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Nepal Update No. 12: Sher Bahadur Deuba taking over as Prime minister

 

Note No. 130                         24.07.2001

by Dr. S. Chandrasekharan

Following the massive attack by the Maoists at Rolpa and losing support from within his party, G.P.Koirala tendered his resignation finally on July 19. The transition was smooth with Sher Bahadur Deuba taking over as the new Prime minister. Deuba has been a prime minister before for a short while and as he belonged to the Bhattarai camp it is expected that the Nepali Congress will close their ranks and face unitedly the major problem looming large in the country- the Maoist menace. But the question is, will they?

Koirala gives up: It was on March 16, 2000, G.P.Koirala took over as Prime minister after forcing K.P.Bhatarai to step down.  From then on, the internal feud between the two leaders continued to trouble the party and Koirala’s insistence on heading both the party and the government divided the party further. A few days earlier, Koirala’s close and loyal associate Ramachandra Paudel, the deputy Prime minister resigned his post. Paudel admitted of differences with Koirala on the Maoist problem and Koirala’s greed for power in continuing. Then came the most serious incident at Rolpa on July 12 when Maoists attacked a post and took seventy policemen as hostages.

It is said that Koirala had made up his mind to resign after the incident but wanted to do so after getting the Policemen rescued. To his credit it should be said that he finally succeeded in getting the army into the act which he had been pleading with the late King for many months. He had told his friends and well wishers that ultimately the army has to come under civilian control and if need be, he will not mind causing a constitutional crisis on this score.

Sher Bahadur Deuba as Prime minister: Sher Bahadur Deuba who has been elected as leader as the Parliamentary leader is comparatively young and competent. Though he was perceived to be from the Bhattarai camp, he is fully aware that the party has to be united in facing the many problems the country is facing. After all G.P.Koirala was his mentor in his earlier days and it should be possible to make up with him. It is hoped that, starting from the formation of his ministry to other major decisions, Deuba takes the advice of both the elders Bhattarai and Koirala. Then there is the Palace angle. Koirala was never trusted by the Palace. Deuba has no such baggage to carry and it should be possible for him to deal with a King who is more assertive and intrusive and carve out a working relationship.

Maoist Menace: Perhaps the most serious internal political problem that will be faced  by the Deuba government is the armed Maoist insurgency. In one of our earliest papers (paper43.html) of 20th March 1999, we had indicated that the Maoist problem "needs to be checked lest it grows into an insurgency movement affecting the security of both Nepal and India." We had also produced a map of Nepal repeated here wherein we had indicated areas, most affected, affected and less affected. (Note 112.html). 

Since then the situation has worsened with districts like Gulmi, Baglung, Syangja and Tanahu could now be added as "affected areas’ while Gorkha district will have to be included under "Most affected" areas". 

What is now happening is that the strip of area between the base of  Siwalik range and the plains which, incidentally, is also the route taken by Mahendra Rajmarg, is also affected right along. Traditionally this area has always been influenced by the leftists like the UML who have now joined the political mainstream leaving the space for the Maoists to take over. From the map it could be seen that the Indian border is not too far. So far the Maoists have generally avoided attacking Indian installations or taking Indian hostages. But this cannot be taken for granted.

Nine Maoist parties and organisations of Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have formed a Coordination Committee of Maoist parties and organisations of South Asia with the objective of "unitedly fighting against the US imperialism and the Indian expansionism and rendering successful ...movements for the establishment of new people's rule in South Asia."  It is unlikely that the Maoists parties could coordinate incidents all over South Asia in the near future, but the objective is there.

Press Reports indicate that both sides have agreed to a cease fire from today: After another nasty incident yesterday in western Nepal, the Maoists and the Deuba’s government have announced a halt to all operations. The cease fire is just the beginning and there are many hurdles. The Maoists are also coming to the negotiating table from a position of strength. Deuba needs all the support from his colleagues, the opposition and the Palace to tackle the grave situation facing the country.

A list of incidents since the last update is given below.

Date: Incident

June

26   In Jhapa, the insurgents abducted Shyam Sunder Yadav, a NC leader and Chairman of the Khajuragachhi VDC, and his two brothers.

27   Two policemen died on the spot and eight others sustained injuries in the course of an exchange of fire between the police and the Maoist insurgents at the Panchmule Area Police Post in the Dang.

