By Mahesh Maskey and Mary Deschene
As the elections to the constituent assembly draw near (April 10), the question in Nepal seems not to be whether there will be a democratic republic, but rather what kind of democratic republic it will be. ``Bourgeois democrats'' would want to preserve the country's capitalistic character, while the ``revolutionary left'' will make every effort to give it a transitional character to bring socialism on to the nation's agenda. ``The reformist left'' will vacillate between the two courses but predominantly forge alliances with the ``bourgeois democrats''.
As the revolutionary left braces to complete the next stage of a rather long bourgeois-democratic revolution in Nepal -– the election of a constituent assembly -– these words of Lenin in 1905 may serve as a beacon pointing the way toward socialism: ``The proletariat must carry the democratic revolution to completion, allying itself to the mass of the peasantry in order to crush the autocratic resistance by force and paralyse the bourgeois instability. The proletariat must accomplish the socialist revolution, allying itself with the mass of semi-proletarian elements of the population so as to crush the bourgeoisie’s resistance by force and paralyse the instability of the peasantry and the petty bourgeoisie.''
Lenin was emphatic that these tasks of the proletariat be carried out even when the bourgeoisie recoiled from its responsibility during the bourgeois-democratic revolution. Those who keep a close watch over the history of class struggle in Nepal will know that the democratic revolution has been delayed at certain junctures, but never halted. Indeed, it has carried on even though the Nepali bourgeoisie recoiled to such an extent that its representative party viewed itself and the monarchy as Siamese twins with a single body and intertwined heads.
The bourgeoisie came to favour constitutional monarchy, undermining the call for a democratic republic from the left. In 1958 they abandoned the struggle for a constituent assembly in favour of the constitution given by the then monarch, won an election under that constitution, but were soon stripped of state power by enforcement of a clause of that same constitution. The stance of the Nepali bourgeoisie can be viewed as a local manifestation of a worldwide phenomenon in predominantly feudal states surviving under the grip of imperialism and colonialism or neocolonialism. These outside forces were aligning with local feudal forces for easy access to, and exploitation of, the national resources, and to ensure their influence in a geostrategically sensitive territory.
The character and attitude of the bourgeoisie was also changing under such influences; over time they turned themselves into comprador and bureaucratic capitalists who gained more by compromising with feudal and imperialist elements than by standing against them. As a class, the bourgeoisie found a comfortable perch under the protective wing of a bourgeois monarchist party. Thus Nepal came to witness the sorry development of the Nepali Congress which, while proclaiming ``democratic socialist'' principles, in practice preferred to forge alliances with monarchist forces rather than with the left, even though the monarchy kept on pushing them out of political power and whenever possible out of the state political apparatus all together.
Left extends the boundaries
As the bourgeoisie recoiled from its historic tasks to curl up subserviently at the feet of the monarch, responsibility to complete the democratic revolution and hold a constituent assembly election fell to the fledgling revolutionary left, representing the proletarian class. They were clear that only by completing the course of bourgeois-democratic revolution, of new democracy, could they embark on the path of socialist revolution. Realising that they could not step outside or past the bourgeois-democratic boundaries of the Nepali revolution as it was currently constituted, the revolutionary left made every effort to extend those boundaries, pushing the bourgeoisie further along the path toward its completion, whenever and wherever the latter tended to stop due to its own limitations. Alliances made with the peasantry, expressed in rural class struggle, have been the main means to expand those boundaries and to pressure the bourgeoisie.
In this context, the People's Movement of 1990, or the Janandolan-1 as it is now popularly called, stands as an important turning point in Nepali history. The absolute rule of monarchy was no longer acceptable and the political system through which it was practised -– the ``partyless panchayat system'' -– could no longer serve as its vehicle. The bourgeoisie, threatened by a maturing left force, had to become more vocal for its own agenda of abolition of the panchayat system, establishment of multiparty democracy and constitutional monarchy. Left influence and power had increased to the extent that for the first time they were participating in a joint movement on an equal basis with the Nepali Congress, some in alliance and some outside the alliance. Students, teachers and a section of civil society were also taking a strongly pro-democratic stand against the monarchy. The convergence of all these forces, backed by popular participation, successfully ousted the partyless panchayat, established a multiparty parliamentary system, and replaced absolute monarchy with constitutional monarchy. Outwardly it appeared that sovereignty had been wrested from the crown and vested in the people where it belonged, though some on the revolutionary left immediately realised that a Janandolan-2 would be necessary to achieve true people's sovereignty.
From a long-term perspective, the greatest importance of Janandolan-1 and the period that followed may lie in the fact that several long-held political hypotheses were put to the test. The first to be refuted was the hypothesis of the viability of constitutional monarchy itself. For decades this theoretical concept had been presented by the bourgeoisie as a political panacea for many of the socio-economic ills of Nepal's semi-feudal society. When put to the test however, actual constitutional monarchy proved neither to be prepared to respect constitutional restrictions, nor to be ready to make a break from the feudal base that had sustained it over centuries. Backed by a loyal army and bureaucracy, it continued to defy the letter and spirit of the new constitution and to create difficulties for the bourgeoisie to rule effectively. Conversely, the government could not substantively protect the people from the oppression of feudal and comprador forces, nor did it have the political will or class interests necessary to protect the country from the liberalisation/structural adjustment regime of the international financial institutions that was so severely imposed throughout the south during the 1990s. Failing to better the condition of the masses, the bourgeois-monarchist political position weakened considerably. In this context, two strong tendencies emerged which played a dominant role in preparing the groundwork for the 2006 movement, or Janandolan-2 -– another landmark of great historical importance.
The first of these tendencies was the radicalisation of the revolutionary left. Immediately after Janandolan-1 the revolutionary left stream organised itself into the Nepal Communist Party (CPN) (Unity Centre) with the objective of accomplishing the new democratic revolution. At the same time, the reformist left current concentrated itself in the Nepal Communist Party (United Marxist-Leninist or UML), organised around the slogan of ``people's multiparty democracy''. This latter current which drew its inspiration from Eurocommunism, kept vacillating between social democracy, and a revised form of new democracy. The reformist left was keen to beat the bourgeois-monarchist forces at their own game. In order to occupy the political space created by the shrinking of bourgeois influence, it made peace with the palace and regressive Indian forces, and immersed itself in capturing state power through elections. The CPN (UML) hypothesis that people’s power can be won and executed through elections without uprooting the feudal structures and socio-economic relations was also refuted by the events of the post-1990 period. The negligible achievements even during occasional periods of partial state power made this clear. Even clearer was the extent to which their reformist philosophy led to their co-optation within the system.
The revolutionary left was faced with the challenge of reconciling with multiparty democracy which they jointly fought for in 1990, and continuing the revolution through to the end. They also adopted two tactics: participating in parliament to expose its reactionary class nature, and underground preparation for mass agitation, general strikes and peasant revolts. However, as the crisis in the bourgeois camp deepened, the revolutionary left divided over the nature of people’s war and appropriate timing for its launching, the question of united front, the importance of mass movement, integration of urban and rural class struggle, and integration of people's war with popular uprising. That stream which opted to begin people’s war renamed itself as Nepal Communist Party (Maoist), while the other stream continued as CPN (Unity Centre) with its legal front known as United People's Front (later ``People’s Front'' or Janamorcha).
Splits and unity
Much has been written about the genesis of the Nepali Maoist movement, the war they waged, their achievements and losses. Much less attention has been paid to the changes they were making in their positions and outlooks during this period. What began almost as a repetition of the Peruvian Maoist’s People’s War developed its own character as the Nepali Maoists achieved victories in battle, learned to minimise losses and preserve themselves with great flexibility and tenacity, and to change course as and when needed. These changes were influenced by the intense debate that continued between the two streams of the revolutionary left within the general context of grasping the reality and course of events around them.
For an observer who revisits the debates over political positions from the period of the split and commencement of people’s war, it will be clear that many of the CPN (Maoist) positions were refuted by the practice of revolution and it gradually adopted the positions taken by the CPN (Unity Centre). On the other hand, while the CPN (Unity Centre) proved itself to have achieved theoretical clarity about the course of revolution, it could neither launch another people’s war nor join the CPN (Maoist)'s ongoing war, given the continuing difference in analysis concerning the role of building a mass base for the success of a people’s war. In this situation, its revolutionary task evolved to protect the Maoist movement while fiercely criticising the militarist thinking and petty bourgeois adventurism within its ranks.
