Nepal: On the eve of the republic -- Interview with CPN (Maoist) leader Prachanda

An exclusive interview with CPN (Maoist) leader Prachanda by MRZine (reposted by Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission).

By Mary Des Chene and Stephen Mikesell

It is 14th Jeth, 2065, [Tuesday May 27, 2008] in Nepal, the day before the constituent assembly is to convene and declare Nepal a full republic. The king remains in his palace. The form of the new government, who will lead it, whether the old parliamentary parties will join in a Maoist-led government or, as they have indicated so far, will boycott and try to isolate it -- these and other basic questions remain to be resolved.

The following is an early morning interview with CPN (Maoist) leader Prachanda, before he embarked on a last intensive round of negotiations to try to bring the parliamentary parties into a coalition government under Maoist leadership.

Kathmandu, May 27, 2008.

You may become Nepal's new head of state within a few days, but the parliamentary parties are putting up a lot of blockades. Yesterday your party put forth a 9-point proposal to address the current political impasse. What are the main barriers to formation of a CPN (Maoist)-led government at this point? What are the challenges and what are the proposals you've made to the parliamentary parties?

Intensive debate, discussion and struggle is going on, on the question of formation of the government, and mainly on the questions of the head of the state and the head of the government. These questions raise so many ideological and political issues, involving the class interests of the parties.

Yesterday we had a very serious discussion. The parliamentary parties, mainly the Nepali Congress and the CPN (UML), want to have their own person be the head of state. They want to check, they want to block our party from forming the government and filling the position of head of state. Therefore intensive struggle is going on right now. As we discuss these issues with the leaders of the other parties, it seems to me that intensive and serious class struggle is going on, on the level of ideology and political line. Because we have the status of the largest party through the constituent assembly election, the initiative is in our hands, but nevertheless intensive struggle continues. I think that by tomorrow we'll not be able to have consensus about the questions of the head of state and the formation of the government. Therefore right now we are thinking that we'll make an agreement only for the declaration of the republican system. And on that there will be consensus -- there should be consensus.

Your party has a clear mandate from the election to form the next government. The transitional government of the past two years has functioned on the basis of political consensus governed by the Seven Party Alliance accords and other formal agreements. From election day onward you've stressed the CPN (Maoist) commitment to continue with coalition government under those accords. The major parliamentary parties have set a number of conditions for participating in a Maoist-led coalition government, several of which you've stated directly contravene signed accords. At this point, if a coalition government under your party's leadership cannot be formed, what will be the main reasons?

I think that before the elections the parliamentary parties, especially the largest parliamentary party, the Nepali Congress, never expected that we would become the largest party through the election. Therefore they made so many agreements and compromises with our party, like those concerning the questions of a two-thirds majority and a simple majority [to change the government]. At that time they were in the leadership. Therefore they thought that a two-thirds majority requirement for changing the government would be just fine. But later on, when they saw that the Maoists had become the largest party and were going to lead the government and be head of the state, then they changed their position. Now they hold that a simple majority should be the means to change the government. Previously, up until the election, they didn't expect that they would lose through the election, and they thought that they could easily disintegrate our organisational structure and exert control over the PLA [People's Liberation Army] cadres and so on. But now, after the election, they think that it is going to be a very serious question. Therefore now they are making a proposal that our arms should be destroyed, and the PLA cadres should be disbanded or they should join vocational training or something like that. They're trying to raise those kinds of ridiculous things. This is against the peace agreement. This is against the spirit of the interim constitution.

The major parliamentary party, the Nepali Congress, has changed their positions after the election and are showing themselves to be against peace. It is going to be proved -- I think within some days, maybe within one or two weeks -- it will be crystal clear that the major political parliamentary parties are against peace, against any kind of change, against forming a coalition government under the leadership of the Maoists. They are against the people's mandate, you know. It will be clear. If they will not move ahead in keeping with the spirit of the interim constitution, if they will not follow the peace agreement we have already made and all the other agreements and accords, ultimately it seems to me that it is a question of class outlook. The opposing classes are struggling in a very new contest. And one thing that is quite clear is that the proletariat and our revolutionary party have taken the initiative in our own hands. They [Nepali Congress and UML] are the losers. Right now, in this battle, in this electoral battle, they are the losers and we are the winners. Therefore a big debate and discussion and struggle is going on.

If they were successful in disbanding your army, how would that affect the possibility of creating the republic?

It would be very difficult. But I think they have already agreed to implement the republican system from the first meeting of the constituent assembly.

Right. But if your army was not there, then what force would you have against the king [who] remains in the background?

We will not disband our army. How could we agree to disband our army or destroy our arms? It has been formally agreed that both the armies should be integrated and a new national army should be established and organised. And we have never agreed to go with DDR, you know, this DDR formula [Disarmament, Demobilisation, Reintegration]. What we said is that, here in Nepal it is quite necessary that both armies should be integrated to form a new army. It is the essence of our agreement. Now, when they see that the Maoists have won the election, they want to change the previous agreement. Therefore at the moment we do not want to focus our discussion with the parliamentary parties on the questions of integration and so on. We want to focus our discussions on the questions of implementation of the republic and the republican system.

It is quite clear, and the masses know it very well, the masses are clear that the first sitting of the constituent assembly will implement the republican system and even all the parliamentary parties have already agreed to go with the republican system. In this phase of the struggle, we Maoists want to focus our whole effort to implement that previous agreement. I think that they cannot reject or retreat from the previous agreement on the question of the republic. If they hesitate to implement this republican system tomorrow then ... It is going to happen you know. This is the historical turning point against the feudal system. If they will hesitate, I think that they will be crossed by the masses. The masses will not tolerate them. Because they have already lost through the election. If they hesitate to implement the republican system, then they will lose yet more, you see.

Tomorrow. on the day when the constituent assembly sits to declare the republic, the Kathmandu District Administration has declared restrictions on marches, rallies and assembling on the streets surrounding the convention centre, the palace and other places in the capital. But many marches and cultural programs have already been announced, and the people seem sure to come out, whether to ensure that their will is carried out or just to celebrate. How are you viewing that move to restrict the people's movement?

We have already decided to hold rallies all over the country. There will be mass rallies in all seventy-five district headquarters. And here in Kathmandu there will also be a victory rally, a republican rally. It will be a great day for us, for the people of this country. But they will not go to encircle the palace, or go near the Birendra International Convention Centre hall where the first meeting of the constituent assembly is going to be held. But they will be in the streets, near Singhadarbar [the usual parliamentary venue] and in other places. They'll be chanting slogans in favor of the republic and so on. But there will not be -- we are trying our best not to be in a confrontation tomorrow. It would not be good, it would not be proper to have any kinds of confrontation tomorrow. We want to show the masses who are in favor of the republican line. There will be a festive atmosphere. It will be like a people's festival, a republican festival. It will be very big, and a great thing for our people. But some reactionary people, mainly those who are loyal to the monarchy, they are trying to carry out some sorts of sabotage and some sorts of terrorist activities. Yesterday they exploded some small socket bombs near the convention center hall, and in the houses of civil society figures. But I don't think they will be able to create some big sabotage or anything.

