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Angels and Demons in the People’s Movement in Nepal

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Pratyush Chandra

International Nepal Solidarity Network

Today, the talk of people’s power in Nepal is the order of the day. Even the Mainstream Media, Moriarty, Manmohan and their intellectual goons are full of that. Evidently they are having hysterical fits intensified by the return of the Cold War paranoia. The possibility of the Maoists’ coming over ground and their revolutionary agenda — targeting the Nepali dependency — being constitutionalized is definitely a grave crisis for Indo-American imperialism in South Asia. And in order to have a scope for diplomatic engineering, they need sanitized expressions like people’s movement, people’s power etc without identifying who the people are and without detailing their demands.

Definitely the mainstream hatred against the Maoists knows no bound. The media campaign to denigrate the Maoists has never been so vigorous as now, showing the crisis and desperation in the imperialist camp — its failure to color and control the democratic upsurge in Nepal as in East Europe and other parts of the world. As one of the coup organizers against Chavez in Venezuela, Vice Admiral Ramírez Pérez told a private channel just after the coup on April 11, 2002, “We had a deadly weapon: the media.” And as Pablo Neruda, once reminded us, “He’s the skulking coward hired to praise dirty hands. He’s an orator or journalist. Suddenly he surfaces in the palace enthusiastically masticating the sovereign’s dejections”.

1. People’s Movement – a New Phase in the People’s War?

Just a cursory reading of the mainstream media headlines on Nepal and the Maoists today shows that they increasingly concentrate on Maoist “extortions” and other “criminal” activities. One needs to just go through the reports under those headlines to have a glimpse of the conscious game plan. Only to cite a couple of examples:

a) As reported, recently, Indian company Dabur suspended its operations in Nepal. The headline and the first paragraph of the report in Telegraph (May 20), one of the mainstream newspapers in India, told it was because the company refused “to buckle under the extortion threats of the Maoist rebels”. But the same report subsequently went on: “The Maoist-affiliated trade union, All Nepal Trade Union Federation (ANTUF), on May 15 issued a 22-point charter of demands to all the units in the Bara-Parsa-Birgunj industrial belt. They demanded scrapping of the labour contract system, payment of a minimum monthly wage of Rs 5,000 and provisions of housing, medicare and education facilities to the workers and their families. The union warned of dire consequences if its demands were not met within a week.” So the genuine workers movement and its demands in the Nepali sweatshops controlled by Indian imperialists are extortions.

b) The prestigious International Federation of Journalists (IFJ, Asia-Pacific) issued a media release on May 19, where a subheading said – “Maoists attack radio station” (later “attack” was changed to “threaten”). It is obvious that many people who have the habit of reading just headlines will interpret — Oh! These gun-trotting “polpotists” must have raided the radio station. But no! “The Maoist-aligned All Nepal Trade Union Federation issued a letter on May 12, 2006 accusing the two FM radio stations of exploiting their respective staffs, dismissing staff without reason, extreme excesses and mental torture of the staff, and called for the immediate termination of the Kalika FM station director, alleging him to be a pro-royalist.” So, this was an attack!

In order to understand the impact of such unambiguous media reports, one needs to remember how even a great novelist from the Left Jose Saramago went on to dub the great guerrilla movement under the Frente Armada Revolucionaria de Colombia (FARC) as an “armed gang” dedicated “to kidnapping, murdering, violating human rights.” One can only imagine what will happen in the case of Nepal.

The international left movement divided into innumerable sects is taking its toll on the Nepali movement too. So we find even sober Marxist analysts indulging in subjective analyses of the peasant movement in Nepal displaying their rich repertoire of inter-sect abuses ready for the Maoists just because they have learnt from the Chinese peasant movement and call themselves Maoists. The irresponsible reactive armchair leftism ever online enamored of the rights discourse and neutrality too in its efforts to justify its own passivity is increasingly involved in this media redbaiting. As James Petras noted in his open letter to Saramago (Counterpunch, December 22, 2004):

“[T]here are many types of “communists” today: Those who stole the public patrimony of Russia and became notable oligarchs; Those who collaborate with the US colonial regime in Iraq; Those who have struggled for forty years in the factories, jungles and countryside of Colombia for a society without classes; And those “communists” who fear the problem (imperialism) and fear the solution (popular revolution) and make it all a question of personal preferences.”

