One divides into two – Nepal’s Maoists in crisis

Image removed.

Many fighters of the People's Liberation Army have joined the new party.

More coverage of Nepal HERE.

June 23, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, an earlier version of this article was posted at International Viewpoint – The Maoist party, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) -- UCPN(M), has entered a crisis and has split. On June 16-18, 2012, the radical faction of the party held a national convention and decided to organise the first congress of a new revolutionary party, named CPN–Maoist, to be held on February 12, 2013. One-third of the central committee members of the UCPN(M) have joined the new party. Alex de Jong looks at the background to this development.

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After 10 years of Maoist insurgency and a coup d’état by the king in 2005, the people of Nepal took to the streets in April 2006, forcing the king to hand power back to the parliament. It was the end of the only Hindu kingdom in the world but only a new step in the country’s continuing political crisis.

For the six years since 2006, the Nepal government has been unable to draft the constitution that should have been the foundation of a new, democratic Nepal.

The Constitutional Assembly (CA), elected in 2008, originally had a two-year mandate but even after this had been extended several times, it remained in deadlock, unable to reach any agreement. Ignoring a Supreme Court verdict that the CA could not be extended further, prime minister and UCPN(M) vice-chairperson Baburam Bhattarai tabled a bill proposing just that. The Supreme Court ruled against him on contempt charges and at midnight May 28 Bhattarai dissolved the CA and called for new elections. The final stumbling block was the refusal of the anti-Maoist coalition in the CA to allow changes in the structure of the state that would give greater autonomy to a number of the country's minorities.[[1]] It was the end of the second Maoist-led Nepal government. The right hopes that the elections will give it the chance to grow big enough to not only block any progress in the CA, like they have done for the last four years, but also influence its course.

The Maoists hope that the coming elections will be a chance to break the deadlock but with increasing division in their own ranks it is uncertain they can repeat their surprise electoral victory of 2008. Inside Bhattarai’s party, the UCPN(M), which led a decade of armed struggle and controlled most of the country before agreeing on a ceasefire with the government, criticism of the leadership has been growing. Bhattarai and other leaders have been accused of betraying the revolution and preparations for a split have been going under way for months. To understand the crisis of the UCPN(M) and the end of the second coalition government led by it, it is necessary to look at the evolution of its leaders’ strategy.

A new step in the crisis

Negotiations between the establishment parties and the Maoists, building on a framework from 2005, led in May 2006 to a ceasefire and the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in December 2006. After long delays, elections for an assembly that would draw up a new constitution and function as an interim parliament took place in April 2008. Surprising most observers, the Maoists won a huge electoral victory, winning one third of all seats and becoming the largest party in parliament. Their chairperson, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, better known under his nom de guerre Prachanda (‘the fierce one”), became prime minister.[[2]]

But the crisis of Nepali politics has continued. For a long time, the main contradiction was between the old parliamentary parties on one hand and the Maoists on the other. The most important of these old parties are the conservative Nepali Congress (NC) and the Communist Party-United Marxist-Leninist (UML), a party that is neither Marxist nor Leninist and supported the government for most of the insurgency.[[3]] Together with other establishment forces, these parties have been resisting radical change and the drawing up of new constitution that would alter the existing power relationships to their disadvantage. On the other side were the Maoists, who commanded an apparatus and electoral support that overshadowed that of any other single party but who were relatively unfamiliar with the game of parliamentary politics and had little influence in the patronage based political machines.

The Maoists emphasised that they had not given up their goal of social revolution and that their participation in parliament was only a step towards this. In the Maoism of the UCPN(M), the  revolution would need to go through two stages. First is the “New Democratic Revolution”, as a step towards the establishment of socialism. This first stage is meant to finish “bourgeois democratic” tasks like land reform, equal rights for all citizens, and abolishing the monarchy and protecting national sovereignty, especially against Nepal’s traditional rival India. Although Nepal’s Maoists had come out in favour of a multiparty system, including under socialism, they insisted that this first phase would be under leadership of the revolutionary forces and would immediately begin laying the groundwork for the second phase, that of socialist revolution.[[4], [5]]

Since 2006, the establishment parties and the ruling classes of Nepal, with help of the United States and especially India, have been trying to channel the Maoists into parliamentary, institutionalised politics and convince them to postpone the New Democratic Revolution to some far-off undefined  future. Nepal’s fractured political landscape is dominated by patronage networks and the establishment parties have been trying to integrate the Maoists into these networks and its political institutions and neutralise them, just as the parties that now form the UML were neutralised years ago.[[6]]

After a failed attempt at insurrection in 2010 and especially the disarmament and dissolution of the Maoist armed wing, the People's Liberation Army (PLA), and numerous other concessions by the UCPN(M), worries among Maoist activists that establishment forces succeeded in this neuralisation have been growing. This has led to a new contradiction, this time inside the UCPN(M), between its right and left wings.


