‘From bullet to ballot’ seminar: Nepal minister Nidhi silent on deaths during Maoist insurgency
Bimalendra Nidhi, Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister in-charge of Home Affairs. (File)
Baburam Bhattarai, former prime minister of Nepal, former chief of ‘Peoples government’ when Maoists waged war against the state in the guise of a ‘revolution’, and presently the head of Naya Shakti Party’, is in Delhi to participate in a seminar ‘From bullet to ballot.’
Who could be more suited to be there than Dr. Bhattarai as he has used both bullets and ballots, benefiting equally from both. India Foundation, a think tank with proximity to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, is hosting the seminar in which Bimalendra Nidhi, Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister in-charge of Home Affairs, is another participant. Understandably, Nidhi narrated how Nepal has been a victim of ‘terrorist’ attack and lost many of its citizens in Kabul and Iraq, but not a word on the death of 17,000 people at home during the decade-long insurgency that began in 1996, with Bhattarai as an ‘ideologue’ and current Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal as the supreme commander of its guerilla wing as well as the party chairman. Nidhi was either being cautious not to offend fellow participant from Nepal in a foreign land, or he did not want to say anything that may create a problem for the political equation at home, as Nidhi’s Nepali Congress and Dahal’s Maoist Party, are the key constituents in the coalition government.
Bhattarai quit the Maoist Partly nearly fourteen months ago, but his role in human right violation and killing of political opponents during the year of the insurgency, frequently dominate in the social media debates to the extent of irritating him. Recently, he chided some of them not to rake up the issue, or his role during a very special chapter of Nepal’s history. The Maoist outfit was termed ‘terrorist’ organization by the government of Nepal, India as well as the United States of America, and many of the top leaders figured in the INTERPOL’s red-corner notice then. Bhattarai along with many senior leaders are being investigated by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for cases of gross abuse of human rights during the conflict.
Indian authorities – a fact revealed nearly four yeas after the event by current President and then Minister for External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee on January 27, 2009 – did play the role of a mediator in bringing Nepali Maoists to ballots.
How enthusiasts or reluctant that the Nepali Maoists were then to join the peace process or they simply could not defy the Indian authorities is still not known, but what Bhattarai and Dahal have repeatedly said was that they joined the peace and democratic process because they had realised in ten years that they would not be able to ‘capture powers with bullets’. There was a hostile international response to terrorism, and people supported the Maoists, more out of fear and terror than anything else. But Maoists succeeded in ‘capturing powers’ through ballots heading the government thrice since 2008.
But will the Nepali Maoists be able to inspire once their fellow Indian revolutionaries to shun violence and embrace the might of ‘ballots’? And secondly, will the Indian authorities who could influence the Nepali Maoists to renounce politics of bullets be as effective in their own
Yubaraj Ghimire is the Editor-in-Chief of Annapurna Post.