[Diplomacy] Nepal Logjam (Part 1 of 3): Civil War, Peace-Deal, Constitutional deadlock, Frequent change of Prime Ministers

SubscribeDiplomacy31 Comments

IAS Mock Interviews
  1. During British-Raj
  2. From 60s to 90s
  3. The 90s system
  4. 1996-2006: Civil War
  5. India’s Nepal Policy: 2005
  6. Main Political Parties
  7. Constituent Assembly(CA)
  8. Why is there a political crisis/logjam/turmoil in Nepal?
  9. Why No Constitution?
  10. Taarikh pe Taarikh
  11. Pushpa Kamal’s Prachand “Dhamaal”
  12. Madhav Nepal’s lack of Dhamaal

During British-Raj

There was alliance agreement between British and Nepal King. Under which:

  • British Indian Army will recruit Gurkha soldiers from Nepal.
  • Nepal King will accept British “guidance” on foreign policy matters.
  • The British will protect Nepalese Kings against both foreign and domestic enemies and will not interfere in the internal matters / domestic affairs of Nepal.

1947: British withdraw from India.

  • Nepal King has no external source of support anymore.
  • Now the Anti-King forces led by Nepali Congress (NC) party, launched a revolution in 1950.
  • King accepted settlement, Constitution drafted, general elections held.

From 60s to 90s

  • The Nepali Congress (NC) party won majority, and formed the Government.
  • But there was frequent power struggle between the PM and the King.
  • In early 60s, the King dismissed the parliament, banned all political parties.
  • He passed a new Constitution- Now crown became the real source of authority.
  • This system continued for years, but in 1990 there was huge uprising and protests by people. (this is known as “First Jan Andolan”.)
  • Finally, King accepts multiparty parliamentary system.
  • New election is held, new Constitution is written.

The 90s system

  • It was more or less the same as British monarchy.
  • King remained the head of state.
  • King appointed the leader of the majority party in the lower house as Prime minister.
  • If there was no clear majority, King appointed a leader who enjoyed support of majority coalitional partners.

1996-2006: Civil War

  • From “outside” Nepal looks like a tourist economy but most of the tourism is confined to Katmandu valley only.
  • Because other places in Nepal don’t have much “infrastructure” (hotels, good roads, electricity, communication etc.)
  • Government’s policies hardly upgraded the socio-economic status of rural people.
  • Most of the foreign aid for poor, was chowed down by corrupt politicians and bureaucrats.
  • Ethnic division was becoming sharp. (Madeshis vs higher caste Brahman+Chhetris).
  • While the 1990’s Constitution provided for multi-party system, elections etc. But still the political power rested in the hands of elites, noble families of Nepali Congress (NC) etc.
  • These socio-economic issues led to rise of Maoists elements.
  • Finally in 1996, they started armed struggle against the popularly elected Nepali Government+ King.
  • Their “People’s liberation Army” took control over many rural and remote parts of Nepal, started seizing properties of rich peasants, holding kangaroo courts, murder, abduction, etc.etc.etc. you get the picture.
  • Maoists demanded following
  1. Abolish Monarchy.
  2. Frame a new Constitution for Nepal.
  3. Create a system of directly elected President.
  4. Divide Nepal into provinces according to ethnic lines.
  5. Redraw relations with India. (regarding border, trade, water sharing etc.)

India’s Nepal Policy: 2005

Since the beginning, India had supported Monarchy in Nepal, for two reasons

  1. To prevent Nepali + Indian Maoists forming alliance.
  2. Nepali Maoists wanted Nepal to become a secural country but certain section in Indian Political establishement wanted Nepal to continue as the only Hindu Kingdom.
  • But then Nepali Maoists, headed by Prachanda, contacted Indian Government.
  • They assured, “Support us and we promise not to create any trouble for India.”
  • Indian authorities made assessment of the situation in Nepal, and concluded that
  1. Most Nepalese people were against Monarchy and King Gyanendra.
  2. Maoists had sizable presence in Nepal.
  3. If we don’t support them, China will. And then we stand to lose. (for example, in future, when Maoist Government is formed, they’ll give all contracts to Chinese companies.)
  4. If we don’t support them, they’ll shelter Indian Maoists, further creating trouble for us.
  5. So better let’s help them get integrated into mainstream politics and democracy of Nepal. Then Nepali Maoists will be of no more trouble to us.

