Update on Conditions in Nepal

This is an excellent piece on the events in Nepal. I am not sure how much you all know about what is going on in Nepal. A Maoist party led a revolution for 11 years that killed about 13,000 people.
The upshot was the end of the Nepalese monarchy (the only officially Hindu state and the only Hindu monarchy on Earth) and laying the groundwork for a true parliamentary and democratic system. Elections were held, and the Maoists won a plurality of 40%. They formed a government with themselves at the head. As part of peace accords, the Maoist army and the Royalist army were supposed to be integrated.
The decision to end armed struggle was not taken lightly. The leadership, centered around a man named Prachandra, decided pragmatically to give it up and try for power in democratic elections. This caused a huge uproar in Maoist circles worldwide, as they were accused of selling out and parliamentary cretinism.
The hardliners advocated that the Maoists should continue armed struggle until they seized state power and then install a dictatorship of the proletariat. Prachandra has made many eclectic statements, rejecting much of Communist history as old hat and not relevant to today’s conditions in which the USSR is gone, China hardly supports revolution and imperialism controls the globe.
He has said that the party is committed to democracy and that if they help the people as much as they hope to, they should be re-elected over and over. This is step in the right direction. The dictaproles have committed lots of crimes and killed, tortured and imprisoned so many people, one wonders why people still support such a formation.
My own party, the CPUSA, in its theoretical journal, says that it now believes that socialism requires “complete democracy.”
For the US, the CPUSA has always advocated what Gus Hall called “Bill of Rights Socialism.” That is, if they were in power, we would have complete civil rights as we do now and the party would have to stand for election regularly. As high-ranking party member told me that the reason for that was because Americans are used to civil liberties and no Communist party could succeed in the US without acknowledging that.
My party also supports the Chinese Communist Party, which is using lots of capitalism. There is just a whole lot of rethinking going on in Left circles these days.
One of the parties behind the furor over the Nepalese Maoists is a US Maoist party called the RCP-USA, the Revolutionary Communist Party. This is a small party that has never been able to do much of anything in the US.
They have been issuing ferocious denunciations of the Nepalese Maoists for “selling out.” I and many others think this is ridiculous. The Nepalese party has actually fought a successful revolution and is in power in the government. The RCP has never been able to accomplish anything. Who are they to tell the Nepalese what to do?
The rest of the piece should be pretty self-explanatory. It looks like much of the non-Maoist 60% of the government cobbled together some sort of a government and took out the Maoists. Perfectly legal I guess.
What’s particularly disgusting is the behavior of other Nepalese Communist parties, who have refused to work with the Maoists and have lined up behind feudalism, the monarchists and reaction. These parties were in parliament for over a decade during the 1990’s and were never able to accomplish a damned thing. Talk about useless.
The Madhesis are an indigenous group in the South down by the Indian border. The Terai are another indigenous ethnic group in the same region. They are analogous to the scheduled tribes of India and are at the bottom of the totem pole. The whole matter of the Madhesis and Terai is very confusing – a partial overview is here.
The Madhesis formerly resided in India, but the border moved when King Shah of Nepal conquered the southern border region 250 years ago from an Indian princely state. The Madhesis are so named because this region is both where the Buddha, revered by Buddhism, was born, and were the Hindu religion says Lord Sita, heroine of the Ramayan Epic, was born. The Madhesis have been living in that region for possibly thousands of years. See the comments at the end of the site for more.

Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) or CPN (UML) is the name of one of the sellout Communist parties.
Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) or UCPN (M) is the Maoist party.
Nepali Congress (NC) is a useless middle of the road party modeled after India’s Congress Party. It either supports monarchism and feudalism or it won’t fight them.
Right now, the Maoists are out of power and are saying that they will not cooperate with the new government.

Nepal’s Revolution At Crossroads

By Walter Smolarek

26 May, 2009

Nestled in the Himalayas, the little-known nation of Nepal has been set ablaze. Massive demonstrations, strikes, and the possibility of armed struggle characterize the tremendous upheaval that has come about in the world’s newest republic. The peasants, the workers, the slum dwellers, and all other oppressed people are standing up in an effort to finish off what remains of the feudal system that has exploited them for so long.
The past month has been a decisive period in Nepal’s revolution, and it’s important to cut through the ruling class distortions and understand what really went on. Before reading this, I would encourage you to familiarize yourself with the general situation by reading my last article on the subject as this analysis does not include any background information.