All kinds of media and ideological manipulations are going on endeavoring to disrupt the New Phase of People’s War in Nepal — its extension to the urban streets with its own peculiarities, to the urban proletarian struggle – with the increased Maoist interventions in urban mobilization and trade union activities. We find rosy words being showered on the People, while denigrating their War. The rightists, “leftists” and imperialists are all united in this propaganda campaign.

Personalities who were never on the streets to suffer police beatings and face bullets were the first ones to declare victory of the People’s Movement with the King’s pronouncements. The desperate Indo-US imperialism and its media touts were booed when they prematurely partied after the King’s April 21 invitation to the parties to name the prime minister, which every force in the movement duly rejected, including the nervous parliamentary leaders. However the panicky US-EU-India interests ultimately found loyal agency in this “responsible leadership” when it unilaterally accepted the April 24 declaration restoring the defunct parliament.

And thus started the sanitization program — of talking about People’s War vs. People’s Movement, of the failure of the first against the successes of the latter as proof of the virtue of non-violence. The hidden agenda is very apparent, that is to restore the sanctified institutions of State Terror while disarming the People by preaching them non-violence. The neutral apostles of Human Rights do this by treating the State’s offence at par with the Popular defense. Imperialisms do this via their “Community Faces” too – through well funded “Civil Society” groups and NGOs, who specialize in administering and selling the social agenda of Neoliberalism, providing “Social Cushion” in the face of the growing marginalization and social unrest. As perfect plainclothesmen, all these apostles of non-violence can be spotted here and there in the Nepali unrest with their clear job of policing the movement from within. After the so-called “victory” of April 24, their additional job has been to write anecdotes about their participation in the “Turn-the-other-cheek-Revolution” with the mainstream and “civil society” media ever ready to channel the processes of sanitization and betrayal.

In this regard, it suffices to quote Black revolutionary Malcolm X who was himself the epitome of Popular Suffering, Anger and Movement right in the belly of the beast:

“I don’t go for anything that’s non-violent and turn-the-other-cheekish. I don’t see how any revolution—I’ve never heard of a non-violent revolution or a revolution that was brought about by turning the other cheek, and so I believe that it is a crime for anyone to teach a person who is being brutalized to continue to accept that brutality without doing something to defend himself. If this is what the Christian-Gandhian philosophy teaches then it is criminal—a criminal philosophy.”

2. The Nepali Movement Beyond Sectism

There is far more to a movement than just its personalities and ideologico-cultural labels – Zapatistas, Chavistas and Maoists. However, there is always a mainstream tendency to relegate these movements to a few personalities, symbols and ideological lineages. This definitely benefits the status quo as the movements are effectively portrayed as sects with some innate pathological tendencies. The failures and problems of the older movements whose idioms the present movements have adopted and adapted to mobilize and organize the masses are extrapolated to vilify the latter. The fundamental issues of the changed conjuncture and the composition of the movements are effectively swept aside through this exercise, ideologically arming the status quo to contravene the ‘subversive’ forces.

Feeding to this is the widespread sectism prevalent within the Left, which aids the hegemonic forces in this regard. The leftist dissection, labeling and libeling are more effective than any repression and mainstream media propaganda in forming and deforming the opinion, as they can be projected as internal dissensions. Karl Marx while summarizing his experience in the First International rightly notes in his letter to Friedrich Bolte (November 23, 1871):

“The development of the system of Socialist sects and that of the real workers’ movement always stand in inverse ratio to each other. So long as the sects are (historically) justified, the working class is not yet ripe for an independent historic movement. As soon as it has attained this maturity all sects are essentially reactionary.”