The last few years the UCPN(M) was actually divided into three power-centres. The right wing was mostly closed identified with Baburam Bhattarai. Eloquent and highly educated, Bhattarai has been the chief diplomat of the UCPN(M), responsible for reaching out to other political forces and leading an important united front like that of the various national liberation organisations of Nepal’s minorities. He is the party's number two after Prachanda and is also considered to be their most important theorist. Bhattarai has long argued that under the current geopolitical circumstances a revolution with a socialist orientation is impossible in Nepal. He cites Nepal’s position between capitalist China and pro-US India, its small population and Nepal’s lack of natural resources or economic means and the low level of development as arguments for this. Nepal has a population of less than 30 million. In 1998, two years after the Maoists launched their “people's war”, approximately 82 per cent of Nepal’s workforce was employed in the agricultural sector, with a large majority being smallholders, tenants who have to provide their landlords with at least half of their harvest and free services in return for the use of a plot of land and subsistence security, or landless peasants. Nepal’s agriculture remains underdeveloped and ranks among the very lowest of South Asia in terms of crop yield and value added per worker.[[7]] In 2000, adult literacy nationwide was a little over 50 per cent and life expectancy was under 60 years.[[8]] Indentured labour was only legally abolished a few years ago and still exists. The Human Development Index of the United Nations ranks Nepal 137th out of 177 countries.

Another cause of instability in Nepal is the oppression of a large number of minorities. Already before the people’s war, Nepal was officially recognised as “multi-ethnic”' and “multilingual”, with various “national languages”. But the demand of the pro-democracy movement that Nepal should become a secular state and the privileged status of Hinduism ended was rejected. Nepal remained a Hindu monarchy and the king was celebrated as a living god. The state policy favoured Hindus and the caste system remained intact. This policy marginalised a large and diverse part of the Nepali population. Officially, there are 44 minority ethnic groups in Nepal, making up over one-third of the total population. The Hindu caste system is also applied to the minority groups, delegating them to the lower castes. These groups are underrepresented in the state apparatus, in elected positions and are disadvantaged by the concentration of power in the Kathmandu Valley.[[9]] Laws on marriage, divorce and inheritance were based on Hindu norms and extremely disadvantageous for women.

In the face of this lack of democratic and economic development, Bhattarai has been arguing that Nepal needs to pass through a pre-New Democratic “sub-stage” in which the progressive movement would not just limit itself to democratic tasks, not touching private property, but also accept the political hegemony of pro-capitalist forces.[[10]] Since the signing of the CPA, Bhattarai has been reaching to out India and the UCPN(M) has established contact with the Communist Party of india (Marxist), long one of the ruling parties in large parts of India, and taking over their investment based, developmentalist approach.

Red faction

Already before the signing of the CPA, the approach of Bhattarai was criticised by other forces in the Maoist party. A left-wing current crystallised among the Maoists, already in 2009 leading to a small split under the leadership of Matrika Yadav, a former parliament and politburo member, who said the UCPN(M) was no longer sincerely striving for revolution. A more significant left-wing current remained in the party but is now leaving as well. Among its leaders are Netra Bikram Chand (party name: Biplab), Chandra Prakash Gajurel (aka Gaurav) and Mohan Vaidya (aka Kiran), all prominent UCPN(M) cadres who have been pressing for a more radical course and the preparation for an insurrection to seize power for years. The recent disarmament of the PLA seems to have been the last straw for them. (This is discussed in more detail later). This faction formed a united front with forces to the left of the party in March 2012 to campaign against the policies of the UCPN(M)-led coalition government and has grown more and more vehement in its denunciation of the UCPN(M) leadership.[[11]] The left-wing faction’s orientation is much more classically Maoist, insisting on the (long-term) possibility of armed revolution. The left wing has also urged more cooperation with the Communist Party of India (Maoist), a party that sticks more closely to Maoist orthodoxy than the UCPN(M).[[12]]

