April 12, 2008
Beginning of a New Era
For the second time in three days, Nepal has surprised itself as well as the world. The news began to filter in late last night and, by this morning, the streets were flowing with jubulant, cheering Maoist celebrants. If the current trend continues, the Maoists will unquestionably take the helm and, in short order, send the Nepalese monarchy to the dustbin of history.
Even in the Valley of Kathmandu, which was not expected to be a Maoist stronghold, the Maoist have prevailed in the districts, sending the other major parties, Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal--United Marxists-Leninist reeling with disappointment.
This morning, by telephone, I briefly talked with Maoist leader Dr. Baburam Bhattarai. He was willing to pronounce that the future for the Maoist party was very rosy indeed. "The people have spoken," he said with aplomb.
Below are photographs that I took, two hours ago, outside the International Conventional Center, which is serving as the Office of the District Polling Officer, where votes are currently being counted. But no one outside the guarded walls is waiting for an official proclamation. When I kneeled down to shoot female supporters of the Maoist Party, they painted my forehead with red powder. Young men were dancing. As of this posting, out of 120 constituencies, Maoists are leading in 60 of them. The Nepali Congress, which is next in votes, holds a mere 23 constituencies. United Marxists-Leninist party has fared even worse: 15 constituencies.
The day belongs to the Maoists. Photos (below) were taken by me in Kathmandu.