Revolution in South Asia

An Internationalist Info Project

Maoists of India on Nepali Events

Posted by Mike E on May 29, 2008

Nepal’s Maoists [the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) – CPN(M)] have pursued what they have called a hybrid approach to revolution: they have alternated between insurrection and guerrilla war. They have waged armed struggle to consolidate a system of revolutionary power in base areas and then launched political offensives to broaden their support. They have maintained their revolutionary army while participating in historic elections to a Constituent Assembly — legitimizing their claim to popular support and making it more difficult for international enemies to portray them as “terrorists.” All of these methods have been highly controversial — since they have broken with assumptions and models that have been influential among Maoists, and because they have involved (as the CPN (Maoist) itself says) a great deal of political risk.

Meanwhile, the Nepali Maoists have made an effort to assure their large neighbors that a New Nepal will not function as a base for cross border instigation — either into Tibet or into the impoverished areas of nearby India. The Nepali Maoists have ties to Maoist forces within India who are waging a guerrilla war in many part of the country, and they also face the threat of counterrevolutionary actions by the Indian government (which has, at one time or another, invaded or threatened all of its smaller neighbors). This has given rise to a situation where the Nepali Maoists have called for peaceful relations with their non-revolutionary neighbors, while affirming their ideological ties to revolutionary communists world-wide.

This raises in a beginning way a complex and historic issue for the revolutionary movement — how to handle the real contradictions between the state interests of revolutionaries holding power and the strategic interests of revolutionaries elsewhere who are straining to seize power. The Nepali Maoists have not yet seized power (in the sense that they have not yet defeated or dispersed the army that historically supported their oppressors). However they are already seeking to anticipate the problems they will face as they seek to transform Nepal in revolutionary directions — surrounded by powerful states that fear the contagion of revolution crossing their borders.

The following piece is a discussion of these matters from Maoists in nearby India (CPI-Maoist), who have historically criticized the Nepali approach to communist strategy and ideology. The interview appeared in several parts in The Hindu on May 16 and 17, 2008.

CPN(Maoist) Chairman Prachanda said in an interview on May 17 concerning this hybrid approach to “ballot and bullet”:

“There should be a serious discussion in the matter inside the Maoists of India. A strong message has already gone to the Maoists of India and Maoists all over the world about our victory.”

Interviews -Part-1

‘Uphill task for Nepal Maoists’

by K. Srinivas Reddy (from The Hindu, 16-05-08)

Given the present coalition, enacting the much-promised laws will be an almost impossible task. A real, bitter and cruel struggle for power will unfold, says Indian Maoist spokesperson Azad.

Delicate situation: Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) leaders Prachanda (right) and Baburam Bhattarai have to balance powerful forces to carry on with their people’s agenda.

Coalition politics will prove to be the biggest bottleneck for the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) to take up the promised reforms in the Himalayan country. A bitter and cruel power struggle will now unfold in Nepal as no radical restructuring of the system can be taken up through state decrees and laws. This sums up the Indian Maoists’ point of view on the emerging situation in Nepal. In a detailed ‘prepared interview,’ in which questions and answers were framed by the party itself, Indian Maoist spokesperson Azad speaks on a variety of issues confronting the Maoists in Nepal. The text of the prepared interview was sent to The Hindu on Wednesday.

Excerpts from the text:

The results of the Nepal Constituent Assembly (CA) polls have been overwhelmingly in favour of the Maoists, a development least anticipated. How does your party in India, the CPI (Maoist), look at the election results in Nepal?

The election results demonstrate the overwhelming anger of the masses against the outdated feudal monarchic rule in Nepal, the domination of India and the U.S., and the feudal parties which betrayed the masses for too long. They are a reflection of the growing aspirations of the Nepali masses for democracy, land, livelihood and genuine freedom from imperialist and feudal exploitation. It is these aspirations that completely trounced the parties that supported the king and the Indian ruling classes.

When an alternative like the CPN(M) came to the fore with an open commitment to abolish the feudal monarchy, abrogate all unequal treaties signed with India, and ensure democracy and equality for all, the masses veered towards it. Our party looks at the results as a positive development with enormous significance for the people of entire South Asia.