Balancing between the right and left wings was Prachanda, allying with one, then the other wing in the intense faction fights, forging compromises on policy papers, reaching out to establishment forces one month, alluding to an insurrection the next, but always making sure he stayed in power.[[13]]

But now it seems the party’s right wing has won the power struggle and the left wing no longer distinguishes between Bhattarai and Prachanda. The end of the PLA was also a blow to the support base of many of the left-wing leaders. In the highest party organs, the right wing was also strengthened by the fusion of the CPN(M) with the Communist Party of Nepal (Unity Centre-Masal) in January 2009 (this led to the adding of “unified” to the party's name). Although also claiming to be Maoist and operating underground, this smaller party had remained uninvolved in the people's war. As part of the fusion agreement, a number of its cadres were given important positions in the UCPN(M) where they allied with the right wing.


A thorough evaluation of the evolution of the UCPN(M) needs to take its development during the people's war into account. The faction around Kiran has dated the “degeneration” of the party to the post-2006 period, arguing that by allying with the parliamentary parties and against the king, Bhattarai and Prachanda already surrendered to “bourgeois democracy”'. In the words of Biplap, they have been functioning as ‘agents of capitalist parliamentary democracy” ever since.[[14]] This approach ignores the role of  India, the United States and the United Nations, which have been trying to bring the Maoists into the “democratic mainstream” through financial incentives, aid projects and political pressure. It also reduces the political problems of UCPN(M) to one of the subjective orientation of Prachanda and Bhattarai. But the basis of this orientation goes deeper. For instance, a large part of the success of the UCPN(M) during the people’s war was thanks to its forging of a large coalition that included many of the poor and oppressed in Nepal’s society. This was however a coalition on the basis of an essentially bourgeois democratic program; since the CPA, important parts of it have already broken away, especially among the “national liberation fronts”.

Without doubt, an increasingly right-wing orientation has developed inside the UCPN(M) after 2006, building on a strategy formulated by Bhattarai and Prachanda and accepting the need for the capitalist “sub-stage” described above. Three moments have been key in the development of this orientation. The first was when, in May 2009, the first UCPN(M)-led coalition government dissolved after Prachanda as prime minister failed to bring the Nepalese army under its control. The army is very much an independent force in Nepal’s politics and before the abolition of the monarchy it was a pillar of support for the king. The Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) was never defeated by the Maoists; the royal house kept it out of operations against the insurgents for a long time, leaving most of the fighting to the armed police.[[15]] After signing the CPA, close to 20,000 Maoist fighters were restricted to dozens of cantonments. Until the handing over of the keys in late 2011 the RNA retained access to its weapons that were put in UN supervised lockers. But the PLA was in no way a match militarily for the RNA; against 19,000-20,000 Maoist fighters with little more than 3000 guns (often poor quality ones at that), the government army was over 90,000 strong, trained by the US, Britain and India, armed by the US and later China as well.[[16]] Biplap, Gaurav and Kiran now vehemently criticise the parliamentary approach of Baburam and Prachanda but this approach was borne out of an assessment of the relationship of forces after the signing of the CPA.

Bhattarai and others in the UCPN(M) leadership formulated an intricate plan to neutralise the RNA and “crack Kathmandu”. First, they formed an alliance with the parliamentary parties and their followers after these had been disenfranchised by the king’s grab for power in 2005. This alliance won support from India, one of the most important factors in Nepal’s politics as New Delhi had grown irritated by the increasingly pro-China orientation of the king. It took the US longer to come around: after 9/11, it had classified the Maoists as “terrorists” and for a long time it insisted on the necessity of the mainstream political parties and the king uniting against them. However, as it became clear the king’s grab for power had only intensified the crisis and that he was unable to defeat the insurgency, the US too came to support the agreement of the “Seven Party Alliance” of the parliamentary parties with the Maoists against the king. As hoped, this alliance succeeded in driving out the king.

