Nepal: Republican resurgence led by the red flag

By Lal Bahadur Singh, Liberation, magazine of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (Liberation)

Kathmandu -- ``Nepal Stuns World, Itself: Poll Peaceful, Turnout 60%'' -- that was the banner headline of the Kathmandu Post, the leading Nepal newspaper, on April 11, 2008, the morrow of the historic constituent assembly elections. It was stunning indeed that the constituent assembly elections in a Nepal torn by civil strife were held in a remarkably peaceful atmosphere, and with a huge participation of the people. However the real stunner was yet to come some hours later when by the midnight of April 11 it became clear that a Red Star was rising in full bloom over Sagarmatha, i.e. Everest, the highest peak in the world, in the erstwhile Himalayan Kingdom.

In an ironic reversal, at a time when people were speculating whether the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) -- CPN (M) -- would accept the verdict or return to the jungle again in the eventuality of their presumed certain defeat, when US ex-President Jimmy Carter was citing his Nicaraguan Sandinista experience and telling the world that Maoists had assured him that they would accept the results even if defeated, and so on and so forth, the people of Nepal catapulted the Maoists to power.

It was indeed a great comment on the complete alienation from the popular masses and myopic vision of the middle-class opinion makers in Nepal, as well as the corporate media and powers-that-be in India and the world over, that until the election results started pouring in, they were all predicting a lead by the Nepali Congress party, and the Maoists in third place.

To be in Kathmandu and Nepal was to have a real feel of the excitement that rocked Nepal in those tumultuous days, in its historic moment of epochal political transition from monarchy to republic, and that too under revolutionary Communist leadership.


Dundubhi Baji sakeko chh

Gandiv Uthisakeko Chh

Ekaishon Shatabdi ko yo Mahabharat Ma

Aaj, Aeuta Abhishapta kalo Yug Astaunaiparchh

Aaj ko Kuruchhetrama Pani

Satya, balidan, Nyay Ra samanta Ko jit Hunaiparchh

Aaj, Aek Jugma Aune Tyo Aek Din Ho

Jasle Ulatpulat, Uthalputhal ra Herpher Nyaujaiparchh

-- A Maoist slogan painted on the walls draws upon the imagery of the Mahabharata and calls upon people to lift the bow and blow the bugle; to ensure the victory of ``truth, sacrifice and justice'' in the 21st century Kurukshetra (battlefield); to end feudal oppression; and to turn an upside down world the right way up. This is a glimpse of the popular, spirited propaganda that stirred Nepal in those stormy days.


The people's verdict was equally stunning and unexpected for the political parties, too. Had even the Maoists assessed such a huge lead over others for them and hence not insisted on the proportional representation system, they would not have been just the single largest party today, but would have secured an absolute majority in the newly constituted constituent assembly.

Writing was on the wall

However, the writing on the wall was there for anyone willing to see, that the Maoists were set to win in quite a big way.

All along the route from Birganj, the gateway to Nepal on the India border, up to Kathmandu, we found bold, beautiful wall writings by the Maoists calling upon the people to participate in the constituent assembly elections to make Nepal a federal, democratic republic, abolish the monarchy and make CPN (M) leader Prachanda the first president of republican Nepal. The hectic movement of the enthusiastic Young Communist League (YCL) cadres on campaign vans with red flags atop, wearing the hammer and sickle in a circle -- the election symbol of the CPN (M) -- on their clothes and even painted on their bare bodies, could be seen all around. As we entered Kathmandu, the first comment we heard from the young conductor of the city bus gave us some hint of the things to come. As soon as he came to know that we were interested in the elections, his impromptu reaction came, gleefully and confidently, ``Yahan to Maovadi jeetenge'' (The Maoists are winning here).

Just on the heels of the elections, while roaming the lanes of Kathmandu, we found a broad pattern to the social preference for various parties, of course based on our limited experience in the Kathmandu valley. The traditional upper sections favoured the Nepali Congress, the liberal middle sections, employees etc. supported the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist) -- UML -- and the lower, unorganised working masses and overwhelming the youth vociferously worked for the Maoists.

Many liberal theories are now being peddled to explain the Maoist victory: ranging from its trivialisation as just an anti-incumbency factor -- a ``vote for change'' -- to downright defamation by terming it a victory for ``terror'' tactics and ``intimidation'' of other parties by YCL cadres. There are even some funny theories suggesting that people made Maoists victorious lest they again returned back to jungle to restart violence! In fact, the Maoist victory was in-built in the very logic of the political developments leading to the virtual demolition of the monarchy in Janandolan II (uprising) in November 2006 and the subsequent election of theconstituent assembly.

It is obvious that for the Nepalese people reeling under the dead weight of the monarchist-feudal regime which had turned Nepal into an extremely backward country and a happy hunting ground for imperialist forces and Indian hegemonism for centuries, resulting in many unequal and humiliating treaties, the central political agenda has for long been the overthrow of the monarchy. As the Nepali Congress was at the forefront of the battle for democracy in 1950s, people went with it and Congress became the main political force. But the monarchy soon consolidated its autocratic power and ruled with an iron hand for the next three decades.