What do you think are the reasons for the success of Maoists in elections?

There are six major reasons: One, the masses of Nepal had enough of King Gyanendra’s autocratic and authoritarian rule. When they found an opportunity to throw it, out they grabbed it. There was never such an opportunity during earlier elections. Only the CPN (M) had shown its firm commitment to abolish the monarchy and it became the only alternative.

Two, the masses were fed up with Indian domination. Nepal had suffered too long under the unequal treaties signed with India such as the 1950 Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship, the Mahakali Treaty, and so on. India always had an eye on the natural wealth of Nepal, and it supported the monarchy and advocated the so-called two-pillar theory of supporting the King as well as the Nepali Congress. It trained, supplied arms to the Royal Nepal Army, and sent all sorts of aid to contain the Maoist revolutionaries in Nepal. These acts fuelled the anger of the masses. They voted for the CPN (M), as no other party showed the guts to confront India.

Three, Nepal’s masses had enough of exploitation, oppression and intervention of the U.S. imperialists. Throughout the rule of King Gyanendra, and even until today, the U.S. stood by his side. It placed the CPN(M) on its list of terrorist outfits. This was a grave insult to the people.

Four, the CPN (M)’s promise to establish a democratic, federal, secular Nepal with freedom, democracy and equality for all the oppressed sections had an electrifying impact. For the first time, the oppressed sections were represented in the elections.

Five, the most important factor, is the positive impact created by the decade-long people’s war led by the Maoists. The Maoists established control over almost three-quarters of rural Nepal. Through the people’s revolutionary governments in the countryside, they carried out several reforms which brought the masses closer to them. The people’s war raised the political consciousness of the masses, enhanced their assertion, and roused their democratic aspirations. The growth of the mass movement for a CA all over Nepal was a logical offshoot of the people’s war. In this context, the parties that had been staging only shows in the name of fighting for a CA became irrelevant.

Lastly, though a less important factor, the support of local capitalists and a section of the traders who, even though they opposed the Maoists in general, thought that bringing them to power was the only guarantee for peace in Nepal.

Now that the Maoists have come to power, will they be able to carry out their promises?

This is the most difficult question to answer. The immediate problem is to get a coalition of forces that can meet the target of two-thirds majority in the CA to incorporate their radical reforms into the new Constitution. But to achieve a two-thirds majority, they have to rely on parties such as the NC and the social democratic UML. It is impossible to carry through the promised reforms with such a hotch-potch combination of forces. They will not be willing to be a party to the programme of the Maoists and will try to subvert any radical changes aimed at curtailing their own class interests. We believe that no radical restructuring of the system is possible without the militant mobilisation of the vast masses into bitter class struggle. It is impossible to make changes through measures initiated “from above,” that is, through state decrees and laws. To implement these laws, it is imperative to mobilise the masses and advance class struggle. Without this, the liberation of the poor is an impossible task.

And given the present coalition, even enacting the much-promised laws will be an almost impossible task. Hence a real, bitter and most cruel struggle for power will unfold. Lacking a majority in the CA, the Maoists will be powerless. They will have to compromise and adjust, sacrificing the interests of the oppressed in whose interests they came to power. Or they will have to mobilise the people and intensify the struggle through all means, including armed insurrection, to implement genuine democracy and establish people’s power. There is no other alternative.

How do you envisage the future scenario in Nepal? Will India and U.S. imperialism adjust to the new reality and support the Maoist government? Or, will they create hurdles?

We will be living in a fool’s paradise if we believe that the U.S. and India will be comfortable with the Maoists in Nepal or that they will adjust to the new reality. Although they will continue diplomatic relations, they will create an adverse situation if the new government does not obey their dictates. The U.S. tried its best to keep the monarchy alive as the King was a pawn to rule by proxy. As for India, it received a slap in its face when G.P. Koirala and his NC faced a defeat.

However, India has gained on another front. In the Tarai region, it supported the two Madhesi parties which won many seats. India will use these groups to create disturbances, if the new regime does not toe its line. Already, the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum has demanded that the Maoists should make their stand clear on the demand for Madhesi autonomy (Ek Madhes Ek Prades) and asked the Maoists to discontinue their relations with international forums like the RIM and CCOMPOSA.