The second step for the Maoists would have been the neutralisation of the army. The entry of the UCPN(M) into parliamentary politics was justified as part of the plan for this: under the cover of entering into the parliamentary system, the Maoists would expand their support in the cities, primarily Kathmandu, and prepare for an urban insurrection against which the army would be unable to move. Under the conditions of the CPA, PLA fighters were to be stationed in UN supervised cantonments and to be paid an allowance. A number of PLA fighters however didn’t enter the cantonments but were secretly organised in the Young Communist League (YCL). The YCL would be the core of an urban fighting force, possibly assisted by PLA fighters that could at any time leave their cantonments and take back their weapons.

During the people’s war, the UCPN(M) skillfully played off  its opponent against the other: the royal house against the parliament, India against China, the US against India. This zig-zag of leaning one way one moment, the other the next moment, was called part of the “Prachanda path”, the UCPN(M)’s adaption of Maoism. The party's entry into parliamentary politics, so the leadership claimed, was only a new step on this path. Even the integration of PLA fighters into the government army was presented to radicals  as part of the plan for taking power. After integration, the Maoist guerillas would carry out agitation aimed at the army's rank and file and be in a position to sabotage the army's operations.

Exactly on this point the Maoists were outmaneuvered. India wished to see only a token integration of a few thousand Maoists in what was now called the National Army (NA).[[17]] Evidently, India had realised the danger of subversion from within the NA by former guerillas. New Delhi, like Washington, had hoped the Maoists would suffer a defeat in the elections of 2008 and saw these as a way to lock them into the parliamentary politics.[[18]]After the unexpected electoral victory of the UCPN(M), a new struggle broke out over who would be the first president of the new republic – a crucial position since, as the replacement for the king, the president would have command over the army. A contest broke out between the Maoist candidate and Ram Raja Prasad Singh, the candidate of the NC and UML. With all the conservative parties united behind him, Ram Raja Prasad Singh won the election. The NA then provoked a confrontation with Prime Minister Prachanda as it flat out refused to carry out the integration as agreed in the CPA. Instead, the army continued to recruit and refused to integrate the Maoist fighters.

Prachanda then tried to dismiss army head Rookmangud Katawal for violating the CPA, which had stipulated that the size of the army would be reduced to pre-civil war levels and PLA fighters integrated in the NA.  However, the president, as the official commander of the NA, reinstated Katawal and in May 2009. Prachanda stepped down himself. Like during the election of the president, with the guidance of India a grand anti-Maoist coalition took shape and UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal became the new prime minister. Throughout 2009-10, India was crucial in propping up the government of Madhav Kumar Nepal, who had lost in two constituencies in the previous elections.

The Maoists would only be allowed back at the head of the state after dissolving the PLA. This episode revealed the relative weakness of the Maoists in institutional politics and the ability of Nepal’s ruling classes and its political representatives to maintain an united front against them.[[19]]

This led to the second turning point, the general strike/failed uprising of May 2010. The general strike of May 2010 was supposed to have led to the toppling of the government, the formation of a new, Maoist-led government and a new step in the revolution. After Prachanda had stepped down, the UCPN(M) started to mobilise its supporters for what was presented as the “final push to topple the government”. The Maoists hoped that the political crisis and the obvious lack of legitimacy of Prime Minister Madhav Nepal would work in their favour and help organise a mobilisation against the government. It needs to be pointed out that a strike or bandh in Nepal is more than just a work stoppage, often it includes the blocking of roads and paralysing all commercial activity. Maoist supporters were brought into Kathmandu from the countryside and were told to prepare for a long, hard struggle. However, the strike – that many on the party's left hoped would blossom into the long-awaited insurrection and lead to the taking of power – failed. After a few very tense days and some clashes in Kathmandu, the UCPN(M) leadership called it off.[20]

During the evaluation of the strike in November, divisions in the party turned out to be insurmountable. For the first time, Prachanda was unable to present a political statement all factions could agree upon. The party’s left blamed the leadership for a lack of nerve, and not carrying the struggle forward. It claimed the strike could have been stronger and that it had been weakened by the Maoists’ earlier concession to dismantle their parallel power structures in the countryside, the UCPN(M)-led “people's governments”, as had been agreed in the CPA. The UCPN(M) reaffirmed its orientation of seizing power but for the left wing this was empty talk.

