Revolution in South Asia

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Archive for April 16th, 2008

Leupp: A Maoist Sweep — Electoral Revolution in Nepal

Posted by Rosa Harris on April 16, 2008

By Gary Leupp

The following article appeared on Counterpunch Apri1 16, 2008.

It ought to be the ballot heard ’round the world. It ought to be front page news. But chances are you haven’t yet learned that the Maoists of Nepal have apparently swept to power in an election that international monitors acknowledge was free and fair. Having led a People’s War from 1996 to 2006, having suspended the armed struggle and making a strategic decision to seek power through electoral means, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has apparently acquired an absolute majority in national elections for a constitutional assembly.

Prime Minister Girija Koirala, representing the Nepali Congress Party, has congratulated CPI(M) leader on the success of his party. The Congress Party, aligned with its Indian counterpart and traditionally supportive of the Nepali monarchy and its Hindu religious trappings, seems to have come in a distant third in the national vote, behind the Communist Party (United Marxist-Leninist). The latter, having spurned Maoist overtures to unite, is in crisis; its leader has resigned and declared it “morally inappropriate” to continue to participate in the current coalition government.

It looks as though Maoist leader Prachanda will emerge as national leader under the presidential system his party advocates. The constitutional assembly will shape a new Nepal as a secular republic. Land reform, laws against debt servitude and child marriage, laws liberating “outcastes” will follow. The Maoists regard Nepal as a pre-capitalist country, which requires a period of capitalist development before it can embark on socialist construction. They say they welcome foreign investment and tourism. They want friendly relations with neighboring China and India. They want to build a railroad conveying Buddhist pilgrims from Tibet to Nepali religious sites. They want, with some help from Jimmy Carter, to persuade the U.S. State Department to remove their name fro the list of “international terrorist organizations.”

They also want to plant the Red Flag on Mt. Everest, big enough so it might be seen from the moon, like the Great Wall of China. That’s what they’ve said.

Realism and poetry. A vision for today, and for tomorrow. The Maoists of India (in particular, the Communist Party of India [Maoist]) continue their People’s War, creating the red corridor that extends from Andra Pradesh up to the Nepali border. They have expressed doubts about the Nepali comrades’ strategy of participation in elections, and emphasized their dedication to Mao’s dictum that “political power grows out of the barrel of the gun.” But they will take heart in the Nepali Maoists’ victory. Unless the Nepali Army (formerly the Nepal Royal Army and still led by pro-monarchist and anti-communist generals), or external forces move to prevent the Maoists’ rise to power, Nepal will emerge as the base-area of global revolution. That’s something else the Maoists have said.

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Nepal: And Now the Question of Armies….

Posted by Rosa Harris on April 16, 2008

by Mike Ely

Two of Mao’s most famous sayings come to mind, over and over, while studying events in Nepal:

“Political power grows from the barrel of a gun.”

“The people and the people alone are the motive force in history.”

The first one should be a reminder: Leading a government is not the same as seizing state power. Winning an election is a sign of who has won the hearts of the people, but state power ultimately rests on the question of who controls military forces within the country.

That was the heart of the political dilemma, and the tragedy, in Chile (over the early 1970s): The socialist forces of Salvadore Allende won the hearts of the votes, and won the presidency, but did not have the organized military force to face (or defeat) the reactionary Chilean army. The CIA and Chilean high command plotted a military coup, that unleashed a vicious counterrevolution. Allende was killed in the coup, and many thousands of radical activists and supporters were rounded up, tortured and murdered.

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Nepal: Interview with Baburam Bhattarai

Posted by Rosa Harris on April 16, 2008

Bhattarai speaking The following interview was conducted by Nepali times, and posted on Democracy and Class Struggle.

Baburam Bhattarai pointed to a bouquet in his study and said: “People who never looked at us before are coming here to give me flowers.” Flanked by portraits of Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao, the chief ideologue of the Maoists spoke to Nepali Times on Tuesday about sleepless nights, his party’s economic agenda and about whether he’d been offered the prime ministership.

Nepali Times: How does it feel to arrive here after the long journey from a village in Gorkha?

Baburam Bhattarai: There is a deep sense of responsibility, and that comes from the fact that I was born in an ordinary village family, my mother can’t read or write, my father is a farmer. As a child I used to tend livestock and help in the farm, and when I went to high school I had to carry water and cook for myself. From that to be able to go to a good school and be educated, and to have that contrast in one lifetime is fascinating in a way. But now we have been brought to this position where we have to try to resolve issues of national importance, there are enormous aspirations, there is lots to do but we have very little time and resources. It makes us somewhat anxious, thinking about whether we can do it or not. There are sleepless nights, getting up at three in the morning and not being able to go back to sleep.

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