Under this assessment, India made a new Foreign Policy for Nepal in 2005. It involved

  1. Stop supporting the Monarchy and Nepal’s Royal family.
  2. Befriend the Maoists.
  3. Bring Maoists and pro-democracy forces together in Nepal
  4. Help establish democracy in Nepal.

At the end of this series, we’ll see Why India’s Nepal policy=#EPICFAIL.

  • Anyways, back to the topic,
  • The time is 1996-2006.
  • There is a civil war going on between Royal Nepalese Army vs. Maoists.

India and UN try to mediate peace.

2005The king takes direct control over Government, and dissolves parliament on the ground that popularly PM and parliament has failed curb Maoist menace.
2006
  • Lot of unrest and agitations by people, against King Gyanendra. (This is dubbed as “Second Jan Andolan/Loktantra Andolan”).
  • King Gyanendra succumbs to pressure and restores the parliament.

Now the (restored) Nepalese Parliament passes a law that

  1. King is no longer the supreme commander of Army. (that means. Army will work as per directions of PM and will not take orders of the King. This will facilitate peace deal with Maoists.)
  2. Declared Nepal a secular country, (no longer a Hindu Kingdom.)

Finally at the end of 2006, Maoists sign a Comprehensive peace accord with Nepal Government, under which

Nepal Peace Agreement

Signing of Peace Agreement between Government (L) and Maoists (R). (Nov.2006)

  1. Maoists and Nepalese army will stop operations against each other. They’ll stop new recruitment.
  2. Temporary Cantonments will be established.
  3. The Maoist combatants will stay in these cantonments.
  4. Both the Maoists and the Nepalese army will lock equal amounts of their arms in UN-monitored containers.
  5. Government of Nepal will provide food, ration and salary to these Maoist rebels residing in Cantonments.
  6. King will no longer enjoy his former political rights. His property will be nationalized.
  7. In long term, these Maoist rebels will be either inducted in regular army, or they’ll have option to accept financial assistance and lead a regular life.

In short, Maoists will stop violence, join mainstream.
Ok so far,

1990Constitution provided for multiparty system. (king appoints PM from the majority party etc.)
1996-2006Civil war between Nepalese army vs Maoists.
2006-07Peace accord.
2007
  • The interim constitution of 2007.
  • It replaced the previous 1990’s Constitution.
  • A Constituent Assembly(CA) was elected as per this interim Constitution.
  • This CA had to draft and deliver the new constitution. (by May 2010)
  • Then a new parliament will be elected as per the new constitution
  • Thus, elections are held under Interim Constitution.
  • And the Maoist party also participates in these elections.
  • But nobody gets absolute majority.
  • This leads to coalition governments.
Main Political Parties of Nepal
PartyImportant persons
Maoists
  1. Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka “Prachanda“
  2. Baburam Bhattarai
  3. Mohan Baidya “Kiran”
UMLMadhav Nepal
Nepali Congress (NC)Sushil Koirala.
Madhesi–unimportant–

Constituent Assembly(CA)

Recall how Indian Constitution was made?
Nov 1946
  • Constituent Assembly (CA) was created. (as envisaged in Cabinet Mission Plan).
  • It was made up of elected representatives + nominated members from princely states.
December 1946
  • First meeting of Constituent Assembly (CA).
  • Muslim league boycotts and demands for separate Pakistan.
1947
  • India becomes an Independent country.
  • Constituent Assembly (CA) becomes a sovereign-body with dual functions
  1. Carry out legislative functions (like a parliament.)
  2. Draft Constitution of India. (like a Constituent assembly).
1947-1949
  • The Constitution making process goes on.
  • Lengthy Debates, discussions.
  • Finally Constitution adopted on 26th November 1949.
1951-52
  • First General elections held, according to the provision of new Constitution of India.

