Monday, 1 June 2009

Nepal: Maoist Backslide on Prachanda Path

-Rajesh Tyagi/ 1 June, 2009

Diffusing the two week long political deadlock, the Constituent Assembly of Nepal, on Saturday, May 23, 2009, had elected the leader of Stalinist CPN (UML), Madhav Kumar Nepal, as the new Prime Minister of the country, and thus succeeded in averting a constitutional crisis. Backed by 21 parties, Madhav Nepal was elected unopposed as no other candidates filed nomination for the post.

The CPN(UML), backed by the second largest party in the Assembly, Nepali Congress (NC), submitted signatures of 346 members from over 21 parties in the 601-strong Constituent Assembly to the Chairman of the house, Subhas Nemwang. A simple majority requiring support of 301 members, is sufficient to form the Government .
Maoist MPs, however, walked out of the parliament hall, boycotting the election process. CPN (Unified) and Nepali Janata Dal also stayed away from the election process.
Madhav Nepal, is the former general secretary of the UML, and is the third Prime Minister of the country, from Stalinist-Maoist stream, after late Manmohan Adhikari and Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda). Earlier he was deputy Prime Minister in the minority government headed by the CPN(UML) in 1990’s.
Resignation of Pushpa Kamal Dahal as the Prime Minister, following a rift among the ruling parties over the government decision to sack army chief Katawal on May 3, 2009, has led to the formation of the new government.
"I have resigned from the post of prime minister for the protection of democracy and peace," 54-year-old Prachanda, who had taken the reins of the government eight months ago, said in a televised address to the nation, on May 4, 2009, the day of his resignation.
The announcement came after the President of Nepal, Ram Baran Yadav, directed the Army Chief General Rukmangud Katawal to continue in office, stating that “his dismissal by the cabinet does not meet the constitutional requirements and due process."
The Maoist leaders had accused Katawal of defying the government orders by reinstating eight Generals compulsorily retired by the Maoist administration.
"The move by the President is an attack on this infant democracy and the peace process" Prachanda said, accusing him of taking an ‘unconstitutional and undemocratic decision’.
The Maoist party said that it would continue protest inside the parliament and on the streets, unless the President's 'unconstitutional' move is rectified.
However, stultified and stifled in the face of the real power in the hands of the Nepalese Army, Maoists were forced to step aside and watch the political game as fence sitters. They found themselves unable to resist the silent coup in which the defiant generals of the army once again asserted their supremacy, while the government was wrested out of the hands of Maoists by the minority parties. With this, the illusions of Maoists in constitutional democracy and a peaceful path to power, received a big jolt.
While Prachanda & Co. kept itself busy in writing the Constitution in false hope of assuming power through it, the bourgeois waited for dying down of the mass tempers, and for the opportune moment to exert the real power in its hands, the power of Armed forces, to ambush the Maoists. While Maoist demagogues continued to wander around the parliament and the constitution, viewing them as the real fountainhead of power, the bourgeois found the time to regroup itself and consolidate its real forces.
The blind faith of Maoists in the bourgeois and its democracy, ‘the civilian rule’, as they term it, prevented them from taking power at the height of unprecedented mass upsurge of April 2006, when more than one lakh people, counter marched to the armed forces of Monarchy and laid seize to the palace. Maoists further demonstrated their inability to take power, after their massive electoral victory after two years in April 2008. Working class and peasantry, had voted en-masse against the Monarchy and its bourgeois allies, including the Nepali Congress and the Stalinist CPN (UML). But instead of smashing the army, the bulwark of bourgeois power, on the wave of this mass surge, the Maoists manoeuvred to integrate themselves in the apparatus of old regime, through Constituent Assembly. They missed the great opportunities and landed in blind alley, with no real power in their hands.
The elections were negotiated as part of 2006 peace deal in which the CPN(M) abandoned a decade-long guerrilla struggle in exchange for cabinet posts. The CPN(M) campaigned for establishing a republic, parliamentary rule, and capitalist development. However, the farce of capitalist development and bourgeois democracy, failed to meet the aspirations of working people.
An April 14 article in the ‘Economist’ reports that villagers in the Kaski region in central Nepal told that “they had voted for the CPN(M) because they thought the Maoists would bring electricity and equality”. But the situation on the ground has become worse since then. Eighteen million of its 28 million inhabitants do not even have access to electricity.
Nepal, the mountainous Himalayan region between China and India, is marked by semi-feudal relations in the countryside. Agriculture accounts for 79 percent of employment, with industry largely limited to small-scale processing of jute and oilseed. The staggering unemployment especially in rural areas, is a continuing problem, whose solution is beyond the limits of limited program of bourgeois nationalism.
Maoists did not attempt to set up a real power in opposition to the bourgeois in Nepal, because their own program of the so-called ‘new democratic peoples national revolution’ does not go beyond the precincts of the program of the Nepali Bourgeois. As the CPN(M) leader Prachanda, had told the New York Times before the election day:
“We are fighting feudalism, we are not fighting against capitalism,” “In this phase of our socio-economic development, it is not possible to have a socialist revolution … We will create a conducive atmosphere to have more profit for the capitalist.”
In another interview, on 15.4.2008, Prachanda was quoted to have stated, “the capitalist globalisation is inevitable”.
It is not without reason that the reaction from the imperialist powers, that have historically dominated Nepal, to the electoral victory of Maoists in April 2008, was low-key. Both British and U.S. government officials hailed the elections for being peaceful. On its part, the CPN(M) continued talks with U.S. officials to lift Washington’s “terrorist” designation of the party.
BBC noted on April 16, 2008 that a “senior army figure, Brig. Gen. Shiva Ram Pradhan, has expressed the willingness of the military to work with the new government.” It added, “The chairman of the country’s chamber of commerce has praised Maoist leaders for their promise to listen to the private sector when working out economic policy.”
Only thing the paper revolutionaries forgot, in their enthusiasm to run the bourgeois government, was that in the estimation of bourgeois, the Nepali Congress and UML were the more time-tested and thus better executors for its program, instead of Maoists, who still were to prove their worth and credibility to the bourgeois.
Still refusing to dump their illusions in bourgeois democracy, the Maoists, have claimed that they would continue to fight for civilian supremacy, i.e. the supremacy of Parliament over the army. This clearly means an outright refusal on their part, still, to fight against the regime of bourgeois, as a whole, inclusive of both the Army and the parliament. The bourgeois, however, under no such illusions, seeks to use both the Parliament and the Army as the instruments, to assert its class power.
Meanwhile, speaking in the House at the start of the session, deputy parliamentary leader of the Unified CPN (Maoist) Narayankaji Shrestha said that “his party would not support the new government but, as the opposition party, will play strong role in writing the new constitution and bringing the peace process to a conclusion”.
In a recent interview given on May 30, 2009, C.P. Gajurel, a CC member of the UCPN(M) and head of its international department, repeated the same demagogy: “If we have an anti-feudal and anti-imperialist constitution, if we can institute a real peoples’ republic, the next step will be the creation of a national army under civilian supremacy and in the service of the socialist oriented economic structure, the transformation to a New Nepal.” Further he said “We will use our greater numbers in the CA to create a constitution that will transform Nepal”.
The Maoists who claim to have devised a new ‘Prachanda Path’ to 21st century revolution, have virtually found their way instead to the dark tunnel leading to re-stabilisation of bourgeois regime in Nepal. Once inside it, the Maoists themselves were desperate to seek a way out, which they found in the abdication of their seat in government. The false Stalinist theory of revolution in stages- Capitalism today, Socialism tomorrow- as practised by its later adherents, the Maoists, and more recently by Nepali Maoists, claiming that theirs is a ‘National democratic Revolution’ and not the Socialist one, proved to be a trap for the revolution. After forming the Government, the Maoists could not take even a step ahead, rather continued to backslide on the slopes of the ‘Prachanda Path’. They could not even touch upon even the borders of the most cherished land reforms in rural Nepal. They failed to recruit even a single PLA cadre, of the 19,000 strong of them awaiting employment, into the Nepalese Army. On the contrary they disbanded the Revolutionary Councils, the organs of peoples’ power in villages and returned the lands seized during the one decade long partisan war.
Commenting on the surrendering of power in rural Nepal by disbanding revolutionary councils, Gajurel said that , “without doing this we would not have been able to have the opportunity to win the elections in the Constituent Assembly or run the government. We gave up power but actually spread the mass base in a new way”.
Though, apparently it was a kick out of the Maoists, after unseating them from the government, yet the Maoist leaders describe the same as part of their conscious strategy. To quote from the interview of Mr. Gajurel “The experience of being in government was not a failure; it contributed to our revolutionary process in many ways”. After saying this, in the next breath claims Gajurel- “We have to see that in reality. Seeing what happened recently, in the struggle during the last few weeks, the participation in the government did not completely work actually. We have had to make a new turn in withdrawing from the government, but we are still participating in the democratic process”.
As the self abnegating statements show, it is more than an open secret now that the Maoists have lost all orientation. After losing their base in rural peasantry they have also lost themselves in urban Nepal, as instead of orienting themselves towards the proletariat, they still continue to pin their great hopes upon the bourgeois forces, institutions and parties. The romance with bourgeois put to an end, the Maoists now stand nowhere.
The bourgeois in Nepal, however, historically unable to resolve the pressing tasks facing the backward country, is bound to invite the wrath of the working people, sooner than later. The Stalinist and Maoist parties, however, would only play their role in holding back the workers and peasants from turning over the old regime. The crisis of leadership can only be solved with the intervention of genuine forces of revolution, oriented towards the working class and taking to the leadership of the toiling mass. The revolution in Nepal will advance, but only in direct opposition to the bourgeois power, and not in collaboration with it.

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