If you have to form a sole government without the cooperation of the other parties are you ready to do that?

Yes. If they are not ready, and if they want it so, then we'll form our own government without their cooperation. They may think that within three months or a hundred days -- there's the saying that 100 days is the honeymoon -- that after the honeymoon they can encircle us and dismantle our government. They think like that. But we believe that once we are in the government we'll take so many decisions, important decisions, in favour of the masses of the people and in favor of our nation, and that those kinds of decisions will allow us to have a broader mass base and broader organisation and will ultimately help us to move ahead.

You've used the term "economic revolution" and said that after forming the government the task is economic revolution. Tell us a bit about your first steps; the economy is in very bad shape.

Yes, I think that economic development and sustainable peace have a very compact relation. Without having development it is very difficult to have a sustainable peace. And here in our country there are huge natural resources: for example, we have a huge hydro potential, tourism can be a big industry in this country, this beautiful country. There are so many things we can do.

For the time being what we are seeing is that we should have to follow a mixed economic system. I also want to qualify that it is not exactly a mixed economic system; we are trying to develop some new approaches in our transitional economic policy. We have not completed the democratic revolution, you know. We are in the process of the completion of the democratic revolution. But after 10 years of peoples war we have achieved some political and some socioeconomic change, which is already in process. Because that revolution is in the transitional phase we are trying to develop some new tactics and new policy according to the overall economic situation and national situation of the first decades of the 21st century. Therefore we shall have to follow a transitional economic policy. Not exactly the economic policy of the New Democracy, not exactly the economic policy of the bourgeois system, but something in-between. We are saying that this is a transitional economic policy, and we want to decide our own priority by ourselves.

And we want to encourage the national capitalist, or ``national bourgeois'' as we say, we want to encourage them to invest and to generate employment, and to invest in the industrial sector, which will create some new possibilities. And through them we want to attract the foreign investment, but according to our decision, according to our priority. Until now, all the decisions have been taken not by the Nepali people and the Nepali government, but by the foreigners and international institutions, like the World Bank. But this time we want to change that pattern. We want to decide our own priorities, we want to encourage our national bourgeois to have a conducive atmosphere for investment and generation of employment, and through them we want to attract the foreign investors according to our decision, according to our priority. In the rural area and in the hydro sector we want to have small hydro projects, medium-level hydro projects, and big hydro projects. Not just the large ones.

One problem is that you are being handed over a practically bankrupt state, one heavily in debt, and that won't leave you much leeway, at least if you work in the old terms, so how are you going to address that?

I think it is a challenge, and we are taking it as a positive challenge. The first question is to mobilise the millions of the masses to rebuild this country. Until and unless we mobilise the masses, nothing can be done. We will transparently divulge everything to the mass of the people: this is the situation here in the country, the world government and world state has led this country to this bankruptcy. Now, if everyone of this country, every citizen of this country will not make a commitment to go ahead to build the country themselves, it will be very difficult for us sustain and undertake development. Therefore our first priority will be to educate the masses of people about the real situation of the government and all these things that have happened in the past.

The second point is that we will try our best to mobilise the national bourgeois, the national capitalists. There are so many people who can contribute. If we draw up a scientific plan, an economic plan, according to our situation, we can mobilise those industrialists and those national capitalists or national bourgeois to invest in a more productive way. And I also think that, because we are in between China and India, both of which have very fast growing economies, we can benefit from their growing economies. I myself have tried my best to have serious discussions with China's Communist Party and China's government. How can they help to rebuild this country? How much will they be able to contribute, and how far can they mobilise their peoples to invest here in our country? And we were also talking with the Indian parties and Indian government officials: how can they contribute to our efforts in rebuilding this country? So I think that from both these countries, according to our plan and according to our priorities, we can mobilise positive economic input.This is something challenging, we know it, but this is something beneficial for this country.

What about the role of the youth of this country in all of these plans? The thousands who are migrant labourers outside the country, now the thousands and thousands who are unemployed here, and the Young Communist League, your own youth organisation?

Yes, we are working on drawing up a plan to mobilise the youth in rebuilding this country. Our YCL has already been mobilised: thousands and thousands of youth were mobilised before the election in a political mobilisation. Now we are going to mobilise them in the constructive work, in economic development. And we are also trying to make a connection with all the people working outside the country. Non-resident Nepalis are there, and the organisation of non-resident Nepalis; those people can contribute more in rebuilding this country, and we want to invite them to invest here in Nepal. We have already developed a plan for how we can mobilise thousands of peoples who are outside the country, who are doing business elsewhere. Some of them have done a very good job, they have earned substantial amounts of money, they can invest here, and we can contact them.

And also I think that we can bring back youth who are in Arab countries and all over the world, if we have a plan for building this country. I have already discussed some hydro power, medium-level hydro projects. And if there will be five, six or seven of such kinds of project all over the country, we can mobilise thousands and thousands of youth in that kind of project. And when they see that there are jobs in our own country, they will come back and we can mobilise that kind of youth.

And what about bringing young people back into agriculture, which is the base of the economy here?

Yes, we have already agreed to carry out scientific land reform. Here in Nepal there is a different situation in the Tarai [lowland plains], in mountainous areas and in the hilly regions. We have to make a complete plan of land reform for the hilly region, for the Himalayan region and for the Tarai. But the main focus of this scientific land reform will be the Tarai because the bulk of the agricultural land is there. There should be land ceilings and the land of absentee landlords should be redistributed among the peasants. But our main focus will be commercialising the farming. Without commercialised farming we can't develop agriculture. And we want to establish agro-based industries. We can't mobilise the youth in the agricultural sector with only the traditional ways of farming. We have to create something new by creating jobs in agro-based industry. And that will ultimately commercialise the overall farming, and it will be a revolutionary step to raise the living standards of the people.

[Stephen Mikesell and Mary Des Chene are anthropologists who study Nepal's economy and politics. This interview first appeared in MRZine. It is reposted here with express permission.]


The Himalayan nation of Nepal has become the world's newest republic, ending 240 years of monarchy.

A constituent assembly meeting in the capital, Kathmandu, overwhelmingly voted to abolish royal rule.

The Maoists, the largest party after laying down arms and standing in last month's elections, were committed to ousting King Gyanendra.

People celebrated wildly in the streets of the capital after news of the assembly vote.

The approved proposal states that Nepal is "an independent, indivisible, sovereign, secular and an inclusive democratic republic nation".

Only four members of the 601-seat assembly opposed the change.