Both U.S. and India can, for instance, hit at Nepal’s belly its economy by paralysing industrial production, blocking trade and supply lines thereby creating food shortages and shortage of consumer goods; in other words, they can squeeze Nepal through an economic blockade. This it will do if it thinks the new regime is going too far.

As it is, the situation in Nepal is delicate with almost 10 hours of load-shedding even in capital Kathmandu and a shortage of essential commodities. Nepal’s powerful neighbours can alter the balance through economic blackmail which could lead to social unrest and massive protests against the Maoists. Acute shortage of essential items and rising prices can lead to disenchantment with the fledgling regime and a dip in its popularity thereby giving an opportunity to the discredited parties to re-establish themselves. Thus the situation in Nepal will remain extremely delicate and unstable even though the Maoists have won an impressive electoral victory.

Comrades Prachanda and Bhattarai know this well and hence they have been appealing for India’s cooperation. They are on record that there will be no stability in Nepal without India’s cooperation. The fact that Nepal is a small country sandwiched between two powerful and big neighbours India and China and that it is a target for the U.S. imperialists make governance quite a difficult proposition. Hence the Maoists face an extremely difficult task ahead in balancing all these forces and carrying on with their people’s agenda.

Part- 2

‘The situation in Nepal and India are completely different’

K. Srinivas Reddy

The Hindu ,17-05-08

The ideological debates and discussions with the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) have to continue, says Indian Maoist spokespersonAzad.

In a prepared interview, Indian Maoist spokesperson Azad says that just coming to power through Parliament cannot lead to restructuring the system in Nepal. To the extent possible, the Maoists could use their relative control over the state to help the masses in their struggle for freedom, democracy and livelihood, he says. Excerpts from the interview, the first section of which was published on May 16.

Do you mean to say that the electoral victory of the Maoists in Nepal and their capture of state power through parliamentary means is a futile exercise and that it cannot bring the desired radical change in the social system?

I don’t exactly mean that. Control of state power, if they really can control, does give the Maoists a means to defend the gains accrued during the long years of revolutionary war and to effect radical changes in the social system. But this will be difficult to achieve through the type of state power that has fallen into the hands of the Maoists at the present juncture. In fact, even in classical revolutions as in China, where the Communist revolutionaries had seized power through an armed revolution, Mao had warned of the danger of the rise of a new class by virtue of their positions in the state machinery. After Mao, the state had degenerated into a machinery of oppression and suppression of the vast masses. The lesson that we Communists had learnt from this experience is that the party should concentrate on organising the masses and mobilising them to rebel against all types of injustice and exploitation perpetrated by state and party bureaucrats.

In Nepal, where the Maoists came to power in alliance with the ruling classes, it is an even more urgent task to continue the class struggle by organising the masses against all forms of exploitation and oppression. To the extent possible, the Maoists could use their relative control over the state to help the masses in their struggle for freedom, democracy and livelihood. Basic change could be achieved through the continuation of class struggle, for which the state can, at best, render some help.

Sitaram Yechury of the CPI(M), [note: this refers to the CPI-Marxist, a non-revolutionary ruling party in West Bengal) among several others, have said that Indian Maoists have to learn from Nepal’s experiences and take the parliamentary road to come to power. What does your party say on this?

Why Yechury alone? Even the police in States where the Maoist movement is strong had said that before. Politicians had been harping on the same theme ever since the revisionists began participating in Parliament in our country. Some said the Maoist victory in Nepal would have a demonstration effect on the Maoists in India.

Those who say this forget that the situation in Nepal and India are completely different. In Nepal the immediate political task was a struggle against the monarchy, which brought about a measure of unity among various parties and a broad section of the people. The king had created a situation where all forces had to close ranks and wage a struggle for democracy.

In India, it’s a fight against the semi-colonial, semi-feudal social system of which the parliamentary system is a part and parcel. All the parliamentary parties obey the dictates of the imperialists, and hence stand in the counter-revolutionary camp. Here the immediate task is a struggle for land, livelihood and the liberation of the masses.