The party’s right wing seems to have drawn opposing conclusions from the experience. For it the strike appears to have shown the brittle character of the Maoists’ support and the inability to win in a direct confrontation with the state. There have been reports that Maoist supporters began leaving the city after only a few days, confused about the character of the movement and its goal (new elections, a new parliament or revolution?) and complaining about being pressured into participating in the movement and the risks of a confrontation with the army. The Maoists appear to also have made a mistake by timing the protests just as planting season began, prompting many of their peasant supporters to leave for home.[[21]]

The UCPN(M) then agreed to new elections and Bhattarai became prime minister in August 2011. But the price of this was the signing of a slew of new agreements that committed the government to a liberal economic policy, based on foreign investment.[[22]] Other agreements further eroded the UCPN(M)’s support with the dissolving of the PLA and the return of lands that had been seized by peasants during the civil war to their “legal owners”.

Prachanda meanwhile has been the subject of a number of scandals in the last months, involving the use of government money by his jet-setting son and the purchase of a luxury house in Kathmandu’s most expensive neighbourhood. These are not the only scandals that have been plaguing the UCPN(M). The party’s left wing has been complaining about corruption of cadres for years, at times pushing the leadership to organise anti-corruption drives.[[23]] Other scandals have also come to light, affecting former PLA ighters. As described, not all of them entered into the cantonments. The fighters were promised that their allowances would be set aside for them but a lot of this money has gone missing. These scandals have not only hurt the support for the Maoists, which during the people’s war gained sympathy among many of Nepal's poor with their dedication and simple lifestyle. They have also led to conflicts in the party, with clashes between pro- and anti-Prachanda groups of the former PLA.[[24]]

‘Without an army, the people have nothing’[25]

The handing over of the keys of the weapon lockers in September 2011 was the third key moment in the evolution of the UCPN(M). After the dissolving of UCPN(M)-led base areas, the local “people’s governments” and the return of seized lands, the disarmament and dissolving of the PLA was seen by the party's left wing as the final capitulation of the leadership to the existing power structure. It was clear this dissolution was in no way part of the kind of tactical maneuvering outlined above. Against the wishes of the Maoists only a part of their fighters were integrated in the NA. Former guerrilla commanders who were integrated were separated from their ranks, who were scattered over different units. And only a small part, around 3000, of the former PLA fighters were integrated after the government made the offer to resign; to receive compensation and go home were more attractive than the terms of integration. Many former guerillas were not even given weapons but instead given jobs as unarmed forest guards and the like! Instead of the PLA subverting the army from the inside, the Maoists were dissolved into the much larger NA.[[26]]

Special mention needs to be made of the role of the UN and international NGOs in this process. The United Nations Missions in Nepal (UNMIN) was crucial in first establishing the cooperation between the parliamentary parties and the Maoists and later the demobilisation and disarmament of the PLA. The Maoist leadership agreed to the UN “Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration program” and the UN assisted in implementing a number of the more moderate demands of the Maoists: the abolition of the monarchy and political participation of  marginalised groups like the lower caste Dalits and national minorities.

There is not much hope that the mainstream of the UCPN(M) will change its orientation. Baburam Bhattarai has been explicit in saying Nepal needs to go to a whole generation of “capitalist development” and Prachanda declared Switzerland his dream for Nepal.[[27]] Where before the UCPN(M) boasted it would make Nepal into a “base area of the world revolution”, it now urges the Indian Maoists to give up the armed struggle. Where before the government of China was attacked as traitors to Maoism (and an ally of the king during the last phase of the civil war), the UCPN(M)-members now tour the country on invitation of the bureau of external relations of the Communist Party of China, writing fawning reports about their travels.[[28]] More significantly, dissolving first the people’s governments and later the PLA has ended the situation of dual power that was created during the people’s war. The “red faction” in the UCPN(M) claims Prachanda and Bhattarai are effectively reducing the UCPN(M) to one parliamentary party among others – and one with relatively little experience in Nepal-style elections or influence in patronage politics at that. The ongoing integration of UCPN(M) leaders in Kathmandu’s traditional politics has also alienated many of their followers. The party’s maneuvering has angered its most radical supporters who have been asked so many times to be patient and prepare for an insurrection that never came. Once lauded by his followers as the greatest Leninist strategist alive, dissident Maoists members now burn effigies of Prachanda.