Early 1990s: CPN (UML) emerges as the political force

In the next wave of the anti-monarchy battle in the early '90s, the CPN (UML) played the crucial role, of course joining hands with the Nepali Congress. The UML then naturally emerged as a major political force. However, this [uprising known as the] Janandolan I could not reach its logical conclusion. The king, though weakened by the blow of the heroic peoples' movement, was down but not out. With his hold on the army still intact, he gradually manoeuvred his way out. The opportunist parliamentary political games fatally corroded the moral authority of the main political parties and made them prey to royalist machinations. They became captive to the forces of the status quo instead of persisting with the radical course towards the fulfillment of the unfinished agenda of establishing a republic on the ruins of monarchy.

As a bourgeois-landlord party, this path was quite natural for the Congress, but the UML too could not make any radical departure at this juncture to break the impasse. It was at this critical moment in the onward march of Nepalese history towards its destiny of republicanism, that the CPN (Maoist) came out unequivocally for an uncompromising battle against the monarchy, towards establishing a republic, rejecting even the liberal proposal of ceremonial status for the king as proposed by the other main parties.

And with this central slogan they galvanised the whole of Nepal, arousing and mobilising in particular the vast rural masses and youth with the dream of a new Nepal, a republican democratic Nepal, a sovereign, peoples' Nepal free of bondage and backwardness, as well as imperialist looting and hegemonistic arm-twisting and humiliation. Winning the vast rural masses to their side, they deprived autocracy of its main social prop in society. Thus was paved the way for the eventual fall of the dead weight of the monarchy like a dry wooden log, deprived of its roots and nourishment!

The rest was done by the king himself in his arrogance: his patently miscalculated bloody palace coup; later, monopolising power in his hands and doing away even with the minimal semblance of democracy, ostensibly on the pretext of crushing the Maoists on behalf of the ruling elite. Thus he himself hammered in the proverbial last nail in his own coffin.

US, India back monarchy

In this war against Nepal's people, he was obviously banking too much on the mightiest power of the world, the US and of course, his time-tested protagonists, the Indian rulers with their notorious ``two-pillar'' theory. The US openly offered him all-out help and cooperation in his autocratic rule in the name of crushing the Maoists. While the king declared an award of Rs5 million (Nepalese currency) for Prachanda's head, the US put the CPN(M) on its terror list and did much business in arms and ammunition with royalist Nepal. All this further alienated the already discredited and hated king and with the formation of a grand alliance of Maoists and other anti-monarchy forces, the stage was set for a final showdown between the royalists and the republican forces. Thus the Maoists were perceived as the principal architect of the heroic mass uprising against the king which ultimately forced him to eat humble pie. Even the last-ditch effort by the Indian ruling establishment to sell its notorious two-pillar theory, sending yet another dethroned king Karan Singh as their emissary, could not save the beleaguered King.

It is curious to see that the Indian ruling establishment and even some CPI (Marxist) leaders are patting themselves on the back for advising the Maoists to shun violence and ``join the mainstream''. In Nepal, it is apparent that the Maoists are now themselves the new mainstream while the so called mainstream of the politics which the Indian rulers wanted them to join has now itself been relegated to the margins. The dichotomy of armed struggle versus elections is a false one; it is obvious that the essence of the Maoists' rise lies in their command over politics and their correct political orientation: their uncompromising battle against the monarchy. The form of that battle followed as per the demands of politics at different junctures.

Lessons for communists

It was here that they proved to be of a very different mettle from the Indian Maoists, who remain cut off from crucial questions of Indian politics and from the political pulse of the people. The Indian Maoists were always flummoxed by the change of tactics of the Nepal Maoists when the latter came out from the underground and joined hands with the seven parties to launch a mass movement and then subsequently decided to participate in elections. The Nepal Maoists' experience till now also presents a contrast to the CPI (M): far from tailing behind the ruling-class formations as the CPI (M) does, the CPN (M) pioneered the agenda of the republic and led the pro-democracy movement from the front, while ruling-class formations vacillated and dragged their feet as is their wont.

The spectacular performance by Madheshi parties (specially, MJAF led by Upendra Yadav) has surprised many political observers. [The Madheshis are a large oppressed group, who inhabit the flat southern region of Nepal.] It is essentially rooted in the democratic aspirations of the Madhesh people, though it is true that powerful vested interests and reactionary forces within and without Nepal have been making desperate efforts, as their proverbial last straw, to save the monarchy and stall the Maoists. Ironically, however, it seems that Madheshi parties have damaged the electoral prospects of the Nepali Congress more than they have damaged the Maoists. To cite just one example, Sujata Koirala, daughter of Girija Prasad Koirala projected as the heir-apparent to the Koirala dynasty, was trounced by Upendra Yadav. The Madhesh issue is bound to remain one of the central concerns of the future dispensation in Kathmandu to be addressed with utmost sensitivity and caution, as reactionary forces won't miss a single chance to lead it on a sectarian course.

