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Nepal: Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) victory, a great step forward

By Farooq Tariq

April 13, 2008 -- The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) victory in the constituent assembly election held on April 10 is a great step forward for the forces of the left in the region and internationally. Not only the CPN (Maoist) but also the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist) (UML) received more votes than the Nepal Congress. At the time of writing, the CPN (Maoist) has won 69 seats, UML 21, Nepal Congress 20 and the Peasant Workers Party 2 seats.

The Maoists are heading to become the single largest group in the 240 constituent assembly seats that are being decided on a first-past-the-post basis. Nearly 60 per cent of the 601 seats in the constitutional assembly will be decided by a complex proportional representative votes, whose final results will take a couple of weeks to be decided. The future of King Gyanedra and the Shah monarchy hangs by a thread straining under the weight of the Maoists' mandate.

The elections were due last year on November 12. But the Maoists walked out of the transitional government a month before the general election. They demanded that all parties agree before the elections that Nepal will become a republic and Shah had to lose the remaining few powers after the elections.

The elections had to be postponed and the after protracted discussions, the Nepal Congress and UML agreed to the Maoists' demands. This was a stunning victory for the CPN (Maoist). The UML had relied on its election experience and was of the view that the CPN (Maoist) would not be accepted as the main voice in the cities.

``They have no experience of general elections'', I heard from several main leaders and supporters of the UML while I was in Nepal in October 2007. The masses did just the opposite. They voted for those with no experience of elections but with full experience of fighting for basic rights.

The Maoist Youth launched a campaign all over Nepal after the success of the movement in 2006 against the corrupt officials in the bureaucracy. They would Gherao (picket) any government office for this purpose and sometimes they would kidnap the corrupt to be paraded in public later. These incidents happened while I was in Nepal.

This practice brought a very forceful message in a society that is in the grip of absolute poverty. There is no comparison with poverty of the people in Nepal with other part of South Asia. Nepal is well ahead in this category. The infrastructure is in very bad condition.

Earlier in 2006, a mass movement initiated by the various radical social movements was joined by hundreds of thousands people and forced the King to withdraw his dictatorial measures and to restore the parliament. He was deprived of all powers as head of the armed forces after the success of the movement.

Communist forces have been very strong in Nepal for a long time. They have fought the most repressive regimes in the past. At one point, the CPN (UML) was in power for a period of nine months while the King was still the head of the state. The UML became the largest communist party in Nepal. It has close relations with the Communist Party of India (CPI), the CPI(M) and the CPI(ML), the three main communist parties of India. The UML has some contacts with the Labour Party Pakistan (LPP) through its mass organisations in the peasantry and trade unions.

There is absolute no basis for a counter-revolution after this stunning victory. The masses are very well aware and they will not accept any attempt. In fact, the military suffered a crushing defeat in 2006 by the mass movement. It will take long time for it to recover.

The victory of left forces, mainly the Maoists, will have a tremendous effect on the politics of the South Asian countries. It will radicalise a whole new layer, and particularly it will have a tremendous effect on the youth in Pakistan where a mass movement against the military dictatorship is still going on.

During the attacks by Pakistan's Musharraf dictatorship on the media after the imposition of emergency rule in November 2007, a Nepali trade union leader came to visit Pakistan at the invitation of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalist. He was very warmly received all over and he spoke about Nepal's experience in fighting dictatorship. In one meeting, which I was also attending, he said, ``Do not give up the fight, it takes time but it will win, the dictatorship has to go, be united and fight together''.

How far the CPN (Maoist) will be able to solve the basic problems of the masses will have to be seen. But while I was in Nepal, there was a meeting of a World Bank official with the Maoist minister in charge of Kathmandu water. They were in negotiations for the privatisation of Kathmandu water. It seemed that the minister was not much worried about privatisation but more interested in the aid that will come through World Bank. There was some criticism on this meeting by activists in the meeting I was attending.

Would they go for nationalisation of the big institutions and cancel the privatised ones? I do not see that. They will more go along the lines of working with a shadow of capitalism rather breaking with capitalism. They will mainly copy their communist brothers and sisters in India. More like a West Bengal condition rather than a Venezuela-type development.

The victory of CPN (Maoist) is a massive step forward for the people of Nepal. Once and for all they will get rid of King and the Shah family. Nepal will start a new era. However, it can go at a much faster speed to development if it does away with capitalism as well as the Shah family. There is no basis for stages. This stage of capitalist development under a radical government has not much room to maneouver. The Maoists have to go further than the program they have at present if Nepal is to go further.

In Pakistan, we will all celebrate the victory of the CPN (Maoist) and other left forces of Nepal and will show our maximum solidarity with the new radical government.

[Farooq Tariq is spokesperson for the Labour Party Pakistan. Visit http://www.laborpakistan.org and http://www.jeddojuhd.com]

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