Babu Ram’s Exit Sends Ripples Political Credentials At Risk : Mukti Rijal
Dr. Babu Ram Bhattarai has not only quit the UCPN-Maoist party but also resigned from the legislature-parliament, confirming complete dissociation from active politics of the party and the state for now. The UCPN-Maoist did react with shock and diffidence on Babu Ram’s decision to relinquish his role and position in the party, to which he had been associated for the prime part of his political career. The politburo and the central committee that met to discuss the new and startling development in the party the other day urged Babu Ram to reconsider and review his decision. The key committee of the party even agreed with the views held by Babu Ram on restructuring, cleansing and transforming the UCPN-Maoist and initiating measures accordingly to reform the party. ConjecturesThe media is awash with comments and critique on the exit, and several conjectures are rife about his next plan. However, there are strong views and opinions against his departure from the party, arguing that the decision was ill-conceived and ill-timed. At a time when the nation is facing a crisis that has resulted by the unclaimed Indian blockade enforced with official connivance with the Madhesi agitating groups, the decision taken by Babu Ram is alleged to be completely illogical and non-cognizant of the existing reality characterised by the fluid and fragile political situation in the country. One may question the intent of his departure from the party and blast Babu Ram for choosing these critical hours to shock the party and the nation by announcing his disengagement from active party politics for now. Babu Ram has communicated to media persons that he would prefer to stay independent and non-committal for some time to study the contemporary national context and developments, interact with people from different walks of life and decide about the next course of action. Needless to say Babu Ram had been talking about the need of a new political force in the country for some time now, contending that the existing parties, including his own organisation, the UCPN-Maoist, given the inept attitude and obsolete ideological baggage of the leadership, could not lead the country, especially in the changed situation. According to him, the country has achieved profound political change and
transformation with consequent expectations and aspirations of the people for peace, prosperity and development. This calls for a new outlook, orientation and approach. This should be guided by fresh analytic insights into the current situation to chalk out a forward-looking ideology and strategy for the nation in the 21st century. Neither an unbridled market-based liberal economy with private corporate capitalists at the command nor dogmatic and orthodox communism with absolute state hegemony and control can provide answers to the challenges and needs of the contemporary world. A new way out has to be devised to ensure that the pitfalls and shortcomings of both the ideological spectrums are avoided and eschewed, wrote Babu Ram in a major article published in Nepal - a weekly newsmagazine published by Kantipur Publications almost a year ago. A new middle political road needs to be charted, drawing on the positive strengths of both sides of the political extremes, explained Babu Ram in the same article. It indicates that Babu Ram seems aware of the fact that orthodox classical communism propounded and practised by Lenin and Stalin has lost its fundamental relevance in the contemporary world where the thesis of class contradictions and violent revolution has few takers. In fact, in many countries, including Nepal, where a violent armed struggle had been waged in contemporary times in line with the Maoist thesis of a people’s war, the experimentation did prove to be futile. In fact, it was Babu Ram who had struggled within the party against the continuation of the violent armed struggle in the existing national, regional and global context, and had exerted pressure on the top leadership, especially on Prachanda, to take a definite turn towards the politics of peace and collaboration with the liberal democratic parties, including the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML. This resulted in the signing of the 12-point accord with the seven-party alliance led by the Nepali Congress and CPN (UML). As a consequence, the decade-long violent conflict was terminated. Though one can easily conclude that Babu Ram was not happy with his party and the
leadership, and was looking for an opportunity to ensure a safe and glorious exit from the UCPN-Maoist, why did he choose to take the plunge into uncharted territory at a time when the nation was confronted with the risk of interference from the southern neighbour? When a big majority of the people were euphoric over the promulgation of the constitution and celebrating the occasion with a great sigh of relief, he vented his reservation, if not ire, saying that the time had not come yet to greet the charter with jubilation. Babu Ram could be said to be true and forthright considering the aggressive protests and resentment expressed by the Madhesis and Tharus over the new constitution. But India’s unjustified and unwarranted blockade on the transportation and movement of essential supplies and petroleum products to lend support to the protests of the Madhesi people has crippled Nepal and made the life of the people difficult. This can be interpreted as unsubstantiated meddling in the internal affairs of Nepal. BetrayalThe ordinary people and independent intelligentsia who had reposed faith and trust on the integrity and patriotic sensibilities of Babu Ram feel betrayed. Unless Babu Ram comes clean convincingly to justify his exit at this hour when national solidarity and patriotic unity are needed, his desertion from the party is bound to undermine his integrity and credentials.