A famous dictum of Mao is the three magic wands that made the Chinese revolution successful –- the Communist Party, the Red Army and the united front. In Nepal the CPN (Maoist) could claim the first two and the CPN (Unity Centre) the first and third. Together they have complemented one another in furthering and shaping the course of the bourgeois democratic revolution in Nepal. After the people's movement of April 2006, these two streams have achieved consensus on major issues. The senior-most leaders of both streams have stated more than once that the objective and subjective conditions leading to their split no longer exist; hence unity is inevitable. At this late date the technicalities of election commission regulations prevent them from achieving formal party unity before the election of the constituent assembly. However, the revolutionary left still has a chance to make electoral alliances and join forces to influence the outcome of the constituent assembly. Their commitment to their own hypothesis that unity of the revolutionary forces is imperative to complete the bourgeois revolution may now be tested.
Rejection of absolute monarchy
The second tendency that emerged to take advantage of the political chaos and dissatisfaction of the people was the extreme right's attempt to re-establish absolute monarchy. The gruesome palace massacre of 2001 was followed by the long royal takeover that began in 2002 and culminated on February 1, 2005. This period saw a succession of ruthless events designed to intimidate the Nepali people into accepting the rule of absolute monarchy. This oppression was answered by staunch resistance by people from all walks of life. Civil society activism forced political parties to stand up to the challenge posed by monarchist forces. Political initiatives successfully brought the CPN (Maoist) and seven other major political parties to the negotiating table, resulting in a 12-point agreement that created a supportive environment for non-violent popular uprising. The slogan of constituent assembly began to capture the popular imagination as a peaceful means to settle the issues underlying the decade-long violent conflict between the state and the CPN (Maoist). In this charged environment, the slogan of democratic republic emerged as the embodiment of the aspirations of the peasantry, proletariat and all conscious citizens for breaking the fetters of the old feudal state.
Bourgeoisie at the crossroads
It must be noted in the present context that both the slogans and agenda of constituent assembly and democratic republic were articulated and argued by the revolutionary left. Half a century ago the bourgeois forces agreed to halt the 1950 revolution when an offer of constituent assembly was made at the negotiating table. The question of a constituent assembly remained a demand of bourgeois monarchists for a decade, but was abandoned when they accepted a constitution produced by the monarchy and old feudal forces. The left continued with it as its own agenda. But later, the reformist left also dropped it, following the example of the bourgeois-monarchists. From that time forward it was solely the revolutionary left who carried on with the slogan and agenda of a democratic republic and a constituent assembly – for which it rightfully deserves credit.
The recent course of events in Nepal not only revived the agenda of constituent assembly, it also forced the agenda of democratic republic upon the ranks of the bourgeoisie. Hesitantly and cautiously they began making the transition from bourgeois-monarchist to bourgeois-democrat, weaning themselves away from the theory of the monarchy and the bourgeoisie as Siamese twins and, at least formally, dropping the agenda of constitutional monarchy. This transition was in part made possible by the sharpening contradiction and power contestation between these two forces, pushing the bourgeoisie toward collaboration with the left. Nepali history has more than once demonstrated that when the bourgeoisie and the left collaborate, as in 1990 and 2006, they can win key battles with monarchist forces. The tremendous efforts of imperialist and Indian regressive forces to prevent the bourgeois-left alliances that created the peace process and restoration of civil government, and are taking Nepal to the constituent assembly election, must also be understood in this light.
The second major adaptation in bourgeois attitude was the transition from insistence on a majority rule system to reluctant consideration of inclusive and proportionate democratic rule. For more than two centuries, the ethnic, linguistic and regional diversity of Nepal has been deliberately suppressed by the centralised feudal state. The struggle for identity and equal rights along these lines, together with the struggles of women, dalits and marginalised communities is carving out a new system of political rule. Federalism, autonomy, right to self-determination, proportional representation, and inclusive democracy are but a few of the concepts now shaping the consciousness of the Nepali people. The left, as always, is more open and sensitive to these newer concepts. The bourgeoisie, in keeping with its own character, is taking them cautiously and hesitantly, even though they are familiar bourgeois-democratic concepts established by their own predecessors in other parts of the globe. Although the Nepali bourgeoisie has collaborated with the left against monarchical rule, by its very nature it is reluctant to complete the democratic revolution. It rather opts not to sweep away all remnants of the past.
As Lenin put it in 1905: ``It is to the advantage of the bourgeoisie to rely on certain remnants of the past, as against the proletariat, for instance on the monarchy, the standing army, etc.'' It is not unlikely that the Nepali bourgeoisie may betray its own self – the cause of liberty. Will it follow that traditional path of betrayal or will it forge a new alliance in the face of the ravages of capitalism in the age of ``globalisation''? The alliances made during and after the election of the constituent assembly will indicate which turn the bourgeoisie may take in future, and whether it will yet again fall to the Nepali proletariat to ``paralyse the bourgeois instability''.
Conjectures and speculations
At present, bourgeois democrats appear more likely to ally with the reformist left, rather than with the discredited monarchy. However, it is certain that policy intended to appease the monarchy will be continued so that its military loyalists are not antagonised.The question in Nepal at present seems not to be whether there will be a democratic republic, but rather what kind of democratic republic it will be. Bourgeois-democrats would want to preserve its capitalistic character embedded in the matrix of ``hyper-capitalism'' under globalisation. The revolutionary left, on the other hand, will make every effort to give it a transitional character to usher in the phase of socialist revolution. The reformist left, it can confidently be speculated, will vacillate between the two courses but predominantly forge alliances with bourgeois democrats, as it continues to make its own transition to ``social democracy''.
It cannot be ruled out, however, that in the process of pre- and post-constituent assembly polarisation and realignments, some bourgeois-democratic forces would opt to stand against the forces of globalisation and militarisation, upholding the values of social justice and democracy as the revolutionary republicans will do. Likewise from within the ranks of the reformist left many may refuse to adopt social democratic revisionism, opting instead to work more closely with the masses. The revolutionary left should have no hesitation in forging alliances with these forces along with the mass of peasantry and petty bourgeoisie.
Whether one of these configurations develops, or whether the regressive forces of the country are given yet another chance to reconsolidate power may depend vitally on the ability of the revolutionary left to translate its theoretical understanding into concrete practice. The vacillating tendency of the reformist left is hardly new. The revolutionary left must prove itself capable at this crucial juncture to bring that force into alliance. Similarly, the emergent pro-republican tendencies of the bourgeois forces must be skilfully and effectively encouraged in an environment where domestic and international regressive elements are doing their utmost to bring the bourgeoisie back into their fold. As CPN (Unity Centre) and People's Front have been emphasising, the present situation demands tactical alliance not merely of the revolutionary left, but of all republican forces.
Serve the people
With hindsight, it can be said that by arousing the peasant masses through rural class struggle and Maoist people's war, the revolutionary left has achieved considerable success in paralysing bourgeois instability and crushing the resistance of autocracy by force, thus clearing the ground for the unprecedented spectacle of mass protests and popular demonstrations witnessed by the whole world in 2006. The combined effort of national and international reactionary forces was able to prevent the final culmination of the peaceful uprising –- the armed revolt -– only by opting to compromise and not through military suppression of the popular movement.
It has taken two turbulent years for the constituent assembly election to materialise, now due to be held on April 10, 2008. For the revolutionary left it is a hard won victory and epoch-making event which can help speed the completion of the democratic revolution. They can be expected to make a sincere effort to win the hearts and trust of the people for their candidates and to win a majority of the seats. But it should also be kept in mind that revolutionaries do not participate in elections in a desperate bid to win seats. When they participate in elections it is to make their agenda clear, and to educate the people about the probable course of history.