So basically

  1. Constituent assembly has to deliver result. (=Constitution).
  2. And then fresh elections must be held according to that new Constitution.

Now the question is

Why is there a political crisis/logjam/turmoil in Nepal?

  1. Because their Constituent assembly (CA) has not delivered the result (=Constitution).
  2. So President of Nepal has dissolved the Constituent assembly (CA) and removed the Prime Minister.
  3. But President also asked the Prime Minister to continue as a caretaker Prime Minister.
  4. Problem: This Caretaker Prime minister is not holding fresh elections.

Next question: why has Nepal Constituent Assembly failed to deliver result (=Constitution)?

Why No Constitution?

The Constituent Assembly has failed to deliver a new Constitution for Nepal, because there is severe disagreement among various political parties.

#1: Presidential system vs Parliamentary system

Maoist Party members

  • We propose that Nepal’s future executive structure should be like this: “President directly elected by people. And he’ll have the ultimate powers”.
  • There will be a Prime minister, elected by members of parliament. But he’ll just hang around without much powers.
  • This will help, because in present system, no party is getting clear majority, so there is lot of political instability.
  • And coalition Governments usually don’t work well.

Other parties

  • Oh come on!! It is obvious that you’re proposing this to make Prachanda the “Dictator” of Nepal.
  • We don’t agree with this form of governance.
  • We propose the system similar to India= MPs will be elected by people. The leader of majority party will become PM.
  • At the same time, there will be a Ceremonial President with a certain powers.
  • This will be good for democracy because no single organ will have absolute powers.
  • In short we want Parliamentary system of governance.

Maoist Party

  • Ya if Parliamentary system provides for effective checks and balances then what about Indira Gandhi’s rule during 70s and the emergency??
  • How was that not a dictatorship?
  • We don’t accept this stupid proposal.
Everybody starts shouting.
SpeakerBeth Jaayiye, Beth Jaayiye. Kripyaa Shaant Ho Jaayiye. (sit down, sit down, please calm down.)

So, first disagreement is “what should be the form of government.”

#2: Federation on Ethnic lines

Maoist and Madhesi Parties
  • We want Nepal to be subdivided into provinces.
  • These provinces/states should be drawn based on ethnic lines. E.g. separate state for Madhesi people in areas where they’ve majority. And so on…
Other parties(Nepali Congress(NC), UML)
  • We don’t agree with this.
  • Over the years, there has been lot of internal migration in Nepal.
  • Similarly, there are marriages between many castes, so the social-demography is changing.
  • In this light, separate states based on ethnicity/caste = not good for unity of Nepal.
  • Besides, our vote bank consists of upper caste Hindus (Brahman, Chhetri etc.) and they’re opposed to this system since they don’t have clear majority in any area.
Everybody starts shouting. (again)
Speaker
  • Beth Jaayiye, Beth Jaayiye. Kripyaa Shaant Ho Jaayiye. (sit down, sit down, please calm down.)
  • So, second disagreement is “Basis of Federation.”
  • There are other disagreements over appointment of judges, whether judiciary should be completely autonomous or responsible to legislature, election process etc.
  • Over the years, they have not been able to sort out these differences in the Constituent assembly (CA).

Taarikh pe Taarikh

  • Constituent assembly (CA) was formed in 2008.
  • Original term: they were to deliver Constitution by May 2010.
  • They Failed to deliver Constitution due to ^above disagreements.
  • The term extended to August 2011.
  • Again failed to deliver Constitution.
  • The term extended to November 2011.
  • Again failed to deliver Constitution.
  • Term extended to May 2012.

