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Nepal: CPN (Maoist) national convention -- beginning the `great debate'; Split avoided

By Indra Mohan Sigdel ``Basanta''

December 5, 2008 -- The Nepalese people’s revolution is now at a crucial juncture, full of opportunities and challenges. On the one hand, the possibilities are so great that the party’s success in developing a scientific ideological and political line consistent with the present objective conditions could lead the Nepalese people’s revolution to a victorious accomplishment. And also, it could be a new opening of the world proletarian revolution in the beginning of the 21st century. While on the other hand, its failure to do so would lead to disastrous consequences, leading to an extensive demoralisation of the oppressed classes not only in Nepal but the world over. Therefore, in short, the November 17-26, 2008, national convention of our party, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), had an international dimension.

Clear to all is that the tactic of the constituent assembly election and the federal democratic republic that our party had taken up ... has been successfully concluded. As a result, our party emerged as the largest party in the constituent assembly election, the 240-year-old monarchic and autocratic system has been brought to an end, Nepal has been declared a federal democratic republic and, on top of that, the CPN (Maoist) is now leading the government. Without a doubt, it is a significant accomplishment.

On the other hand, in spite of this achievement, there has been no any change in the semi-feudal and semi-colonial socioeconomic condition of our country, the comprador bourgeoisie are leaders in the state, imperialist and expansionist intervention is on the rise, national sovereignty and territorial integrity has brought in an added danger and, in short, the basic contradiction between feudalism and imperialism and the broad Nepalese masses has not yet been resolved. These are the challenges facing our party and the revolution at present.

Neither had we any fundamental differences in the party in the past nor do we have at present in assessing and grasping the aforesaid reality and challenges. Our party is principally united on these questions. However, there were some differences [at the convention]... The sharpest debates took place over the questions of line. It can be said that it was the sharpest struggle centred on questions of ideological and political line [since] the initiation of the people’s war. Naturally, the struggle was to become sharp because the victory or failure of the Nepalese people’s revolution is close and the correctness or otherwise of the political line will decide it.

With this sense of responsibility, CPN (Maoist) chair Comrade Prachanda and Comrade Kiran placed their line documents before the CC. In those documents, the main difference centred on, first, how to synthesise the entire experiences acquired ever since the initiation of people’s war until now, in order to have a deeper grasp of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and Prachanda path. Second, it was on how to develop political tactics and tactical slogans so as to help unite all of the allies of the people’s revolution and isolate the principal enemy. And, third, it was on how to develop under the leadership of party a coordinated mechanism of the three fronts of struggle, namely the street, the constituent assembly and the government, and which one to make the principal struggle.

In the history of the communist movement, the line struggle has at large centred mainly on the question of tactics. If it centres on the question of strategy, new democracy or socialism depending upon the socioeconomic condition of the given country, the only meaning it gives is that the either faction are not genuine communists. In that case, no unity is possible and the revolutionaries must go ahead even at the expense of splitting to keep the revolution [moving forward].

It is crystal clear that the differences within our party did not have any relation to strategy and the analysis of present national and international objective conditions. But, definitely, we had diverging views on how to go ahead from the point at which we are at. As mentioned before, the differences were over the questions of ideological synthesis, political tactics and the befitting form of struggle corresponding to it.

The main point [of dispute] was tactics, because the immediate political program would either open up the way to uninterruptedly reach [the strategic goal], the new democratic republic in our case, or lead to the creation of a separate stage of bourgeois republic before it. Such is the situation in which our party has to act cautiously so that no separate stage of bourgeois dictatorship could emerge before the new democratic revolution. It was the main point on which the line struggle has centred.

As said before, we have golden opportunities now. But the only condition to seize this opportunity is a correct ideological and political line and party’s organisational unity based on it. Thus, our central committee meeting had to confront two challenges: first, to develop a correct ideological and political line to address the present contradiction and, second, to build a strong party based on it.