  This is the most important day of my life
Rajesh Subedil,
student in Kathmandu

Royal privileges "will automatically come to an end", the declaration says.

It also states that the king's main palace must be vacated within a fortnight, to be transformed into a museum.

"I am overjoyed," student Rajesh Subedi, 21, told AFP news agency as Kathmandu celebrated.

"This is the most important day of my life."

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Kathmandu says it is not clear how soon King Gyanendra will leave.

The Maoists and other politicians are being conciliatory about the monarch now being ousted and say he should live on in Nepal as a private citizen.


In the run-up to the vote, suspected royalists threw three small bombs in the capital.

One exploded at an open-air theatre in Kathmandu on Wednesday evening, injuring one person. Another went off outside the assembly venue but no-one was hurt.

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People celebrating and marching on streets of Kathmandu

On Tuesday, another two explosive devices were left in a park, but police said only one exploded, slightly injuring two people.

Some militant pro-Hindu and pro-royal factions are campaigning violently against Nepal's shedding of its royal - and its officially Hindu - status.

The assembly was given the initial task of rubber-stamping the abolition of the monarchy.

But the vote was delayed by 12 hours, while the Maoists and the other main parties settled differences about distribution of power between the president and the prime minister in an interim period.

The government of the new Nepalese republic is expected to be led by the Maoists, who only entered politics in 2006 after signing a peace agreement that ended a decade-long insurgency.

The assembly has two years to come up with permanent arrangements for a new constitution.

The monarchy's fall from grace has come swiftly and was heralded by the 2001 massacre in which the then-Crown Prince Dipendra killed his family and several other royals, our correspondent says.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/05/28 23:36:13 GMT


May 08, 2008

NEPAL'S FIRST GAY MP SPEAKS -- Nation's Two Largest Political Parties Embrace LGBT Rights

By Doug Ireland 

I wrote the following article for Gay City News, New Yorks largest lesbian and gay weekly, which published it today:

In an historic breakthrough, the leader of Nepal's largest LGBT group, the BlueSunil_pant_2 Diamond Society, has been named to a seat in the parliament following April 10 elections in that nation, the largely mountainous home to some 30 million people.

Sunil Pant (right), 35, a Belarus-educated computer engineer who founded the Blue Diamond Society (BDS) in 2002 and has been its executive director ever since, was named to the parliament by the tiny Communist Party-(United). The CPN-(U) won the right to have five seats in the new constituent assembly under a complicated proportional representation system used in the elections, the first since Nepal, long an autocratic monarchy, declared itself a "People's Republic" last December following a 2006 peace deal that ended a decade-long civil war.

The party is one of five separate and competing Communist parties to have gained seats in the 601-seat parliament in last month's elections, with the largest being the Communist King_gyanendra Party of Nepal-(Maoist) — which led the armed insurgency against King Gyanendra (left) and his late brother Birendra, who preceded him — won 220 seats, and is expected to lead a coalition government yet to be formed.

The elections saw another first — ten LGBT candidates for the parliament who are BDS members were in the running and "the number of votes we received exceeded our expectations, which is why the CPN-(U) chose me as a member of the constituent assembly," Pant told me from the country's capital of Kathmandu. Eight of those candidates were metis, born as male and transgendered who dress and live as women — "third genders" as Pant calls them — and two were gay men, he said.

"Most of the CPN-(U) party have indicated their support for LGBT rights, and it was very happy to send an openly gay man to parliament. And there are also many good individuals in the parliament with whom we have worked in the past," Pant added.

Nepal is 80 percent Buddhist, and traditional society there has significant social rigidities and discrimination based on caste and gender. In the past, Nepalese police frequently used violence against gays and the metis and subjected them to arrest on various trumped-up charges. Under the monarchy, a law forbade "unnatural" sex.

Until last year Maoist cadres also hunted down, intimidated, and used violence against sexual minorities, particularly the metis, including a campaign to ask landlords not to rent to them.

Maoist_militia Maoist leaders used incendiary rhetoric to denounce homosexuals as "unnatural" and for "polluting" society. The military commander of the Maoist militia in western Nepal, who was also a minister in the interim government that followed the 2006 peace accord, proclaimed that "homosexuality is a product of capitalism" and that "there were no homosexuals in the Soviet Union" (the Maoists displayed portraits of Stalin along with Mao at their campaign rallies). (See this reporter's earlier article, "Nepal's Maoist Assault on Gays," which appeared in the April 19-25, 2007 issue of Gay City News.) (Left, the Maoist Militia on the cover of its magazine.)

But, Pant told me, "There has been a significant change in the Maoist attitude toward sexual and gender minorities. I and the BDS had many meetings, dialogues, and orientations with several parties, including the Maoists. And this year, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the Nepali Congress Party [the second-largest party in the constituent assembly], and the Communist Party-(United) all included LGBT rights in their election manifestos."

Pant identified a 2004 incident as a critical turning point in public opinion. A policeman forced one of the metis to perform oral sex on him and then slit her throat. Even conservative Nepalese who didn't approve of homosexuality or sexually transgressive behavior of any kind were horrified by the gratuitously cruel violence.

At a BDS-led protest a few days later, police arrested 39 of the LGBT group's members, leading to sympathetic media coverage for the movement, a denunciation by Human Rights Watch, and international outrage.

But the real breakthrough came last December, when Nepal's Supreme Court ruled on a lawsuit brought by the BDS and three other groups challenging the law against "unnatural" sex and demanding equal rights and an end to discrimination for LGBT people.

In its ruling, the court declared that sexual minorities were "natural persons" deserving of protection against discrimination, and ordered the government to come up with legislation guaranteeing civil rights for homosexuals. The court also ordered that a government commission be established to study the legalization of same-sex marriage, and to make official documents like identification cards and passports include a third option for a person's gender.

Since last year's unprecedented court ruling, "violence has been reduced against LGBT people, and many police have become much less brutal than before in treating us," Pant told this reporter.

Pant and the BDS were given last year's Felipa de Souza Award by the New York-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) for their courageous and effective work to end anti-LGBT discrimination and fight the spread of HIV/ AIDS.

Pant now directs a BDS that has more than 50 full-time staffers, funded entirely by donations and grants, and there are now ten other officially registered groups serving Nepal's queer community.

Pant and the BDS will now focus their energies on including pro-LGBT measures in the country's new constitution, which the just-elected parliament is preparing. A two-day "national consultation of sexual minorities" sponsored by the BDS and held in Kathmandu concluded its work on May 6 by voting to issue a list of demands, among them — "affirmative action" to "guarantee fundamental rights including education, health, and employment for our sexual minority," "legal provisions for marriage between homosexuals and third genders," "equal paternal property rights," and "laws against sexual exploitation and sexual violence of lesbians, gays, and third genders, and proper compensation for its victims."

