April 26, 2006
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