Stepping forward?

Whatever one may think of the failure of the orientation of Bhattarai and Prachanda and their current trajectory, their post-2006 strategy was a serious attempt at answering the difficult question of how to make a revolution in country like Nepal, an extremely underdeveloped, dominated country, “caught like a yam between two boulders” (China and India). In the last few years the UCPN(M) developed a remarkably flexible and open kind of Maoism, embracing multi-party democracy, and widening its ideological horizon by drawing on formerly taboo figures like Rosa Luxemburg. In what must have been shocking to orthodox Maoists, Bhatarrai even approvingly quoted Trotsky.

An example of the ability of the UCPN(M) to change was its shift regarding homosexuality; during the war, Maoists denounced homosexuality as a sign of “bourgeois decadence” and after the CPA, Maoists harassed LGBT people. After internal and external criticism, the UCPN(M) reevaluated its stance and under its leadership the Nepal government defended legal rights for sexual minorities nationally and internationally. In 2008 homosexual relationships were (finally) decriminalised and in 2011, in an international first, Nepal officially recognised a third gender (like other South Asian countries, Nepal has a long tradition of third-gender communities that have been very marginalised).[[29]]

Other examples of the genuinely progressive character of the UCPN(M)-led movement are of course the abolition of the monarchy and the Hindu character of the state, but also the increased role of women in public and political life. The interim constitution stipulates a 33 per cent ratio of women representatives for the parliament and the Maoists have by far the largest proportion of female parliamentarians. The party has long campaigned against arranged marriages, domestic abuse and for rights of women.[[30]] But, as significant as these steps are, they do not end the crushing poverty in the countryside or lay the groundwork for a more egalitarian economic order.

The left wing of the UCPN(M) commands significant support, claiming that around a third of the party’s base and lawmakers will go with them. But at the moment this left wing seems to have little perspective for carrying the struggle forward. They insist that the next step must be the seizure of power but admit that the UCPN(M) is weaker now than it was six years. The only thing they seemingly offer is a return to the people’s war and the rebuilding of the PLA and people’s governments. Confronted with what they consider the betrayal of the Bhattarai and Prachanda factions, they are returning to the classic Maoist stratagems and concepts. But after 10 years of war, the winning of some democratic concessions and the prospect of further, lucrative inclusion in the clientelist networks of Nepal’s politics, the taste for war has declined among significant parts of the old pro-Maoist coalition of peasants and national minorities. Dissatisfaction among supporters of the UCPN(M) is likely to increase, freeing room for a new left – but if the recent history of Nepal has shown one thing, it is that the old forms of thought are  no longer sufficient.

Update June 2012.

The dissolution of the CA accelerated the finalisation of the split in the UCPN(M). On June 16-18, 2012, the radical faction of the party held a national convention and decided to organise the first congress of a new revolutionary Maoist party, named CPN–Maoist, to be held on February 12, 2013. One-third of the central committee members of the UCPN(M) have joined the new project, as well as a surprisingly large number of leaders of the UCPN(M)’s “sister wings”. These are political organisations of specific groups, like women, national minorities, students and professions, that are allied to the party. About two-thirds of the leaders of the sister wings, including leaders of the women’s wing and various organisations of national minorities, joined the new party.

The convention declared that the main reasons behind the dissolution of the CA are obstruction by the big parties and a “domestic and foreign reactionary conspiracy”. The convention stressed opposition to Indian interference in Nepal’s affairs, stating that “the contradiction between comprador, bureaucratic bourgeoisie and feudal class and Indian expansionism at one pole and the broad Nepalese people at the other is the principal contradiction”.[[31]] In keeping with this orientation, the defence of national independence was declared to be one of the main goals of the new party.

Instead of working for the reinstatement and re-election of the CA, the new party has set the goal of a roundtable assembly as the way out of the political crisis, but this was made secondary to the goal of a “People’s Federal Republic”, the reorganisation of Nepal’s states to give autonomy to national minorities. In a newspaper interview, Kantipur Biplab summed up the main differences with the UCPN(M) as being that the new party wants to ‘transform the state”, specifying that the radicals want legal and institutional changes, federalism and a “restructuring of the economy for the benefit of all people”. Biplab hinted at the possibility of a new revolt if these changes were not implemented.[[32]]


[1]   See for example the editorial by Nepali writer Manjushree Thapa, “Writer's block in Nepal”, Deccan Chronicle, May 30, 2012. Online at The UCPN(M) was allied with a party of the Madhesi minority in the CA.