We can only wait and watch the trajectory of the new republic, and the role of Nepal's communists on the road to people's democracy and socialism. But indisputably, the world has witnessed that the successful consummation of a popular mass movement for a republic has been led by none other but the communists. Those very communists who were tagged as ``terrorists'' by the ``world’s greatest democracy'', the US (it is another matter that the US is seen as the biggest terrorist by the world's people!). It will certainly be interesting to see whether these biggest hypocrites who use the word ``democracy'', will buckle down and recognise the Maoist-led Nepalese republic and remove the terrorist tag, thus saving themselves from further ridicule in the eyes of the world! Or if they will still treat the newest democracy of the world, whose elections have been observed and applauded as free and fair even by their ex-President Carter and the UN, as a terrorist/rogue state like many others in their list!

India's rulers' designs on Nepal

The pronouncements of some ``strategic analysts'' and foreign policy experts in India as well as the Sangh Parivar [right-wing Hindu chauvinist] ideologues are also revealing. They glaringly prove the popular perception of the Nepalese people that India's rulers regard Nepal as their fiefdom. These Sangh ideologues and ``expert'' advisers of the Indian ruling class accuse the Indian government of ``gifting'' away Nepal to the Maoists and failing to protect that great guarantor of ``India's interests'' -– the Nepalese king. They forget that Nepal, in the first place, was never theirs to ``gift away''! And if the Nepalese people choose to get rid of their king, and vote overwhelmingly to do so, shame on those who imagined they could meddle and reverse that decision!

One such ``expert'', Brahma Chellaney, writing in *India Today*, ended by declaring that the Madheshis, ``who populate the Terai, Nepal's food bowl, are India's natural constituency, and that card is begging to be exercised''. This is the language of ``strategic'' policy advisors in India, who claim to be Washington's partner in exporting democracy: a blatant, open, shameless game plan for an Indian design to retain hegemonic control on a sovereign republican neighbour!

In the past much damage has been done by the hegemonic and erroneous Nepal policy of the Indian ruling establishment; it's time for a new beginning, forging a healthy democratic bilateral relation based on genuine equality, mutual respect and benefit.

In a society where the level of subservience to the monarch was such that until yesterday parliamentary candidates, prospective people's representatives, sought blessings from the king by offering a coin at his feet, the abolition of the monarchy is no less than a miracle –- a miracle achieved by the Nepalese people.

Let us hail this great victory of the Nepalese people and the republican forces, and warmly wish success for Nepal's communists in facing the many complex challenges that lie ahead on the road to democracy and socialism.


Editorial: The challenge of shaping a new Nepal begins now

Liberation, May 2008

The outcome of the April 10 elections in Nepal goes far beyond signalling the eventual end of the country's 240-year-old monarchy. The fate of the monarchy was more or less decided before the elections when all parties had agreed to pass a resolution proclaiming Nepal a republic in the first meeting of the constituent assembly. It is the new balance of political forces in post-poll Nepal which has taken everybody by surprise.

The Maoists of Nepal, still listed as a terrorist outfit by the Bush administration, have emerged as the biggest political component in the constituent assembly. They have bagged half of the directly elected seats and more than a third of the popular vote in the proportional representation system. The Nepali Congress and the CPN (UML), the two big parties that dominated the parliamentary arena since the 1990 restoration of parliament, find themselves lagging far behind the Maoists. Meanwhile, the Terai region of Nepal has witnessed the rise of a powerful Madhesi factor, with the two leading organisations representing the Madhesi identity having a combined tally that places them almost at par with the NC or the UML.

The rise of the Maoists as the leading current in the constituent assembly provides an interesting case study of a communist movement in a feudal-monarchist setting. During the 1990 movement for restoration of democracy, the Maoists were present as a minor tendency within the communist spectrum while the CPN (UML) emerged as the leading communist trend. As the ``twin pillars'' experiment of running a constitutional democracy within a monarchist framework tumbled from one crisis to another, the Maoists took to the path of armed struggle and gradually stepped up their campaign for a full-fledged republic. With the monarchy rapidly losing its prestige and authority in the wake of the infamous palace massacre, the idea of a republic caught the imagination of the people. The victory of the Maoists at the hustings must primarily be attributed to their success in setting the republican agenda.

The communist-led surge of republicanism in Nepal has rebuffed the arrogant designs of the world's greatest ``exporter'' of democracy. The US backed the king all through, branding the Maoist campaign for a republic as terrorism. The foreign policy strategists in New Delhi, who increasingly look at the world and even themselves through the US prism, saw the monarchy as the anchor for the stability of Nepal. Now that the ballots have sealed the fate of Nepal's moribund monarchy, these strategists have become jittery about the possibility of republican Nepal pursuing an independent foreign policy and seeking a new balance between India and China.

