This Article first published on NEXT FRONT from Nepal and is re-published on Democracy and Class Struggle.
(We have got this article through our friend Prem Pathak from Holland. Thanks to Prem Pathak and N.G. Rajaretnam for making this article available. We all know, Nepalese revolution is at the crossroads and the revolutionaries within the UCPN ( Maoist) are fighting against the revisionists. It is our strong confidence that revolutionary line will prevail over the counter-revolutionary line and we will be succeed to reorganize our party–a party of revolutionary spirit.
The decision by the Unified Communist Party Nepal (Maoist) chairman Prachanda and vice-chairman Baburam Bhattarai to hand over of the keys of the arms containers in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) cantonments holding some of the weapons of the PLA soldiers in first week of September 2011 triggered a fresh round of internal Party struggle. Within a day, thousands upon thousands of people, including large numbers of Party members and its supporters gathered in the national capital, Kathmandu and several parts of the country to protest against the decision, holding night time flaming torch rallies amid very angry demonstrations.
The people saw the symbolic hand-over of the keys to a ‘special committee’ of the Constituent Assembly/parliament as a surrender of the revolution in Nepal.
Behind the ‘hand-over’ are issues over how the integration of the PLA with the Nepal Army (NA) would proceed. While a radical faction of the UCPN (Maoist) led by Baidya Poudal ‘Kiran’ wanted integration involving whole units, whether whole brigades or battalions with their chains of commands, ultimately responsible to the Party, another faction, led by Bhattarai has been willing to submit to what the Nepal Congress (NC) and the Communist Party Nepal (UML) had all along been demanding: induction of a very limited number of PLA fighters with the NA, and this, only on an individual basis, with the Maoist party giving up its leadership role of the PLA. The rest of the PLA soldiers would be ‘rehabilitated’, that is, given jobs as unarmed forest guards or security guards at industrial zones and installations.
The hand-over of the arms container keys signify the dissolution of the people’s army. It is a great departure from Mao tse-tung’s reminder, “Without a people’s army the people have nothing” and “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” It also signifies the capitulation of the revolution.
The deal struck with a united group of Madheshi parties by the Prachanda-Bhattarai factions of the UCPN (Maoist), apparently mediated by the Reasearch and Analysis Wing (RAW), the Indian intelligence service, enabled Bhattarai to be appointed as the Prime Minister. But it also was conditioned on the ‘integration and rehabilitation’ on the basis demanded by Nepal Army, NC and the UML as well as surrendering the keys of the arms containments.
Neither Prachanda nor Bhattarai had consulted or even informed vice-chairmen, Kiran and Narayan Kaji Shrestha and the Party Secretary and the Party’s in-charge for military affairs, Ram Bahadur Thapa ‘Badal’ on the decision to hand over the containers’ keys. It was decided in secrecy and carried out by stealth. Indeed, the Party Central Committee and Standing Committee had earlier rejected Prachanda’s proposal of the key-surrender.
Kiran and Badal protested the hand-over vehemently and called for public protest against this outrage.
It is crystal clear that the Prachanda-Bhattarai factions are now working as one party, colluding with the Indian state and the parties serving as political agents of foreign big capital. Bhattarai is even speaking of managing the dissent in the UCPN (Maoist). Left out of vital decision-making is the Kiran faction, now joined by Badal. It is a fact of life in the UCPN (Maoist) that there two distinct political centres with two diametrically opposed political lines and ideologies. Today, they are at logger heads.
Prachanda has, since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2006, been utilising the existence of the PLA in the cantonments as a bargaining chip with his negotiations with other political parties (NC, UML and the Madheshi parties) ranged against the Maoists.
He has been using two very different tones and approaches. With the political parties of the reaction he has been seeking to appease them and reassure them that the Maoist Party would abide by the CPA and bring the peace-process to a conclusion and make drafting a new constitution as a matter of priority. To the Party cadre and to those who aspire revolutionary change for Nepal, he has been claiming that he sees that there is no option to the completion of the New Democratic Revolution through a people’s insurrection. Indeed, since the November, 2010 Palungtar Conference, he has even uttered that he will lead in turning the factories and student hostels into barracks.
With the elimination of the PLA factor now, he sees that he has rid himself of a lingering and persistent problem. He has won acceptability in Nepal’s parliamentary politics. He can now claim that he is a responsible politician of the republic as much as other politicians of the status quo.
But he has also lost an important means of negotiation for any meaningful change he might have intended to bring about through his leadership of the UCPN (Maoist).
It is well known that there have been three factions within the UCPN (Maoist) for sometime. One faction is led by Prachanda, the chairman himself. Another faction, following Bhattarai’s thinking, has spoken in favour of ‘capitalist development’ for Nepal. Its spokespeople and cadres openly advocate bringing changes through reforms within the constraints of electoral politics of the status quo, that is, within the semi-colonial, semi-feudal social relations plaguing Nepal.
The third faction, the Kiran faction is intend on continuing the revolution. This faction sees that the New Democratic Revolution is being betrayed by the current leadership and that though there are constant bickering and tension between the Bhattarai faction and the Prachanda faction over as to who should lead the government they are united in the general orientation of the UCPN (Maoist) and indeed the future direction along which the country should tread.
