Friday, September 6, 2013

Nepal : Who says there isn't a revolution? by Peter Tobin

Democracy and Class Struggle is pleased to present this Report from our comrade Peter Tobin on the ground in Nepal to help comrades understand the current situation there.


The Past v the Future

On August 28th the Alliance of 33 parties led by the newly revived Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) CPN(Maoist) announced an ongoing programme of protest aimed at boycotting and disrupting the Constitutional Assembly elections scheduled for November 19th. This agitation would commence on September 11th, culminating in a general strike on September 25th and 26th.

The four party syndicate set on the election are led by Nepali Congress (NC), Unified Marxist-Leninists (UML), Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) United Democratic Madeshi Front (UDMF).

If you forget the nomenclature this is essentially a battle between the right and the left, with the 4 parties representing the status quo and the 33 party alliance (which includes social-democrats, ethnic Janjatis, as well as other revolutionary communists) representing the radicals.

The stand-off arises because of the years of failure following the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Accord to deliver a ‘New Nepal’, a pro-peoples federal republic, including land reform (Nepal is still neo-feudal) the inclusion of Janjatis, Dalits, women and justice for all the previously oppressed marginalised communities in the hills and the Terai.

This was despite the original CPN(Maoist) which fought and led the People’s War from 1996 to 2006 being elected – following the overthrow of King Gyanandra’s autocracy in alliance with the banned parliamentary parties – as the largest single party with 40% of the vote in a mixed electoral system based on 42% first past the post (FPTP), the remaining with proportional representation (PR).

Great hopes were thus vested in the subsequent Prachanda-led administration in alliance with the UML which were quickly dashed by ousting of that government at the instigation of Dehli caused by Prachanda’s attempt to bring the Nepalese Army under civilian control.

India’s role should be stressed at this point; given that Nepal is effectively a neo-colony of Indian, its economy, finance sector are controlled by Indian interests, it has a pervasive cultural influence through religion and Bollywood and finally every politician from the status quo is in its pocket. 

That includes every party in the four party syndicate – some to a greater degree than others.  (The British had effectively reduced Nepal to a neo-colony in the 19th century – under the Ranas and Indian quickly took over the same great expansionist power-play and imperial mind-set following Independence in 1948).

India had played a great role in facilitating the peace talks that led to CPA. Its reasons were, by hook and by crook, to draw the teeth of the Maoist revolution on its borders. |It particularly did not want a successful one, as a beacon to its millions of already distressed, oppressed and hungry rural and urban masses and where it was, and still is, facing a growing Maoist revolution of its own.

That is why on the one hand it instigated the military coup against Prachanda – while relying on the treachery and corruption of the UML leaders also to abandon his administration.

With the existing parties no more than puppets they also engaged on the task of suborning the Maoist leadership – a task rendered easier that the fact that both Prachanda and his erstwhile rival – Bhatterai were looking for a way out their party’s revolutionary commitment. Prachanda’s scarcely concealed larcenous nature proved easy meat for them and in a matter of years he has become a multi-millionaire with a huge mansion in residential Lazimpat and among other interests – a 50% stake in Republica – an English language version of Nagarik (citizen) which is itself partnered with the International Herald Tribune – practically a CIA house journal!

That he has regular meetings with the Indian security service – Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), is an open secret (in fact he had one last Wednesday (August 28th).

Bhatterai had always responded to the flattery of the Indians – from his early academic days and as he moved towards reformist parliamentary politics he played a great role in downplaying Indian expansionism where ‘he stated that; ‘domestic feudalism was greater enemy than progressive Indian capitalism’.

Prachanda’s treachery and corruption came as a shock to many but at least Bhatterai was always politically and ideologically consistent –carrying proudly the title of ‘Mr India’.

As well as settling in to the game of ‘parliamentary cretinism’ they also facilitated the destruction of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) – billeted in UN cantonments – at the behest of domestic and foreign reaction. To the extent that Bhatterai – as then Prime Minister - allowed the unreformed NA – in a coup de grace to storm the camps and seize the weapons laagered there.

That is why the revolutionary communists split from the UCPN(M) last year in June 2012 – the Two-Line struggle between comrades had become two world-views – bourgeois and proletarian – confronting each other.

*(At this point of writing I heard ‘zindabad – zindabad (victory – victory) in the street outside. It was a flying convoy of young Maoists on motor-bikes as part of the boycott ‘Stir’ (the quaint term the papers use for agitation.) They offered me a place on the back of a bike and to take part in the ‘Thulo Julus’ (Great Demo).)

The residual UCPN(M) rump has thus become another comprador, status-quo party and has joined with the traditional  pro-Indian parties on the right facing the democratic, revolutionary and patriotic parties on the left.

This proposed election is more than just a simple electoral exercise it is a stark choice between reaction and progress; with the left for advancing to People’s Democratic Republic and the right capitulating to comprador, feudal and bureaucratic capitalism and while the radicals are calling for an independent, sovereign country, free from unequal treaties and Indian expansionism, the right want to accept the neo-colonial status-quo and even deepen Nepal’s subservience as the vassal state.

The right is also playing these electoral politics as a  trap, intended to catch the left – which they think is unprepared - and in all events use any success in this charade as a mandate to block any hope of necessary change in Nepal. They would rather it continue – like Big Brother India – as another failed capitalist state as long as their own minority and class interests are protected.( As a ruling-class they are not only deeply corrupt but absolutely fucking useless at any kind of practical government. Again like Big Brother – the world’s biggest failed state. The arrogance of the Delhi Brahmins in wanting to export this recipe for failure and indeed impose it on others is quite breathtaking.)