The conference also demanded that "lesbian and third gender women should be included in the 33 per cent of seats" in parliament reserved for women.

The Blue Diamond Society's web site is at

December 11th, 2008 - 1:21 pm ICT by IANS

Kathmandu, Dec 11 (IANS) Nepal’s ruling Maoist party, which till a year ago regarded homosexuality as a perversion threatening to corrupt society, will strike a blow for gay rights at the UN later this month, marking a sea-change in the organisation that took up arms to seize power. Nepal’s first Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, who is defying the hardliners in his own party to push for a liberal multi-party democracy, has asked the foreign ministry and Nepal’s ambassador to the UN to support a statement that will be tabled at the UN General Assembly this month recognising human rights violations on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Prachanda, a former revolutionary whose once banned party waged a 10-year war on the state to end the monarchy, renewed his commitment to gay rights Wednesday to a delegation led by Nepal’s only publicly gay lawmaker Sunil Babu Pant.

The prime minister’s office also gave the delegation a copy of the order issued by it Monday, asking the appropriate ministries to support the gay rights statement in the UN initiated by France and supported by a core group of eight more nations, including Japan, the Netherlands and Norway.

“Since then, 55 other countries have pledged to sign the document,” Pant told IANS. “Nepal becomes the 56th.”

The statement, coming in a year that marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, urges for an end to human rights abuse perpetrated on people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The abuses include violence, criminal sanctions, torture and discrimination in accessing economic, social and cultural rights.

The Maoist decision to uphold gay rights comes just a year after its cadres were intimidating homosexuals in Kathmandu valley and asking house owners not to accept gay tenants.

Pant, who was nominated to Nepal’s newly elected constituent assembly by the Communist Party of Nepal-United, a partner in the ruling coalition and the first party to have fielded gays and transgenders during the April elections, says the Supreme Court was the first to secure gay rights.

Last year, the apex court recognised gays as “natural people” and ordered the government to end all discrimination against them. Last month, it also sanctioned gay marriages.

Recognising the growing network and clout of Nepal’s sexual minorities, this year three major political parties, including the Maoists, wooed the community by including gay welfare in their election manifestos.

“I wrote to Prachanda in November, urging him to show leadership at the UN on the issues of sexual and gender diversity,” said Pant, who in 2001 founded the Blue Diamond Society, Nepal’s first gay rights organisation that today is supported by British rock icon Sir Elton John.

“By supporting the France statement, Nepal shows government support for human rights that are set out in its own interim constitution,” he added.

Pant hailed the Maoist government’s efforts on behalf of the sexual minorities.

The budget tabled by Maoist Finance Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai has allocated Nepali Rs.2.5 million ($38,800) for a community building that can accommodate 50 homeless transgenders.

In a bigger project under the Poverty Alleviation Programme, about Rs.70 million has been earmarked to uplift the status of marginalised people like women, Dalits (former untouchables) and sexual minorities.


Nepal Declared Republic as Sun Sets on Monarchy
The Himalayan Times
27 May 2008

Kathmandu, May, 28 - The sun set on monarchy and a republic ushered in Nepal today as the country became the world’s youngest republic after the first convention of the constituent assembly approved the proposal to implement a federal democratic republic system and terminated the 239-year-old monarchy.

The first meeting of the constituent assembly (CA) held at the International Convention Centre (ICC) approved a proposal to make the country a republic by majority vote this evening. The CA members put in their signatures in favor of the proposal tabled by Home Minister KP Sitaula on behalf of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala. The assembly announced to celebrate May 28 as Republic Day. Diplomats, human rights activists and journalists also attended the first meeting.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala today said his dream was realized after Nepal entered a new age. Addressing the first session of the constituent assembly at the International Convention Centre in New Baneshwor here, PM Koirala said such a day comes once in an era and that day was today.

Koirala also thanked Nepali people and the international communities for their active support in transforming Nepal. He also recalled the contributions of the martyrs who lost their lives for the nation. “Nepal today entered a new age,” PM Koirala said adding that the hopes, contributions and sacrifices had given the nation the desired direction. He also urged all the political parties to maintain unity in the coming days.

Later, Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Ram Chandra Poudel read a written message of the PM in the meeting.

In his message, Koirala renewed a call to the Maoists to form a consensus government as per the provision of the interim constitution. Koirala further said that the country would enjoy rule of law, multiparty democracy and human rights in future days. He said that there would be permanent peace and sustainable development in the country.

The CA meeting scheduled for 11:00 am was put off till 3:00 pm after the parties failed to finalize the names of 26 persons to be nominated by the council of ministers for the 601-member assembly. Leaders said names of the 26 proposed CA members would be made public over the next few days. Proceedings started at 9:20 pm only after the cabinet meeting endorsed a decision to table the proposal for a republic in the CA meeting. Leaders said they would hold further discussions on issues including the role and responsibilities of the ceremonial president.

First CA Meeting Begins at ICC

Kathmandu, May 28 - The historic meeting of the constituent assembly started moments ago at International Convention Centre (ICC) at Baneshwor to implement an announcement of federal democratic republic in the country with ending 239-year-old monarchy.

The meeting was put off twice in the day after political parties engaged in a debate in the issues ranging from the nomination of 26 CA members to roles and responsibilities of the president and prime minister. The meeting began only after the leaders of the major three political parties expressed their commitment to start CA meet putting other issues of misunderstanding on hold. The CA meeting is set to endorse a proposal of republic shortly.

New Nepal to have ceremonial president

Himalayan News Service

People welcome the ’Republic Nepal’ at a morning rally organized by representatives of civil society in Kathmandu on Wednesday.The civil society has called for day long celebration of republic, which is set to be implemented by the first meeting of constituent assembly on Wednesday.Photo:THT Kathmandu, May 27:

• 15 days for king to vacate palace
• Decision on prez’s rights today
• 3-day public holiday begins

After days of parleys, the political parties finally agreed today to have ceremonial president after the execution of republican agenda by the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly scheduled for tomorrow. The decision was taken at a meeting of all parties elected to CA at PM Girija Prasad Koirala’s residence in Baluwatar.

“Today’s meeting centered on one-point agenda of execution of republic. The parties also agreed to have the provision of president,” Upendra Yadav, coordinator of the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, said after the meeting. CPN-UML leader Bhim Rawal said the parties also agreed to direct the government to table a resolution for republic in the Constituent Assembly and a proposal to remove all the contradictory clauses from the interim constitution and incorporate the provisions that would be necessary after the abolition of the monarchy.

The five-point proposal that the parties agreed to urges the government to call all citizens and Nepalis living abroad to celebrate Republic Day with enthusiasm. It adds that the government should take necessary steps for turning Narayanhiti palace into a national museum.