[2]   Achin Vanaik, “The New Himayalan Republic”, New Left Review 49 (2008), pp. 47-72 gives an excellent overview of the developments until then.

[3]   The attitude of the UML towards the Maoists has been extremely opportunist and incoherent. In the early days of the insurgency, it referred to them as “friendly”, even donating money to them to weaken their biggest rival, the NC. (Krishna Hachhethu, “The Nepali State and the Maoist Insurgency, 1996–2001”, in Michael Hutt, Himayalan People's War. Nepal's Maoist Rebellion (Bloomington 2004), pp. 58–79, 66). They started calling them “fascist” after they became a powerful factor in Nepalese politics (Pradip Nepal, “The Maoist Movement and its Impact in Nepal”, in Arjun Karki and David Seddon (ed.), The People's War in Nepal. Left Perspectives (New Delhi 2003), pp. 405–438, there 427) and joined the NC and other conservative forces to block progressive change through the CA.

[4]   The strategy of a two-phase revolution to achieve a socialist society in underdeveloped countries is part of orthodox Maoism. The current of Maoism the future UCPN(M) was part of, the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, has emphasised the transitory character of the New Democratic Revolution and the need for a socialist orientation.

[5]   The document “Present Situation & Our Historical Task”, adopted by the Central Committee of the party June 2003 (online at, describes how after the capture of state power, it will be necessary to institutionalise “the rights of the masses to install an alternative revolutionary Party or leadership on the state”. The argument was further developed in Baburam Bhattarai, “The Question of Building a New Type of State”, in The Worker, organ of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) 9 (2004) (online at It should be noted that many formulations in the articles are ambiguous, making the right to remove the party from power for instance conditional on failure of the party to lead the revolution further. Who will decide whether the party is failing is not specified. After signing the CPA, Maoists continued abducting opponents and attempts to intimidate media workers (Sebastian von Einsiedel, David M. Malone and Suman Pradhan (ed.), “Conclusions'”, in idem, Nepal in Transition. From People's War to Fragile Peace (Cambridge 2012), pp. 361–383, there 372, raising more doubts about the democratic commitment of the Maoists.

[6]   Aditya Adhikari, “Revolution by Other Means: The Transformation of Nepal's Maoists in a Time of Peace”, in Sebastian von Einsiedel, David M. Malone, Suman Pradhan (ed.), Nepal in Transition From People's War to Fragile Peace (Cambridge 2012), pp. 265–287.

[7]   Devendra Raj Panday, “The Legacy of Nepal's Failed Development”, in Von Einsiedel, Malone, Pradhan (ed.), Nepal in Transition, pp. 81–100.

[8]   Nepal Human Development Report 2001. Online at .

[9]   A large part of the success of the insurgency was based on the existence of large groups of disadvantaged minorities. Gilles Boquérat, “Maoism and the Ethnic Factor in the Nepalese People's War”, in Laurent Gayer, Christophe Jaffrelot (ed.), Armed Militias of South Asia. Fundamentalists, Maoists and Separatists (London 2009), pp. 45–65, and Marie Lecomte-Tilouine, “Ethnic Demands within Maoism: Questions of Magar Territorial Autonomy, Nationalism and Class”, in Hutt (ed.), Himayalan Peoples War, pp. 112–136.

[10]Already before the signing of the peace agreement he made this argument, for example in Baburam Bhattarai, Monarchy vs. Democracy. The Epic Fight in Nepal'(New Delhi 2005), p. 10.