The recent upheaval in Nepal has once again brought this sectism to the center-stage as people everywhere are trying to cope up with the Maoist element in it. We find Mao’s failures and Pol Pot’s barbarism discussed more than what the Nepali Maoists have done in Nepal – how they have energized the issues of land, land reforms, decadent forms of gender, national and ethnic oppressions, neo-liberal commercialization, distress migration etc as their central concerns.

In the hands of the Maoists, the issue of the constituent assembly, which was forgotten by the democrats, became a rallying point for uniting the rural and urban downtrodden. It was the Maoists’ strength with the growing influence of their slogans and radicalism on the lower leadership and the mass base of the petty bourgeois parliamentary parties that shattered the Nepali ruling machinery’s ability to control the growing rage of the people’s war. Eventually the 1990 historic “compromise” between the royalty and the democrats brokered by the imperialist interests in the region collapsed leading to the latter’s historic alliance with the Maoists in 2005.

This alliance triggered the mass upsurge that we witnessed throughout April this year. The imperialist onlookers were awe-stricken by the response to the General Strike called by the Seven Party Alliance facilitated by the unilateral ceasefire declared by the Maoists in the Kathmandu region with an increased armed assault on the (then Royal) Nepalese Army in other regions. US Ambassador went on with his rumor mongering and presented the situation as “pre-revolutionary” in one of his interviews, which was correct but was meant to terrorize the Nepali petty bourgeois leaders and mobilize international opinion against the revolutionaries. India, who has the history of utilizing the unequal treaties with Nepal for changing the internal political arrangement that best suited India’s interests that necessarily used to include a cosmetic democracy, this time was (and is) desperate to preserve the monarchy. However the Indian response has been moderated due to the immense mobilization within India in solidarity with the Nepali democracy movement.

The petty bourgeois leaders of the parliamentary parties feared direct action in the rocking streets and burning fields of Nepal destroying every institution that mothered them. Instead of the path of revolution, they chose the path of legislation, which allows manipulation and compromise. Afraid of the revolutionary ‘uncertainty’ they found a ready opportunity to withdraw their support to the movement when the King restored their parliamentary privileges. But the movement continued as the Maoists and the grassroots of these parties rejected this compromise and sustained the spontaneous upsurge in popular consciousness, ever vigilant of the old leadership returning to its old habits and forcing some concrete progressive “concessions” that we hear in the news today.

3. Hands Off Nepal: Rebuff the possible ‘Plan Nepal’

Today, most dangerously, all imperialist manipulations, media propaganda and the parliamentary drunkenness in Nepal might prepare the background for something like Plan Colombia, which derailed the similar process of overgrounding of the peasant and people’s upsurge in Colombia under the leadership of the FARC. The FARC in 1999-2001 suspended their armed struggle and negotiated with the Pastrana regime, insisting on a demilitarized zone, putting forth “a political program of agrarian reform, national public control of strategic resources, and massive public works programs to generate jobs”. All these radical measures were destined to destroy the reactionary political economic institutions that allowed the imperialist network to operate in the country, devastating the peasantry, indebting the economy and entrenching corruption in the state structure. Therefore, “with the backing of the US government the Pastrana regime abruptly broke off negotiations and launched an attack on the demilitarized zone” and restarted funding, training and arming the drug traffickers and private armies of the landlords as para-military forces to harass and destroy the people’s movement.