For the CPN (Maoist), the occasion is an added opportunity to rectify its past mistakes, and atone for atrocities committed during the people’s war. It is also an opportunity to gain strength by revisiting the masses on a different footing, and to emerge as a more mature political force, freed from the tendency to militarism. It would not be out of place, I believe, to remind the revolutionary left of the spirit of ``serve the people'' and the ``eight points of conduct'' so eloquently put forward by Mao as they present themselves to the people as their true representatives in the elections to the constituent assembly. Such an effort may hasten the pace of completion of the first tactical phase of revolution as articulated by Lenin, and prepare them for the second.
[Mahesh Maskey is a public health physician and left intellectual of Nepal. Mary Deschene is an anthropologist and social activist. Both are analysts of Nepali left politics. This article was originally published by the Economic and Political Weekly (India), http://www.epw.org.in]
Gaurav: Nepal’s Revolution Is Your Revolution Too
Comrade Gaurav (C.P. Gajurel) is in charge of the International Bureau of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)-CPN (M). This speech was given at Goldsmiths College, , University of London, on Nov. 11, 2007.
Events are moving in unpredictable ways in Nepal, as the April 10 election for the Constituent Assembly approaches. We urge you to circulate the link to Kasama’s Nepal resources widely on by email and online discussion. Kasama posts on Nepal’s revolution are all gathered here.
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By Comrade Gaurav
So I should start to explain the particular situation in Nepal right at this moment, then most probably we will discuss other aspects. If you comrades have some queries about our movement, our revolution, you can raise questions that we will then discuss.
In Nepal we waged war and we developed the People’s War in Nepal that was started in 1996 and developed to 2006. The People’s War developed from strategic defensive to the stage of strategic offensive. When we started the People’s War in 1996, we didn’t have arms, we didn’t have weapons. We started war without an army and without weapons. It seems very surprising, war without an army and without weapons, but actually this is what we did.
Now everybody knows, because our People’s Liberation Army has been confined to seven cantonments and fourteen satellite camps, and altogether the United Nations has registered that the strength of the People’s Liberation Army is 31,000 strong. But when we started the war we didn’t have any army. And when we started the war, we ourselves were playing the role of the army. Nobody was trained militarily, we were trained ideologically and politically.
Starting War with the Old Timer
You would be surprised to know, at the start we had only one .303 rifle, which was so old that actually it was not able to fire. It was very old, but we kept it very safe because it provided training for our comrades. Sometimes our comrades joked about this, and they named the rifle as the “old timer” rifle. We had only one, the old one, and we took the rifle from the eastern part of Nepal to the western part of Nepal. For 24 hours each day it was moving!
Now we have some sophisticated weapons that have also been locked in the cantonments and we have an almost 400,000 strong militia, which is working under the name of YCL: the Young Communist League. You may frequently read in the newspaper how the reactionaries are frightened to hear the name of the YCL, because it is the agency which is arresting corrupt people, which is exposing the scandals and punishing them. Because now in some parts of Nepal there is anarchy and extreme impunity, and it is the YCL which is protecting the rights of the people and safeguarding them. So it is a name of terror for reactionaries, but it is actually the friend of the Nepali masses.
When we started the People’s War, out of 75 districts in Nepal we had strong organisation in almost 20, we had some connections around 40 districts, and the organisation was not strong in the other districts, and with that we started the People’s War. Now we have strong organisation everywhere in Nepal, in all 75 districts, and during the 10 years of People’s War we liberated 80% of the population and we were running parallel governments. Actually, we were in effect nearly governing the whole country. The enemy was confined only to the big cities, including the capital and district headquarters, while we were governing the rest of the country.
Peoples War from Strategic Defensive
So this was the situation and the People’s War developed according to the theory of comrade Mao Zedong. The People’s War started from strategic defensive, without arms and without an army and it developed to the higher state, from strategic equilibrium to strategic offensive. In the course of 10 years of People’s War we have developed a very strong People’s Liberation Army. Because we are in the concluding stage of strategic offensive, the task of the revolution is to seize central political power, a countrywide seizure of power. Hence, we had to capture Kathmandu, which is the capital of Nepal. We had to capture the capital and the major towns as well as some district headquarters.
Our People’s Liberation Army is right at the gate of Kathmandu valley. If you have ever gone to Kathmandu, there is one place called Tangot, it is the main gate to enter Kathmandu. Here there was a big police station, in which we annihilated almost two dozen armed forces without any loss from our side, and so we captured Tangot. Right after that we entered into the process of this negotiation.
Many revolutionaries, many Maoists and our comrades have raised one question. You reached the gate of Kathmandu, why was it necessary to enter into the peace process? That is a big question.
War to the Gates — Why Then Change Tactics?
True, we had liberated 80% of the countryside and we had reached up to the gate of Kathmandu. But in order to seize countrywide power, for countrywide victory, our strength was not enough. The Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) was confined to their barracks, they could seldom come out. Whenever they were carrying out actions against our forces, they could just suddenly come out of their barracks, go 4-5 kilometres away from the barracks and encircle a village, and kill each and every person they found before returning. The next day they would propagate that they had killed a number of Maoists from the People’s Liberation Army.
Actually, they were not able to kill our force. They killed the common people. That was their practice for almost one year, since one year back. On the one hand, the RNA could not actually inflict any defeat on our People’s Liberation Army. On the other hand, we were not able to capture their big barracks. They were well fortified, especially with the help of US military experts. They used land mines to surround the barracks, and they used barbed wire. We tried many times but we failed to capture their barracks. That was the situation militarily. We were in a stagnant position militarily. We were trying to make a breakthrough but were not able to capture the barracks, because they were well fortified, and they had lots of modern weapons supplied by India and also helicopters. We were unable to achieve further military victory.
That was the military situation and so far as the political situation is concerned we enjoyed the support of the urban people, but it was not to the level that was required for general insurrection. The support was there, but finally to capture the city and the capital it was necessary to carry out insurrection, revolt. The support provided by the masses was not at a sufficient level in the cities including Kathmandu, because the masses were divided. Some supported Nepali Congress, other people supported other parties and the level of support of the masses was not enough that was required to achieve the final victory. So this was the political situation.
A Plan for Broadening Political Support
So in the midst of this situation we decided that in order to get further support from the masses our party should take some other initiatives to gather further strength. Otherwise the war would remain in a stagnant situation. Neither the enemy could defeat us, nor could we defeat the enemy. That was the situation. For how long could we continue this situation? War has its own dynamics, it cannot stay still for a long time, for example, if we cannot win victory, the enemy will eventually be able to defeat us. We had to take a new initiative. According to the dynamics of war you have to find a new way to maintain a dynamic situation, we should not be in a static situation in a war for long.
In those circumstances our party decided to take different steps, other political manoeuvres. Our party worked out alternative political tactics of going to the negotiations. Right from the beginning we explained People’s War as a total war. Sometimes there is a wrong notion among Maoists that People’s War is simply the war in which we confront the opposite army, the confrontation between two armies, but this is not true. People’s War is different. People’s War is a total war. We are confronting the enemy on all fronts, including the military front as well as the political front, economic front and also cultural front. On different fronts we have to fight the war, so it is a total war.
During the time of the People’s War itself, and even before that also, we entered into negotiations with the government in 2001 and 2003. But both times they ignored our demands. Again we returned to the war. But in 2005 the situation was quite different, the political situation was also different, which had been created by 10 long years of People’s War. For example the political situation was that 7 other political parties, parliamentary parties, were working together and in cooperation with the King to smash the People’s War. They were participating in the parliament, they were part of the government, they formed the government and were in cooperation with the King. They were very much united to fight against us, and it was necessary for us to use political manoeuvring to split the enemy camp. It was necessary, because they were united.
Forming an Anti-Monarchy Alliance
We took the initiative and we called the political parties to unite with us to make some sort of alliance to overthrow the monarchy. But they didn’t accept it. When we proposed this to them in 2001 and 2003 they didn’t accept it. But something new happened in Nepal. King Gyanendra, who was autocratic, staged a coup d’etat and arrested most of the political leaders who were actually working with him. He arrested most of them and put them behind bars and their political parties were banned. They could not carry out any political activities, so there was a big challenge to those political parties. There was a question of existence for those political parties. So this is one aspect, and for that we thank King Gyanendra, for we stretched our hands to those political parties to make an alliance with us, and the situation compelled them to come to join hands with our party.