As far as the US is concerned, containing and encircling China is clearly one of its foremost foreign policy objectives. It is on this basis that the US seeks strategic partnership with India and would also like to use Nepal both as a base and buffer between India and China. As far as India is concerned, Nepal is the closest northern neighbour with a long history of shared multifarious ties. Instead of toeing the US line on Nepal, India must honour the verdict of the Nepali people and sympathetically address the concerns of the emerging Himalayan republic. If we cannot do that, our foreign policy will also prove as anachronistic as the moribund monarchy in Nepal.

While the Sangh Parivar is destined to miss the dynastic head of the erstwhile Himalayan Hindu Kingdom, all progressive people in India should wholeheartedly welcome Nepal's transition to a constitutional republic. In India too, a republican constitution was won only through a determined battle against the British colonialists and their numerous ``royal'' partners. And for revolutionary communists, it is of course most heartening to note that communists have been at the forefront of the popular quest for a modern democratic and republican Nepal. The composition of the emerging constituent assembly also reflects this reality with communists and left forces of different shades having a clear majority over the political representatives of the nascent Nepali bourgeoisie who have always betrayed the democratic aspirations of the people.

The real challenge of writing a democratic constitution and shaping a new Nepal begins now and on behalf of the revolutionary communists and democrats of India, we convey our warmest wishes to the communists and fighting people of Nepal at this critical hour of change.

[From the May 2008 edition of Liberation, magazine of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (Liberation).]

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Sat, 05/03/2008 - 17:16


From Liberation, magazine of the CPI (ML) Liberation

Royally Regimented Polls in Bhutan

The elections to Bhutan’s National Assembly on March 24 couldn’t be a greater contrast with the Constituent Assembly elections of April 10 in Nepal. Whereas the Nepalese polls reflected the full force of energy and tumult of the years of struggle against the monarchy, Bhutan’s first-ever elections were orchestrated entirely by its royal regime. King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, who took over the mantle of monarchy from his father last year, drafted the Constitution under which the polls were held. The new Constitution mandates a retirement age of 65 for future Kings, and allows for the removal of the King by a two-thirds vote in Parliament. A 50-year-old ban on political parties was lifted; however several parties continued to be debarred from contesting the elections, including the Bhutan People's Party, Bhutan National Democratic Party, and Druk National Congress.
A graduation degree is a mandatory educational qualification for candidature under the new Constitution. In Bhutan, where the rate of literacy is still around 42 per cent, graduates number merely 3,000 – a tiny elite of Bhutanese society. One party, the Election Commission disqualified the Druk People’s Unity Party (DPUP) for lack of “credible leadership”; i. e more than 75 per cent of its party members were school dropouts. With no third party in the contest, the only two contenders were the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), or the Bhutan Peace Party, and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Bhutan is portrayed in most media reports as a Shangri-la, a mountain paradise of peace and prosperity. Few mention the fact that Bhutan’s monarchy forcibly drove out one and half lakh people (out of Bhutan’s total population of 7 lakh) out of the country with the help of army, bulldozed their houses, razed to the ground their orange and cardamom orchards, perpetrated unimaginable atrocities on the old, women and children. These refugees, living in seven refugee camps run by UNHCR in Nepal border for the last seventeen years, had no right to vote or participate in the polls.
While most of these refugees are of Nepali origin, the unrest in Bhutan in fact has its roots in aspirations for democracy. In 1990, some pro-democracy forces in South Bhutan had peacefully articulated the demand for minimum democratic rights. Since most of the population of that region are Nepalese speaking, the King had portrayed it as an ethnic issue alone. Later, the royal witch-hunt targeted the people belonging to the Sarchop community too, living in northern and eastern parts of Bhutan, and they too were driven out, and it became apparent that pro-democracy movement was not a movement of Nepalese speaking people only. Leading pro-democracy activists of Bhutan have suffered jail sentences and exile.
India has warm relations with the Bhutan monarchy, and invited the King as Chief Guest on Republic Day two years back! India has callously washed its hands off the Bhutanese refugees, claiming it is a bipartisan issue between Bhutan and Nepal. This is quite false, since Nepal and Bhutan have no shared border. India put the fleeing Bhutanese refugees on trucks and lorries and dumped them inside Nepalese territory; and then continued to protect the Bhutan monarchy. Bhutanese refugees in India are not accorded the status of refugees by UNO. Last year the US intervened, with a proposal to settle sixty thousand refugees in US and ten thousand each in Australia and Canada. This ploy was intended to divide the refugees. But the refugee question, the burning issue of Nepalese democracy, was forcibly kept out of the elections. The Election Commission also disqualified a PDP candidate who raised the refugee issue. In the ongoing elections, refugees (among whom the Bhutan Communist Party is said to have made inroads, and who are no doubt influenced by Nepalese Maoists) exploded bombs in Bhutan on the eve of the elections.
The DPT, widely perceived as being the King’s favoured party, won 45 out of 47 seats in the elections. But there was virtually no opposition worth the name: even the PDP leadership is peopled with the King’s relatives. So the contest was all within the family, in a sense.