In 2010, around the Palungtar Conference of Party, Prachanda has been giving the impression that he has been vacillating between the two lines advocated by Kiran and that of Bhattarai, and that he was for Party unity, which he repeatedly stressed was paramount.
But in the face of stiff resistance by the NC, UML and other parties to his possible premiership of the country, Prachanda has come to realise that he has to give way to Bhattarai for the PM post. All the other political parties have made it clear that Prachanda is not acceptable to be the Prime Minister. And to defeat Kiran’s faction he saw that he must unite with Bhattarai.
Faced with growing dissent within his own party and stubborn refusal by his rivals in other parties, he chose to endorse Bhattarai as the next PM and has openly embraced his (Bhattarai’s) political line for the Party and the way ahead for the country. He has now thrown his lot with the Bhattarai faction.
The constant chant of the Prachanda-Bhattarai alliance today is the concluding of the peace-process and the drafting of a new (republican) constitution. This, even though they know very well, from their own experience, would be undermined and sabotaged all the way.
It is also well known that there has long been a two-line struggle within the UCPN (Maoist). This line struggle is a reflection of the class-struggle in Nepalese society and it has been simmering beneath the surface since 2006, with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between seven parliamentary parties and the Maoists. This peace agreement ended ten years of revolutionary people’s war.
The struggle over the basic or general political line has to do with along which road or way the UCPN (Maoist) should go forward. A part of the Party wants to move ahead by participating in politics as usual, though under conditions of a republic instead of a monarchy, through an elected Constituent Assembly (CA) as well as a parliament. The purpose of the CA is to write a new, republican national constitution in place of the old feudal constitution and basically bring the peace-process to its culmination, that is, the integration of the PLA with the NA and carrying out a series of reforms through parliament or the CA.
Yet, another part of the Party wants a People’s Republic for the new Nepal. Its adherents and supporters see that the mere declaration of a republic in place of the kingdom would not make a new Nepal. They believe that life for the overwhelming majority of the people must take a turn for the better as promised by the revolutionaries at the outset of the protracted people’s war in 1996. This would mean fulfilling the promises of working-class power, an agrarian revolution for making possible the acquiring of land for the landless peasantry by the new power. The promise of a new Nepal would also include instituting a federal system whereby national autonomous regions can be mapped out.
Moreover, those who aspired to see a new Nepal yearned, and continue to yearn to see the beginning of the process of the ending of the age-old highly oppressive caste system, the practice of “untouchability” in particular, and the ending of the male-domination in society or patriarchy. Advocates of this line insist that without ending the dominance of and dependency on the big capitalists-bankers within Nepal and the ruling classes of India and beyond none of these can be realised, nor poverty made history. And hence, the revolution for a new Nepal – the overthrow of the present social system – must continue unceasingly; reforms through parliament can only serve to limit or obstruct such fundamental and far-reaching changes.
There has been developing open hostility between those upholding the two distinctly discernible political lines.
None of the goals set by the Maoist Party in 1996 has been realised till today. Positioning themselves for the scramble for posts and careers within the present social and political system by the cadres of the Prachanda-Bhattarai combine seems to take priority now. The tasks of forging the three instruments of the revolution (three magic weapons) – a revolutionary proletarian party, a people’s army and united front, put forth by Mao Tes-tung and Nepal’s revolutionaries is discarded by this leadership.
The two opposing political lines and the two diverging roads for a new Nepal are guided by very different world outlooks and ideologies.
In the years since the signing of the CPA, there has been a marked falling back of the ideology which once gave rise to a qualitatively new and vibrant revolutionary movement in South Asia. With the political expedience attendant in the process of unification with political parties claiming to adhere to Mao Tse-tung Thought, the leadership of Prachanda has obscured the clear distinction of its proletarian ideology. This was to facilitate the parties which opposed Maoism, and had hitherto opposed the people’s war, to join forces to form a grand Unified Communist Party (Maoist). Leaders from such parties have been accepted, since the peace-process to lead the UCPN (Maoist). On the other hand, many revolutionaries who participated in the people’s war, realising which way the Party is heading, became disgruntled and left to form other Maoist Parties.
There has also been a marked fall in the quality of the Party cadre and members even though the membership has swelled. Political opportunism and careerism are evident everywhere in the Party, and indeed corruption has reared its ugly head. These are all common knowledge. Increasingly the masses of the people who once looked up to the Maoists are becoming sceptical and even cynical towards them with each passing day.
More and more people in Nepal today are realising that if the rot is to be halted, the revolutionaries cannot hope to look to Prachanda and Bhattarai for guidance and leadership. The questions arise, can revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries co-exist in a single organisation? Dare the revolutionaries rise to the occasion and take the initiative?
People the world over, who hunger to witness the victory of a revolution led by a proletarian communist party to end all forms of oppression and exploitation want to see the revolutionary line prevail over the counter-revolutionary line in Nepal.
The recent protests and ferment within the UCPN (Maoist) give hope to those who are also venturing to bring a qualitatively better world.