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Nepal: CPN (M) -- Present situation and our challenges

By Basanta

August 12, 2008 -- This is an era of imperialism and proletarian revolution. It is known also as the Leninist era. The specificity of this era has been the spread by imperialism through exploitation and robbery of the world, through the economic base of feudalism and the superstructure of bureaucrat and comprador bourgeois in the oppressed countries.

CPN (M) leader Prachanda

Founded on imperialist interests, bureaucratic capitalism, which develops as a result of an unholy alliance between feudalism and imperialism, is against the nation and also the people. Comprador and bureaucratic capitalism does not allow national capitalism to flourish by ending the feudal relations in agricultural production. The expansion of imperialist capital brings about some quantitative changes in the feudal relations of production, but it does not go beyond the interests of the comprador bourgeoisie and imperialism. In this way, it is evident that feudalism and imperialism must be the targets of proletarian revolution in the semi-feudal and semi-colonial countries.

Nepal is a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country. Through the Sugauli Treaty in 1816, the unholy union of British imperialism and the centralised Nepali State that was forcefully unified by Prithvi Narayan Shah, the ambitious king of Gorkha, turned our country into a semi-feudal and semi-colonial one. As a result of socio-economic conditions, feudalism and imperialism and particularly Indian expansionism are the barriers for Nepalese people’s democracy, progress and national independence. Without abolishing feudalism and without bringing to an end to external intervention, the Nepalese people cannot clear the way for real democracy and national independence.

The overwhelming participation of the Nepalese people in progressive struggles, in various forms and essences, from around 1949, expresses their firm resolve for people’s democracy and nationalism against feudal and imperialist oppression. However, the king’s patriotic mask is to hide his feudalistic ultra-nationalism, and the Nepali Congress’s chatter of democracy serves imperialism and, mainly, Indian expansionism; it has succeeded for a pretty long time to divide and confuse the Nepalese people about patriotism and democracy. History is a witness, even as the Nepalese Communist Movement, which made efforts to develop an independent trend by grasping that democracy and nationalism were inseparable from each other, also failed to keep itself free from siding with the monarchy, whenever there was a threat to the nation, and whenever democracy was challenged, trailing behind the Nepali congress,. The political events up to 1990 prove this reality. But it  must never forget that the conflict between the monarchy and the Nepali Congress is not to negate one by the other, but only to ensure that the role of each remains decisive in the sharing of power between the two.

The unprecedented supported and participation of the people, in the course of the initiation and continuation of the great People’s War, was successful because of our party’s ability to develop a strong independent trend in favour of democracy and nationalism. This was a breakthrough in the history of the Communist Movement of Nepal. In the situation, when there was once tripartite contradiction among the ultra-nationalist regressive trend of feudal monarchy, the status quo trend of bourgeois democracy of the parliamentarian parties, and our anti-feudal and anti-imperialist progressive independent trend. Our party’s grasp of dialectics, to handle and use the conflict already existing between the monarchy and the parliamentary parties was one of the main reasons behind the development of People’s War. However, without changing the state of tripartite conflict into a bi-polar contradiction, no path would have been open to accomplish new democratic revolution in Nepal.

The development of People’s War, the palace massacre and Gyanendra’s autocratic actions, created an environment that helped bring the revolutionary and status quo forces together. Only after the design, mainly by US imperialism, of building agreement between the regressive and status quo forces, and of using that coalition against the C. P. N. (Maoist) failed, the 12-point understanding between the status quo and progressive trends was reached. In this way, the unprecedented mass movement of April 2006 that developed upon the base of 10 years of People’s War, with the support of the 12-point understanding, has finished off the monarchy in Nepal and made Nepal into a Federal Democratic Republic. It must be understood that the end of monarchy was not the end of feudalism, but the end of the central role of the monarchy in the reactionary power. This is an extraordinary achievement made by the Nepali people.

However, in this situation, a right opportunist trend that understands the democratic republic as the final success of revolution, and a left sectarian trend that minimises this achievement can sometimes be noticed in our party and in the society as well. In the present situation of the International Communist Movement, where right revisionism is the main danger, it is urgently necessary to emphasize struggle against the right trend, in and outside of the party, and to remain attentive towards the loss that the left sectarianism and centrist opportunism can impart to the revolution. Only by struggling against various wrong trends can the revolution be defended and led to victory.

Even though the feudal monarchy ended, there has been little change in the semi-feudal and semi-colonial socio-economic conditions of Nepal. Feudalism and imperialism, the targets of New Democratic Revolution, still exist. The comprador and bureaucrat capitalist class that dominates the Nepalese State represents, internally, the interests of feudalism and externally that of imperialism. Therefore, the Central Committee meeting of our party held last June at the Garden Hotel in Kathmandu has decided that the principal barrier at present for the new democratic revolution in Nepal, are the comprador and bureaucrat bourgeoisie.