Secondly, these social democrats, in their attempt to laud their parliamentary line, consciously underplay and hush up the experiences of Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, etc. Nicaragua is an example, where the Sandinista National Liberation Front took power in 1979 by overthrowing the Somoza family. Though the Sandinistas brought massive changes, the U.S. armed and trained private armies called the Contras to fight the Sandinistas and created economic problems by enforcing a trade embargo. The Sandinistas agreed to hold elections in 1990 after peace negotiations with the U.N., but they lost to a right-wing coalition of 14 opposition parties. Massive U.S. funding and support from the reactionary classes of Nicaraguan society, combined with a grave economic crisis, led to the defeat of the Sandinistas.

These social democrats also underplay the tremendous impact of the decade-long people’s war on the Nepali masses. They have over 40 years of experience in parliamentary politics. What basic changes have they brought in the system? Without their support the ruling UPA government headed by Manmohan Singh would not have dared to carry out the anti-people policies.

There is little wonder they have been asking the Indian Maoists to follow suit. Our party firmly believes that a basic change in the system cannot be achieved through the parliamentary path but through class struggle. In our country this takes the form of an armed agrarian revolutionary war. We, of course, do not reject other forms of struggle and organisation, besides armed struggle and armed organisation, and you would have realised this if you are a keen observer of our movement.

The task before the revolutionaries is to destroy and reconstruct the entire economic, social, political, cultural institutions. Just coming to power through Parliament cannot lead to a restructuring of the system.

Prachanda and Bhattarai had declared that they are willing to invite FDI and to create a business-friendly environment in Nepal. They also said that they would encourage capitalism. Is it correct for a Maoist party to invite foreign investment and develop capitalism?

Nepal is an extremely backward country that lacks the minimum infrastructure and industrial production. It is part of the fourth world, if we can call it so. The U.N. has placed it in the category of Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Hence the first task in Nepal would be to liberate the vast masses from the feudal clutches and develop industry on that basis. As regards developing capitalism in Nepal there need not be any objection from revolutionaries as long as it is national capitalism and is properly regulated to meet the needs of the masses and is directed towards the growth of the internal economy and not for exports or to serve the imperialists. But if the encouragement is for the inflow of foreign capital it will be detrimental to the interests of the country in the long run.

In the past, the Maoists had opposed private institutions in the health and education sectors. But now Prachanda has promised to remove whatever hurdles that may arise in the private sector. We have been hearing reports of talks between the Maoist leaders and the officials of the World Bank. If these reports are true then it could have dangerous consequences for the future of Nepal.

How do you foresee future relations between your party and the CPN(M)? Given the fact that the Indian state does not want the Maoists of Nepal to maintain relations with Indian Maoists, and considering that the demands made by the MJF in this regard constitute a clear indication of growing Indian pressure, will fraternal relations between the two parties continue as before?

We believe and desire that fraternal relations between the CPI (Maoist) and the CPN (Maoist) should continue as before. As long as both the parties stand firmly committed to proletarian internationalism, international pressures and internal pressures will not come in the way.

Of course, there is bound to be increasing pressure from various quarters on the Nepal Maoists to cut off their relations with other Maoist parties. Particularly India and the U.S. will exert utmost pressure in this regard. We do understand the complexity of the situation. Comrade Prachanda had correctly said that ideological ties between the two parties will remain intact. And we believe the ideological debates and discussions have to continue. The various international forums such as CCOMPOSA [note: a framework for discussion and cooperation between the various Maoist forces of South Asia) should continue with their aims and activities in spite of the new situation that has arisen.

What do you have to say about Comrade Prachanda’s comment in an interview he gave The Hindu: “For the Indian Maoist party, its leaders and cadres, these efforts of ours provide some new material to study, to think about and go ahead in a new way. Our efforts provide a reference point.”?

As Marxists we must study critically any phenomena, particularly new experiences. Yet we should not come to hasty conclusions but must carefully observe the outcome of such efforts. All these need to be assessed from a class viewpoint and not a non-class approach. Marxism is a science and it gives the tools to analyse all social phenomena scientifically. This we need to do for the experiment in Nepal or any other. Of course, we have already many historical precedents. These too should be considered and the Nepal experience seen as part of this and not in isolation.

One Response to “Maoists of India on Nepali Events”

  1. […] Maoists of India on Nepali Events […]

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