Kathmandu, Nov. 9: This morning, Kathmandu woke up to a powerful explosion that reverberated to great distances in the bowl-shaped valley.
The target seems to have been the downtown head office of the national flag-carrier, Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation. But the bomb exploded outside the office premises and did not cause any serious damage to the building.
Although the incident did not result in any deaths, the blast was one more in a series to indicate that the Maoists are on a rampage. Yesterday, an explosion in a town 25 km east of Kathmandu had killed a teenaged boy.
The timing of today’s bomb blast is significant for two reasons. One is that November 9 is the twelfth anniversary of Nepal’s 1990 constitution, one which the CPN (Maoist) is intent on replacing with another one written by a constituent assembly. The second is that it comes during the preparatory phase of a three-day bandh called by the Maoists from November 11 to 13.
The three-day strike had been called by the rebels in anticipation of the parliamentary polls that were to begin on the 13 November. Although the elections have been postponed indefinitely with the ouster of Sher Bahadur Deuba as Prime Minister on October 4 and the subsequent assumption of executive authority by King Gyanendra, the Maoists have stuck to their original programme.
For a country that just came out of the three-day Diwali break on Thursday, the weekend holiday followed by a three-day enforced shutdown means a suspension of normal business.
more days. This is bad news especially for the tourism industry that
had just begun showing improvement.
None of the blasts in the capital have killed more than one person at
a time, although the Maoists most probably have the means. But like
in the past the coming bandh too will most likely be a total success.
The scare value of possible attacks is all in favour of the Maoists.
Almost on the sidelines is the government headed by royal-
appointee, Lokendra Bahadur Chand, is still facing a crisis of
legitimacy. The manner in which the government was constituted by
the king on 11 October has also come under flak from constitutional
experts. To make matters worse, neither of the two major
parliamentary parties, the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party
of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), has shown any inclination to
join the cabinet despite repeated exhortations by the prime minister.
On the question of dealing with the Maoists, the government has
also repeatedly declared that it has opened the doors for talks, and
that the rebels have to indicate their desire to enter into dialogue.
Minister have dropped hints that some backroom manoeuvring may
be afoot to bring the Maoists to the negotiating table, but going by
the daily routine of attacks and the statements emanating from the
Maoist leadership, that may be a while in bearing fruit.
There were encouraging signs in the 24 October statement from
CPN (Maoist) chairman, Prachanda, which asked for a ‘political
exit’ to the present impasse through a dialogue among all political
forces, including the king, and for which the king would have to
initiate the first steps. This statement was remarkable for the absence
of anti-monarchy rhetoric and was viewed as a possible opening for
However, it was back to square one two weeks later. A statement by
the convenor of the political outfit of the Maoists, Baburam
Bhattarai, called on all parliamentary and non-parliamentary forces
in a broad united front against the ‘feudal monarchy’. Bhattarai also
announced that the upcoming three-day bandh would signal the
beginning of a ‘united people’s resistance campaign’ against the
It seems whether he does it directly or through the government, the
onus of action is now on the king. On the eve of the anniversary of
the constitution, a group of eight eminent personalities, including
three who were members of the constitution drafting committee in
1990, came out with a statement that said that the present
government is not legitimate and that it lacks public support.
The statement also asked for either the reinstatement of the
parliament dissolved earlier in May or a resort to ‘interim
arrangements’ that would restore the paramountcy of the people’s
sovereign rights. The ‘interim arrangements’, they said, should also
include the Maoists—a sentiment that has become more and more
kosher as the country lurches from one crisis to another.