The Rebel Road…

I know you’ve come to kill me. Shoot, coward, you’re only going to kill a man. – Ernesto Che Guevara

End of Nepali monarchy.

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Nepal is a small mountainous region located between two giant nations, namely India and China. As one would imagine, at least one of these countries would play a major role in the sustenance of such a small country and this has left India in a powerful position to dictate policy to Nepal. This is especially true in reference to the obstruction India creates in the building of important hydroelectric dams which promise to bolster Nepalese industrial activity but leave India high and dry, figuratively speaking, since the dams would block water that eventually ends up in the Indian lowlands.

Another major consequence of this, decidedly, Indian tilt is that the Hindu monarchy – the principle political centre of power up until recently, enjoyed a long and relatively languid control over the reins of the country. This trend, however, was challenged in the early 1990s with the emergence of the anti-monarchy movement, which struggled to overthrow this retrogressive force. This movement, led mainly by democratic groups within the country, was inadvertedly helped out further when Crown Prince Dipendra, in a drunken rage, murdered many members of his family, including the then King, King Birendra – his father – and left his uncle, the present King Gyanendra, as the political head of the nation in June 2003. Upon coming to power King Gyanendra – who is famous for having said that ‘democracy and progress contradict one another’ –imposed an emergency and revoked all human rights in the country in February 2005 – firmly establishing him as an absolutist monarch. This move only served to consolidate his opposition further when a new and rising power joined the struggle – the Nepali Maoists in the form of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists), a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist organisation led by chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, affectionately referred to as Comrade Prachanda by his party members. The guerrilla movement of the Maoists was launched on February 13th, 1996, and intensified manifold with the support of both citizens as well sympathizers in the democratic movement. The Maoists’ guerrilla war against the monarchy succeeded in not just bringing the monarchy to the negotiation table but also to its knees. As a result of these negotiations, earlier this year, the Nepali Maoists entered the government with a specific set of demands. These demands were, interestingly enough, not predominantly socialist, rather were bourgeois democratic in nature. Other than the main demand of the abolition of the monarchy, these demands still contained many social elements such as the stress on health, education, employment, equality of opportunity, emphasis on industrial development, etc.

Though the Nepali Maoists left the government alliance in September over differences on the abolition of the monarchy and its replacement by a democratic republic, today cooler heads have prevailed and the peace process is on the right track once again. Furthermore, the most important demand of the Maoists out of their 23-point agenda, i.e. the formal abolition of the monarchy has been passed in the Nepali parliament with a two-thirds majority and Nepal is all set to make the transition to a democratic republic once the new constituent assembly to be elected in mid-April meets for the first time. The Nepali Maoists have embarked on a unique experiment of abandoning their guerrilla war in favour of a peaceful political dialogue. It remains to be seen what the future of this experiment holds for Nepal.

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