Given the legacy of splits after each two-line struggle in the history of communist movement, it was undoubtedly a very difficult task to maintain organisational unity in our party too. However, the only way to achieve this goal could be nothing other than open and unprejudiced two-line struggle keeping in mind the emancipation of proletariat and oppressed classes the world over. And, nothing other than intra-party democracy could make it happen.

With this understanding, the central committee meeting entered into a thoroughgoing and sharp debate over the documents that Comrade Prachanda and Comrade Kiran had put before the central committee. However, the party did not make either document as the only official document of the party. It was not that the CC was unable to reach to a certain conclusion through a democratic process, for example majority and minority. But the CC thought that only a serious debate over the two documents in the national convention could develop a higher level of understanding among the entire ranks over the ideological and political questions involved in both of the documents. So, it decided to place both the documents before the national convention as official documents of the central committee. It was in fact a new and a developed form of democratic practice and an initiation of the great debate in our party history.

Not an exaggeration, but a fact, is that it was in this convention that each and every participant took part in the discussion more responsibly than before, keeping in mind the future of the revolution. In spite of obvious differences in their understanding and grasp of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, the whole convention was united on the question that the party must develop a revolutionary ideological and political line and strengthen party unity based on it. In the light of this spirit, the central committee meeting held in between the convention reached to a unanimous position as mentioned below.

First, taking into account the basically unanimous position of the convention, it decided to bring out a single document at the next CC meeting, organise an internal forum based on the Leninist concept of ``freedom in expression and unity in action'' prior to the forthcoming party congress and synthesise thereby the experiences and ideological and political positions that we had taken up during ten years of people’s war, 19 days mass movement, the ongoing peace process and so forth. So the whole synthesis was deferred until the coming party congress.

Second, setting aside those which comrade Prachanda and comrade Kiran had placed before the CC and the national convention, the CC meeting developed a skeleton of a unanimous immediate political program. The new political slogan termed as ``People’s Federal Democratic National Republic'', the People’s Republic in short, was in fact, a synthesised expression of the programs, ``Federal and Competitive Pro-people Republic'' and ``National Federal People’s Republic'' that Chairman Comrade Prachanda and Comrade Kiran had proposed respectively through their documents.

Third, the CC meeting decided to build up a mechanism under party leadership to coordinate all three fronts of struggle, in which the street struggle would be the principal one.

When these CC decisions were placed before the convention for approval the whole house unanimously ratified them and so the entire rank and file was united more strongly than before. The development of political programs and the sorting out of corresponding forms of struggle was of course a matter of joy among the delegates, including all the CC members. The bitterness that was at times witnessed among the participants in the course of discussion turned into an ideological and political unity and comradely feeling with each other.

In short, this national convention became such a platform where the entire participants took part vigorously along the lines placed by two comrades and finally helped reach to a stronger unity and higher sense of responsibility for the New Democratic Revolution in Nepal under the leadership of Chairman Comrade Prachanda. This is of course a victory of not only for the Nepalese proletariat but also the oppressed classes of the entire world.

National convention paves the way

Sharp differences without a party split

By Dipak Sapkota

KHARIPATI, BHAKTAPUR — The ‘People’s Federal Democratic National Republic’ is now the working policy of Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). The six-day long national convention of the party concluded on Nov. 26, and decided on the new policy, which in short can also be called the ‘Republic of the People’. The party went through very intensive inner struggle but, at the end, the party came out more united and galvanised.

The convention was held in Kharipati, about 15 kiolmetres from Kathmandu city. Roughly 1100 regional bureau-level cadres from all 13 state committees and party central advisers took part.

‘Don’t dream of a split’

Inaugurating the convention on November 21, among a throng of local and international journalists, the party chair and Prime Minister of Nepal Prachanda said that he had a different feeling from previous occasions. He further added that the convention will send tremors to the ``enemies'' who dreamt that Maoists are going to split.

