia, Venezuela, or Iran. Still, it chooses to ignore the very similar tactics in Nepal. It chose to do so in 2008, when we were voting for our first Constituency Assembly (CA) Election. It is doing the same right now, as we are just one day away from voting for our second CA election. I will explain, below. This is exactly the reason for this blog-series from Ushaft. And this is also the reason for my prediction that the Maoist will garner a clear majority this time (I sincerely hope to be proven wrong on this one). Ushaft is perhaps the only one in Nepal making such a prediction right now (because the general mood in Nepal is very different- see post 4 for more). The echo chamber will come up with very accurate prediction of the election results after the results have been announced. The echo chamber likes to attack everyone who tries to make a prediction about the future, but Ushaft will take the risk and predict that the Maoist will win a majority seats, providing reasons for such a prediction.

Election fraud 2.0

The recording released only today says a lot. Maoist chairman Prachanda’s voice can be heard in this YouTube video. He is addressing a secret meeting of his party’s high level officials in Kirtipur, a town adjacent to Kathmandu. Prachanda is a candidate from a constituency there (he’s also a candidate from one more constituency in Southern Nepal). In this video, he repeatedly stresses that a loss in this election will “destroy everything for the Maoists” and that they “have to win in any case.” He tries to make his point across by repeating these in both a very emotional and threatening voice. He seems to imply that if they lose, it will be the end of the world for the party and its members. Further, he adds that they have to win by “hook or crook.” A popular saying in Nepal when one intends to get something done using any means possible is to say to win by all four means available: “Sāma, Dāma, Danda, Bhed,” roughly translated as “persuasion, bribing, violence and conspiracy.” Not only that, he explicitly describes how to execute this policy for the elections. He directs his senior officials that they should spend money and buy votes as much as possible. Prachands then directs them to “capture the voters” and make sure that the votes are cast in their favor. He repeats again that “simply do anything, but make sure we win at any cost.” The video is embedded here.

“We’re still at war”

Here’s the video mentioned above. Prachanda makes it clear to his people that they’re “still at war” and they’ve to continue the war until they win.

The full transcript of this tape, translated to English is available here.

By hook or crook

Anyone who has had the opportunity to observe the Maoist party and the ways of their top leaders Prachanda and Dr. Baburam Bhattarai (including the governments they led) would not be surprised by what they heard in the video above. They have waged the bloodiest war in Nepal’s history and caused suffering of incomparable magnitude to the Nepali people. Not only the level of our intellectual discourse, but also the level of our economy, science, education, and basic demands have been reduced to the most barbaric and insane standards set by the Maoist violence.

In a previous post, I have already predicted how and why the Maoist will win a majority seats in the coming election, despite the general mood being quite to the contrary. Although the breakaway Maoist faction (called Dash Maoist) are said to have been behind the series of election related violence in the recent days, Ushaft refuses to believe so. Not only have the Dash Maoist not accepted any responsibility for these events, their own purpose has always remained dubious (many suspect they are just the underground branch of the main Maoist party, called Cash Maoist). Only these two Maoist parties have the nationwide network, resources and the willpower to use violence to reach their goals. They, in essence command an “parallel state apparatus” consisting of their own army, police, court, business, industry, publication, intellectuals, and even loyal citizens. They own huge amount of resources and ammunition. It is only them who have the will and the reason to be so ruthless and sweeping in their actions as to be able to disrupt elections.

Ushaft does not like how only the Dash Maoist party has been blamed and held responsible for the election related violence. One has to blame the Cash Maoist party (of which Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda and Dr. Baburam Bhattarai are the leaders) together for what’s going on. After what has been known about their activities involving vote buying, intimidation and violence, it is only stupid to think that they are not part of this.