This was political compulsion, which had been created by the People’s War itself. And it was a good opportunity for us to make an alliance with the 7 parties. We made the 12 point agreement, as it is popularly known, and in that alliance we concretely put forward the demand that we should make an alliance to fight against the autocratic monarchy.
In our 12 point agreement it was not clearly mentioned that we were fighting for the republic, but later, in the 8 point agreement, this was clearly mentioned, that we are fighting for a republic. It was the common point of agreement to fight against the monarchy for the republic. According to this an interim constitution was supposed to be enacted, an interim government was supposed to be formed and election of constituent assembly was to be held.
So far as the other international players are concerned, US imperialism was dead against this negotiation, because the US had its own agenda. US policy was to make an alliance between the 7 political parties and the King in order to smash the People’s War and our Party. But because of the situation on the ground, the parliamentary parties could not agree with the US policy. The situation in Nepal was quite different. They were compelled to make an alliance with our Party against the monarchy instead of following the US suggestion of making an alliance with the King to fight against the Maoist Party.
Secondly, when we were supposed to participate in the parliament, the US threatened that if Maoists were participating in the parliament the US government would cut all aid to Nepal. But it was to happen, and they could not cut the aid, so they finally supported it. Okay, they agreed that the Maoist party could join the parliament, but they still would not allow the Maoists to enter the government. If that happened, not only would they cut the aid, but they would also insist their allies impose an economic embargo on Nepal. But even when we participated in the government they could not do this. So it was the failure of US policy, total failure of the US government and their policy regarding the negotiation.
The Role of India
So far as India is concerned, when the King staged the coup d’etat in Nepal, most of the leaders of the political parties were dependent on India, they were inside prison and their parties were banned, so India was angry with that. The political parties could ask the Indian government not to supply arms to the King, his army, because they said that the weapons would be used against the Nepalese people. There was big pressure on the Indian government, and finally the Indian Prime Minister suspended the supply of arms which was already in the pipeline.
They suspended the supply of arms temporarily, and the King reacted very sharply, he wasn’t expecting that, since he was fighting against the Maoists he thought all the reactionaries of the world would automatically support him. This was his idea but it didn’t happen, and the angry king went to China where he bought arms. This aggravated the contradiction between the Indian government and the King, because according to India, the King was violating all the norms, without India’s consent Nepal is not allowed to purchase arms from a third country. So the contradiction between the Indian government and the King sharpened and we should also thank Gyanendra for this.
In this situation, the Indian government allowed a meeting between the 7 parties and our party to be held in India. It was simply impossible to organise such a meeting in Nepal, because when we invited the 7 parties to our base areas they were very much afraid. If they entered our base area to hold a meeting, when they returned, the RNA would kill them. We were secure in our base areas, our leadership was staying in the base areas, we invited them to come for the meeting in the base areas but they could not go to our base areas.
They were searching for some other place like India. India’s position before was that they would not allow any activities in India for our party. For example, right before that they arrested some leaders of our party and imprisoned them for a long time, including me. You know this very well, because you carried out a very big campaign here for my release and for the safety of my life. Also one of our senior leaders, Comrade Kiran was arrested, including us 150 cadres and leaders from Nepal were arrested. Some were handed over to the Royal Nepalese Army and others were imprisoned for a long time in India.
Labeled “Terrorist” — Leading the People
They treated us as leaders of a terrorist group not as a political party, as a terrorist organisation. This was the situation. But after that the situation changed because an alliance was necessary between the 7 parties and our party. India accepted to some extent that there should be a meeting between the other parties and the Maoist party. There was an alliance, there was the 12 point agreement, and after that the 8 point agreement and a common program called a mass movement. We called the Nepalese people to protest against the monarchy.
After this there was an unprecedented mass movement in Nepal. As everybody knows, it was really unprecedented, this 19 day mass movement. Over one million people in Kathmandu, which only has a population of almost two million people, went into the streets. As you can imagine, if two thirds of the people of London went on to the streets, what would the picture be?
The King used all his force against the mass movement. Forget about firing rifles, they were even using tanks. But people were lying down and they were issuing the challenge: “just bring your tanks”. Why did the people feel so strong? Why had they no fear of tanks and the RNA? There is one very important factor behind that: because they knew very well that the People’s Liberation Army was somewhere nearby. It was quite near. We have our own army, the People’s Liberation Army.
If the RNA did something like killing people, then there would be revenge by the People’s Liberation Army. The people had so much confidence in the People’s Liberation Army, so they were ready to make sacrifices. If there had been no People’s Liberation Army, that confidence and that militancy could not have come out in the masses automatically. Otherwise, in every country this type of mass movement could occur.
Now people sometimes argue that the mass movement alone was decisive, that political change was brought about in Nepal by the mass movement, not because of the ten year People’s War. This is not correct. This is a simplistic analysis. If there had been no People’s War, the new situation would not have arisen, the new alliance would not have been formed.
This alliance was formed with those political parties who used to treat us as the enemy. You can see, those people of Nepali Congress, they declared our party as a terrorist organisation. Our Party was branded as a terrorist organisation by different governments including the US. They issued Interpol warrants against us in more than 120 countries. They declared bounty over our heads, from 100,000 to 5,000,000 rupees, that if Maoists were captured, handed over dead or alive, they will provide that money.
In one press conference when the Home Minister was explaining all these things, that the government had taken the decision that if people capture Maoists and hand them over dead or alive, they will get this amount of money. One journalist asked him whether the government will really pay the money or not, because people had serious doubts in their minds. People used to say that even if they handed over Maoists, dead or alive, or if they hand over the heads of Maoists, the government would take the heads but not pay the money. What will you do? What do you say to this? The Home Minister said no, this is not correct. In the same bag that you bring us the heads of Maoists, we will take the head and fill the bag with money in return.
During that time our heads had a price on them. The same people in the government then, we are making an alliance with them now. This is a peculiar situation, but it happened under political compulsion. They have not become our class friends, our class allies - they cannot, they are definitely our class enemies. But because of this political situation we had to make an alliance with these types of forces. India was also supplying arms to fight our party, but because of the political compulsion this was also suspended. These were the political developments.
Joining a Reactionary Government, Is it Wrong?
And now, as we sum up what we have done, I will explain something more. For example, there is suspicion amongst some Maoist parties that it is wrong for our party to participate in the government. How can Maoists participate in the government, a reactionary government? Have they given up their line, their ideology?
We think this is not true. It is true that in history we don’t have this type of event, of any revolutionary communist participating with the reactionary force in the same government. This is true, we have no such event in history. For example, in Russia comrade Lenin put forward the proposal of provisional revolutionary government. When the Tsar was overthrown, they would form a provisional revolutionary government. This was the proposal put forward by the Bolshevik Party at that time. In the end, the Tsar was really overthrown, but the Bolshevik Party did not participate in the government.
In China, Mao Zedong put forward a proposal, he wrote a book on the subject. It was a proposal that he put forward in the congress of the party. He proposed coalition government with the Chiang Kai-shek reactionaries. Then there were the Chungking negotiations, and Mao participated for 34 days. Even after 34 days that negotiation was still not concluded, he returned to the base areas and Zhou Enlai and other leaders continued the negotiations. Mao put forward the proposal of coalition government, but this did not materialise in practice. In Russia and China, their proposals were put forward but actually in practice did not materialise, but in Nepal we have participated in the government.
Later on we pulled out of the government because of different reasons that I will explain. When we evaluate this, whether it was right to participate in the government, our evaluation is that it was correct because of two reasons. It was clear for us that by participating in the government we would not be able to resolve the problems of Nepal. We received five portfolios in the government, but the whole government and the whole bureaucratic machinery and everything remains in the hands of reactionaries. Definitely, we will not be able to solve the problems of the people. That we knew very well. We are not so stupid to think that by taking these five portfolios we could resolve these problems. But we joined the government for specific reasons.
One of the reasons is that it was necessary for us to develop international relations, because we were totally isolated. As I explained, the government had declared us a terrorist organisation. Interpol issued arrest warrants for most of the leaders of our party in more than 120 countries. We had the support of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) and some Maoist parties, this is true, but from other international players we were totally isolated. So it was necessary, because we think at present Maoist forces are not very strong internationally compared with the forces of reactionaries. In terms of strength we are negligible, so depending on only RIM and Maoist forces the revolution cannot succeed.