With Nepal is a democratic ferment next door, and the spectacle of the summary dismissal of the Nepalese monarchy, it is hardly likely that the hot-house democracy guarded by the Bhutanese King can keep the democratic aspirations of Bhutanese people at bay.

By TP Mishra

Unlike in Nepal and India, they are still unfamiliar to the outside world. The red Maoists have just unfurled its flag in Bhutan, and have set the alarm bell of a new threat in the Eastern Himalayas.

Like the other South Asia countries, the secluded Dragon Kingdom too has started to witness Maoist movement, a political battle, aimed at abolishing the Monarchy from the last Shangri-La.

A series of bomb explosions mostly in the southern periphery of the Himalayan Kingdom, where majority of Nepali-speaking people dwell, during the last couple of years, is the announcement that the comrade-in-arms of the radical Communists are now looking for a political change.

The 2008 political transformation in Bhutan—from an absolute monarchy to a "constitutional monarchy" has been dubbed as an eye-wash by the Maoists. The red-brigade is determined to achieve a Nepal-like situation—establishment of Bhutan as a republic.

Formed on April 22, 2003, Communist Party of Bhutan, Marxists-Leninists-Maoists (CPB-MLM) is led by general secretary Comrade Vikalpa (literally means `alternative'). Birth of the radical Communist group came to fore after posters and pamphlets were first pasted couple of years ago mostly in the UNHCR-monitored seven refugee camps in eastern districts of Nepal.

Beginning of Maoist movement was natural in Bhutan as more than one hundred thousands genuine Nepali-speaking Bhutanese citizens have been living as "refugees" in Nepal since early 1990s due to forcible mass eviction from their villages in Bhutan. Doubtlessly, frustration due to long and unimproved living in refugee camps has largely contributed for many youths' direct involvement in the CPB-MLM.

The Bhutanese Maoists announced their war after it faxed a 13-point demand to the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGOB) on March 22, 2007, almost four years after the formal declaration of party. The demands stressed the need to introduce people's democracy replacing monarchy, guarantee multi-party democracy, repatriation of the refugees with honor and dignity to their original homes and release all political prisoners.

Though their activities in Bhutan hardly existed in media light, they triumphantly boosted the party potency in refugee camps—either through closed door meetings, publications, mass gatherings or community-focused cultural shows. Their pro-people cultural shows in Bhutan, aimed at raising public awareness during the time of Hindus' great festivals like the Dashain and Deepawali were, however, frequently generalized.

The Party has frequently claimed that they carried out the similar activities in 16 districts of Bhutan on the same day. This, however, is still at odds since it was neither reported by any media nor any strapping substantiation has substituted it, mainly from Vikapa's side.

Tactically, Bhutanese Maoists are operating like the United Communist Party of Nepal (UCPN-Maoists). The protracted People's War, in their own words, is divided into three strategic phases—defense, balance and counter attack. Defense is again divided into three sub-phases: preparation, commencement and continuation. The preparation phase is again divided into four phases—ideological, organizational, technical and related to struggle.

CPB-MLM is operating with donation collection. They launch various fund-raising programs including cultural shows and direct donation from those having good income sources. All Bhutan People's Cultural Forum, amongst at least half a dozen sister wings, organized a cultural program and a drama titled Paristhiti Le Janmaeko Lakshya (Goal Created by Circumstances) at the Nepal Academy in Kathmandu on May 10, 2007. They collected an estimated thirty thousand Nepalese rupees from tickets sales.

Due to ideological differences, now the party is believed to be divided into two factions–one led by Vikalpa and the other by Birat. A clear majority voice from the central committee members ousted Vikalpa from party's brain-box position on January 20, 2008. He has been accused of being "opportunist".

They are strongly guided by Mao's doctrine of `encircling city from village.' This should serve as one reason why the deviated faction of the same party led by Birat that waged arms for the first time in Bhutan on January 3, 2008 termed it `armed rural class struggle'.

The decade long arm struggle by Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists), now UCPN-Maoists, in Nepal is one of their major sources for motivation. Nepal Weekly, one of Nepal's largest magazines, ran a special report by Deepak Adhikari on rise in communism in Bhutan in 2007. Quoting unnamed source, the report disclosed that Nepali Maoists have provided ideological and material assistance to them. Also, cadres of CPB-MLM have a common say – Maoists around the globe have common ideology and they support each other.

If the findings in this national magazine were to be fact-based, it has mentioned that the senior leaders of UCPN-Maoists imparted training in firearms, ideology and cultural issues to their Bhutanese comrades.

Both of the party's direct links with Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organizations of South Asia (CCOMPASA), as they are members, could be one basis of their closeness in exchanging good-will carry—both logistic and materials. Local leaders of UCPN-Maoists are often seen as guest speaker during the CPB-MLM's mass meeting in refugee camps. CPB-MLM actively participated in an international seminar organized by Nepali Maoists in the last week of December 2006.