Now Supreme Court got angry, and passed the order “whether CA delivers a Constitution or not, it must be dissolved in May 2012.”
Ok wait, let’s recap

Nepal timeline to Constitutional logjam
1990New Constitution that provided for multiparty system. (king appoints PM from the majority party etc.)
1996-2006Civil war between Nepalese army vs Maoists.
2006-07Peace accord.
2007
  • The interim constitution of 2007.
  • It replaced the previous 1990s Constitution.
  • Election of Constituent Assembly.(CA)
  • This  to be elected would draft and deliver the new constitution, and a new parliament would be elected as recommended by the new constitution
2008-2012CA fails to deliver Constitution. It keeps giving itself extension after extension.

In the meantime, Prime Minister is changed four times during 2008 to 2011! How and why?

Nepal PM Change

Pushpa Kamal’s Prachand “Dhamaal

  • Prachanda is the chief of Maoist party. (Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (CPN).)
  • His original aim: overthrow the “State” by violent means. (a.k.a. the traditional Maoist way, just like how Indian Maoists want to overthrow the “State” by 2050.)
  • He waged Civil war between 1996-2006.
  • Ultimately He had to sign peace accord and agree to join democracy.
  • In 2008’s election, his party won many seats.
  • He became the Prime Minister of Nepal.
  • Ram Baran Yadav of Nepali Congress (NC) became the President.
  • Since Prachanda couldn’t overthrow the “state” via traditional Maoist methods (=violence), He decided to go for plan “B”.

Prachanda’s Plan “B”?

  1. Initially 6500 of the Ex-Maoist Combatants were to be recruited in Army.
  2. Prachanda raised the demand to induct 9000 Maoist combatants in the army.
  3. ^This will led to significant presence of Maoist in the regular army=> army cannot create much trouble in future. (say for example, if US or India supported King to return and there was another political crisis).
  4. Prachanda’s Maoist party will push for a new Constitution that has “directly elected President.” (so no worries of coalition politics.)
  5. Similarly they demanded Judiciary must be accountable to legislature (and not autonomous like it is in India.)

So ultimately Prachanda’s aim was to have a governance system where he could be the “main boss” and other organs of the State (army, judiciary, legislature) remain weak, just like President Hugo Chaves in Venezuela or Putin in Russia.
But Prachanda’s otherwise “awesome” plan was cut short in 2009.

Why?

  • Because in 2009, Prachanda decided to replace the Army chief.
  • So Prime Minister Prachanda asked President Ram Baran Yadav to sign the order for removal of Army Chief.
  • Problem: President Ram Baran Yadav refused to sign the letter. (reports say India had put pressure on him, not to replace the army chief.)

Result:

  1. Prachanda bites the dust. He resigns from Prime minister’s post because President did not agree to his demand for removal of Army Chief.
  2. Madhav Nepal of UML party becomes the new Prime Minister of Nepal.

Madhav Nepal’s lack of Dhamaal

  • From 2009-11, Madhav Nepal is the Prime minister of Nepal.
  • But Prachanda did not like that he had to give up the PM post.
  • So he starts agitations, Bandh, protests, rioting, dharnaa, pradarshan against Madhav Nepal.
anti Madhav rally Nepal Constitutional logjam

Anti Madhav rally: Maoist supporters (Prachanda’s Party) Demanding resignation of PM Madhav Nepal

  • Madhav Nepal resigns without doing much “Dhamaal”.
  • Now Jhala Nath Khanal becomes new PM, but he too is no match for Prachanda’s Dhamaal and resigns in August 2011.
  • Finally Baburam Bhattarai (of Prachanda’s own Maoist party) becomes new Prime Minister.
  • And Baburam continues to be the Prime minister of Nepal ever since then.