Prerequisites for Maintaining Revolutionary Power
Secondly, we would not be able to sustain our revolution. If we were able to capture power on a certain day, it would be very difficult to sustain it for a long time. We are encircled by enemies, and the strength of the enemy is many times more than the strength of our Maoist forces. So we feel that we should develop relations. We should use the contradictions among different reactionary forces so that they will not be unified to attack our revolution. We also want to increase support from outside. The unity among the RIM forces is fundamental. The unity among Maoist forces that are not in the RIM is also very important. This is an ideological question. Ideologically it is a vital question for us.
In spite of this we should look for support from different circles, which are not Maoist but are progressive forces, who don’t want autocratic monarchy in Nepal, who maybe want bourgeois democracy, democratic rights, prosperity for Nepal. Secondly we should strive to get the support of anti-imperialist forces, because imperialism is the main enemy of the people in the world today. We should seek support from broad anti-imperialist forces, some democratic forces, social democratic forces who claim to be communist though clearly they are not, but at least they support the struggle against the monarchy.
It is also necessary to utilise the contradictions between different states. For example, if we didn’t participate in the government and we were not in the parliament, I would not be able to travel to Europe. It would be simply impossible because we were listed as a terrorist organisation, we could not travel abroad and contact the people to explain our position and get direct support from them. This trip would have been impossible
Nepal is between two big powers, two huge powers, two giants, China and India. Now the relationship between China and India is better than before. There is no war between China and India. In the past there was a war, but now there is not, they have a better relationship, they have trade relations. But still there are differences, there are contradictions between them. So being in the government we are able to use these contradictions.
For example, I will tell you something that happened quite recently in Nepal. India was trying to intervene in the Terai. India didn’t directly intervene militarily, but they were creating chaos in our plains, as well as into the rest of Nepal, by providing every help to their agents. There was this type of intervention. But just 3 or 4 months ago, the ambassador of China gave a statement and said that if there was intervention from outside in Nepal, it would not be tolerated by China. They gave this statement, which is very significant. India was defeated by China in the 1962 war, and when the Chinese challenge India they will be demoralised. When they hear the name of the Chinese army they become frightened, they remember 1962, when the Chinese army gave them a very big defeat.
Quite recently there was a delegation from China that came to visit Nepal including Professor Wang who is the architect of foreign policy of the Chinese government. He leads academic institutions in China. He came to Nepal and in an interview in Kathmandu he said that the US and India are intervening in Nepal in different ways. There is a limit to everything, and if this limit is exceeded, China will not tolerate it. That was a big challenge but all these things didn’t happen spontaneously. We had different rounds of talks with the Chinese leadership and we are talking to the Chinese government and Party representatives about this question.
For example, I myself talked to these people and I said before the coming statement, if you support us, what support will you be providing? You are not saying anything about this. First of all you will send your opinion to the Chinese government, which will take 2 months to reach Beijing, then you will discuss this and only make decisions after 4 more months. Within 6 months what will happen in Nepal? Nobody knows. So what is the use of your support? They said no, it will not be like that. We will make decisions quickly. We welcomed this statement.
Right at this point of time we are making the revolution in a situation when there is no socialist camp. There is no socialist country to support the revolution. We have to make revolution in this situation, which is quite difficult. It was a similar situation in 1917 when the Bolshevik Party, under the leadership of Comrade Lenin, made revolution in Russia. But then there were some positive factors. For example, there was a very strong working class movement in Europe. Now it seems to be dead. But during that time it was very strong, especially in Germany. This was a positive support to the Russian revolution.
Also, the government of Russia, the Tsarist government, was heavily engaged in the First World War. The people of Russia, including the army, were tired of that war. Actually, they were angry with the Tsar. That was another factor, and Lenin put forward the slogan of “peace, bread and land”. The people were very happy. Lenin won support from sections of the army of the Tsar, and they deserted the army and joined them. These were the positive political factors in the Russian revolution, but in Nepal we don’t have this kind of support. In Asia, there is definitely some struggle, some revolutionary movements, but they are not very strong. Our country is not engaged in any war, and there is no world war. So in this situation, it is more difficult to accomplish the revolution. You can continue the revolution, you can start the revolution, but to accomplish the revolution is an uphill task.
If you are not able to utilise the contradictions among different reactionary forces, it is very difficult. Now if we sum up the correctness and incorrectness of our political tactics, we think that it is basically correct. What is the aim of political tactics? The aim of political tactics is to create a split in the enemy camp and unite the revolutionary forces. We were successful in doing that, because we split the monarchy and political parties, who were fighting against us together. We split them, and we took the political parties and we have almost smashed the monarchy. Now in Nepal the monarchy is almost gone. Officially it is not gone, but in reality it is almost gone.
Isolating Political Enemies and Rivals One by One
Now we are trying to isolate the Nepali Congress Party. It is the turn of Nepali Congress to be isolated, because we have already isolated the King and nearly smashed the monarchy. Now it is the turn of Nepali Congress, which is also a reactionary force. They declared bounty on our heads. They declared our party as a terrorist organisation. Now comes its turn. Now we are uniting with the Communist Party of Nepal United Marxist-Leninists (UML), which was always advocating unity between Nepali Congress and their party, to fight against our party. Now we are going to split them.
They are on the verge of a split, for example, quite recently we put forward two proposals in the parliament. First, a republic should be declared from the parliament. Second, the mode of the election should be fully proportional. These are the two points we put forward for discussion in the parliament. Over this issue we were able to split the Nepali Congress and UML.
When we put forward this proposal, UML was in a very difficult situation, whether to support our proposal or oppose it. All communists have an inborn character to want a republic. No communist in the world would support a monarchy. UML claim to be communist. If they opposed our proposal they would be afraid that we Maoists would expose them among the masses that they are no longer communist, they are pro-King. But, if they vote for the Maoist proposal, it will be passed. So they were in a very difficult situation.
Furthermore, they supported fully proportional elections before, and when it comes to a vote, if they vote in favour that would support the Maoists, if they vote against that would expose them to the masses. They were in a very difficult situation so they tried to negotiate with our party, “please don’t go for voting, lets compromise”. But we were determined. Our party’s central committee had decided that we could not compromise on these two issues. We could never compromise. We didn’t compromise and finally it went to a vote, and UML was compelled to vote in favour. There was an agreement with UML because they submitted the proposal with amendments. Actually, they supported a republic in a different way, and we supported their amendments. Regarding the electoral process, they supported fully proportional elections. When it came for voting, with the support of UML our proposal was passed by the parliament with a majority.
Because our proposal was passed by the majority, and Nepali Congress voted against our proposal, we were staking up the issue - to expose and isolate Nepali Congress. Now we are putting forward the proposal for making amendments in the constitution. For example, here, according to the constitution, to make amendments requires a two-thirds majority. A simple majority is not enough for that. But to ask the government to put forward that proposal in the parliament, a majority can work. Because now, UML and our party together, we are in the majority. We are compelling Nepali Congress to put forward that proposal for discussion. Because according to the constitution, it is the government which should put forward the proposal to amend the constitution, not any political party. It is the responsibility of the government.
Now Nepali Congress is in a dilemma. They are in a very difficult situation, they can go neither way. If they put forward that proposal for discussion in the parliament then they will be facing a moral problem, because quite recently they voted against that proposal. Putting forward the same proposal in the parliament to get the majority is a moral question for them, number one. If they don’t put forward that proposal, they will be defying the majority. In that case we will have the right, constitutionally, to ask them to resign from the government. “You have no moral right to be in the government because you are defying the decision of the majority!” So they will no longer be in the government. Our tactical line is thus isolating Nepali Congress.
Nepali Congress and UML were fighting collectively against our party, and we have told the leaders of UML that it is their turn to be Prime Minister. “If you want to be Prime Minister, first you should topple the Nepali Congress government”. We know very well that we should not hold this post at this point of time. Using the post of Prime Minister we are creating a split between Nepali Congress and the UML.