In Sindhupalchowk, the Maoist insurgents looted Rs 737,000 in cash from the branch office of the nepal Bank Ltd. at Melamchi. The insurgents also snatched two guns and all ammunition from the bank guards.

28   The bomb Disposal Squad of the Royal Nepali Army safely denoted three of the four bombs wrapped in red pieces of cloths and hung on a banner tied to two electric poles at Machhindra Bahal near Indrachowk in Kathmandu. One policeman was injured when one of the bombs exploded in the course of efforts to diffuse it.

29    The insurgents killed Shyam Sunder Yadav in Jhapa. They, however released his brothers.

Five policemen were killed in a Maoist assault at the Tekre Police Post in the Arunodaya VDC of Tanahu. The insurgents destroyed the police post, and looted arms, ammunition and communication equipment. They also destroyed four adjoining buildings of the Agriculture and Livestock Services office. One of the policeman was reportedly killed after his surrender.

July

2    In Bhaktapur, the insurgents set fire to the Pari Carpet Factory at Kaushaltar, causing a loss of about Rs 5 million.

In Jajarkot, the insurgents abducted the Chief and the Ranger of the District Forest Office.

Three Maoist insurgents were killed in an encounter with the police at the Syuna VDC of Kalikot. The police arrested one insurgent and also recovered some arms ammunition and documents from the site of encounter.

3    Two bombs tied to a banner were similarly diffused at Tahachal, Kathmandu.

A bomb explosion at the Balaju Apparels (P) Ltd., located inside the Balaju Industrial Estate in Kathmandu , caused damages worth about Rs 2.8 million.

The Maoist insurgents raided the Kusma police Post in Banke and killed one policeman and one 12 year girl, and abducted 11 policemen and 2 civilians.

The insurgent abducted 21 policemen from the Khungi Village of Rolpa .

4      In the morning, the Maoists exploded a powerful bomb outside the premises of the official residence of the chief Justice at Baluwatar, Kathmandu, causing minor damages.

The insurgents also bombed a bus belonging to the Janak Educational Materials center in Bhaktapur

The NCP claimed responsibility for the bomb explosion at Baluwatar, Kathmandu targeted against the anti-national Girija Faction.

A bomb exploded near the statue of King Birendra at the Birendra chowk, in Itahari, Sunsari.

5     Banner bombs were diffused by the police at Several Places in Kathmandu including Basnsagopal, Bhurungkhel, Gatthagar, Sallagnari in Bhaktapur, Nakambahil in Patan and Baluja in Kathmandu.

The insurgents blew up a telephone tower at Devisthan in Annapurna Conservation Area project in Sardikhola.

In Sindhuli, the Maoist looted voters Identity Cards being taken to Jarayotar VDC for distribution

6     41 policemen were killed and several others were injured when the Maoists insurgent attacked three Police Post in lamjung, Nuwakot and Gulmi districts.

At the Bichour Police Post,in Lamjung 22, policemen including one Inspector were killed .

At the Taruka Police post in Nuwakot,10 Policemen were killed after exchange of fire for 6 hours.3 policemen sustained injuries in Maoists ambush.

In Kathmandu, several Banner bombs were diffused including Bouddha and Budhanilkantha.

The insurgents attacked a power station at Panchkhal and destroyed property of Rs 700,000 and some documents.

7     The NCP (Maoists ) Chairman claimed that the Maoists side also confirmed 9 casualties. A time Bomb went off in the Bhimsen Cinema Hall of Madhyapur Thimi destroying the projection room. The insurgents exploded a bomb at the Yeti Fabric Textile Factory in Bhaktapur.

In Gorkha the insurgents exploded three bombs outside the premises of District Police Office.

A vehicle belonging to the National Constructive Company of Nepal was set of Fire at Itahari, Sunsari.

In Arghakhanchi, the Phudbang based office of Small Farmers Development Programme was set on fire.

8     In Jhapa, the insurgents looted about 70,000 from two tea estates.

9     In Ramechhap one policeman was killed and 6 other were injured in exchange of fire with the insurgents at the Dhobidanda Area police office.

10    The insurgents abducted 10 policemen and in Dang Shot dead SSP Parmeshwar Singh.

The insurgents set fire to four buses of Modern Indian School in Kirtipur. They also hacked to death Narayan Salyani, lecturer in Dang.

11     A bomb was exploded near the house of the PM’s daughter, Sujata Koirala damaging  the compound wall.

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