The ongoing intense negotiations on the contents of the future constitution and the commendable progress that political leaders have made so far markedly raised hopes that the constitution will get promulgated by May 28, the day the Constituent Assembly’s term expires. The promulgation of the country’s new constitution ideally means that the key political issues concerning the people, state and the structures of the state have been settled amicably and the country is poised for a period of political and social stability and notable progress.
But that’s just the ideal. Developments taking place away from the negotiating table, and in some cases beyond the realm of formal, legitimate political players (who were duly elected and sent to the constituent assembly by the people) indicate that matters will be far from settled even after the constitution is written and promulgated.
We are not talking here about people or groups who will potentially be unhappy with the upcoming constitution and who may express their dissatisfactions-- even engage in protests—while keeping within the limits of the law. It’s fully understandable that not each one of us will fully agree, let alone be happy, with the future constitution, and it is perfectly okay if some of us want to protest against it peacefully. We are talking about groups that are threatening to totally reject the constitution, have some capacity to do so, and if necessary, can even protest violently.
Some leaders of disparate groups among the Limbus, Tharus and Sherpas have publicly threatened to take up arms if their demands are not met by the constitution. It’s not possible to address each of those demands, not just because some of them are outright ludicrous but also because they conflict with each other. Addressing the demands of one group will automatically anger some other group or groups.
And then there is the Baidya faction among the Maoists. It is showing serious resolve to fight against its own party and the political settlement reached on the future constitution. The radical Maoists, who lobbied hard but unsuccessfully within the party for an urban revolt, believe that the emerging political settlement is a farce and a betrayal of the revolution. This group hasn’t said publicly or explicitly that it will take up arms. But look at its preparations and the radicalism that prevails within it and it’s not hard to see that it will try to unleash violence to press its political agenda.
The group on Monday announced the revival of People’s Volunteers, under the leadership of Netra Bikram Chand. People’s Volunteers was first formed a year ago when the Maoists were flirting with the idea of an urban revolt. That the Baidya group has now roped in former hardcore PLA fighters for the volunteers’ group clearly shows what they are up to. All these developments, ominous as they are, once again raise the specter of violence in Nepali politics.