We are isolating the enemy one by one. We don’t know when the turn of UML will come. We are waiting for that. But the monarchy has been isolated, and secondly, now Nepali Congress has been isolated. It is very difficult even for the US and India to defend the Nepali Congress now. They are keeping mute, because according to their own definition of democracy – forget about our democracy, we define it in a different way – but their definition of democracy is that it is the rule of the majority, whoever enjoys the support in the parliament, they will form the government. This is their principle, it is their definition. But if you are in the minority, you don’t have that right. Whoever enjoys majority support, they have the right to govern. Since Nepali Congress is not able to enjoy majority support the US and India are keeping mute. We are saying “you please define your own democracy. What is your democracy? Did you redefine it?” They are keeping mute.
We are able to split Nepali Congress from UML. One by one we are trying to isolate them. This is political tactics. This also applies in the case of military actions. For example, Mao has already instructed us that when you have to eat a full plate of your food, rice, if you are hungry, you should not lift the whole plate and eat it like this. What is the proper way of eating? You should eat gulp by gulp. This is tactics. Finishing the food is our strategy, putting all this material in our stomachs is our strategy. How do we fulfil this strategy? By eating gulp by gulp. We have almost finished “eating” the monarchy. Then we are going to “eat” Nepali Congress and hopefully some time later we will “eat” other revisionists, this is our aim.
So now when we evaluate our tactics we think that they have been basically successful. Right at this moment the struggle is going on in the parliament and they are in the minority. We are trying to use this majority and minority to develop the struggle. If you ask about the election of constituent assembly, this is tactics.
Will the Elections be Held?
When will the elections be held? This is not a matter of so much concern for our party, frankly speaking. We have to make revolution, for however long we can use these tactics to make revolution, we will use them. When and in which day the election will be held is of less importance. But definitely we will be using the elections of the constituent assembly as long as we can. It is necessary, because it has become the agenda of the nation. Every international paper is talking about the constituent assembly, but five years back it was only the agenda of our party. Nobody else accepted it.
In the second national congress of our party we decided that we should go forward with this tactic. At that time nobody else accepted it, because for these 7 political parties the existing constitution was one of the best constitutions of the world. They said to us that we are challenging the constitution, which is one of the best in the world, so they could not agree with that. Now everybody is talking about it, including US imperialism. They were so concerned and were saying that the Maoists were going to destroy the constituent assembly. Now it has become the agenda of everybody. But so far as our party is concerned we are very clear, it is a tactical line. With that tactic we are able to create the spirit. We were able to build up the mass movement through those tactics and we are using these tactics to make revolution in order to succeed in New Democratic Revolution.
We will definitely be using these tactics, we are not going to give them up. It would be wrong. It will be a burden on the part of the Communist Party to give up the tactics which are already established within society and internationally. It is just like giving up arms to the enemy, saying “just take these arms and attack us”. We are not so stupid. We should not be so stupid that we give the arms to the enemy and say do whatever you like. We will use these arms ourselves. This is the situation in Nepal.
We know very clearly that Nepali Congress will never accept these two proposals because they have their own compulsion. They cannot accept these two proposals because they think that if the monarchy is abolished and a republic is declared, everybody will understand that this republic has come into being because of the Maoists. It is a Maoist instigated republic. The whole political benefit will be taken by the Maoists.
There will be proportional elections and some reactionary people and some journalists, are intimidating Nepali Congress now. These journalists are taking the statistics of the last election and showing the total strength of the Nepali Congress – two Nepali Congress Parties which have joined together – altogether was 180 and something seats. If you go to the polls with this full electoral process, you will get less than 70 seats. So they will suffer a lot. And how much will the Maoists gain? They will either win a majority of the seats or will be the biggest party in the parliament. Nepali Congress are really afraid of that, even though we don’t give importance to the elections.
We communists don’t give that much importance to these elections, but for the reactionaries elections are everything. As you can see, it is not very common in Europe and in the UK, but if you go and observe elections in South Asia, in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, people kill each other over the election. No matter how many people will be killed they still want to win the election. This is the way elections are fought. For reactionaries the election is decisive. If they think beforehand that they are going to be defeated, why would they vote for that? It is suicidal for them, they will not accept our proposal, we know.
This is good and bad, there are two aspects. On the one hand it is good, but on the other hand it is bad. It is good because if they will not accept it, we will develop the mass movement. When we have achieved a majority, that achievement will be used against Nepali Congress, and that will develop the mass movement that we have already. It is in our agenda that we work out the plan of the next mass movement to press the government to put forward this proposal in parliament. To make amendments in the constitution by a two-thirds majority will also not really happen, so we can develop the mass movement. We are using this majority, the weapon of the majority, against Nepali Congress. We are making the plan of developing the mass movement and our aim is to seize central power. This is the aim of the mass movement.
Apparently it seems like the situation is very simple, because we have already achieved a majority and Maoists are in a better position, we will go forward easily. But this is not true, because everything is approaching a climax in Nepal. We are in the process of a very big change. If communists succeed, are able to capture state power, it will not only be a victory of the Nepalese people, the Nepalese proletariat, but it would also be the victory of the revolutionaries of the world today. It will be the centre, the base area of the world revolution.
Revolutionary Movements around the World
Reactionaries, including US imperialists, know this very well. So it is US imperialism which is trying its best not to allow the revolution to succeed, not because of economic reasons, even though the US has an interest to exploit, to extract wealth from Nepal. We don’t think like that, because Nepal is not a big economy for the US and it is not easy for the US to extract wealth from Nepal. But politically it is very important. Once the revolution succeeds in Nepal it will have a big impact at the international level – because revolutionary movements are building up, taking shape in different parts of the world today.
For example, in neighbouring India there is a significant Maoist movement. The government has repeatedly accepted that it is a political threat. According to the government evaluation, previously the nationalist movement was the greatest political threat. But in the last 2 to 3 years they have been saying that the Maoist movement is the greatest threat to the Indian government. If the revolution in Nepal will succeed right at their border, definitely this will have a direct impact and maybe the Indian reactionary class will not be able to stop the revolution there. If India were liberated then it will be a very big thing for the world revolution.
There are also other countries where revolutionary movements are developing, for example in Turkey, some comrades in Iran are trying to make a breakthrough there, as well as in Peru and in the Philippines. If the revolution in Nepal succeeds then there will be a great effect on the world revolution. Other movements will move forward with tremendous strength. Even if other people don’t know this, the CIA and US imperialism know its significance. They will do their best to prevent it. They will do their best to prevent the revolution at any cost.
During the 1990s the Soviet Union disintegrated. Actually we didn’t call it socialism, it was not socialist, but popularly it was known as a socialist country and western imperialism defined it as socialist. The imperialists were very happy with the collapse of the Soviet Union and they declared that Marxism will never come back again. For western imperialism, socialism existed for seventy years in the Soviet Union and then collapsed. They claim, now there will be no more socialism. The best system in the world is capitalism, not socialism. It has been proven from practice. They were getting like that, Marxism has gone, it is dead, it will never come back. But now there is a revolution under the leadership of the Maoist Party in Nepal. All their arguments, all their proof, all their efforts will be shattered. So they are very much afraid of the revolution in Nepal. So definitely imperialism will do its best to prevent the revolution from being accomplished in Nepal.
If you ask me the question of whether in Nepal we are fighting against the monarchy only, this is not the case. The monarchy is almost finished, because even Nepali Congress have taken a position that will not support the monarchy. All the 7 parties have accepted that we are not for monarchy, we are for a republic. Now the king is no more the head of state, he is no more the supreme commander of the army and has no following among the masses. So actually, we have already finished the monarchy.
In fact, we are fighting against US imperialism. US imperialism is trying to restore and revive the monarchy. It is trying to organise the reactionaries and regressive forces around the monarchy. It is getting support from Indian reactionaries, Hindu fundamentalists. The real fight in Nepal is against US imperialism. In this situation, we think that it is a good thing that we have the opportunity to fight US imperialism. But it is difficult, it is not easy to fight against US imperialism. So the fight against US imperialism has to be carried out internationally, because it is the enemy of the people of the world.
Now we are striving to develop anti-imperialist struggle throughout the world. We are trying to make alliance with the forces who are fighting against US imperialism. In order to fight US imperialism internationally it is necessary to gather support from all revolutionary people, anti-imperialist people, Maoist and all revolutionaries of the world.