There are well-documented evidences of the drug mafia network under the CIA of which “The King of Nepal” has been an important part. Last year there were reports that Crown Prince Paras “has been allegedly in the drug business for seven years, but his stakes and that of the Nepali royal family have grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years…[T]he crown prince is now reported to be operating his network beyond South Asia.” (Newsinsight.net, July 6, 2005) With the history of the linkages between the drug trade and the US’ counter-insurgency drive, one cannot ignore the possibility of a Plan Nepal in the pipeline until and unless the revolutionary Nepali people are vigilant enough forcing the country’s ever shaky “democratic” leadership to facilitate the ‘overgrounding’ of the Maoists and the crushing of the military leadership trained for imperialist wars, thus thwarting the danger of any imperialist manipulation.

Remember the US insists to keep the Maoists on its terror list, which allows it to intervene and manipulate regimes beyond the seven seas for its domestic security interests. The first thing that the US did after “welcoming” the April 24 proclamation was to sit with the military leaders, not even with the King. The parliamentary forces might remove R(oyalty) from the name of every institution, might add Secular in the official name of Nepal, but the country needs the negation of the whole system nurtured by 200 years of semi-colonialism, that allowed the imperialist powers to use the Nepali people, army and resources as reserve for crushing liberation struggles internationally (in India, Afghanistan among others), as canon-fodder. And all these in exchange with a promise that the Nepali royalty and elite could handshake and dine with the White Royalty, while the Nepali people suffered dual exploitation, and later, in exchange with rents in the form of foreign aid.

In the age of neo-liberalism, when the Nepali soldiers are not sent for killing, they can be used as guinea pigs too for pharmaceutical researches. Recently, there was news about “the American government’s exploitation of Nepali soldiers as human guinea pigs to find a Hepatitis vaccine.” As Jason Andrews wrote in The American Journal of Bioethics: “Noting the millions of dollars, military training, and arms that the State Department and Military have been giving to the RNA to help them put down the Maoist rebellion, it seems plausible that the resultant military and economic dependence of the host institution/population (RNA) upon the research sponsor (the U.S. Military) threatened the voluntary nature of the institutional and individual participation in the trial. That is, the RNA probably was not in a good position to say ‘no’ to the small request by their generous benefactor.”

Servility and loyalty towards global imperialism entrenched in the Nepali state structure and elites can never be removed only by legislations — it needs a complete structural transformation, it needs a revolution, which has just begun and can go anywhere from here. With the growing imperialist counseling to the newly formed Nepali government, and the consensual ideological campaign endeavoring to alienate the movement from its revolutionary leadership through ‘neutral’ rights discourse and by media, any complacency on the part of the revolutionary masses of Nepal at this juncture will curb the process of democratization of the Nepali society and state.

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Written by Pratyush Chandra

May 23, 2006 at 4:03 pm

Posted in Imperialism, Nepal

The Royal Nepalese Army and the imperialist agency in Nepal

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Pratyush Chandra

International Nepal Solidarity Network

After King Mahendra (Gyanendra’s father) and his Royal Nepalese Army (RNA), overthrew his government in 1960, the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Nepal BP Koirala asked himself in his jail diary: “Is the democratic system in Nepal compatible with the preponderance of the Nepalese Army?” After five decades of the democracy movement in Nepal, this question still haunts the Nepalis. Mesmerised by the royal proximity, Nepali democrats have time and again lapsed into amnesia, comfortably and willingly. But by one or another way the question has found expression and has been answered negatively in the popular upsurges and daily struggles of the downtrodden.

As Nepal’s foremost revolutionary leader Prachanda stated, just after the royal coup in February 2005, “Ultimately, the so-called royal proclamation of February 1 has not only exposed the irrelevance of reformism in the Nepalese politics, but also shattered the collective lethargy of the parliamentary political politics.”. Although the reinstatement of the old parliament once again poses the danger of the relapse of the “collective lethargy”, the politically charged Nepali masses are ever watchful of the parliamentarist deviations. Along with the issue of forming the Constituent Assembly, the question of controlling the RNA is going to be one of the decisive (and divisive) elements in the course of the Nepali democratic revolution.

