Fighting a war far easier for Maoists than fighting corruption
Nepal’s Finance Minister & Maoist Party leader Dr. Baburam Bhattarai has claimed that the Maoist-led coalition government has identified certain sectors, one being the tourism industry, which would boost national economy despite severe market crisis in the “capitalist world”. Dr. Bhattarai also blamed the nexus of political leadership, bureaucracy, and taxpayers for the high level of revenue leakage in the country. Similarly, Dr. Bhattarai advised private school owners to divert their capital from school education sector to other areas of entrepreneurship.
Nobody in Nepal doubts Dr. Bhattarai’s sincerity for the upliftment of people in the margins. In fact, during the time when Dr. Bhattarai was fighting his guerilla war with government forces, many people used to say, “How can the Maoists be wrong when people like Dr. Bhattarai lead them?” Dr. Bhattarai’s popular base became evident when he got elected in Constituent Assembly election defeating his opponent with the greatest margin in country.
However, as one columnist said, after three months in power, the Maoists must have realized that fighting corruption within state bureaucracy is far more difficult than fighting a guerrilla war against the state. Moreover, how would the Maoists justify the alleged involvement of their youth wing, the Young Communist League (YCL), in various abductions, tender-bid bargains, transport syndicate in western Nepal, and even in smuggling sand from Kathmandu valley rivers?
On the other hand, umbrella organization of the private schools has challenged Dr. Bhattarai to nationalize all private schools if he can. Similarly, members of Nepal’s Chamber of Commerce have accused Dr. Bhattarai of being “investment unfriendly” to meet the “ambitious” revenue target declared in his “ambitious” budget for 2008-2009. Despite all difficulties, the Maoists seem to enjoy popular support to carry out their socialist agenda, especially owing to increasing criticism against capitalism in the developed world themselves.
However, Defence Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa’s denial before the Assembly of the media reports that he had met the prime suspect of the Kathmandu businessman Ramhari Thapa murder case has once again put the Maoist Party sincerity in question. Defence Minister Thapa, despite labeled as a Maoist hardliner, certainly commands respect from a significant section of society. But not only the opposition party Nepali Congress, but Nepal’s trusted media persons who were the eyewitness of Mr. Thapa’s meeting with the alleged suspect, have refuted his claim as “totally false & misleading”.
At a time, when they have the crucial responsibility of managing their former guerilla army, and reach a deal with Madhesi guerillas, the Maoists better resolve their ideological confusion and work toward what Comrade Prachanda prefers calling “public-private partnership”.