Since 2005, Prachanda, the leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), has become a lovable mascot of the liberal elite of thecountry----particularly in New Delhi. They see nothing but positive in him. His pre-2005 record has been forgotten---- the brutal massacre ofinnocent civilians in different parts of Nepal by the well-trained, well-armed and well-motivated insurgent army raised by him, his contactswith the Shining Path guerillas of Peru, his role in helping the Maoists in India, particularly in Andhra Pradesh, his fulminations against India,particularly against the Indian Army, his devotion to Mao Zedong's Thoughts, his raising of his insurgent army with the cladestine support ofthe royal family in order to use it against India, his turning the insurgents against the monarchy after having benefited ftom its largesse etc.
2. For the elite, he has undergone a remarkable metamorphosis. From a Maoist, he has become a Dengist---for whom pragmatism and notideological rigidity should guide policy-making. His fulminations against India stopped. He embarked on a charm offensive directed at Indiaand its elite. His supporters from the Indian elite welcomed him with open arms and took him round the corridors of power and the labyrinthof think-tanks in Delhi. They all hailed the born-again democrat, who wants nothing but genuine democracy in Nepal. He made it apparent inmany of his statements in Nepal that he would not consider democracy as genuine unless it enabled him to become the President of arepublican Nepal, but that did not sound a jarring note in New Delhi. The desire to encourage his seeming metamorphosis became thedriving force of policy-making and the negative comments emanating from him from time to time were overlooked.
3. Anybody, who drew attention to his pre-2005 past and urged caution in assessing him and his metamorphosis, was frowned upon andeven abused . I was, therefore, not surprised by the torrent of abusive and denigrating messages, which were triggered off by my earlierarticle titled "Valid Reasons For A Military Take-Over in Nepal." As if I had committed an act of blasphemy by writing that article.
4.Welcoming an insurgent movement into the political mainstream and integrating it in the mainstream is a delicate process, which has tobe handled carefully and gradually so that in our over-eagerness to achieve integration, we do not make the problem worse. We have a goodrecord of managing the process of integration. We did so successfully with the so-called Naga Federal Government (NFG) under IndiraGandhi as the Prime Minister in the 1970s and with the Mizo National Front (MNF) under Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Ministers inthe 1980s. Indonesia has recently embarked successfully on a similar exercise for the integration of the Free Aceh Movement.
5.Many issues came up during the long negotiations with the NFG and the MNF--- such as, their giving up the use of violence and acceptingthe Constitution of the country, the Government accepting their legitimate demands relating to greater political and economic role, therehabilitation of their armed cadres after they surrender their weapons and their participation in the elections.
6. Their participation in the elections, winning them and taking over power as part of an over-all peace settlement already arrived at beforethe elections came as the culminating stage of the process. Till the culminating stage, the negotiations were held between the Governmenton one side of the table and the insurgent leaders on the other side. The insurgent leaders were the negotiators of the process and not thedecision-makers. The ground rules for the integration were decided upon by the policy-makers of the Government on the basis of thenegotiations with the insurgent leaders, who had no role in finalising the ground rules and in implementing them.
7. The most difficult stage of the exercise is the integration and rehabilitation of the armed cadres as part of the process. All insurgentorganisations demand that their armed cadres be integrated into the Army or at least the security forces. We did not agree to integrate theminto the armed forces, but the Army was encouraged to make recruitment in the civil societies of the affected states to convince the peoplethat they had been accepted without any mental reservations as part of the national mainstream. Eligible cadres of the insurgentorganisations, who were not involved in murders or assassinations, were inducted into the local police and central police organisations.Alldecision-making was in the hands of the Government till the culminating stage.
8. In Nepal, the reverse has happened. Taking advantage of the popular uprising of 2006 against the widely-detested King , the Maoistsentered the coalition Government, which replaced a Government of royalist stooges, and started dictating terms as to how the integrationshould take place. They themselves became one of the policy-makers to decide on the process of integration. The integration is takingplace not on the basis of negotiations between the Government and the insurgents, but in response to diktats issued from time to time bythe Maoists in return for their continued participation in the Government.They are all the time giving out discreet threats that if their diktatsare rejected, they might quit the Government and revert to insurgency.
9. The holding of the elections to the Constituent Assembly before the ground rules for integration were agreed upon and the victory of theMaoists in the elections----significant, but not spectacular as projected by sections of the media--- have led to a situation where the Maoistswill be at the head of a Government which will take crucial decisions on the post-facto legitimisation of the terrorist infrastructure raised bythe Maoists and on the ground rules for the integration of their ideologically motivated and well-trained cadres. The moment the Maoistsassume leadership in the seats of power and decision-making, will it be possible to resist their demands?
10. If the integration of over 3000 ideologically indoctrinated cadres of the insurgent army into the Nepal Army comes about, we will have to the west of us an army ideologically motivated by jihadi doctrines and to the east of us an army ideologically motivated by Marxism,Leninism and Mao's Thoughts.
11. There are two possible scenarios--- these fears turn out to be baseless and Prachanda turns out to be a genuine democrat and agenuine friend of India or Prachanda after the elections turns out to be different from Prachanda before the elections and takes Nepal on aroad, which would be detrimental to our national interests.
12. While hoping for the first scenario, we must be prepared for the second.
13. Highlighting stark realities is not an act of blasphemy. It is an important component of threat analysis.(28-4-08)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com)