Personal Perspective: Reasons Behind the Maoist Party Unable to Rule the Country

Sunita Basnet
Posted April 15, 2011 from Nepal

To find the reasons, we need to go through the formation of UCPN (M), their manifesto and the popularity of the rebellions and their works after they won the elections so that we will have a better understanding of the situation. I will be focusing on these topics.

The Formation of Maoist Rebellion

The year 1990 is the most important year in the history of Nepal because sovereignty was in the hand of Nepali people which was possible through Pro-democratic movement, also known as people’s movement I lead by Nepali congress (NC). It provides rights for Nepali people to influence social, economic and political institutions in the state formation. Nepal also became a first constitutional Hindu monarchy and established a multiparty democracy with a bicameral legislation, an independent judiciary and a catalogue of fundamental human rights. As a result, many political parties start emerged after the movement

However, only five major political parties were elected in 1991 election. And they were from so called higher caste- Brahmin and Kshetry, which only consists of 28.54 % of the total population in 1991 and rests of the people were ignored. On the other hand, poverty cast, class and location inequalities were common in the country so people have hope that their elected leader will remove all types of inequalities and discriminations but the elected parties were overshadowed with corruption, nepotism and abuse of power. That is why; people were extremely disappointed with their elected leaders and highly politicized social, economic and political institution.

The Maoist party highlighted those issues that were neglected by political parties in 1996. The key point of Maoist manifesto was to address ethnic and gender interest through a federal system. It is estimated that almost 1 in 3 guerrilla were women and that 70% were from indigenous ethnic communities which were ignored by main political parties. The Maoist principles of rejecting conservative traditional practices such as the prohibition of gambling and control of alcohol consumption also attract people’s support. Moreover, UCPN (M) was the one who bring socio-economic and political awareness among people.

Instead of addressing the Maoist demands, the government of Nepal announced the “state of insurgency” to repress the UCPN (M).On the other hand, the main political party especially Nepali Congress and CPN (UML) used the Maoist party as a weapon. Telegraph Nepal interviewed with Govinda Raj Joshi (MP from Nepali Congress), says that “the demand that were presented by Maoist was clear but Nepali Congress and CPN-UML use Maoist against one another as a weapon instead of addressing their demands.” He also argues that the government pays no attention to the demands, which were possible and constitutional to solve the problems but the government ignored their demand and try to repress the Maoists activities and their party. Despites of state of insurgency, UCPN (M) spreads in whole country over years from their popularity.

By 2006, people started saying enough is enough; we want peace in the country because the causalities of the insurgency from 1996 to 2006 were extreme. There were a huge war crimes and crimes against humanities that were resulted from the insurgency. More than 13,000 people were killed and 2,028 cases of enforced disappearances took place. The government has also estimated that more than 200,000 people have been displaced because of the internal conflict and still those people are suffering (Adapted from government of Nepal).

This forced civil society organizations to give a pressure to the government and the Maoist party. Under great pressure of civil society organizations, there was a loose political coalition between seven party alliances and Maoist which held a peace talk in New Delhi. The alliances and UCPN (M) came to the 12 point agreement which later include UCPN (M) in House of Representative and draft an interim constitution which was formed by a new parliament. The cabinet also introduced 33% quota for women parliamentarians. However, the constituent assembly election which was held in April 10, 2008, did not include the introduced women’s quota in the parliament. The CA election elected 240 electoral constituencies on the basis of a first past the post (FPTP). Another 335 members were elected on the basis of proportional representation and more 26 distinguished contributors were selected from the cabinet. Previously, there were only 205 constituencies but now has been increased by 300%, which is unnecessary and very costly. This money can be used to build a school in Rukum or Rolpa, one of the undeveloped places in Nepal. Now the politics in Nepal has been a “job” for people.

Let me again continue from the election. Each voter had two votes, one for FPTP and another for PR. CA Election held but NC, CPN (UML), and UCPN (M) provide only 10%, 10% and 18% of women candidates respectively. The people show the democratic maturity by punishing the major political parties and leaders because for the failure of democratic system in 1990. The election became a big disaster for Nepali Congress and CPN (UML). Out of 601 members seat, 220, 110 and 103 was obtained by UCPN (M), Nepali Congress party and CPN (UML) respectively. It is said that Maoist party won the election because they had best understood the need for social and political inclusion where other political parties are unable. However, it is also said that there were many violence by armed group in the Terai area during the election. Although many political leaders were killed and some of them were threatened from unidentified armed groups, it was more or less under free and fair conditions compare to elections in south East Asia. Out of 17.6 million Nepali citizens (including Nepalese who are in foreign countries like me); 10.9 million Nepalese participated in the election where 54 different political parties were contesting in the polls.

Revolutionary Government Popularity

Nepalese have a high expectation from the Maoist party because they have a hope that they will take an initiative to do something uniquely especially to improve Nepali life in general and electing the Maoists and including them in the mainstream politics would bring “peace and development.” However, there were not any real solutions after the formation of Maoist government.

