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Courting of Rebel Outfit: What is the End Gameplan of PM Oli?

-Prof. Jeevan Gurung, SUNY Adirondack, New York

Nepal’s volatile political landscape is detrimental to the fate of Nepali people. Political developments in Nepal is shifting fast. Prime Minister K. P. Oli’s expedient move for political survival has driven him to make the ultimate deal with the proverbial devil- Netra Bikram Chand ‘Biplav. What does it mean for peace and prosperity in Nepali people’s lives?

Peace Deal ?

PM KP Oli has signed a peace deal with the violent Communist Party of Nepal (CPN). In a striking photo op, PM Oli is seen introducing CPN’s general secretary, Netra Bikram Chand ‘Biplav,’ who had gone underground for two years after adopting violent means for political ends. In the picture, Chand is seen waving to crowd of reporters and people, many of whom are busy taking pictures of this historic moment but what is not so clear is what this signing ceremony means for peace in Nepal. The expedient way in which this deal was reached doesn’t bode well for what is to come, for the agreement reads more like a capitulation by the government without any serious give-ins from Chand and his outfit.

Just last week, I had written an article in Nepalism (Read here>>) condemning the political wrangling between PM Oli and former PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, most specifically, because I felt that the instability meant the nation was taking its eye off the danger posed by Chand and his faction to the nation. At least, we now know that PM Oli had his eyes set on Chand. But then the nature of his eyesight on Chand was not so much to quash Chand’s outfit as it was to use Chand for his own political need. Nevertheless, Oli’s move has gotten the nation’s attention, and rightfully so. He has been able to bring Chand to sign a three-point agreement with the government. The agreement binds the government to lift the ban on Chand’s radical, violent Communist Party of Nepal, release all of their cadres who are in jail, and drop all cases pending in courts. In return, Chand and his party would disavow violence and use political process to further their goal. Chand’s expression of his commitment to peaceful politics during his first public appearance while standing beside Oli is a powerful image.

Oli must have let a sigh of relief after a number of setbacks. First, the Constitutional Bench of Nepal Supreme Court’s dismissed his unconstitutional plan to hold special election and weakened his fight against Pushpa Kumar Dahal, former Maoist leader and current leader of the rival faction of his own Nepal Communist Party. Now, Dahal is working to oust him through a no-confidence motion vote in the parliament. As such, Oli must have thought of his move to sign a peace deal with Chand a coup-d’état against Dahal. For Chand, a once loyal lieutenant of Dahal had formed his Communist Party of Nepal after accusing Dahal of leaving the “people’s war” halfway. Chand had vowed to complete the movement started by Dahal through carrying out a “unified people’s revolution.” Oli must have thought that having Chand sign a peace deal would make him more credible in the eyes of some wavering lawmakers, which would help his cause if Dahal were to force a no-confidence motion against him.

While there is no doubt that Oli is being applauded by his supporters, the fact is that this peace deal is nothing more than appeasement of Chand to secure his support so that it may bolster Oli’s position within his divided party. The agreement merely asks for verbal commitment from Chand. There is no demand that Chand and his cadres surrender their weapons. And Chand and his party hasn’t ruled out taking up arms again in future depending on how events unfold. As reported in The Kathmandu Post, A Central Committee member of Chand’s party had this to say: “He [Chand] has made all the issues of the party clear to everyone. He has expressed commitment to peaceful means of movement but [use of] violence will depend on how the state treats the party.”

No doubt, the agreement is being seen with some skepticism by other political parties. Nepali Congress spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma reflected his distrust of the agreement by tweeting: “When Prachanda came, he said some weapons were swept away by the river but when Biplav came, have all the arms been swept away? Where is the fourth point saying they will hand over arms to the state? The whole country wants the answer to this serious question.” Sharma here is referring to Dahal’s explanation for the surrender of relativel