This concludes the first article. In the next two articles, we’ll see

2 of 3
  • Internal disputes within Maoist Party.
  • How Kiran made his separate party and now continues “Anti-India” campaign in Nepal.
  • Why Elections are not held in Nepal
Click ME
3 of 3
  • Chinese presence in Nepal
  • how and why India’s Nepal Policy (2005)=#epicfail.
Click Me

Mrunal recommends

  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books 4 History,Geo,Sci
  2. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  3. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  4. Maths: Quantam CAT Sarvesh Kumar
  5. Objective General English SP Bakshi
  6. Word Power made Easy -Norman Lowe
  7. Topic wise Solved Paperset by Disha

31 Comments on “[Diplomacy] Nepal Logjam (Part 1 of 3): Civil War, Peace-Deal, Constitutional deadlock, Frequent change of Prime Ministers”

  1. Excellent article sir!

  2. This one will surely climb the chart.

  3. sir,
    eagerly waiting the next part of this article. its most comprehensive notes about INDO-NEPAl relations and Nepals UNREST. thank you very much .

  4. This is sure a ‘Dhamaal’ article from Mrunal Sir..!
    Waiting for the part2.
    Thanks..!!

  5. Thanks.
    Good for International Relation.

  6. as always fabulous. thank you Mrunal ji.

  7. Very well explained.Thank you.

  8. hi mrunal ji,

    u r infinitely ‘awesome’ not of the type u use, literally. again great work, coming to terms with syllogisms also, keep going. plz consider posting similar articles abt the other verbal reasoning topics like statements- assumptions, conclusions, course of actions and cause & effect ones, they r so confusing and i think u r ‘the’ right teacher for this. plzzz consider it
    bye, wishing u good health and wisdom

  9. some documents cnt b downloaded as pdf like ds one …nt pdf or print friendly plz chk out

  10. Sir, Plz discuss Statemente-Conclusions Topic Of UPSC-CSAT in Detail like u have earlier discussed Syllogism.
    This is really Fruitfull.

  11. hello Mrunal,
    Please explain two points:

    1. How in the midst of events Ram baran yadav(NC) got chosen .will Maoist party not opposed this?

    2. How transferring of post of PM b/w maoist,UML done on what grounds.and why NC not objected that
    that PM should be their party leader?

    please explain…

    Awesome article thanx

  12. hello Mrunal,
    Please explain two points:

    1. How in the midst of events Ram baran yadav(NC) got chosen .will Maoist party not opposed this?
    means after Gynendra how they reconcile who will head the prez post?

    2. How transferring of post of PM b/w maoist,UML done on what grounds.and why NC not objected that
    that PM should be their party leader? which party is now in majority?

    please explain…

  13. Bahot khup

  14. very nice explained.. sir.thank you

  15. Can you provide the sources also, so that we can read more.

  16. Hello Sir,

    Thank you so much for sharing this meticulously written article. Very useful for us. Regards…..

  17. “Beth Jaayiye, Beth Jaayiye. Kripyaa Shaant Ho Jaayiye”….I couldn’t stop laughing man… gr8 humour and gr8 timing you have sir !!!

  18. nice…….matter.

  19. I appreciate the content and the way it is explained. Kudos sir.. But have 2 questions.

    a. During the interim CA period (2007 – 2012), How President got elected ? (How Ram Baran Yadav (NC) became president?), was it through direct elections or by indirect method ?

    b. When prachanda (Maoist) resigned as PM in 2009, How an UML member was elected as PM. Was it due to re-elections or change of politcal dynamics in support/coliation?

  20. the article is really gud….will you plz write about the rakhine-rohingya problem in myanmar and its history…
    your blog is been very helpful….thanx

  21. Nepal a……..to ………z
    nice work

  22. intelligent segrigation of matter sir!!!

  23. thanks mrunal…really a wonderful presentation

  24. seems lyk reading a story book….salute to ur great effort sir.

  25. thanks for very good explanation of Nepal politics.

  26. “Beth Jaayiye, Beth Jaayiye. Kripyaa Shaant Ho Jaayiye”…….:)…awsum humour..laughed my heart out..killer line….she used say just like this….

  27. sir plz write about cuurnt issues on nepal wen d costitution has been made

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *