Nepal has enjoyed a degree of political and economic stability over the last few years but a clash between a renegade party and the government could endanger the calm.
Netra Bikram Chand, popularly known as 'Biplav', has been quietly spearheading anti-state activities since the formation of his party, the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN), on November 24, 2014.
The party came into formation after the general secretary Biplav couldn’t bear to see his comrades Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda), Baburam Bhattarai, and Mohan Baidhya ‘Kiran’ deviate from the core values of the then Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).
Chand and Baidhya then formed a new party Communist Party-Maoist (Revolutionary) but the former quit citing differences in ideologies. Today these former Maoist rebels are now a part of different parties and ideologies.
The idea of revolution and skewed communism still attracts certain groups in Nepal. This has resulted in the country being ruled by a communist-majority party, but in essence, the pure idea of communism isn’t practised by anyone.
One thing that has prevailed in this country is the lure of delving into violence and overthrowing the status-quo authority. In the past, we have seen how monarchies and authoritarians were successfully overthrown.
Chand’s party cadres have been involved in several bombings in Kathmandu recently and also involved in the torching of Ncell telecommunication towers. The Nepal Communist Party government's arrests of CPN's cadres and even the killing of some was a reminder of the past when the Nepal Army and Maoists were in a turf war.
After a series of bombings at a telecommunication operator, Ncell, the Nepali government decided to ban the Chand-led party on March 12. Their violent activities, however, didn’t cease.
The Chand-led outfit has been involved in seizing land and houses belonging to different individuals; bomb blasts at corporations and individuals; torching ward offices; enforcing bandhs; extorting money from individuals and municipalities, and the killing of innocent people due to the bombings.
In short, the CPN party is repeating its own and former leaders' violent past. And the Nepal government, perhaps due to its past ties with the leader Chand, is unable to call them a ‘terrorist group’.
The government has resorted to hastily arresting party members (some killed). On the other hand, the Nepali government’s ban on the CPN party is against Nepal’s new constitution – it is unconstitutional to ban any political party.
The tit-for-tat between the government and the CPN is a threat to Nepal's newfound peace and stability. Over the past three years, Nepal has experienced sustained economic growth over six percent, and a reduction in poverty, and that is predicted to continue for a while in the near future.
Nepal's Human Development Index (HDI) is predicted leapfrog next month, and other indicators for growth are progressing. The latest report by Euromoney puts Nepal in a favourable place for economic growth and foreign investment. The study shows that survey contributors “have upgraded all 15 of Nepal’s political, economic and structural risk indicators this year, notably raising the score for government stability since the last legislative elections were held in 2017 and a solution was found to the political deadlock surrounding the senate electoral process delaying the government’s formation”.
With the CPN refusing to negotiate, Nepal's government must use its full capacity to curb their activities or else it risks derailing the new constitution and the newly established federal republic system in the country.
The curious case of Nepal facing one so-called revolution after another has become fatal for the country’s overall development. The only two things that the country hasn't experimented with yet are army rule and foreign intervention. The latter is almost impossible, but the former is a possibility.
The collapse of the current ‘partial democracy’ in Nepal and its newfound stability through the federal republic system could result in army rule. With corruption persisting, modest development rates, and a dissatisfied public—the indicators point to a future where Nepal moves towards becoming a 'failed state'.
But there is hope.
Nepal's government is set to rule until 2022 with a two-thirds majority in the parliament. The broad mandate means the NCP has a golden opportunity to maintain the stability the country currently enjoys provided it can counter the aggressive CPN.
Every conflict bears a double-edged sword, and this time the new Maoist outfit might be following the footsteps of Icarus in Nepal, albeit not promising to reach those heights. Their threat, however, cannot be underestimated.
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