``At present, we are on a new stage of the history of ideological and inner struggle''; he also added that ``this is both a matter of pride and challenge''. He admitted that the people are looking towards the party seriously as their aspirations couldn’t be fulfilled properly.

He challenged those who were expecting that the CPN (Maoist) would split from the latest inner-struggle. He said, ``Their dream will go in vain, those who have dreamt that the Maoist Party will split. We will prove that they are wrong. Stop dreaming of a party split''. He said the party is a revolutionary party and it can develop plans and policies to move forward. He added, ``We will lead the people’s revolution to new heights and give a new message to the people from this convention.''

Two different documents

The closed session was held for three days. Two different documents were presented in the meeting for the first time in the history of CPN (Maoist). Chairman Prachanda and, number two leader of the party, Comrade Mohan Baidya ``Kiran'' presented their documents with short briefing. But both of them emphasised on the need for party unity. Chairman Prachanda said that it doesn’t mean that the party should split when there are two different documents. Likewise, Comrade Kiran said that he had not brought a different document with the intention of splitting the party.

On the second day, the participants were divided into 20 different groups plus central advisory committee forming another group. Each team comprised of about 50 participants from various state committees, to hold vigorous and heated debates on the documents. The party exercised inner party democracy. All of them had a common concern-what will be the future of the revolution?

They pointed out the pros and cons of both documents. According to participants, the debate was healthy and constructive. Most of the cadres who had spent several years in armed struggle during decade long People’s War had serious concerns about the working-policy of the party.

On the fourth day of the convention the group leaders presented the synthesis of the discussions of their groups. 21 group leaders presented their views on the documents while some others who differed from their group leaders presented their own. Party Chairman and all the central leaders heard what the grassroots leaders of their party had to say about the documents and immediate working policy. The message was loud and clear — Unity, transformation and completion of the revolution.

Single document at last

The central committee meeting was held the next day to discuss over the mandate of the national convention. The meeting, with the aspirations of the convention, agreed to bring a single document to the meeting. The leaders came up with a single document that carried the slogan ``Peoples Federal Democratic National Republic''. Both Chairman Prachanda and senior leader Com rade Kiran answered queries raised by the cadres during the group deliberations.

Chairman Prachanda, in a lengthy speech said that party has transformed and unified from the discussions and debates. ``The ‘great debate’ was approved by the ‘Chunwang’ meeting has been initiated'', and he added, ``The evaluation of the movement and the matter of synthesis of the ideology will be the agenda for the coming party congress.''

Maoist senior leader Mohan Baidya ``Kiran'' said that he put forward a different document due to anxiety about the party’s present acts and future policy. ``The synthesis has been made on the condition of transformation and unity'', stated Kiran. Other party leaders, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, Ram Bahadur Thapa ‘Badal’ and Netra Bikram Chand ``Biplop'' also expressed their views on the latest party decision.

On his closing speech, after the meeting applauded the decision of the party to go with a single document, PM Prachanda gave an emotional speech. He said the unity has taken the party to a new height. ``The meeting has provided the guideline and potential to move forward.'' He added ``we have again gained the victory''.

Celebrations at the closing session

With the single document and the decision of the central committee to move forward united, joy and happiness was felt among the party leaders and cadres. There was music and dancing in which the leaders also participated, including Chairman Prachanda and senior leader Kiran. The celebrations overshadowed the rift between the central leaders during the convention.

What next

The national convention gave the mandate to Chairman Prachanda to submit a document incorporating the deliberations of the central committee meeting and convention to the next central committee meeting that will be held within first week of December.

The central committee will put into action the convention’s decisions and make concrete plans for the future. The meeting will make specific proposals for the party and directives for Constituent Assembly and the government. The central committee is expected to declare the party congress date for mid-June. Likewise, The party will set plans to coordinate governance, Constituent Assembly and street struggle to fulfil people’s aspiration.

[These articles first appeared in the December 5-15, 2008, edition of The Red Star. They have been slightly abridged and edited for clarity.]

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