This army has been the major force behind enforcing the betrayal of the democratic aspirations of the Nepali people for more than five decades. Nevertheless, as Marxist-Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai rightly notes, “Any ordinary student of military science would know, the victory or defeat of a particular army ultimately depends more on its social class base and the political goal.” And, “the feudal reactionary nature of the royal army and its complete hegemonisation by the ruling Shah-Rana families may be gauged from the fact that of the thirty commander-in-chiefs since 1835, twenty-six belonged to the ruling Shah-Ranas and four to their close courtiers, Thapa-Basnets. Hence, there should be no doubt, at least to the progressive and modern-minded, that the current fight in Nepal is précised for ending this age-old feudal tyranny and to usher in a real democracy suited to the 21st century.”

The RNA has been the major “saboteur”, “with the prompting of some foreign powers” (whom we are all familiar with) in every peace talk in Nepal. Its time-tested principal method of sabotage is senseless massacres of the civilians in the name of defending its soldiers against the revolutionaries while the peace process is going on. In 2003, “the most serious and provocative incident was the massacre of nineteen unarmed political activists by the RNA in Doramba (Eastern Nepal) on the very day of start of third round of talks on August 17”. Again, a few days back on April 29, on the eve of GP Koirala’s swearing in ceremony as a result of the mass upsurge that we saw recently, “Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) launched an aerial attack on a peaceful mass meet called by the CPN (Maoist)… An RNA chopper rained bullets on the mass meet organised in the jungle adjoining a human settlement, where around 10,000 civilians were gathered for the program”.

The RNA is definitely a major concern, as it gets more and more desperate about its own future with the debilitating royalty. International powers that have been arming the reactionary RNA are already having meetings with its chief and other officials, enquiring about their Will.

The recent visit of US Assistant Secretary for South Asia, Richard Boucher is a pointer in this regard. He did not meet with the beleaguered monarch, rather chose to remain satisfied with his direct meeting with the RNA chief Pyar Jung Thapa.

On April 3, in a press conference after the meeting, Boucher was asked whether he thinks “the Royal Nepalese Army is going to be one of the decision makers in future instead of parliament”.

Boucher’s reply was, “I don’t think I quite used the word decision maker, but I said something like that. I think that the army is going to have a very important role to play. The army has to help defend the nation; it has to help defend the nation against threats. They also have to be able to implement the ceasefire, and carry it out. So I wanted to check with the army and see, first of all, that they were supporting the political process, that they were supporting the civilian leaders in Nepal, and second of all talk to them about how they saw their job in the days ahead, and how, when a civilian leadership wanted us to, we could support them in the future.”

What a mode of professing a civilian control over the RNA! A US official makes an official visit to find the will of the Army chief directly, whether he supports the political process or not, instead of asking the government to ensure the submission of the RNA to the civilian control.

However this incident is not at all surprising, since US Ambassador James Moriarty’s chief job after the 12-point agreement between the parliamentary forces and the Maoists last year has been to defend the RNA’s existence in every significant statement. He has been trying hard to mobilise the moderate and wavering democrats and former prime minsiters, like GP Koirala and Sher Bahadur Deuba who were the main exponents of using the RNA to crush People’s War till recently. Replicating Conan Doyle’s Professor Moriarty – a Supervillain or the “Napoleon of Crime”, the US Ambassador time and again has been tying to make the democrats, who lack Moriarty’s “common sense”, understand the virtue of not weakening the RNA, which he calls, in one of his nauseating self-proclaimed “provocative” speeches, “the parties’ one logical source of defense”, despite the well-known fact that it has never respected the self-styled democratic leadership.

