Update on Crisis in Nepal

Barely six months since the devastating earthquake in April, another major crisis has hit Nepal. The economy is in ruins as the existence of millions of productive enterprises is thwarted in light of acute fuel scarcity and shortage of basic goods such as cooking gas, food, and medicine. If this continues for another month, Nepal might be facing a severe humanitarian crisis. In response to the new constitution that was promulgated about a month ago, political groups in Nepal’s southern belt called Terai have been protesting for about two months now, which has claimed at least 40 lives. The protests are mainly regarding the demarcation of state boundaries and political representation of the people of Terai in a new Federal Nepal. Intensifying their protests at the end of last month, agitating groups decided to cut off supplies to the capital by blocking the highways and custom points from where goods enter the country and eventually Kathmandu Valley. The crisis took a more severe shape when India got onboard with the agitating groups and imposed an unofficial economic blockade a month ago. Nepal is almost entirely dependent on imports from India for all basic things. It is not only Nepal’s largest trading partner and the sole supplier of oil and cooking gas to the state owned monopoly importer Nepal Oil Corporation but also the point of access for almost all imports to a landlocked Nepal. Denying publicly that this is an economic blockade, India has technically maintained the custom clearance at the border points on paper saying it will send the goods over once the protests cease and security is better. Thus, fuel has become a luxury and soon food might too. Homes, offices, hotels and restaurants have run out of cooking gas in the past month. Nepalese were supposed to be celebrating their biggest Hindu …

Nepal: Where the Marxist-Leninists are the Moderate Option

I write to you today with a sigh of relief. With the fresh round of elections for the Constituent Assembly, the communist party, especially the Maoists have been downsized considerably thereby reducing the possibility of a communist dictatorship. After Nepal’s first ever Constituent Assembly (CA) failed to deliver the constitution on May 2012 and got dissolved, efforts were made to create a multiparty government. But the political negotiations where the Maoist party exercised much influence (Dr. Baburam Bhattarai from the Unified Communist Party Nepal (Maoists) still being the Prime Minister of the caretaker government) led to the formation of a technocratic electoral government in March 2013. In the meantime, a hardline faction split from the Unified Communist Party Nepal, Maoists on June 2012. The split faction led by Mohan Vaidya later opposed the second CA elections held on November 2013 and even used violent means, such as bombing, to deter the political parties and citizens from participating in the elections. Amidst ambiguity and confusion regarding the electoral technocratic government, led by Chief Justice Mr. Khil Raj Regmi, and its mandate, the second CA election was initially announced to be held on November 2012. Despite speculations to the contrary, the elections were held in a largely free and fair manner on November 19 2013. With a voter turnout of over 75% (despite violent obstructions and national strike by the hardline Maoist faction) and deemed free and fair by almost all national and international observers, the results of the election has left a huge majority of people and analysts shocked, especially the Maoist party itself. With the results of both front past the post voting and proportional representation, it could be said that Nepal’s politics has moved marginally towards right where Nepali Congress, the country’s oldest political party and considered to be …