Let me tell you what happened after the Maoist won the election. Some of the Indians leaders were not satisfied with the result of the election. Immediately after the Maoist party won the election, there was an interview with Indian BJP leader Jaswant Singh by telegraph Nepal. He clearly says that “The coming to power of Communists in Nepal was in no way a good sign for India and this should be accepted”. Why the Maoist should be the problem of India if it is accepted by Nepali people? To answer this we need to go to the history of Nepal when India and Nepal had “trade treaty” in 1950. Maoist want to scrap the treaty because they think that it is unequal trade treaty and replace with new one because according to the treaty it says that “India recognized Nepal's right to import and export commodities through Indian Territory and ports”. When Nepal built military relationship with Beijing it was a violation of treaty. Additionally, Maoist party wants to review all other treaties that has been signed between Nepal and India

On the other hand, the complicated debates, bargaining and misunderstanding among political parties took priority during the government formation. The two major parties UCPN (M) and CPN (UML) started negotiating big ministry such as “defense ministry” and jostling for the post of ministries. It was the similar activities like previous government. Again people were extremely disappointed with their elected parties and leaders. In August Maoist leader Prachanda forms a coalition government with the help of five different small parties. However, Nepali Congress goes to opposition which became a big disadvantage for the leading party. Instead of practicing constructive oppositional politics, the Nepali Congress has sought to boycott every initiative of the government within the CA or in the various commissions.

Similarly, Nepalese politics has a culture to give first priority to visit India after electing as a prime minister. However, the UCPN (M) amend the culture and give first priority to visit China because UCPN (M) wants to improve bilateral trade relations with China rather than India. When the leading party visits to China, India didn’t like it.

Let me tell you about Young Communist League (YCL), which is one of the youth wings of the Maoist party. They became more anarchical after their party won the election. “Rule of Law” was misused and disobeyed by the group, although YCL rename their name as Young Democratic communist League (YDCL). Another disagreement and misunderstanding started in May 2009, when the prime minister tries to integrate People’s liberation Army (PLA) into Nepalese army (NA). Nepali Congress and the leadership of Nepalese Army opposed the integration. The army chief even disobeys order to stop the recruitment of new soldiers from the defense minister. Still the integration of PLA in NA is a hot debate.

After nine month, the revolutionary party left the government because of internal and external forces, monopoly of power and Indian imperialism were some of the main causes that forced UCPN (M) to leave the government, despite of UCPN (M) popularity.

This is the modification of the original paper written for the presentation on 'Peace and Conflict in Nepal' presented in South Korea.. published previously

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    Comments 6

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    Apr 20, 2011
    Apr 20, 2011

    Hi Sunita my dear! thank you for posting this article - i'm so much interested on this. I'm looking forward to read the second part of this.

    miss you and love you, Malaya

    Sunita Basnet
    Apr 27, 2011
    Apr 27, 2011

    Hi ,

    Its nice to hear from you after a long time. I am so much happy that you are interested on this piece. Hope you will be enjoying more .. Please also follow me in my blog...

    Hope you will enjoy...

    Tuula Fai
    Apr 26, 2011
    Apr 26, 2011

    Dear Sunita,

    This is an excellent article! I am traveling to Nepal this summer and find your political insight and analysis most helpful. What a fascinating look inside the politics of Nepal. I look forward to reading more ...

    BTW: Are you studying and/or working in South Korea?

    Sunita Basnet
    Apr 27, 2011
    Apr 27, 2011

    Hi Dear,

    Thanks for your time and effort you make to read this article. I am glad that you are visiting Nepal as we are celebrating tourism year in Nepal. I have just modified the article and hope it is more clear..

    Oh I am studying here and working at the same time. I have to teach undergraduate students about Nepali culture and language.

    Anyway. thanks alot and will love to hear more from you. BTW, when are you planning to visit Nepal?

    With love

    Tuula Fai
    Apr 29, 2011
    Apr 29, 2011

    Hi Sunita,

    I like your latest article, "Are International Human Rights Universal?" especially your example of contries like North Korea in which state power neglects human rights in the name of providing security or protecting citizens. My husband is from Hong Kong and quite familiar with that justification in his country of origin.

    Yes I am planning on visiting Nepal this June. I am there on a couple of journalist assignments, writing a story about the nuns of Kopan being given equal access to a classical Buddhist education (including the Geshe degree) and women's overall progress in Nepal in terms of equal access to education, career opportunities, health care, and shared household responsibilities, etc. I'd welcome the opportunity to ask you some questions about this topic.

    I see from your signature you are doing lots of exciting projects :-) I support you in all you are and do!


    Sunita Basnet
    May 01, 2011
    May 01, 2011

    Dear Tuula, Once again thank you so much for your time and efforts. There will be much more in the future and I hope you wil like it and learn some from it.

    I wish I could be there in Nepal so that I can meet with you. Waooo thats really an interesting project, I would love to involve in your project. Please feel free to email me the questions in my inbox or at [email protected] .. I will try my best you give you a real picture of Nepalese women.

    I would be pleased if you leave your comments in my blog as well.