Kunda Dixit, editor of Nepali Times, in The Times of India:
Kathmandu: Mao is dead; long live Mao. The Great Helmsman maybe in a mausoleum in Beijing, but he is alive and kicking in Nepal.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Maoists were supposed to come to power by the barrel of the gun. In Nepal, they have been voted to power. With results of last week’s elections nearly in, it’s been a rout. The Maoists have got 50 per cent of the votes in the first-past-the-post ballot, with the mainstream Nepali Congress (NC) with just 14 per cent and other parties trailing further behind.
The result has left pundits scratching their heads, foreign embassies in Kathmandu are red-faced, the NC and CPN-UML are too stunned to even speak. Even the Maoists themselves were surprised by the vote.
Nepal’s Maoist landslide
An electoral earthquake reflects the social distance that had grown between Kathmandu’s elite and media and Nepal’s people, says Prashant Jha, a political analyst with Nepali Times, in OpenDemocracy:
The results of the general election in Nepal on 10 April 2008, won overwhelmingly by the Maoists – officially the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) – have come as a complete shock. Many people thought the former armed rebels would be a distant third, winning perhaps fifteen-to-twenty of the 240 seats directly elected to the constituent assembly under a first-past-the-post (FPTP) system (335 of the remainder are elected under proportional representation). Some argued that the Maoists would do better than conventional wisdom in the capital Kathmandu suggested, giving them about thirty-to-forty of the FPTP seats. Only a few voices sensed the people’s desperate yearning for change, the Maoist base among the young and marginalised, and flagged the possibility of the party coming in second – or first.
Triumph of the new mainstream in Nepal
By voting in the Maoists, the Nepali people have chosen the party most likely to push for an egalitarian society and inclusive republican system in the Constituent Assembly. Siddharth Varadarajan in The Hindu:
After failing to recognise the obvious groundswell of support that had built up for the Maoists in the run-up to the Constituent Assembly (CA) elections in Nepal, India needs to move quickly to adjust itself to the new power balance. Despite receiving reliable field reports of the widespread support the Maoists were enjoying across the country, South Block deluded itself into believing that the former rebels would be at best a distant third. Bogus surveys commissioned by t he U.S. embassy in Kathmandu in which the Maoists were shown as winning only 8 to 10 per cent of the popular vote started circulating within the corridors of power in New Delhi. Accordingly, the foreign office’s contingency planning revolved around coping with the fallout of a poor showing by the former rebels. Even here, the official assessments showed scant understanding of the ground reality with improbable scenarios like a Maoist “urban insurrection” being bandied about.