The weekly magazine also quoted CP Gajurel `Gaurav', who is now secretary of UCPN-M, as saying "we are very close, for we follow the same ideology in the first place and they are also people of Nepali origin in the second." He had disclosed that most of the CPB-MLM leaders were trained and inspired by the People's War of Nepal. According to Gajurel, they are helping the Bhutanese Maoists in guerrilla warfare strategy and working policy.

In 2003, Nepalese security forces had arrested several cadres of CPB-MLM, whom the party later described as their "well-wishers", for having direct links with Nepali Maoists and were sternly interrogated.

Securing Indian support is a must for any parties in Bhutan—be it the one carrying peaceful agendas or the one claiming to be revolutionary outfit, to strengthen their call for democracy in Bhutan. A report by BBC on November 14, 2008 (India-Bhutan rebel link exposed) articulates this fact.

The separatist United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) – the former fighting for Assam's independence and the latter for an independent homeland for Bodo people – had more than 30 bases in southern Bhutan. The bases were demolished by the Royal Bhutan Army during the Operation All-Clear in December 2003.

During police interrogation, Tenzing Zangpo, a leader of the Druk National Congress had disclosed about Bhutanese Maoists' "close links" with rebels in Assam since his party, as per Zangpo, had links with Maoist movement in Bhutan. Zangpo was arrested in by the Assam police for his alleged involvement in October 2008 blasts in Assam that killed 84 people.

Political analyst and senior Bhutanese leader R. P. Subba, who is now in USA, says reciprocation for India's soft approach towards the Bhutanese dissidents during their initial days of the pro-democracy movement, the Bhutanese regime invited and sheltered various Indian militant insurgents in the Bhutanese soil in the early 1990s. This alliance was built on a stream of mutual interests between the Royal government of Bhutan and the north east militants.

Interestingly, a book titled `Bhutanese Communist Movement: Brief Study of Essence' by "Vigyan", central committee member of the Birat-faction of CPB-MLM have flatly denied their connection with Indian radical force. In an e-mail interview with the writer of this piece, Vikalpa, however, claims about their working relation with radical forces in India

Soon after Vikalpa was ousted from the party, the Birat-led CPB-MLM rocked the kingdom with a series of bombs on the night of February 3, 2008 in Samtse district which damaged the materials brought by the Druk government for the National Assembly election. Their call for arm-launch against the monarchy, thus, was called `armed rural class struggle'.

Vikalpa's MLM also separately marked the start of arm revolt against the absolute regime with twin blasts, one near Nainital Primary School in Samtse district and another near the Damchen Petroleum depot in Chukha on June 5, 2008. No human casualties were reported, however, a central committee member of the latter faction was detained by the Royal Bhutan Army.

Besides Maoists groups, two other groups—United Revolutionary Front of Bhutan (URFB) and Bhutan Tigers Force (BTF) are also actively seen for plantation of explosives in Bhutan at various times.

The URFB had exploded serial bomb between January 20 and March 20, 2008 in Thimpu, Chukha, Dagana and Samtse as warnings to the Bhutan Government and for a response to resolve all the impending problems before any significant political changes.

The two bomb blasts in Sibsoo police station of Samchi district on March 20, 2008 at about 12.45 and 01.12 p.m. was the sequel of three blasts since January 20, 2008. This was the third blast of the URFB within time span of five days in the wake to foil the first general election in the country on March 24, 2008. A blast near Singay village in Sarpang district on December 30, 2008 claimed the lives of four leaving two injured.

The BTF is often seen actively involved in raising awareness about the armed struggle through pamphlets and posters in the Himalayan country. The frequent hoisting of the communist flag in the southern districts has been publicised by the Druk media. The hit-and-run operations indicate that the armed struggle in Bhutan will continue unless an amicable solution is not found at the earliest possible.

Though it is difficult to claim the cooperation between the insurgent outfits, but their common minimal program seems to launch an armed struggle against the absolute regime. However, both the BTF and the URFB are not ideology-driven.

In the wake to address the immediate demand to daunt the Maoists attacks, the government arrested at least 39 civilians in December 27, 2007 from southern part of the country for their alleged involvement in radical Communist movement. The government imprisoned them ranging from 5-9 years jail term. The CPB-MLM has denied the involvement of those detainees in their party.

The Royal government introduced volunteers to patrol at night in early 2008. Each household had to send a volunteer to patrol every night. They used to check on schools, hospitals and other public places. This is not a fair initiation of the government to counter armed attacks. Innocent civilians should not be used as shield in the name of fighting armed rebellion. Rather, the government should resolve the issues politically.

Initially, the CPB-MLM cadres opposed the resettlement scheme, brought up by the UNHCR and US government, and even camp residents were threatened to boycott the process. The Birat-led faction of the MLM outfit claims that several cadres who used to work with ousted Vikalpa have already reached western countries under third country resettlement process. An estimated 26 thousands have been already resettled in seven different western countries including the US.

If Comrade Birat and his cadres are true, there is a strong possibility that a section of the resettled Bhutanese refugees, after attaining financial independence, would extend full support to the Maoists groups, and plunge Bhutan towards a bloody war.