[11]“Baidhya faction-led front unveils protest programme”, The Himayalan, March 23, 2012. Online at

[12]An interview with UCPN(M) politburo-member Basanta, a supporter of the dissident faction, discusses some of their views on international relations, democracy at “Nepal – Interview with Basanta”, April 22, 2012. Online at The criticism of the Indian Maoists regarding the UCPN(M)’s views on democracy, military strategy and other issues can be read in “Open Letter to Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) from the Communist Party of India (Maoist)”, July 20, 2009, online at

[13]A former UCPN(M) supporter discusses the development of the party after 2006 in Roshan Kissoon, “The Great Deception in Nepal”, September 6, 2011, online at

[14]“'Red Front Article -- The Challenge for the Nepalese Revolution by Netra Bikram Chand ‘Biplab'”, online at

[15]Von Einsiedel, Malone, and Pradhan (ed.), “Conclusions” in: idem, Nepal in Transition, pp. 361–383.

[16]         In Nepal, it is widely believed that the Maoists didn't hand over all their weapons to UNMIN. The Maoists also kept a number of PLA fighters outside of the cantonments, while letting non-combatants be registered as former fighters. However, military analysts agree the PLA did have more members than firearms. S.D. Muni, “Bringing the Maoists down from the Hills: India's Role”, in Von Einsiedel, Malone, and Pradhan (ed.0, Nepal in Transition, pp. 313-332.

[17]Prashant Jha, “A Nepali Perspective on International Involvement in Nepal’, in Von Einsiedel, Malone and Pradhan (ed.), Nepal in Transition, pp. 332–361, there 337.

[18]Jha, “A Nepali Perspective”, p. 338.

[19]         S. Muni, in “Bringing the Maoists down from the Hills”, shows how India has continued its traditional role of “big brother” towards Nepal and how the United States “outsourced” the handling of the Maoists to New Delhi.

[20]Muma Ram Khanal, “Nepal: The Maoist general strike and its limits”, Counterfire, May 6, 2010, online at

[21]Red Marriot, “The predictable rise of a red bourgeoisie: the end of a mythical Nepalese Maoist ‘revolution'”, online at

[22]Especially controversial has been the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA), that protects Indian investments.

[23]The “Present Situation and Our Historical Task” document mentioned before complains about “rapid deterioration in party's proletarian conduct and working style”.

[24]Disillusion and feelings of betrayal among former fighters are widespread, and discussed in many news stories. A few are: “Where is our deposit money, comrades?”, MyRepublica, December 7, 2011, online at; “The Disillusioned Soldier”, Aljazeera, November 30, 2011, online at; “Combatants' Farewell: Violence as party 'demands' fighters' cash”, Ekantipur, February 6, 2012, online at Prachanda's “new lifestyle” is reported in: Dean Nelson, “Nepali Maoist leader adopts millionaire's lifestyle”, The Telegraph, January 30, 2012, online at

[25]Quote from Mao Zedong.

[26]“3129 for integration”, MyRepublica, April 20, 2012,

[27]Zhou Shengping, “Who Smothers Nepali Dreams?”, Xinhuenet, November 6, 201, online at

[28]Dhruba Parajuli, “Unique Experience, Unfulfilled Desires”, Progress 1 (2012) 14 – 17.

[29]Gary Leupp, “Maoist Homophobia? Troublesome Reports from Nepal”, Counterpunch, April 23, 2007, online at;  Sudeshna Sarkar, “Nepal Maoists to stand up for gay rights in UN”, December 11, online at; Doug Ireland, “Nepal's first gay MP speaks. Nation's Two Largest Political Parties Embrace LGBT Rights”, May 8, 2008, online at -- an interview with the Sunil Pant, Nepal's most well-known LGBT-rights activist, head of the LGBT-rights organisation, the Blue Diamond Society and parliamentarian for one of Nepal's many small communist parties, the Communist Party (United).

[30]Mandira Sharma and Disnesh Prasain, “Gender Dimensions of the People's War: Some Reflections on the Experiences of Rural Women”, in Hutt (ed.), Himayalan People's War, pp. 152–166, describes how the Maoists were successful in winning the support of many women with campaigns like these. A remarkable and respected voice for women’s rights in the UCPN(M) is Hisila Yami (alias comrade Parvati). Yami is one of the leaders of the UCPN(M) and has long argued for the importance of women's rights in the revolutionary movement while also strongly criticising the existing sexism in the Maoist movement. Hisila Yami, Peoples War and Women's Liberation in Nepal (Chhattisgarh 2006).

[31]Press statement by CPN-Maoist Central Committee June 19, 2012, online at

[32]“We’re ready to take leadership of revolt”, EKantipur, June 18, 2012, online at