Thus India in openly and secretly involved in seeing this process through – along with all the other forces of international reaction, from the US, the EU, the UN and their ragbag of lickspittle, 5 star hotel NGOs. Even Jimmy Carter has got in on the act, American social-fascism with a human face. But, while the US has begun to ‘Egyptianise’ the NA with billions of dollars, it is still Delhi who calls the political shots. In this respect Deepak Thapa – a noted radical journalist remarked on a story from the Kantipur press that the head of RAW’s external agency has flown to Kathmandu to instruct Nepal’s political elite to make sure that the election was held on November 19th. The evidence that this was accepted lay in the circumstantial event that the following day one of the awkward squad in Madeshi politics – Upendra Yadav – after strenuously opposing any election ( albeit for purely personal, political tactical reasons) suddenly came on board and signed-up with the four-party syndicate. Apparently there was a crush of supplicants and acolytes to get into the meeting with RAW.

Now hold your breath on this one; there are reckoned to be at least 25,000 Indian national members of RAW in Kathmandu alone! They are not here on some mass-Himalayan jolly.

Similarly there were talks talking place at which the High Level Political Committee (HLPC) (from which the CPN (M) had been excluded despite having a sizeable number of seats in the Constituent Assembly) met with the 33 party alliance ostensibly to see if common ground could be reached. Mainly the left wanted a commitment to a full PR electoral mechanism and a round-table conference to thrash out the outlines of a progressive constitution– (given the abject failure of the CA to deliver one since 2006 and its subsequent retreat into being a nest for thieves, that harked back to the blatantly corrupt ‘Pajero Years’ post-1990.) About two weeks ago those talks collapsed – almost overnight – and it was reported that Delhi had stopped them by simply lifting the phone fearing too many concessions were being won by the wily Maoists.

“The talks which were moving ahead positively terminated dramatically as per the instruction of foreigners.”
(Ram Bahadur Thapa, General Secretary, CPN(Maoist), August 30th)

Even now the repressive apparatus of the state which thanks to the US and India is manned-up and armed with 90,000 soldiers and 40,000 para-militaries – is being prepared to ‘police’ the election. Furthermore, the undemocratically installed Chief Justice Regmi’s administration today (September 4th) announced the aim of hiring another 50,000 temporary police enabling them to deploy at least a 100,000 security personnel across just to cover 18,000 polling booths.

The Maoists have taken a principled position and said that even though they are prepared to see this boycott actively through as things presently stood yet are still prepared for ongoing talks to resolve the crisis.

But the challenge is clear – the class lines are clear; at a mass rally of the People’s Volunteer Bureau (which if occasion demands will be core of new red army) GS Thapa said that sixteen years ago the party launched the People’s War because the then government refused to meet just demands. He went on:

“We will not go back to the jungle this time. Rather we will organise urban-centric agitation – people’s revolt.”

Further saying that it would be capital centric and that the party’s energetic and committed youth wing is ready to combat any attempts at repression.

Finishing by saying that the elections were an attempt by India to ‘Sikkimise’ Nepal and incorporate it under Delhi’s hegemony in the same way that in 1975 it had ended that country’s sovereign independence by use of Quisling forces and Indian military

He concluded:

“We want to save our country from becoming a new Sikkim. Boycott of the planned elections will help thwart any move aimed at Sikkimisation.”

This boycott is not a battle against democracy – it is a battle for democracy and national independence.

Peter Tobin (September 4th, Kathmandu)

PS Photos at head taken at CPN (M) march and rally of Party’s youth wing, August 30th. On the backs of the specially issued T-shirts read the slogan:

“Boycott this so-called election!

The cadres were selected to represent areas in the Kathmandu urban and Valley area and also from the surrounding Tamsaling region.

They started at New Baneshor and marched in two lines – with close order kept – six kilometers through every main thoroughfare in central Kathmandu - before arriving at Basantapur where they were addressed by – among others the GS – Ram Bahadur Thapa (nomme de guerre – Badaal) – a summary of whose words conclude the article.

PPS On a personal observation I was – of course – impressed by the commitment, energy and discipline of these cadre but what also struck me was the sheer sense of fun and exuberance in all those I met.

It is a rare combination and one that the otherwise hopeless idealist – Bergson – would have recognized; where joie d’esprit plus esprit de corps egale élan vital. (Strong personal spirit plus love of comrades and cause equals vital (martial) force).

Truly comrades we live in great times.

NB This report is brief as there is an immediate necessity to circulate information as the situation is unfolding apace. At a later time there will be a more detailed exposition of many of the points sketched above.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks for the report comrade Peter.
That statement of the revisionist leader, - - ‘domestic feudalism was greater enemy than progressive Indian capitalism’.-- echoes in my soul like a compradore bourgeoisie bootlicking.
Until the whole Royal army is not obliterated and real people's liberation army are not there matter is as heavy as it has been for the last several years. Prachanda becoming a money man? That hurts... beyond verbs
But re what Zindebad really mean:
Zindibad Inqilab used in various languages originated from Farsi language. Exact words are:
زنده باد انقلاب
that are: Zende Bad Enqilab
Zende means alive zende bad means long live and, enqilab means revolution. Long Live people's war
Long Live Revolution that is still going until real materialization of People's federal democratic republic of Nepal!