Monarchy Vs Communism
Rise of communism in Bhutan pose obvious threat to the Monarchy, if the present political system goes unaddressed for some more years. Right decision on wrong time often pushes the country to political turmoil. No where in histories we find monarchy and communism standing on the same political platform.

The RGOB should not escape from furnishing a peaceful solution through dialogue, and this is the right time. It must see what is happening in neighboring countries – the ongoing violence in Sri Lanka, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The decade-long Maoist insurgency in Nepal could be a better lesson. The Bhutan government should try to resolve its political problem before it is too late.

Senior Nepali journalist Dhruba Hari Adhikari sees Bhutanese monarchy bordered with threats if ascend in communism keeps its expedited pace. "At the moment, New Delhi is protecting Bhutanese monarch but once people rise up, I don't think it can be stopped for ever."

Peaceful means can never be replaced by any other forms of struggle for the establishment of democracy and human rights in any country. Yet, with the rise of communism in the last Shangri-La, a bigger challenge may end the Druk monarchy if all Bhutanese revolutionary outfits, by chance, come to a single platform and wage a bigger arms struggle.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Thu, 05/08/2008 - 20:48


“Communism has revived itself from all the old experiences. New ideology, new strategy has been created by the Nepalese Maoists.”

- Prachanda

KATHMANDU (AFP) Sun May 4, 2008 8:22 am (PDT) The leader of Nepal’s Maoists, Prachanda, says the victory of his left-wing former rebels in last month’s landmark elections is a sign of the global resurgence of communism. The former schoolteacher, once branded a “terrorist” and wanted by Interpol, is now vying to be the first president of a republican Nepal, and he says his party’s success at the ballot box is rooted in its communist ideals.

“The revolutionary process is now happening in third world countries, and when it is completed in developing countries, a new wave of socialist revolution will be there in developed countries,” Prachanda said. “Here in Nepal we are trying our best to develop our ideology according to the changed situation,” the 54-year-old told reporters from AFP and an Italian news magazine. “Communists all over the world need to understand the new challenges, the new developments of the 21st century.”

The Maoists won 220 seats — more than twice as many as its closest rival, the Nepali Congress — in the April 10 elections for a 601-member body that will rewrite Nepal’s constitution and abolish the monarchy. “Our victory in the constituent assembly elections will be a big reference point for Maoists all over the world,” said the moustachioed Maoist, whose nom-de-guerre means “the fierce one.”

After living underground for 25 years, Prachanda emerged from the shadows to sign a peace deal in 2006 and end a decade-long revolt that left at least 13,000 people dead and destroyed Nepal’s already fragile economy. The Maoists are now promising radical change in Nepal, a traditionally conservative country with strict caste, ethnic and gender divisions where around 31 percent of people live on less than a dollar a day. “We have come to a new understanding that multi-party competition is a must, even in socialism,” said the Maoist leader, whose party displayed portraits of Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao Zedong at campaign rallies.

“Without having multi-party competition, it is not possible to create a vibrant society.”

The Maoists warned last week that they would form a new government with or without the help of the mainstream political parties with which they signed the 2006 deal — and which they resoundingly defeated in the April elections.

Senior leaders from the Nepali Congress, firm favourites before the shock results, have suggested the current interim administration led by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala should remain. But Prachanda has said he has the right to lead the next government. The Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal [UML] are now holding internal meetings amid deep divisions about whether they should join the former rebels.

Under the timetable laid out in Nepal’s interim constitution, the first meeting of the constituent assembly has to be held before May 26. The Maoists promised voters to bring about “revolutionary” land reform but they have also said they want to attract foreign investment and start to tap the Himalayan country’s massive potential for hydro-electricity.

“We are interested in private investment from inside and outside the country, but the priority of the investment will be decided by the Nepalese and Nepalese government,” Prachanda said. The Maoist leader said he believes that no matter what follows, his party has secured a place in history.

“I think history should remember our ideology and actions as this is something new for the 21st century,” he said. “Communism has revived itself from all the old experiences. New ideology, new strategy has been created by the Nepalese Maoists.”

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Sun, 05/11/2008 - 14:35


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 constitution.

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 assembly.

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 dissolved.

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 period.

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 dissertation.

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 view?

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. reports:

King told to leave palace by May 27

Maoist chairman Prachanda has revealed that he has sent a message to
King Gyanendra, suggesting him to leave Narayanhiti Palace by May 27,
a day before the first sitting of the Constituent Assembly (CA)
formally abolishes monarchy and declares the country a republic.

Talking to reporters in Ilam after inaugurating a meeting of the
party's Limbuwan State Council on Tuesday, Prachanda warned that the
King could face forceful eviction from the palace if he refused to
quit voluntarily.

Saying that the first CA meeting would declare the country a republic,
the Maoist strongman made it clear that his party would not accept any
form of monarchy. If the King cooperated with the political process he
would be given the rights enjoyed by ordinary citizens, Prachanda added.