We are making tours of European countries in order to gain support. We have to get support from all different forces against US imperialism with the aim of supporting the revolution in Nepal. This is also a significant step for you in Europe, because you are supporting the revolution in Nepal. We should definitely get support from the broad masses in Europe. I think there are many good people in Europe. There are many revolutionaries, many communists, who are very enthusiastic about making revolution in their country, or accomplishing revolution anywhere in the world. Time and again they have expressed their solidarity, regarding our release from prison, saving our lives, supporting our revolution in Nepal. If you have a correct line, you have a much higher fighting capacity.
You may think that since there is no revolutionary movement, that there is no working class movement in Europe, so therefore nothing can be done here. Comrades, you should not be disappointed. Communists should not be disappointed. You have the strength, provided you have the correct ideological and political line and you dare to implement that line, you can do it.
I will give some examples. When I was in prison, the Prime Minister of Nepal visited Belgium in order to procure arms from the Belgian government. Belgium produces lots of arms, and they had already agreed to supply arms to the Nepalese government. Our comrades during that time, they were not a large number, there were around 100 comrades in Belgium, and they knew that this guy had come to Belgium to procure the arms that can be used against the People’s War. So they organised a protest and they contacted different political forces including the Workers Party of Belgium (PTB), which was against supplying arms to suppress the people of Nepal. They got support from PTB and some other anti-monarchy forces and some revolutionary forces. They protested in the parliament and even the Green Party supported them. They protested inside the parliament and in front of the European parliament and they shouted slogans. Finally the government decided not to supply the arms on this occasion.
Even 100 people can do that, if you have a correct line, if you have a correct ideology. It is a very big thing to stop the supply of arms to the Royal Nepalese Army. Actually, it was a major support for the People’s War. If the arms reached Nepal it would have a very bad effect on the People’s War. But they were able to stop it. So we should not be disappointed, we have that strength, because our ideology has a huge strength. When we implement this ideology then it becomes a material force. Ideology is in our minds, if we write, it goes onto the paper, and when we implement it, it becomes material force. So our ideology, invincible ideology, definitely creates invincible force.
Comrades in Europe, we have that ideology, if you work on the correct political line, you can create a major force. It is necessary to gather support internationally to support the People’s War in Nepal. Supporting the People’s War in Nepal ultimately means to fight against US imperialism. Now it is clear, while making revolution in Nepal we are side by side fighting against US imperialism, and definitely it is a big task.
It is Your Revolution Too
We think that the revolution in Nepal is not only the revolution of the people of Nepal, it is your revolution also. We are making revolution for everybody, it is our common effort. Once the revolution in Nepal succeeds, it will be the base area of the world revolution. I hope and believe that we accomplish the revolution in Nepal with our combined force.
Thank you very much.
This regime is going down. What Nepal is witnessing is an April Revolution.
When it comes to brute force, a democracy has more power at its disposal than any fascist regime, if you think about it.
The fascists in Kathmandu have unleashed the state machiney upon the people. They are in their last hurrah. They will have hell to pay.
The key is to document everything so perpetrators can be punished. Kamal Thapa will personally pay for jail time with jail time. He has put too many people in jail for too long. He will pay for it all. It is just a matter of time.
Document everything. Justice will be done by the democratic government once it takes over.
The people have enough strength on their own. Internatinal solidarity is but a bonus. The people are going to come out into the streets, and take over power, and the people are going to punish the fascists. All those army generals who have gotten into a bad habit of feasting on the people's money will have to vomit it all out. Money will have to be accounted for. Many will face a loss of liberty and property.
This king has a fundamental character flaw. Or he would be talking. He has fled to Pokhara, now he might have to flee Nepal.
The Maoists are hung up on the constituent assembly. How radical is that? That is nothing radical. He should take it.
Or the seven parties and the Maoists would be coalescing around the slogal of a democratic republic. The country will become a republic before it goes for a constituent assembly.
There is no alternative to a mass movement. And a mass movement is sufficient unto itself.
Girija Koirala has talked of both a ceremonial monarchy and a republic. Prachanda never hijacked a plane, Girija did. Unlike many of my friends, I think Koirala will go for a republic, if the movement becomes a revolution. He is a firebrand himself. So far he has been keeping in mind the political realties. But those ground realities are fast changing.
Maoist Rebels Win Majority in Nepalese Assembly
Maoist rebels in Nepal say an end to monarchy is near, following their surprise victory in last week’s national elections. The Communist Party of Nepal is expected to come out with more than half the seats in the constituent assembly when final results are released. Maoist officials say one of their first orders of business will be to abolish the monarchy and declare a republic. We speak with New York-based journalist Kashish Das Shrestha, and we go to Nepal to speak with anthropologist Mary Des Chenes. [includes rush transcript]
Mary Des Chenes, an anthropologist and human rights activist who has worked in Nepal over the past twenty years. She is editor of the Kathmandu-based journal Studies in Nepali History and Society.
Kashish Das Shrestha, freelance journalist and photographer based in New York and producer and host of the podcast In Conversation on samudaya.org
AMY GOODMAN: Maoist rebels in Nepal say an end to monarchy is near, following their surprise victory in last week’s national elections. The Communist Party of Nepal is expected to come out with more than half the seats in the Constituent Assembly when final results are released. Maoist officials say one of their first orders of business will be to abolish the monarchy and declare a republic. The elections came out of a 2006 peace deal that saw the Maoists end their uprising against King Gyanendra. Gyanendra had been forced to give up his absolute powers following a groundswell of protest against his rule.
To talk about what this election
could mean for Nepal, I’m joined by two guests. In the firehouse studio
in New York, Kashish Das Shrestha is a freelance journalist,
photographer, producer, host of the podcast In Conversation on samudaya.org.
And joining me on the line from Nepal is Mary Des Chenes. She’s an
anthropologist and human rights activist who has worked in Nepal over
twenty years. She is the editor of the Kathmandu-based journal Studies in Nepali History and Society.
Why don’t we start with you, Mary Des Chenes, in Kathmandu? Tell us what is happening there now.
MARY DES CHENES: Hello, Amy. What’s happening in Nepal
right now is great relief and a tremendous amount of happiness on the
street. This vote has come clearly not just from the Maoist cadres and
devoted supporters, but it comes from across the country, every region,
less in one region only. And it comes from across classes and across
parties. The two main parties that have dominated electoral politics,
which was reinstituted in 1990, have suffered historic defeat, meaning
that their own voters have gone over to the Maoists and have said with
one extraordinarily clear voice that we want very fundamental change, a
very crucial economic change. And that’s a great challenge that now
faces—one of the great challenges that now face the Maoists, as they
are now two votes away from taking a majority in the first past post
side of the election, with quite a few constituencies to go. And it’s
looking like the other side of the proportional election
side—proportional representation side of the election will definitely
give them a majority in the constituent assembly.
AMY GOODMAN: Kashish Das Shrestha in the studio in New York, how surprising was this victory, the Maoist victory?
KASHISH DAS SHRESTHA: Well, everybody was actually taken
quite a bit by surprise, except with the Maoists themselves actually, I
think, because, you know, nobody really predicted the Maoists to have
such an overwhelming turnout for themselves at the polls. Everybody
thought—the international community, the local media, all the analysts
assumed that, you know, this election would be a way to keep the
Maoists engaged in the democratic process; you know, the UML would
probably come out on the first place, and Nepali Congress would
probably show up second, and the Maoists would come somewhere in the
third place. And, you know, basically that was the general analysis
that we had, even until the day of elections.
And then, you know, polls closed, and Thursday evening, Friday
morning, we started counting the polls, and the results indicate that
the Maoists are in the lead. And now, I guess, everybody is just
waiting to see how this turns out. But everybody was indeed taken by
quite a surprise, not just the local journalists, that, you know,
there’s been a lot of conversation in Kathmandu that the media elite in
the Valley got it wrong, but it’s just not—not just in Kathmandu. I
think everywhere people just got it wrong of how the Maoists turned
AMY GOODMAN: Can you describe who the Maoists are?