If we can learn something from the US’s history of imperialist intervention and of nurturing military juntas, we can at least be sure of the US’s desperation in Nepal to preclude the Nicaragua-type situation, where the revolutionaries disbanded Somoza’s army, and even after the Sandinistas’ defeat in 1990, the Sandinista Army remained as the popular national army and the prime vehicle of democratisation (notwithstanding a considerable dilution of the army’s revolutionary character). As an ex-Nicaraguan Army chief Joaquín Cuadra Lacayo said in the year 2000: “Despite everything the Sandinista revolution eventually led to free elections and democracy, and…the Sandinista People’s Army became the National Army of Nicaragua. For the first time in the history of Latin America, an army that was born as a guerrilla force and matured as part of a government became an army for the nation without political overtones.” In spite of the fact that the ruling elite of Nicaragua has reversed the major gains of the Sandinista Revolution, and the military is completely integrated with the State, the popular revolutionary past of the Army officials and Sandino’s portraits in military headquarters and offices still haunt the US and the local elites. An obvious question for the global hegemony today is: where will the army be once the new radicalism that is gripping Latin America affects Nicaragua? Obviously, the Nicaraguan arrangement can never keep paranoiac imperialists at ease. Therefore ensuring a premature disarming of the Maoists, without crushing the R(oyalty) of the RNA, is the prime game plan of the international hegemonies and their local cahoots in Nepal.

Only such design will ensure the demobilisation of the revolutionary intent of Nepal’s downtrodden that has been heightened during the decade-long People’s War, politically rejuvenating every section of the society. The imperialist network fears that this rise of the red scourge in this supposed “backwater” of global capitalism will blow away the mirage of the new Asian “miracles” in the region, who have been long fishing their booty in these same “backwaters”. With the struggle of democratisation at every level succeeding in Nepal, and the possibility of an open mobilisation, by the “Maoism in the 21st century”, of the proletarians, semi-proletarians and poor peasantry, there is a danger that the class conflict will spread throughout the region, providing “plenty of recruits for Maoist armies and other forms of resistance to global capitalism”, as Alex Callinicos puts it.

Written by Pratyush Chandra

May 10, 2006 at 1:13 pm

Posted in Imperialism, Nepal

In Nepal, The Saga of Compromise and Struggle Continues

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April 26, 2006

Pratyush Chandra

As sniffing K9s of the global hegemony, the corporate media around the globe smelled Maoist activists’ and pamphlets’ presence in the post- April 6 protests as proofs of the Maoist infiltration. The BBC reported on April 24: “There are very real fears that Maoist rebels could well use the opportunity to fill the void and take control of the protests. Maoist activists are already believed to have been present at many of the rallies, and there have been several instances of Maoist campaign pamphlets being distributed among the protesters. The last thing the parties want is for the protests to spin out of control and for the Maoists to move in, a view that is fast gaining currency.”

Such rumour mongering by the corporate media is definitely sufficient to send their own masters to psychotic fits of Global McCarthyism. It can also buy a compromise between the King and the anti-communist section of the Nepali middle class trained during the US’ Cold War aid regime who grabbed the leadership of many moderate democratic parties after the 1990 arrangement. However, it means nothing to the local population. They know that the Maoists were the only force facilitating their politicisation to the degree that they could sustain mass strikes for so many days.

Of course, the 7+1 alliance was a great jolt to the vastness of “popular exclusion” that the Nepalese polity and its sponsors have till now maintained by utilising the weapon of “divide and rule”. And we saw literally a new version of Samudra Manthan (churning of the seas) and the whole Nepal was drowned in the resulting tide. The General Strike in Nepal that continued to gain momentum since April 6 demolished the floodgates already tattered in the course of Maoists’ continuous assaults for a decade. These gates erected during the six decades of continuous betrayals forged and financed by the complex international network that combines the global, regional and local ruling classes had trapped and ‘subalternised’ the confidence and consciousness of the Nepalese downtrodden.

Today the gates are nowhere. Throughout Nepal curfews and “shoot-on-sight” orders have been enforced and defied. “Emotionally charged sea of the masses in the streets manifests that the liberation forever from the feudal monarchy, which has been betraying since the past 250 years in general and 56 years in particular, is the earnest and deep aspiration of the Nepalese people” (Prachanda’s Statement, April 22).