Even in this situation, when our party emerged as the largest party, through the Constituent Assembly election, the encirclement that imperialism and Indian expansionism and their Nepalese puppets to not allow the CPN Maoist lead the government manifests the intensity of this very contradiction. The conspiracies that are being hatched not to allow our party to lead government are nothing other than a different type of class struggle between bureaucrat and comprador bourgeoisie and the Nepalese proletariat. Now, under the leadership of the Nepali Congress, which represents comprador bourgeois, the reactionaries have been working vigorously to develop a status quo coalition against our party. There is no doubt that all of this are done under the master plan of US imperialism and Indian expansionism. Thus, it is clear that it can be nothing other than a domestic and foreign reactionary design to prepare for the final offensive against the Nepalese people’s aspirations of real democracy and independence.

Put forward by the second national conference and concretised by the Chunwang Meeting, the tactic of Constituent Assembly, and through this the establishment of Federal Democratic Republic has been accomplished successfully. However, this process has placed the comprador bourgeois class in the dominant position of the reactionary state power. In this situation, to build up a front composed of the entire democratic, patriotic and left forces under the leadership of the party of the proletariat, and move ahead for the final offensive; this is the need of the hour. This and only this can open up the door to eliminating feudalism and imperialism from Nepal, and thereby accomplishing the New Democratic revolution. This is how our party, the CPN (Maoist), a part of the internationalist proletariat, can fulfil its internationalist duty of opening the door for the world proletarian revolution in the first decade of the 21st century.

[The writer is a central committee member of CPN-Maoist. This article first appeared in the August 18-31 edition of the Red Star, newspaper of the CPN (M) at http://www.krishnasenonline.org/theredstar/issues/issue13/basanta.htm.]

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Wall Street Journal: The Prachanda Path

The Prachanda Path
By KUNDA DIXIT
August 28, 2008

KATMANDU, Nepal -- It may have been just a coincidence that a week after he was sworn in, Nepal's new Maoist prime minister was in Beijing Sunday for his first foreign visit. But for Nepalis, the visit had geopolitical meaning. Our leaders traditionally first go to New Delhi, our largest trading partner, after taking office. The picture of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal shaking hands with President Hu Jintao was splashed across all Nepali newspapers' front pages this week. Little wonder: Everyone's looking for signs about how this new government will behave.

After a 12-year war, a fragile two-year peace process and a crippling food and fuel crisis, voters' expectations are high. They voted for the Maoists in April elections hoping they would usher in an era of peace and development. But Mr. Dahal may actually find that waging war was easier than delivering on his party's utopian promises.

Mr. Dahal is still known here by his nom de guerre, Prachanda, which means "The Fierce One." He is the first Maoist in history to be voted in as head of state. The Maoists lead a shaky coalition with the United Marxist-Leninists (which despite its name is a moderate leftist party) and a regional party representing the Madhesi people of Nepal's eastern plains. The center-right Nepali Congress party decided to stay in the opposition.

In their ambitious election manifesto, the Maoists promised among other things "revolutionary" land reform, basic health and education, an ethnicity-based federal state structure and a South Africa-style Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate war crimes. Overarching all this are their wild promises to deliver 20% GDP growth and $3,000 per-capita income by 2020, and to transform Nepal into a "Singapore."

Mr. Dahal's more urgent challenge, however, is simply to provide economic relief. More than half of Nepal's population lives below the poverty line, hunger stalks the land and inflation is running at 20% for foodstuffs. The government can't afford to subsidize petroleum products and people have endured two years of long queues at gas stations.

How well will the new government meet these challenges? Finance Minister Baburam Bhattarai, the Maoist party's chief ideologue, wants to launch large showcase projects that generate immediate employment. He has ambitious plans for a railway artery from east to west, investments in highways, hydropower and a new international airport. That alone won't be enough. The government needs to find jobs for the 450,000 Nepalis who enter the labor market every year. About half of them emigrate to find work every year, mostly to India, the Gulf states, Malaysia and South Korea.

The Maoists realize job creation is not possible without foreign investment, and have tried to assure domestic business and the international community they will respect private property, encourage foreign direct investment and smooth labor relations. Yet investors aren't convinced. The Maoists' intimidating youth wing has a habit of extorting businesses. The Maoist threat to enforce a higher minimum wage for foreign-owned enterprises has already spooked multinationals in Nepal, as has the governing party's sponsorship of militant unionism and preferential treatment for domestic enterprises under its concept of "national capitalism."

Despite these problems, it does look like Messrs. Dahal and Bhattarai are more in line with Deng Xiaoping than with Mao Zedong or the Gang of Four on the economy. However, there are hardcore Maoists in the ranks who think the leadership has sold out on the revolution. The leadership needs to keep this faction in check.

The Maoist-led coalition's final challenge is to ensure political stability so that the 601-member Constituent Assembly that was elected in April can start drafting Nepal's new constitution. The transition from monarchy to republic in the past two years was delayed, but it went surprisingly smoothly.

For that progress to continue, the government must integrate the Maoist army into the national army, while at the same time downsizing it. This will be the job of a former guerrilla commander, Ram Bahadur Thapa, who is now Defense Minister. Over the next two years, the constitutional framers will also have to grapple with how to divide the country into federal units, how much power over economic policy each unit should have and how the judiciary should function. These are all important questions in their own right. They will also affect the government's ability to address economic challenges.

The road ahead is not easy. But the fact that Nepal has seen such far-reaching political transformation since 2006 without large outbreaks of violence and through political negotiations means that it could just pull it off.

Mr. Dixit is editor of the Nepali Times.

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