“The government will decide how many days it wanted to give the king to vacate the palace,” Rawal told mediapersons. Earlier, Tarai Madhes Democratic Party leader Sarbendra Nath Shukla had told mediapersons that the party leaders had agreed to give 15 days to the king to leave the palace.

“The CA will execute the agenda of republic and the government will enforce the CA decision. People will not have to do anything to enforce the decision,” Chure Bhawar Ekata Samaj leader Keshav Mainali, who took part in the meeting of 25 parties, quoted Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula as saying. According to Shukla, the major political parties would decide tomorrow on what kinds of rights and duties they wanted to entrust the president with. The major parties also discussed the nomination of 26 members to the CA and the government is likely to nominate those members tomorrow morning. MJF leader Yadav said the issue of two thirds majority provision to form and remove the government did not figure in today’s meeting.

Asked how the Maoists who were strongly opposed to have ceremonial head finally caved in, NC leader Bimalendra Nidhi said, “They finally agreed to our proposal of ceremonial president because our proposal was logical.” CA members Khim Lal Devkota (Maoist), Agni Kharel (UML) and NC leader Radheshyam Adhikari, who are from legal background, were discussing till late tonight the rights and duties of ceremonial head.

Interim constitution stipulates that the government can be formed either by consensus or by a two-third majority. Same provision applies with regard to the dismissal of a government. The Maoists have been saying that the two-third majority provision should not be changed, as it would lead to instability and create hurdles to writing the new constitution.

But non-Maoist parties are pressing for simple majority provision, saying that the two-third majority provision might encourage the ex-rebels to turn dictatorial once they attain power.

Devkota said they agreed to have the provision of president as it deemed imperative after the execution of republican agenda.

The parties also urged the government to declare a three-day public holiday from Wednesday to Friday.

Day I agenda

•Cabinet urged to table a resolution for republic and another to amend interim constitution

•Remaining 26 members likely to be nominated today

Republican era dawns today

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, May 27:

The 601-member Constituent Assembly is scheduled to meet at the International Convention Centre at 11 am tomorrow to declare Nepal a federal democratic republic.

The first meeting of the CA is expected to turn the country into a republic, to be followed by the restructuring of the state as per the recommendation of an experts’ panel, while the CA engages in drafting a new constitution. The timeline set for writing the constitution is two years and can be extended by another six months at the most.

Republic has remained at the heart of the 40-point demand that Maoists submitted in January 1996 to the Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government. Deuba had barely two weeks to fulfil the key demands: election to the Constituent Assembly election and turning Nepal into a hardliner communist republic. On February 1, days before the deadline itself ended, the Maoists attacked police outposts in remote hills launching the “People’s War” that would continue for a decade.

More than 13,000 people were killed during the armed conflict that ended in November 2006 after Maoists and then seven-party alliance signed a 12-point agreement to put up a joint struggle against King Gyanendra’s direct rule since February 1, 2005.

That agreement paved the way for the April 2006 movement that forced the king to step down and hand back power to the political parties.

The Himalayan Times

The Next Step in Nepal:
An Interview with Dr. Baburam Bhattarai of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
by Stephen Mikesell and Mary Des Chene

Q. On May Day what was the message that the party was putting to the workers?

On the historic May Day our message to the working class was, we are
making revolution in Nepal in a very indigenous way, but we have a lot
of challenges to face. The reactionaries won't leave the stage of
history very easily. They'll put up a very strong resistance, so we
have to take this challenge very seriously, we have to prepare for a
strong resistance from the overthrown feudal and reactionary classes.
This is one message we gave to the working class. And the second
message was, if we have to build a new Nepal, then we'll have to
concentrate on making a new national unity. We need peace, stability,
and progress, and for that the working class will take the lead to do
away with all remnants of feudalism -- feudal production relations --
and develop industrial relations oriented towards socialism, which
will solve the long term demands of the working class. Those are the
two messages we conveyed during the May Day programmes.

Q. What's the practical approach that you're going to use to work in
that direction?

The first step is, though we have won the election, the reactionary
classes are hatching various conspiracies, especially the
imperialists. They're trying to instigate the monarchist forces and
the bureaucratic bourgeois class, which is strongly aligned with the
imperialists. They're instigating them not to hand over power to the
Maoists. So for that we may have to go through a process of struggle,
for which the working class and all the oppressed masses should be
prepared. If need be, we'll have to go to the street to resist this
reactionary backlash. Practically, we appealed to them to get
prepared. And secondly, after we form the government under our
leadership, then we'll have to provide some immediate relief to the
working class and the poor people, those who have suffered all along,
they're suffering from poverty, unemployment, and also discrimination.
Families of those martyred. They're poor people. Their sons and
daughters were martyred so they will need immediate relief. And there
are others who were disappeared, and those who were injured. That's
one aspect. The other aspect is the real basic poor people, working
classes, who need economic relief, immediately. So we are thinking of
providing a public distribution system, a network of cooperative
stores whereby we can provide basic goods to the working class and the
poor people. We want to provide some fund for that. And then, for
education and health. Our position has been that education and health
and employment should be -- and also shelter and food security --
these should be the fundamental right of the masses of the people.
This we have already promised in our manifesto. And partially it has
been written in the interim constitution also. So we'll try to put it
into practice. And for that, we'll have to prepare a new budget, and
appropriate new policy of the new government. The working class and
the mass of the poor people should contribute to this process. They
should advise our party and the future government, and they should be
very vigilant to keep the government in line. If the public and the
working class and the poor masses don't put pressure, then the
government may not be able to move in the right direction. There are
very bad historical experiences in this regard, you see. So until and
unless the working class is very vigilant and exercises its power to
control the government from below, there are chances of the government
deviating, not implementing what it has promised during the elections.

Q. What steps are you taking to give people the means to exert that
pressure from below?

Firstly, our party recognizes that even when we participate in the
government, this government is not a fully revolutionary government,
it is a transitional government. So we'll have to compromise with the
other classes. But we would like to take the lead. We would like to
transform the state from within. For that we have to create pressure
from outside. For that our party's position is that the whole
leadership of the party won't join the government. One section of the
leadership will join the government, and the other section of the
party leadership will remain outside and continue organizing and
mobilizing the masses. So the party will take that route. Many of us
will be [in the government]. The main form of struggle will be from
within the government, to make the new constitution. But another
section will remain outside the government. That's why all of our
central leaders didn't participate in the elections. We want to
organize and mobilize the masses so that they can put pressure on the
government. So this is one aspect. And we want to develop certain
institutions. Though we haven't found the concrete form for them yet,
we have made some policy decisions. When we put forth the concept of
development of democracy in the 21st century, our slogan was that the
government and the party should be constantly supervised by the
masses, and the masses should intervene at times if need be. This is
our policy. But we have not been able to find the concrete form.
What will be the way of intervening in case the government deviates?
What will be the form of putting pressure, apart from public
demonstrations? How will they intervene in the state system? That
mechanism we are trying to work out.