UCPN (M)’s Time in Government

When Prachanda became Prime Minister of Nepal, many thought that the liberation they had struggled for had finally come. The Maoists’ vision for New Nepal was crystallized in their budget, presented in late 2008.
It included provisions for a literacy program, women’s empowerment, building vital infrastructure, redistributing land to the peasantry, and eliminating poverty (1). In addition, one of UCPN (M)’s major goals was to integrate their People’s Liberation Army into the Nepalese Army, in order to complete the peace process and neutralize the threat posed by this traditionally royalist force.
However, what transpired in the following months was, despite some significant positive steps, a disappointment for many. The blame for the government’s inability to carry out their programs rests, however, not with the Maoists, but with the reactionary opposition and their weak-willed “ally”, the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist).
The Nepali Congress, representing the views of the Nepalese capitalists who began moving closer and closer to the feudalists (with the support of Indian expansionism and US imperialism), obstructed the day-to-day activities of the new Republican government. The Maoists should have been able to overcome this impediment, but they relied on CPN (UML) for a majority in the Constituent Assembly.
This vital partner, as the months went by, became more and more counter-revolutionary as the aggressively anti-Maoist K.P. Oli rose to a position of great influence within the party.
As the seemingly endless political deadlock ran on, many began to wonder if this frustrating period had eroded some of the mass support for UCPN (M). A definitive answer was given after the April 10th by-election held in six districts in Nepal. It turned out that confidence in Prachanda’s government had increased rather than decreased.
The Maoists previously held two of the six vacated seats and won three by prevailing in what used to be a Nepali Congress stronghold (2). With this renewed mandate, the revolutionary government went about tackling the issue of army integration, which had been delayed due to resistance by the right-wing leadership of the Nepalese Army.

The Soft Coup

Fed up with the Army’s flagrant disregard for the constitution and commands from the Ministry of Defense, the Maoist government requested that Chief of Army Staff (the highest ranking officer in the armed forces) Rookmangud Katawal submit a written clarification explaining why he had disobeyed direct orders.
In the most arrogant way, Katawal dragged his feet and gathered political support from right-wing political parties like the Nepali Congress and the Oli faction of the CPN (UML) as well as foreign powers, especially India. The capitalists, the feudalists, the military, and the imperialists began to unite to preserve the status-quo; the elites were closing ranks. In response to these outrageous political moves, Prachanda fired the insubordinate Katawal on May third.
The next day, the will of the democratically elected government was overturned in what many are calling a “soft” coup. President Yadav of the Nepali Congress, who occupies a largely ceremonial role that his party managed to acquire due to disunity between the two major communist parties, grossly overstepped his authority and instructed Katawal to continue as head of the Nepali Army.
Stripped of the power vested in him by the people of Nepal, Prachanda resigned from his post and vowed to intensify the struggle against anti-change elements.
This was carried out, and is being carried out, simultaneously in both the Supreme Court and in the streets. The former is somewhat of a formality done in order to emphasize the anti-democratic nature of the Maoists’ opponents.
The demonstrations, however, are highly successful, with thousands of people turning out daily all over the nation and especially in the capital, Kathmandu. Participating are not only affiliates of UCPN (M) but workers and students of all stripes. In addition, the Maoist legislators held demonstrations in the Constituent Assembly itself, making it impossible for the state to function during this crisis. This set the backdrop for the political wrangling that ensued following the Prime Minister’s resignation.

Forming a New Government

As high-level talks went on between the parties, three proposals emerged. First, there was the possibility of another Maoist-led government. Those backing this solution included (obviously) UCPN (M), the faction of the MJF loyal to party Chairman Upendra Yadav, and several small left-wing parties. The large and militant mobilizations also aided the drive for Maoist leadership.
The other main option was a CPN (UML) led government, a notion supported strongly and immediately by the Nepali Congress. Proponents persuaded the TMLP and Sadbhavana Party (two of the less progressive Terai-based parties) early on and began working on the MJF.
It managed to split the party between those that supported Yadav and those that supported the pro-UML parliamentary leader Bijay Kumar Gachchhedar as well as ascertain the support of a few left-wing groups with grudges against the Maoists.
Finally, there had been talk of forming a national unity government including the UML, NC, UCPN (M), and the Madhesi parties. While this idea was supported tacitly by the faction of the UML aligned with the party’s leader Jhalanath Khanal against Oli, it was largely the product of frustration at the political deadlock and panic at the outpouring of support for the Maoists.
After three weeks of negotiations and demonstrations, the political elite had managed to impose the second option, a UML-led government, on the nation. Having cajoled enough of the smaller parties into supporting their agenda and having been able to bypass the Maoist demonstrations within the Constituent Assembly, Madhav Kumar Nepal (an ally of K.P. Oli) was sworn in as the new Prime Minister on May 25th after a vote boycotted by UCPN (M) the previous day.

