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” (

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 ( In reality, Koirala took oath one day ahead of that day, on the 28th (

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: (

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.


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


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:

Voting during 2008 CA elections (pic:

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:

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

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:

Chief of the former Maoist army, Pasang (pic:

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.

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:

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.

Nepal Election 2013: Background Information

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

It is easy to predict the past. That’s the favorite hobby of most people you’re used to reading from Nepal. The predictions of the 2008 election results is an interesting case. Initially, many people including this blogger were led to believe that everybody in Nepal was a complete fool (except the echo-chamber, of course) who had no clue about what was going on in Nepal’s villages and streets. Many people had predicted that the Maoist party would not be the largest party, but they turned out to be, in an election that was declared free and fair. Some others, especially the echo chamber this blog-series hopes to provide you an alternative for, were cleverer. They have been predicting the 2008 election results ever since it ended, to this day.


What really happened in 2008 elections?
The Maoist party was a new party, fresh into electoral politics. They had waged the bloodiest war in Nepal’s history that killed thousands, displaced many more, amputated tens of thousands, and left a long lasting psychological scar in the Nepalese society. But they had a certain appeal. I have admitted already that I cast one vote in the 2008 election (one can cast two votes: one for the candidate and one for the party, because of the proportional system) for the Maoist party. Their leaders repeatedly threatened (once in a public BBC Nepali service interview of Baburam Bhattarai) that they would be forced to take up arms again if they were not given enough votes. There was some attraction towards them because other parties had failed in delivering good governance, development and prosperity but had instead nurtured a system that favored corrupts and the ones near and dear to themselves. The Maoists had promised they’d be different and although their ways never suggested so, many people were ready to give them “one chance.”

By showing good bargaining skills, and taking advantage of the competition between other two big parties the Nepali Congress (NC) and the Communist Party- Unified Marxists’ Leninists (UML), the Maoists were able to squeeze a lot of discounts for themselves. Not the least of which included them being able to go to elections with their guerrilla army still in place, paid for by the state and legitimized by the United Nations which was tasked with monitoring the guerrilla’s temporary camps. During the war that lasted for more than a decade, the Maoist army had killed, silenced or driven out many grassroots activists, social workers, intellectuals and opposition party members. They had a large arsenal, and although the UN pretended to take care of them, Prachanda (the Maoist supremo) openly stated that they were hiding many weapons. Many hidden weapons have been found at multiple instances after 2008, with a large collection surrendered to the army only a couple of months before. The Maoists are also considered to be many magnitudes richer than other parties. Initially, they extorted almost everyone who had an income and hadn’t still fled the country of their fear. Then there were bank-lootings, kidnapping for ransom, extortion from businesses and foreign missions (many industries and aid programs in remote parts had to be closed because of this). This did not stop after they entered the peace process. Instead, in addition to their guerrilla force, they started a para-military force named YCL (Young Communist League) that continued war-time kangaroo courts. Impunity was so high that the YCL dragged a businessman, who was allegedly corrupt, to the main park of Kathmandu to set an example of him. The situation in villages, where the scrutiny of media and outside observers is absent, was many times more appalling. Before the elections, they continued to prevent other parties from campaigning in many parts of the country and used all means like muscles, money and muzzles to get votes for them.


In such a situation, predicting the results of election is not easy. The main criticism has been that the “opinion of a small group of people” can’t predict the results. Election predictions are always made by using a small random sample from the population. But when the situation is as complex and horrible as mentioned above, predicting the future is not easy. But predicting the past is all some are so fond of.

Money, Muscles, and Muzzles
There is a famous video from 2010 of the Maoist supremo proudly explaining a closed meeting of his cadres about how he was able to inflate the size of their guerrilla army by more than 3 times. The UN mission (mentioned above) was hand in glove with the Maoist in all this. They “verified” the inflated army and the government had to pay for them and take care of them for about five years. It was only last year that the guerrilla army was finally disbanded, but it was not without the Maoist touch of superlative to it. It is perhaps the largest corruption case in Nepal’s history. The money government was paying for the members of Maoist army (or so it was thinking) was embezzled by the top leadership of Maoist army and party. Allegedly, the highest ranked people in their party and the army was involved. In a Maoist meeting last year, workers who came from the villages threw chairs and stones at their own leaders because they were enraged by this state of affairs. Apart from extorting from Nepalese, they were supposedly taking money from foreigners too. The hidden link between Maoists and Indian intelligence services has long been a subject of public knowledge in Nepal. But a couple of years ago, a recorded phone conversation was leaked in which one of their senior party members was accepting a large sum of money from a Chinese businessman. Some other aspects of the party of new millionaires has luckily been covered elsewhere.

Baburam Bhattarai and Hisila Yami (picture:

Even today, Maoists are the party with the deepest pockets, strongest muscles and a lot of deadly firepower. The state of the biggest opposition party, Nepali Congress, was revealed recently in a news article which stated that the party’s chairman had difficulty funding his own election campaign.

Some Complexities
This is not to suggest that all other parties are clean and good. Before the Maoists started their war, the Congress used similar tactics in elections. One difference was that the role of guns was only a fraction of what it is now. They misused the state police and hired local goons to threaten opposition. The party which derives its ideals from BP Koirala, the late Gandhian and Marxist, and one of Nepal’s original political thinkers, angered the weak section of the population. This, added with poor governance, corruption and many problems common to the nascent democracies of the post-1990 era, fueled the Maoists’ hate propaganda and ultimately the war. The other opposition party, UML (which in the 80′s was as radical as the Maoist are now, but has since 1990 adopted a principle of democracy. Recently, there have been attempts inside that party to get rid of the “communist” ideals altogether, and re-brand itself as a Marxist-socialist democratic party), had a brief stint in leading a single party government with popular programs. During the Maoist war, it also played a big role in the deterioration of the democratic practice in Nepal, with active participation in corruption and disregard to many crucial problems.

Congress President Sushil Koirala (picture:

However, it should be noted that these parties have in some ways atoned for their past crimes. As the Maoist war started gaining strength, both these parties’ organizational base was severely damaged, with many grassroots activists, teachers and party-workers being displaced, killed or silenced. Many would like to hear a clear apology from them and a realization of their responsibility and the amends they have to make. During the past election, there were hints to this effect, with some of their leaders saying they will not repeat their mistakes. Many of their top leaders were defeated in the election and people seemed to be happy about it, because it seemed like punishment.

Ready for more?
With this much of background information on Nepal’s most recent politics, you are now equipped to understand all the more complex events surrounding the upcoming election. More on that in my next post. Stay tuned.