Q. What about means for the masses to supervise the constituent assembly?

The immediate task will be to make the new constitution with the full
participation of the real masses of the people in making their

Q. But there are very practical issues of organization. All the forms
of relation between the people and the constituent assembly have yet
to be determined, and there's no assurance that effective mechanisms
will be established.

We can formulate rules and regulations. The interim constitution is
quite open on that issue. We can develop some modalities whereby the
committees being formed within the constituent assembly will be
required to go to different places and organize mass meetings, collect
the opinion of the masses. That type of mechanism will have to be
developed. At least our party will propose that. . . . If need be
there could even be a referendum on certain articles. We'll try to
develop a consensus even within the political parties and then, if
not, we'll go for a two thirds majority, and in case needed, for
certain issues, we could go to a referendum. Our approach will be to
involve the maximum number of the mass of the people in the decision
making process.

Q. How are you dealing with the challenge of bringing in international
capital and retaining domestic capital within the country, in a way
that is in keeping with your own economic policy?

Our main emphasis will be mobilizing internal resources. Until and
unless we can mobilize internal resources, at least for basic needs,
then we'll always be blackmailed by the international capital. So our
first priority would be to mobilize our internal resources. But even
then, in the immediate sense, we'll need some foreign capital. At
least for long term economic development we have to make investment in
basic infrastructure, and so on, using international capital. For
that we're trying to re-negotiate with the international agencies. Of
course they will try to put pressure. But we are already in contact
with some of them. And they also have their own compulsions, you see.
If they don't cooperate, they will also face the resistance of the
people. They all have their strategic interests. Nepal being located
in a very strategic place between China and India, and these forces, I
think they have their eyes on the big markets of India and China, and
if there is not a favorable situation in Nepal, they will be hurt, you
see -- not immediately, but in the long term strategic sense. In that
way they also have their certain interest in Nepal. So that, if we
negotiate very carefully, though they will try to bring pressure -- we
know it, this is the nature of international capital, to twist the
arms of the poor countries and poor people -- even then, I think if we
move very carefully, we can take some liberties out of that.

Q. Moving back to labor issues again, how are you involving the
working class and in particular your unions in the economic policy of
the country?

Our unions are the strongest in Nepal. We came into this [peace]
process two years ago. In almost all the factories and workplaces, we
have organized the workers, and our trade union is the strongest in
the country. Wherever there have been [union] elections, we have won
almost all of them. It may sound anachronistic, but just to give you
an example, in the 5 star hotels where there were elections, we won
all of them. Our trade unions got strong because they bargained with
the management for the rights of the workers. To increase pay and
provide benefits and facilities according to law. They were not paid
earlier, and they were not provided with facilities. So the
management were forced to pay. And there was a lot of attraction of
workers to our trade unions. But on the other side, the reactionaries
are instigating the management, saying that the Maoist trade unions
are putting undue pressure, so there is no conducive environment for
investment, and in this way they're encouraging capital flight. Some
capital has fled also, so we have to make that [. . .]. Just the
other day we were at a gathering of nationalist [capitalists] and
traders and we tried to show them that our main focus right now is to
do away with feudalism and do away with the feudal relations of
production, and the very dependent capitalism, not national and
international capitalism. So we try to distinguish between these.
Firstly, we want to do away with feudalism. Then we want to develop
our productive investment capital, not the very parasitic capital we
have right now. This is what we call comprador and bureaucratic
capitalism which doesn't promote production, and doesn't promote
employment. It is only that type of distorted, dependent capitalism,
which is developing in the country, that we are against. We are not
against productive and industrial capitalism, you know, which provides
goods, provides jobs, creates value within the country, and at least
resists the imperialist interventions within the country. That type
of national capitalism we promote. We tried to convince the
nationalists and traders that we'll create a favorable environment.

Q. What's your position on Nepal's WTO membership in this context?
There are a lot of conditions within the WTO membership that preclude
some of the things you're saying.

Yes. That problem is there. It's very difficult to totally come out
of the WTO. You can't be within the WTO, you can't come out of it.
That dilemma is there.

Q. So the CPN(Maoist) doesn't have a formal position on this issue?

We haven't made a formal position on this so far.

Q. Following up on the role of the trade unions, theoretically in
communism and socialism the working class are the rulers. So how do
the trade unions insert themselves into the party policy and your
state policy?

So far, our trade unions are highly politicized. Our workers have
very good political consciousness. When they put demands, for the
most part they know they are fighting for political and state power.
We have tried to inculcate in the working class that unless and until
you have state power in your hands, whatever economic gains you get,
you won't be able to defend. It is the first thing we try to
inculcate in the working class. So the trade unions are highly
politically conscious. But apart from that we have to make a balance
also, because if we don't make economic demands then a large section
of the working class wouldn't attain a very high level of political
consciousness -- they won't be organized. So that balance we have to
make, between political and economic demands. We are trying to create
a balance. And within the factories we try to create -- though we
haven't called the system a soviet formally -- but in general since
most of the workers, the majority of the workers are organized in our
trade unions, they've been able to assert their position within the
factories, so the management is forced to take the working class into
confidence while making big policy decisions. So that has been
achieved. Not formally in the sense of a soviet -- we haven't been
able to organize as a political power in the factories. But because
of their strong presence, they have been quite successful in exerting
pressure and influencing the decision making within the factories.

Q. Most of Nepal's workers are not within the industrial or formal
sector. Most of them are in the, you could say, peasantry. So what's
the position of the party on the peasantry and its role in the party
and in the state?

Mostly ours is a peasant-based economy, because two thirds of the
workforce is engaged in agriculture. So in that sense our most
important sector is the agronomic sector. And most of them are poor
peasants. You see the pattern of landholding. It's called owner
peasant. Those who own less than 0.5 hectares of land, around 70% of
the peasants own less than 1 hectare, and around 50% own less than 0.5
hectare. So there's a very small land ownership. The totally
landless peasants are about 10-15% of the total. We are trying to
organize the peasants into peasant associations, and within the
peasant associations we try to organize the poor peasants and landless
peasants separately. Also, there have been some movements, the
seizing of land from the feudal landlords and the redistribution among
the peasants. That has happened.

Q. At the same time , now there are pressures and promises about
returning property seized during the armed struggle, and your party
has also made some [post-election] statements about carrying through
with land reform.