History repeats

Nepal’s radical forces (of which the Maoist party is the principle one) are one step ahead of everyone in the political game. Although they have not yet mastered the populist reform programs of other famous dictators, they have surely learned from their propaganda and intimidation tactics. They have applied these tactics while in power, even after they entered the peace process. They have distributed cash to their cadres and potential voters, threatened several independent voices and often silenced them completely (violence is not usually the last resort, it is a fate that awaits opponents of Maoists more easily in Nepal than in many authoritarian countries). They tried to intimidate the media and business community. They have learned from mistakes of other strongmen in the world and mastered new methods of their own.

The group of activists, writers, editors, and thinkers who constantly lobby in their favor (who I call the “echo-chamber” in this blog-series) has also succeeded in creating a favorable climate for them in the international arena. Nepal’s Election Commission has explained its helplessness in enforcing the election code-of-conduct (see fourth post for more), but the international observers are not bound by such compulsion. Nepal is not one of the former Western colonies and most local discussion here takes place in the Nepali language. Moreover, Nepal is not a big international player, and our internal news is rarely known to the outside world except through the language of this echo-chamber. This leads the international community to heavily rely on this group of people to make sense of what’s happening in Nepal. Through this blog-series, we’re trying to provide them an alternative and critical view.

Election updates: What is the general mood in Nepal right now?


More info (22nd Nov): Followups to this blog post can be seen here: How was the polling day? and Citizens’ Statement about Maoists’ walkout from vote counting. I have made some revisions about my prediction made on this post on the blog post written after polling closed across Nepal, and the results that are coming out right now confirm the general mood in Nepal I have described in this post.


This is the fourth post in my election-update series. The first one is here, the second one is here, and the third one is here. The first post contains the definition of the Nepalese “echo chamber,” a theme which will be referred to throughout this series.


Ushaft is probably the only one predicting a clear majority win for the Maoist party in Nepal’s upcoming election (just one day away). See my third post of this series for an explanation of why I think so. Many informed people who know the general mood in the villages and streets of Nepal are saying that it is difficult for the Maoist to repeat their success from the previous election. They are right about gauging the general mood in Nepal right now, but they will be proved wrong in their prediction that the non-Maoist parties will get ahead this time.

What is the general mood in Nepal
Reading my previous posts, it is not hard to understand that there are moral flaws in all major political parties in Nepal. However, ideologically, the biggest party UCPN-M is the only party that has time and again expressed its aim to overthrow the democratic system and establish a one-party dictatorship. It’s formal documents state that the war was one stage towards reaching this goal. The second stage, which they are in right now, is to “utilize” the multi-party democratic setup and ultimately destroy it. Good thing is that unlike foreign-observers of Nepal and the “echo-chamber” inside Nepal that is the main supplier of news and information for those outside, a lot of people inside Nepal are now aware of the Maoist plan. The Maoists have already led government at multiple times, held key positions and involved in several public activities since they decided to “pause” their armed struggle. The Maoists are one of the most corrupt political forces in Nepal, in all respects: morals, materials, practice, and ideology (for some more description, please see previous posts). They are unarguably the biggest violator of the election code of conduct right now.

The Election Commissioner, when he was asked about this, indicated that many violations had to be ignored for the sake of elections. This was exactly what happened during last elections. The Election Commissioner of that time has recently published a book, in which he reveals that many violations had to be ignored for the sake of elections, because an election right after the end of a war demanded some concessions to the force that had given up arms in favor of elections.

Voting during 2008 CA elections (pic: nbcnews.com)

Voting during 2008 CA elections (pic: nbcnews.com)

Echo chamber can fool outsider observers, but not the informed citizens of Nepal

The very brave civil society, an aware and watchful citizenry, with the combination of the vocal and largely independent media of Nepal (thanks to the democratic practice of post 1990, which despite the usual flaws of most post-1990 democracies of the world, had caused huge reforms in Nepal’s society) have not missed what has happened in this country in the past few years. As a result, even people who voted for Maoists last time have turned against them now. This is the general mood one can observe in districts, villages and streets. The support for Maoists has waned, and hugely. Last time, they were on the peak of their popularity, and even people like me voted in their favor for reasons I already mentioned in the previous post. The results of this mistake have been so harshly slapped on our faces that this time, very few dare vote just to give them “a chance” or for the fear that they might take up arms again and take the country many decades back by stopping progress and hijacking the civilized discourse in the society. Apart from those who would directly benefit from their win, the popular support for Maoists in the usually “undecided” and “neutral” voters has suffered hugely. The main beneficiaries are expected to be Nepali Congress and the UML. It is expected that the party that favors a reversing of course to bring back constitutional monarchy and a the title of a secular Hindu kingdom (RPP-N) would also make some gains.