Justin Huggler aptly captured the scenario for Independent (UK) on April 22 after King Gyanendra did his first bid to buy off the leadership by offering the protesting parties the Prime-Ministership. “Looking tense before the camera, King Gyanendra said: ‘We are committed to multi-party democracy and a constitutional monarchy. Executive power of the kingdom of Nepal, which was in our safekeeping, shall from this day be returned to the people.'” On the other side of the political fence: “‘Death to the monarchy!’ they chanted as they marched. And as they walked, the people of Kathmandu lined the streets to cheer them on. This was a nation on the march. Several police lines fell back before them. Soldiers guarding the airport grinned and gave them signs of support.”

After the King’s second bid on April 24 once again the million-dollar question remains “whether the announcement will be welcomed as readily on the street, where hundreds of thousands of Nepalis have called for the monarchy to be abolished” (Huggler in Independent, April 25), despite the fact that the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) has accepted the King’s offer to reinstate the Parliament, dissolved in 2002 on the recommendation of one of the leaders in the SPA. Guardian (April 25) reports, “There is a danger that crowds may take to the streets in defiance of the political leadership. Yesterday, speakers at rallies in the capital’s suburbs repeatedly said they would not be “tricked” by the king.”

What we witness in Nepal today is a unique dialectic of spontaneity and organization in full operation that characterises any great movement. “The masses are in reality their own leaders, dialectically creating their own development process” and the ‘leaders’ are forced to or willingly “make themselves merely the mouthpiece of the will and striving of the enlightened masses, merely the agents of the objective laws of the class movement”. (Rosa Luxemburg) At least one section of the political leadership is conscious of this dialectic, when it says: “[T]his movement has not now remained to be a movement only of either seven political parties or the CPN (Maoist) or civil society or any particular group but as a united movement of all the real democratic forces, who have been repeatedly deceived by the feudal autocratic monarchy since 1949.” (Prachanda & Baburam Bhattarai’s statement, April 17, 2006)

By rejecting the present compromise the Maoists show their respect to the Nepalese downtrodden who fought valiantly for the basic demand to form the constituent assembly – the institution that will give them at least a say in the process of ‘democratisation’ curtailing its patrician character and may serve as the foundation of the new democratic Nepal. Even though the wavering petty bourgeois parliamentary leaders afraid of the radicalised masses unilaterally withdrew their support and rejoiced on the restoration of their privileges, let us hope the Maoist rejection and the grassroots unity across various political formations built in the yearlong united people’s struggle will keep them sober.

A commenter on International Nepal Solidarity Network’s website (insn.org) thus reacted to the news of the King’s announcement:

“In protests, for a moment, people from all classes were present… They will once again split into the political camps, who best represent their class interests. The only ‘people’ who will continue to be on the streets are those who were already there on the streets and fields before the protests – who will continue to fight to survive. The ‘protests’ have at least given them a rough map of the political scene of Nepal, and heightened their confidence and consciousness.”

However, we must admit that the recent protests marked a new phase in the Nepalese struggle for democracy and self-determination. From now onwards nothing remains consecrated in Nepal, beyond popular scrutiny and criticism. Every section of the society is politically charged. We see democracy in action in the streets of Nepal.

Tariq Ali rightly puts (Guardian, April 25): “What the uprising in Nepal reveals is that while democracy is being hollowed out in the west, it means more than regular elections to many people in the other continents”. It means the people’s right to root out their own poverty, the democratic control of the Nepalese human and natural resources, ending the caste, national and gender privileges and discriminations… It means to have a Constitution that secures all these fundamental rights, and for that they demand a constituent assembly.

Versions: Counterpunch, Countercurrents, INSN, ZMag

Written by Pratyush Chandra

May 1, 2006 at 11:13 am

Posted in Imperialism, Nepal

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