KASHISH DAS SHRESTHA: The Maoists—actually, they’ve been
engaged in politics for several decades now. They were underground for
ten years before launching their Maoist armed struggle in 1996. And
since then, they’ve been underground, too. As you mentioned earlier in
the program, it’s only been two years that they’ve come out of the
jungles and joined the peace process, and actually it’s been a year
since they joined the government. April 2007 was when they officially
joined the interim parliament in Nepal and took up five portfolios in
the cabinet. But, you know, there is a good chunk of the politbureau
members—they’re all politicians, of course, but they also have a pretty
strong People’s Liberation Army, which people have very vivid memories
of in the countryside and in Kathmandu.
AMY GOODMAN: How did they build their support?
KASHISH DAS SHRESTHA: The Maoists have—you know, to their
credit, they were the first—they were the first vocal group to
aggressively pursue the idea of a Republic Nepal, the end of the
monarchy, and they have worked favorably towards the marginalized
community groups in Nepal. And that’s one of the reasons that they’ve
had such a strong showing in the polls this election, the fact that
they were—you know, they were fighting to end monarchy and to give the
marginalized communities in Nepal a voice.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the leader of the Maoist rebels?
KASHISH DAS SHRESTHA: Prachanda—the leader of the
Maoists, Prachanda, “the fierce one,” as he’s always quoted in the
press, is—well, you know, he’s always been—he’s been underground, too,
and he was sort of the mysterious leader of the party, but the last two
years has given the Nepali people a chance to see him. And there’s
various ways people look at him, but I think Baburam Bhattarai, the
second-in-command of the Maoist party, is sort of more in the attention
right now, because there’s a lot of talk that he might in fact be
appointed the next prime minister of Nepal. And just recently, there
was an interview of him published in nepalitimes.com,
and he goes in great length, actually, to talk about the kind of
economic changes and reforms that they plan to make in the country and
some of the ideas that they have for Nepal.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about his history, his rise to power?
KASHISH DAS SHRESTHA: Prachanda’s rise to power or Baburam’s?
AMY GOODMAN: Yes—no, the leader of the Maoist rebels.
KASHISH DAS SHRESTHA: Prachanda has—well, you know, he’s
always been a hardcore leftist, but he comes from a poor family
background also. He comes from rural Nepal. But I haven’t really
studied him very well, so I wouldn’t be able to give you the kind of
details that you might be hoping for.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, let me ask Mary Des Chenes in
Kathmandu how he rose to power. Who were his influences? Mary Des
Chenes? Yes, can you talk about his influences and how he rose to power
over time, Mary Des Chenes?
MARY DES CHENES: Yes. Let me start just by correcting one
point. The Maoists were in the parliament up to the 1993, ’94
elections, just two years before they started the armed struggle. They
had been underground, as had, well, pretty much all parties prior to
1990. But they had come into electoral politics, and they were the
third largest force in the parliament. An army operation was taken on
against them during the elections of ’93, ’94. And it’s after that that
they left the parliamentary process.
They were at that time not called the CPN-Maoists; they were
part the CPN Unity Centre, and this is where Prachanda’s influences
come from. There are two or three lines of influence inside the
Communist movement of Nepal: very broadly speaking, influence from
China and influence, in terms of ideology, from China and from the
Soviet model and also importantly from the Naxalite movement in India.
Prachanda comes out of the side of that—of the Communist party that has
pretty much followed their version of Mao’s [inaudible] politics, which
you can gather from them calling themselves the CPN-Maoists. He was
part of CPN Unity Centre and came out of that side of the Communist
movement. The CPN-UML, United Marxist-Leninist, which has been in the
parliament through these eighteen years and is here discussed as the
reformist left, it’s the main stream that has come out of the
Soviet-influenced line of the Communist movement here, broadly
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the US’s designation of the Maoists as a specially designated terrorist organization?
MARY DES CHENES: Yes. Jimmy Carter was here himself,
along with people from the Carter Center, as one of the international
monitors in the election, one of the groups monitoring. And one of the
things he said very clearly in his press conference at the end of that,
in declaring this event an extraordinarily free and fair election, was
that it is time for the United States to rescind that designation. We
have the curious situation, I would say, now, in which the Maoists have
done—they have left armed struggle two years ago at this point. They
have exercised, as they point out, one of the most democratic forums
known to democratic politics, in urging and then now carrying out a
constituent assembly election, and now they’ve massively won a
tremendous mandate in that election. So either the Bush administration
would need to say something like that, kind of real exercise of
democratic process is a terrorist act, or it needs to take them off of
the terrorist list.
The serious consequences of being on that list are many. It
makes it very difficult for foreign governments to deal with the
government here. That has already been an issue, as Maoists joined in
the government here and are part of the current interim government
setup, whereas now they look to take probably—certainly a larger part
in that government.
I should stress that in the public statements immediately after,
and continuing now as it’s become clear that they’re taking a majority,
they’re absolutely emphasizing that they want to continue with the
joint alliance that has governed—is governing the country at present.
The constituent assembly is set to sit for two years. So we have at
least two more years of transitional government to go here. And it’s a
very tricky moment. And they have very maturely and generously, given
the tremendous mandate that they’re getting, emphasized that the
seven-party alliance that has been the structure under which the
government is running is something they want to continue.
The UML, unfortunately—this is the United Marxist-Leninist
party—has specifically withdrawn from the government as of today. One
hopes that they’ll come back, and it’s an unfortunate development. And
it’s yet to be seen how serious that is, whether that’s really an
active form of non-cooperation, which is certainly a concern here. If
the Maoists do take a majority, both the—from the right wing over to
the center here, will the other political groups cooperate? And, of
course, the question of what international forces are going to do. We
have many, many examples around the world of when revolutionary groups
take power, even through the ballot box, of either overt or covert
forms of trying to derail their political processes. So that’s a
concern here very certainly, something Maoists are trying to deal with
in a very responsible way.
AMY GOODMAN: Asia Times is reporting the Maoist
victory in Nepal could pose a threat to the Indian establishment,
encouraging and galvanizing revolutionary movements in India. Mary Des
Chenes, your response to that?
MARY DES CHENES: Well, there are certainly groups of
analysts who come out of the military tradition in India who will be
saying that, and the BJP and the whole—the rightwing Hindus, organized
political rightwing Hindu groups in India, who very much want to retain
the monarchy here, will also be pushing that kind of line.
From the left side, you will also see people thinking that this
is going to encourage movements that are struggling for people’s rights
at a very basic level, the majority poor of the subcontinent. And we
should remember that both India and Nepal and Bangladesh are majority
incredibly impoverished countries, not because they don’t have
resources, but because of the maldistribution of resources and
tremendous inequalities. And, of course, there are movements all over
all of these countries struggling against that.
So, looked at from the side of people’s movements of many
kinds—they’re not all revolutionary movements—this election has been
taken—this election result has been taken as a great encouragement.
Looked at from the side of elite politics that want to have democratic
processes more in name than in practice, it looks like a threat.
AMY GOODMAN: Kashish Das Shrestha, the confusion that Stephen Hadley, the National Security Adviser, had—
KASHISH DAS SHRESTHA: Between Tibet and Nepal.
KASHISH DAS SHRESTHA: —between Nepal and Tibet this weekend on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, repeatedly confusing the two.
KASHISH DAS SHRESTHA: I thought it was just—it was really
funny and, you know, of course, in this day and age so easy for it to
get picked up on the comedy shows and on YouTube, but he kept on
mistaking Nepal for Tibet throughout his conversation, and now it’s all
over the blog wire and everything.
But I just want to get back to this point about India. The
External Affairs Minister from India, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, he has
spoken to Prachanda recently and has extended the willingness of India
to work with the government that is now going to be set up in Nepal.
And just to quickly go back on the terrorist list designation, I
spoke to somebody at the country desk—at the country desk for Nepal at
the US State Department, and he said that the Maoist Communist Party of
Nepal, Maoists, has actually in fact been taken off the foreign
terrorist organization list, which is maintained by the State
Department. But they’re still on the special designated terrorist list
which is apparently maintained by the Treasury Department.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Kashish Das Shrestha, thank you very much for being with us, freelance journalist, photographer, producer and host of the podcast In Conversation, which can be found at samudaya.org. And in Nepal, joining us from Kathmandu, Mary Des Chenes, anthropologist and human rights activist, working in Nepal for more than two decades, editor of the Kathmandu-based journal Studies in Nepali History and Society.