Some believe that this is despite all the threats and violence the Maoist party is engaging in right now. People are so fed up and so motivated that they would brave all tolerable levels of threats and make it to the polling stations to make sure that moderate and democratic forces would take a lead this time, and correct the course of action Nepal has been on ever since the Maoists became the largest party after last elections.

(It is out of scope for this post to discuss the general mood in specific geographic regions and among ethnic groups of Nepal. But the general observation I described above holds generally across all strata of Nepalese society.)

Predicting the Future: Nepal Elections 2013


More info (22nd Nov): Followups to this blog post can be seen here: How was the polling day? and Citizens’ Statement about Maoists’ walkout from vote counting. I have made some revisions about my prediction made on this post on the blog post written after polling closed across Nepal, and the results that are coming out right now confirm the general mood in Nepal I had described in one another post.


This is the third post in my election-update series. The first one is here, and the second one is here. The first post contains the definition of the Nepalese “echo chamber,” a theme which will be referred to throughout this series.


We discussed in the past blogs the reasons you need Ushaft’s election updates on Nepal and how the echo chamber you may easily fall victim to loves predicting the past. We’ll try to predict the future here and not give in to the intimidation of the strong echo-chamber.

What’s going on right now?

We are only a couple of days away from the election. The breakaway faction of the Maoist party, better known as the dash-Maoist (for the hyphen in their name CPN-Maoist. The other faction is called the cash-Maoist for the enormous amount of wealth it has extorted) is actively boycotting this election. There were many rounds of negotiation with the party, but they did not become a part of the process. Initially, there were two kinds of views about them, but the second one seems to be gaining prominence now:

  1. it is just an underground arm of the Cash-Maoist party. This belief is emboldened by the fact that the dash-Maoists never registered as a party in the Election Commission. It has become harder for the Cash faction to directly involve in violence and deny involvement in it. Therefore, it might have faked a party-split in order to engage in violence, and also plausibly deny it.
  2. it is a genuine split-away faction but it was prevented from contesting the election by the Cash party. The reason being, if the Dash party participates in the elections, it takes away a large part of voters from the Cash party. Almost half of all MPs from the original party are now in the Dash party, and it is believed to have a strong organizational base, consisting of the core military units from the war.
Pre-election violence: a passenger bus was bombed by Maoists. A baby who was a victim is shown in picture (pic: ekantipur.com)

Pre-election violence: a passenger bus was bombed by Maoists. A baby who was a victim is shown in picture (pic: ekantipur.com)

During the last elections, the main sources of violence were: a) the Maoist party, and b) several underground armed outfits that were operating in the Southern plains of Nepal (called the Terai). Usually, the mainstream parties working in the Terai have some sort of working relationship with one or the other underground outfit (main parties like NC and UML + the Terai-based parties, but mostly the Terai-based parties). Some of these outfits are separatist, and demand the complete southern belt of Nepal to be carved out as a “separate country of Madhesis.” Madhesis are the main ethnic group of the Terai, with largest concentration in the Eastern Terai. Other parts of Terai are more densely inhabited by the Pahades (the hill dwellers), Tharus (the other plain dwellers), etc. By having such a relationship, they are able to use them for extortion, fear and violence when needed. In turn, they are provided shelter and protection from the state’s security arm. India is also said have a big role in protecting such outfits, like it did by allowing the Maoists to roam freely inside its borders when they were waging a war in Nepal (a recent book exposed how the Indian government and security-intelligence apparatus, together with a few intellectuals were in regular contact with the top Maoist leadership hiding in India. All this while both Nepal and India had labeled them “terrorist organization” and Nepal was fighting a bloody civil war).

