March 14, 2019 02:00 AM NPT
The government’s decision to outlaw Netra Bikram Chand (Biplav) led Nepal Communist Party can be debated in two ways. First, the government should not have restricted the splintered group of former Maoist party which fought together with other parties for abolition of monarchy from carrying out its ‘political activities.’ Second, the Oli government had no option for Biplav group’s violent activities were going on unabated. Both of these schools sound logical but they miss a larger picture. Biplav faction was going way too far with violent and rather terrorist activities. Its cadres were involved in bombing hydropower infrastructure, destroying telecommunication towers and injuring, even killing civilians. The government formed a team which invited Biplav faction to come to the negotiating table but the latter showed no interest to respond the government’s call, let alone coming for dialogues. Instead, it continued with extortion and forceful donation collection. The government was bound to take strong measures to tame the outfit that was increasingly presenting itself as a violent and terrorist group with no regard for peaceful politics and democratic norms and values.
The government outlawed ‘political activities’ of Biplav group on Tuesday. The government has a point when it says Biplav-led party became involved in criminal activities instead of behaving like a political party. According to this decision, the party could be barred from carrying out political functions and rallies and criminal charges can be brought against its leaders. In rural areas, Biplav’s supporters have been threatening to run a parallel government and are telling elected representatives to quit from their positions. They have held captive some elected local leaders and freed them to force them to quit politics. Something had to be done to make them behave like a political party. However, Biplav has claimed that the government did not propose talks with him. His group has accused the government of declaring war against them and threatened to retaliate with violent measures. This would be unfortunate for the country that is slowly taking steps to expedite development.
Biplav group still has time to renounce violence and behave like a democratic party. Following Tuesday’s decision, security agencies are cracking down on Biplav faction’s activities. Thus Biplav should immediately come to talks with credible political agenda, if they have any. So far, little is known regarding what Biplav wants. With federalism in full implementation, major political issue of the country has been resolved. What does Biplav actually want? If they have issues with corruption and lack of government accountability, and if this is what they also want to change, their agenda will find a wider public support if they raise it through peaceful means, instead of terrorizing people and targeting civilians. The government should also keep the door of talks open with Biplav group apart from continuing with the measures to force them to renounce violence. Nepal cannot afford to go for another round of conflict. The sooner Biplav group realizes this, better it will be for it and the country.