Yes, this is one of the sticking points in the peace process, because
the landlord's lands were seized by the peasants during the People's
War. In the peace accord, there was quite an ambiguous provision.
The land which was seized unjustifiably, that will be returned. This
is the word -- 'unjustifiable', 'unjustifiably'. It is very
ambiguous. That is why it has not been resolved. This has been the
sticking point. Our peasants are not returning the land because they
think it is rightful seizure, because the landlord had in fact always
seized it from the peasants, you see. So they have seized it back.
This is the argument of the peasants. And on the landlord side, they
would say it is the right to private property, so that is the
encouragement of the democratic [bourgeois] sides. So that type of
struggle is going on. But in the interim constitution we put a
provision for making scientific land reform. Though we wanted to put
the word 'radical' or 'revolutionary', we had to compromise on the
term 'scientific' land reform. So there is again an ambiguity there
-- what do we mean by 'scientific land reform'? Our interpretation is
revolutionary land reform based on the principle of land to the
tiller. Those who are actually tilling the land should own the land.
This has been our interpretation. The other side is trying to
interpret it differently. So there is also contention going on over
this issue.

Q. In Volume 3 of Capital, Marx made the point that if you just have
straight redistribution into small plots it actually becomes a process
of even more land consolidation because the small plots are facing a
very concentrated capital, and it's very hard for them to survive.

That's why we're trying to promote cooperatives. You see, one of our
slogans has been that the small peasants should organize in
cooperatives and the state should provide certain specific facilities
and rights to the cooperatives. If they're working and organized in
cooperatives, then they can compete, or they can at least defend
themselves from the encroachment of capital, and big capital.

Q. That's an example of something that could be included in the
interim constitution in some form, that could have significant
progressive consequences. But as the numbers have turned out, even if
all the left forces unite, there is not quite the required two-thirds
majority to pass a constitutional provision, there's about sixty
percent only. So there' s a real dilemma about how the assembly can
proceed in a way that will produce, even if it's a compromise, a
constitution that's genuinely progressive.

You are very right. In fact the path won't be easy, it will be a big
struggle that we'll have to face for making the new constitution.
That we know. But one good thing is, since we have got 37% of the
seats in the constituent assembly, which is more than one-third, we
have the veto power you see. They don't have two thirds without us.
At least we can resist a very reactionary constitution. If they won't
allow us to form a very progressive constitution, still we can prevent
them from creating a very reactionary constitution. So that will be a
big stalemate. It will be difficult for us to win, but we won't lose,
you see. We can't lose. But they won't want to let us win either.
That's the thing.

Q. Because you have veto power, maybe they'll also be forced to give
in a bit too. Though they can also play the dynamic that's been
played with this past government, where stalemates and therefore
continuing lack of change may then get blamed on you -- I'm not saying
fairly so -- because you're the force that's preventing a decision
from being made. And those kinds of politics were played quite
effectively by the king, for example, over a few years, even with
these Congress governments and so on.

That's the thing you see, with this triangular contention in Nepal,
between feudalism and monarchy, the parliamentary bourgeois forces,
and the proletarian left forces. First we want to do away with
feudalism and monarchy. Then the contention between the bourgeois
forces and the proletarian left forces will be sharpened in the days
to come. In fact we have prepared ourselves for that. In case they
don't allow us to assume the leadership and implement progressive
measures, then we'll resist. Our main weapon will be to mobilize the
masses. As I said earlier, one section of the party will constantly
engage in mobilizing the masses. This has been our strategy. In the
central committee meeting we have decided that. We'll follow a
two-pronged approach. We'll try to intervene maximally from within
the state. We'll try to lead the state. We'll try to implement
progressive programmes. But we know there'll be a lot of resistance.
To counter that, we have to mobilize and organize the masses. We have
already given instructions to the party, to the lower levels, that
they should organize themselves and instruct the masses. At any time
they may have to come to the street and resist.

Q. How are you thinking now about the role for YCL (Young Communist
League), both in that kind of mobilizing you're talking about and the
kind of immediate relief you were talking about earlier in the
interview, the need for really immediate relief. Do you see a role
for YCL there as well?

The YCL will play a very important role. The reactionaries are very
frightened of the YCL. They are right in that sense, because, though
it is not true that they are using any force illegally or otherwise,
it is a very dedicated political force. During the election and
earlier they played a very important role in organizing the masses and
resisting the intimidating tactics of the reactionary classes. All
these years, the reactionary classes have been intimidating the poor
masses of the people, not letting them vote, you see. It has happened
earlier, but this time the YCL resisted that. And then the
reactionaries made a big hue and cry: "The YCL intimidated!" The YCL
didn't intimidate, but, in fact, the YCL prevented the intimidation
practiced by the reactionary classes all these years, throughout
history. This is known to all. So in the days to come one of the
functions of the YCL will to be to resist any reactionary onslaught of
the feudal, and monarchist, and the reactionary classes and to defend
the masses of the people. The second part will be to mobilize and
engage themselves in production activities and providing relief to the
masses of the people.

Q. When they are involved in production activities they could also be
involved in teaching circles and teaching about the constitutional

Yes, yes, that is the way of thinking: we will train our YCL cadres to
organize the masses, to engage in education and health service, and in
construction and production activities.

Q. Is it the Congress or CPN(UML), one of the two, is setting as a
condition for being part of a coalition government that the YCL be

That shows their reactionary character, you see. Because all these
years they have practiced rigging and [. . .]. The YCL prevented
that, they know it, so that's why they are asking for that. So there
is no chance of considering such a stupid and reactionary line. The
YCL will defend the masses of the people. If they don't want to, then
let them not join. We say, if you want to join the government, then
join. We will lead the government as part of a coalition. If they
are not ready for that, being the single largest party we will form
the government. If they don't allow that, then we'll go to the masses
of the people and bring out another movement. Those are the three
choices we have. But we won't compromise on basic issues. No.
Because people want change, they have given us a mandate for change.
If the reactionary forces don't allow us to put this mandate into
practice, then we will go to the masses of the people, rather than
succumbing to the pressure of the reactionaries.

Q: And this mandate for change has been taking the form of the slogan
of a "New Nepal". What exactly is meant by that and how is it
expected to come about?

Yes, "New Nepal" has been a very effective slogan given by our party
during the election. "New thought and new leadership for a new
Nepal," that was our basic slogan. And I think that people took it
very well, and that is why they voted for us. So by New Nepal, what
we mean is, first, politically, we want to dismantle all the feudal
political, economic, social and cultural relations. That will be one
aspect of New Nepal. The other aspect of New Nepal will be making
drastic socioeconomic transformation in a progressive way. The one is
destruction of the old, the other will be construction of the new.
There will be two aspects. And our basic focus will be on economic
activities: the transforming of the agriculture sector, and then
developing productive forces, industrial relations, so that the
workers and the youth will be provided employment. And that will
create a basis for going toward socialism. Our economic slogan that
we gave was: "New transitional economic policy." That means
industrial capitalism -- development of industrial capitalism --
oriented towards socialism. This has been our work for the interim

Q: Going back to the topic of agriculture for a moment -- in your
dissertation, the indicators you used for measuring development seem
to be kind of mainstream indicators of fertilizer, application of
machines and land-holding concentration. Do you think that this is
actually something that fits in Nepal?