This time around, the sources of violence have changed a bit. The breakaway Maoist faction has decided to “actively” boycott the election. Other parties like NC and UML are more active in villages than before (they were not allowed to campaign before) and have a weaker network of goons at local levels. The Terai-based outfits have remained silent so far. The only force with a nationwide network of armed and trained people capable of launching co-ordinated attacks and intimidation campaigns is the Maoist party (both the Cash and Dash faction).

Recent wave of violence
Last week has seen an increase in election related violence in Nepal. Before that, minor incidents caused by local goons of various parties were reported in the news. But our sources say that many other incidents have been unreported. For example, in Kathmandu-4, where the former Maoist army chief is contesting against a popular NC youth leader, there are news of vote-buying and voter-intimidation. As election day nears, such incidents are likely to increase. There have also been news about plans by Maoist to pose as members of other parties and involve in violence, in order to threaten voters, and discredit the other parties at the same time. Similarly, we have received reports from Siraha, where the Maoist leader Prachanda is contesting, of large-scale intimidation and voter-buying.

Chief of the former Maoist army, Pasang (pic: parakhi.com)

Chief of the former Maoist army, Pasang (pic: parakhi.com)

A series of violent explosions were reported last week. It is not clear who did them, and most blame the Dash faction. But a large number of such activities are targeted at non-Maoist candidates. This is panicking the voters who are likely to stay at home if such violence continues. The only party able to take advantage of this situation is the Cash-Maoist. The dash-faction has provided them a perfect camouflage to carry out their threats and destructive activities. As we have already mentioned, this is the only party capable of carrying out a nation-wide scale of such nature and with a cadre-base trained and used to such activities. If the election violence continues, voters of this party will line up at polling centers, while the voters of other parties will most likely stay home.

Prediction
It is amazing how fast the situation changes in Nepal. Until last week, when violence was more localized, this blogger was betting for a lead in elections for non-Maoist parties. However, because of the proportional voting system and a fragmented electorate, one wouldn’t predict a clear majority for any party. With the recent series of violence, it is as difficult as last time to make an informed guess. But as explained above, situations now increasingly favor a clear majority for the Cash-Maoist party.

Maoist party spokesperson and election candidate Agni Prasad Sapkota, who has been charged with murder and disappearance during the war

Maoist party spokesperson and election candidate Agni Prasad Sapkota, who has been charged with murder and disappearance during the war (pic: ekantipur.com)

It is also often said that the Maoist party will never allow elections to take place if they’re unlikely to win. Baburam Bhattarai (Cash Maoist number 2 in command), who was in power for long time, announced, cancelled and postponed elections for two times, buying time for himself before making way for an election-government. Not only that, he kept the Election Commission understaffed, slowing down key works like voters’ list and voter-id card preparation. As a result, chances of irregularity have increased even more. During last election, Baburam won a landslide victory in his constituency, where he had effectively banned other parties from campaigning. There was a huge turnout in his constituency, indicating irregularity. Sources from the region have confided us that even dead people and people living overseas cast their votes (meaning the Maoist workers forged their votes) for Baburam in that election. With an improved voters’ list prepared by the Election Commission this time, possibilities of such irregularity were made apparent recently. The number of voters for this election is less than last time by tens of thousands, including in Baburam’s area. Migration to other countries started long before 2008, and population in Nepal is increasing, not decreasing. But like with their armed-force (read post number 2 for how they’d lied to artificially inflate the size of their army), they had also largely inflated their voters in several districts.

Therefore, it is highly likely that the Maoist will escalate violence in the next few days or try to disrupt elections to the point of cancelling them altogether. They have also been very ahead of others in violating the election code of conduct laid down by the Election Commission.