What Lies Ahead

And so the revolution is at a crossroads. The collapse, or more accurately the overthrow, of Prachanda’s government is certainly a setback. On the one hand, there lies the path to demoralization and defeat, but along the other path is opportunity. The supporters of the new government are eclectic to an extreme, with very little ideological common ground.
When taking the oath of office during the days of the monarchy, the Prime Minister would do so “in the name of God”. When Prachanda took office, he took the oath “in the name of the people”. M.K. Nepal skipped this section entirely, taking the oath in the name of nobody (3). Hardly anything is more emblematic of his government’s politically destitute nature, held together by nothing more than an opportunist desire to derail the process of change.
Provided that the Maoists maintain their pledge to not cooperate with this puppet regime, the UML administration will, in all likelihood, prove to be ineffectual and serve as a catalyst for an intensified struggle on the streets. The events of the last month have laid bare the dictatorial character of both the feudalists and the proponents of traditional parliamentarianism.
It has become even clearer that if the impoverished and exploited majorities are to live a life with dignity, a fundamentally different society under a fundamentally different system is required. This society is called New Nepal; this system is called socialism.

Notes

Maoist’s New Nepal: Industrial Capitalism in the Name of Socialism
Maoist Candidate Santosh Budhamagar Elected CA Member From Rolpa
PM Nepal Sworn in, Inducts Two UML leaders in Cabinet
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9 thoughts on “Update on Conditions in Nepal”

  1. Dear Robert Lindsay,
    I have a question for you on Madhesi.
    Do you believe “I think the Madhesis are originally from India and live in the Far South near the Indian border. They are staunch Hindus and seem to harbor secessionist tendencies. I think the Terai (an ethnic group) may be much the same, but I am not sure.” ?
    This is what ‘Global Voices Online » Nepal: A fresh start?’ at ‘globalvoicesonline.org /2009/06/01/nepal-a-fresh-start’ quote against your name.
    Thanks,
    Ram Manohar

  2. Dear Lindsay,
    (updated with Word Majjhimadesa, origin of madhes )
    The citation on ‘Nepal: A fresh start?’ is just opposite and contradicting of what you wrote above in this article.
    Madhesis has its inheritence from Lord Buddha and Lord Sita (Heroien of Ramayan Epic). The birth place of these two are in Madhesis land.
    Below are few references to help you.

    “Majjhimadesa – The country of Central India which was the birth place of Buddhism and the region of its early activities.” Pg 418-419, Dictionary of Pali Proper Names: Pali-English, By G. P. Malalasekera

    “Sita was a foundling, discovered in a furrow in a ploughed field, and for that reason is regarded as a daughter of Bhudevi, the Goddess Mother Earth. She was found and adopted by Janaka, king of Mithila (present day Nepal) and his wife Sunayana. Since she was the princess of Mithila, she was (and is also) known as Maithili.” Source: wikipedia
    —–
    Plz let me know, if you want to have more discussion on the subject.
    Thanks,
    Ram Manohar

  3. Dear Lindsay,
    Madhesi folk didn’t moved/changed their original place. Madhesis are aborginal/indigenous people of southern plain. It was King PN Shah, who moved down south, and forcefully acquired their land.
    Modern Nepal has origin after King PN Shah, and it’s only 250 years. Madhesis has origin and history of thousands of years.
    Have I answered your question?

  4. Dear Lindsay,
    My Pleasure.
    Your stand on Madhesi seems fine.
    I wanted to bring to your notice ‘Global Voices Online » Nepal: A fresh start?’ has used your name as citation, but infact, it has changed the essence to different meaning, than the one it has on your post.
    You wrote “The Madhesis are an indigenous group in the South down by the Indian border. The Terai are another indigenous ethnic group in the same region. They are analogous to the scheduled tribes of India and are at the bottom of the totem pole. The whole matter of the Madhesis and Terai is very confusing”. This seems ok.
    But citation has opposite statement as “I think the Madhesis are originally from India and live in the Far South near the Indian border. They are staunch Hindus and seem to harbor secessionist tendencies. I think the Terai (an ethnic group) may be much the same, but I am not sure.”
    Thanks

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