Prachanda's 'ultimatum' comes a day after he met former royalist
minister and chairman of Rasatriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal, Kamal
Thapa, and, through him, reportedly conveyed his message to the King. mk May 13 08


Submitted by Terry Townsend on Sat, 07/19/2008 - 16:10


Indian solidarity with Nepali Maoists

In a significant move, fourteen Indian revolutionary parties and organizations that uphold Marxism-Leninism or Marxism-Leninism-Maoism/Mao Zedong Thought publicly shared the same platform on June 23, 2008, for the first time in the history of the Indian revolutionary movement. They unanimously conveyed greetings to the CPN (Maoist) for its victory in the recent Constituent Assembly Election, and resolutely supported the current political line of the CPN (Maoist); the Constituent Assembly Election and Federal Democratic Republic. On this occasion, the Chairman of the CPN (Maoist), Prachanda, sent a felicitation letter wishing great success to the program jointly organized by Solidarity Initiative for Revolutionary Struggle in Nepal at the University Institute Hall in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal. West Bengal is where the spark of legendry Naxalite movement was ignited in the 1970s. The felicitation letter states: “The Constituent Assembly Election has now laid a foundation for a Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. The monarchy, the feudal institution, has been demolished. However, the Nepalese people’s struggle against feudalism and imperialism is by no means over. Therefore, there will be greater challenges in the days ahead.” Acknowledging the importance of proletarian solidarity at an international level, the letter further states: “in the present situation of expanding imperialist offensive, mainly by the U.S., we hold that the success of the proletarian revolution in a certain country is dependent, more than before, on whether or not the proletarian class can develop internationally, for a strong revolutionary movement to fight imperialism.” CM Prachanda in his message also added that the present political changes in Nepal would not have been possible had there been no strong solidarity of revolutionary, left and democratic forces and individuals around the world, and India in particular.

After reading out the Chairman’s felicitation letter, and before a large gathering of participants from every corner of West Bengal, the party representative and Provincial Committee Member, Laxman Pant, said that the victory of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is also a victory for the international proletariat. He further added that this is the victory of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, the indomitable ideology of the proletariat, and signified the defeat of revisionism and parliamentary reformism. West Bengal has been the stronghold and epicenter of revisionism in India, where parliamentary ‘communists’ have ruled the province for over three decades. He urged all the forces that prior to forming any opinion about the Nepalese revolution; they must make an overall objective assessment of present world situation. The Russian and Chinese revolutions took place during a period of sharp inter-imperialist rivalry and World War, a period where imperialism and revisionism were weak; in our time, the subjective and objective situation is entirely different. He said that although the party has achieved vital political and tactical victories, nevertheless the final victory is still in the future, and the class struggle is not over. He further called upon all the participating parties and organizations not to establish any view about the party’s ideology, line, policies and programs by going through media reports and interviews with the media, but by scrutinizing the party’s official statements and documents.

The list of other speakers who presented their views in the meeting included Santosh Rana, the General Secretary of PCC, CPIML and convener of the organizing committee, Somnath Chaterji, leader, SOC CPI ML, Amrit Paira, leader Mazdoor Kishan Party, Sadanand Bagal, West Bengal State Committee, Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI), Animesh Chakrawarty, CPI-ML Liberation, Pradip Singh Thakur, CPI ML New Democracy, Shukhendu Bhattacharya, Workers Party, Alok Mukherji, CPI ML Janshakti, Prasun Chaterji, Gan Pratirodh Manch, Sukhendu Sarkar, D.M.S., Sailen Bhattacharya, CPI (ML) PCC, Yash Das CCRML, Varnali Mukerji, CPB. The other two parties, namely the CRLI and CPRM gave their consent for the program, however, they could not make it to the program. The meeting was chaired by a three-member presidium of Sukhendu Bhattacharya, Sadanand Bagal and Pradip Banerji. All the speakers unanimously stressed the need to build a strong Indian people’s solidarity movement in support of the Nepalese revolution, and resolutely resist external intervention from both Indian expansionism and U.S. imperialism. They expressed the view that the Nepali revolution has vitalized the revolutionaries in India and the whole world over. The final resolution was passed jointly. The joint resolution adopted by fourteen parties’ states: “The people of Nepal have achieved a significant victory in the long drawn struggle for the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of democracy and a democratic republic under the leadership of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). This assembly expresses its solidarity with the Nepalese people and sends its revolutionary greetings for the victories achieved by them under the leadership of CPN (Maoist). At the same time, this assembly severely condemns U.S. imperialism and Indian expansionism and other reactionaries who are trying to interfere in the internal affairs of Nepal, and the committee expresses its resolve in support of the revolutionary struggle of the Nepali people, led by the CPN (M). The resolution was tabled before the meeting by Santosh Rana. The proceedings were conducted by Pradip Banerji. On this occasion a memento was presented to the Chairman of CPN (M) by CPI ML Janshakti, which was received by Com. Laxman Pant on behalf of the party. The program came to an end after a vote of thanks by Sukhendu Bhattacharya on behalf of the Presidium.

(This report is contributed by Laxman Pant.)