No, I understand. I was forced to do this because of lack of
statistical data, you see. I couldn't manufacture my own data, I had
to rely on the given data and the given framework in which it was
available. Because of that constraint, I had to use those indicators.
That's why I was only able to give an approximation, not real
averages, but just approximations. That I mentioned in my

Q. So now in thinking about transforming agriculture, which is one
base of the economy, what kinds of things would you be concentrating
on now? Say you can take power in the government and set agricultural
policy, what are your top three moves?

Well firstly, in the agricultural sector, we are going to change the
production relations, and land-holding patterns we want to change.
Especially in the plain areas; landlordism is there. The absentee
landlords who own land, thousands of hectares of land they would own:
they live in cities, they don't invest, they don't manage the
production, so that way they exploit the poor peasants who till the
land. The peasants are exploited and the productivity is also very
low. So we want to abolish that type of absentee landlordism and
enforce the principle of land to the tiller. That land which is
tilled will be redistributed. So we will put a ceiling, say of some
four or five hectares and above that land will be confiscated and
redistributed to the peasants. So this is one aspect of land reform.
The other will be that we are going to organize the poor peasants,
because many of them will be very small landholders. I've already
told you, less that 0.5 hectares. And they engage very much in
subsistence farming. So with that individual cultivation and farming,
they can never improve their economic lot. We want to organize these
poor peasants into cooperatives. That is the second aspect. And
thirdly, we want to modernize agriculture -- mechanization, modern
irrigation, and so on.

Q. And on the question of agriculture that is focused on food security
within the country versus export economy agriculture, what's your

Our emphasis will be different from the economic policy determined by
the World Bank and FAO, which has been export oriented, and peasants
are not encouraged to produce food crops, they have been encouraged to
produce cash crops for export. The dependency has been increased, the
food security has decreased, so you see the food crisis increasing.
This is one of the consequences of the World Bank policy -- wrong
policy. So we wouldn't like to just blindly follow that policy.
Firstly, the peasants' food security will be given high priority.
They should produce food and cater to the needs of the internal
market. And then secondly only, they can produce for export. So that
will be our priority.

Q. We know that you have to go. Is there anything you want to say to
the Left in North America?

You see the crisis is international in scale: there is a direct fight
between the proletarian ideology and imperialist ideology. This is
in the whole of this so-called globalization. Globalization has given
this sharp class contradiction, of two classes. So North America
being the center of imperialism, the working class and Left forces
there, I think they should organize themselves and the stronger the
movement against imperialism there, that will be helpful for the Left
and proletarian movement in the Third World countries, because the
Third World countries are the most oppressed by imperialism. If there
is a strong working class movement and Left movement in the
imperialist countries, that will directly help the revolutionary
movement in the Third World countries. That way we appeal to our
friends in North America. They should sharpen their struggle against
imperialism. That will help our movement in our countries.

Q. The workers there see themselves as being forced into competition
with workers in Third World countries because all their jobs, that is,
capital, is moving to the Third World and leaving them unemployed.

That is because of the nature of imperialism, you see. It is not the
fault of the Third World countries. They want to exploit the Third
World countries more.

Q. Exactly. They want to use these countries to weaken the workers in
the. . . .

They want to use the workers of the poor countries against the workers
of the rich countries. Instead of that, I think that we should have
international working class solidarity, and we have to coordinate the
policy against imperialism. When you don't have this political
sharpness and political consciousness, the working class in the
imperialist countries will think workers of the dependent countries or
Third World countries are their enemy, you see. Workers are not their
enemy; imperialism is their enemy. So I think this consciousness
should be developed among the workers of the imperialist countries.

Stephen Mikesell and Mary Des Chene are anthropologists who study
Nepal's economy and politics. This interview was originally conducted
in Nepal for WORT-FM community radio, Madison, Wisconsin. Portions of
it were broadcast on 4 May 2008. It appears also in the 10-16 issue
of the Economic and Political Weekly.


Vol - I, Issue - 9, June 01-15, 2008
A victory for the people
The Nepalese People have passed a historic milestone. The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly (CA) has abolished the monarchy and implemented a Federal Democratic Republic (FDR). A dark chapter of feudal history has ended, and a new chapter of Nepalese history has begun, a bright future into a Federal Democratic Republic.
The 240 years of the Shah dynasty, including the Ranas, represented an extremely centralised, absolutist and cruel era in Nepalese history. During this long tyrannous rule, the Nepalese people spent their lives in conditions of scarcity, poverty, misery, repression and exploitation; while at that time; big historical changes were taking place in the international political arena. The changes in foreign countries and the development of mass consciousness inspired the Nepalese people to struggle against the feudal order.
The armed struggle and the people's movement of 2007, 2013, 2028, 2036 and 2046 BS ended with the monarchy making compromises. The aims and aspirations of the people and the movement were unfulfilled because of the class character and the inefficiency of the parliamentary parties. People felt that the bourgeois parliamentary parties would not be able to accomplish the struggle to end the monarchy. Therefore, the People were in search of a revolutionary party that could abolish the monarchy
After the initiation of People's War (PW), the people had the golden opportunity to contribute to the decisive struggle. The revolutionary, progressive, patriotic and forward leaning forces united under the leadership of CPN-Maoist and Com. Prachanda. The People's War developed in leaps and bounds, taking the struggle ahead to a decisive and logical end.
After a decade long People's War and the second Peoples Movement (janandolan) , the CPN-M was able to form a broad United Front with the parliamentary parties after the 12-point understanding. Though the parliamentary parties tried to end the struggle in a compromise with the monarchy, the CPN-M took the flexible but scientific initiative to fight a political struggle, a `table war'. The mandate of the PW and the People's Movement was to finish off feudalism and the monarchy. This aspiration and mandate had the grand support of the people. With this large support, the Maoist moved victoriously forward. The table-war went on smoothly towards a peaceful political outlet. The parliamentary parties were actually pro-monarchist. They could not even imagine eradicating the feudal reign of Nepal. The CPN-M fought unceasingly against the pro-monarchist and status-quo tendencies of the parliamentary parties.
In the recently held CA election, the CPN-M gave a clear picture of the FDR by proposing a presidential system in its commitment paper. The majority of the people heartily accepted the commitment of the Party; the people voted for the Maoist to implement the FDR and to bring in the new Nepal; this is why they were elected as the largest party in the CA. The people have proved victorious and have created history. They are now creating a new future. The people and only the people are the creators of the history.
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Vol - I, Issue - 9, June 01-15, 2008
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Present situation and our challenges

- Basanta

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. 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.   August 12, 2008

– Writer is a central committee member of CPN-Maoist.