Revolution in South Asia

An Internationalist Info Project

Nepal: A matter of class interest!

Posted by n3wday on September 22, 2008

This article was published in the Red Star.
A matter of class interest!

Red Star Reporter

Leaders of Nepali Congress (NC), as well as some leaders of the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist) are talking against the latest comment of the Maoist Chairman and Prime Minister Prachanda about the goal of the party. Foreign Imperialist powers like the United States and Britain are backing them.

PM Prachanda clarified about ‘Parliamentary system’ while answering queries raised by Constituent Assembly members on the policies and programs of the government. He said in a clear remark that-”Since the country has been passing through a transitional phase, it can neither remain static by following the parliamentary system nor can it adopt socialism outright. All multi-party systems in the world are not parliamentary democracies.”

Furthermore, PM Prachanda during his visit in India said that Nepal is going to experiment with a new democratic system. He added-”We have not tried to practice formal parliamentary democracy or a one party communist dictatorship. We have tried to go ahead with a new democratic system in between the two systems.”

After Prachanda’s comment the NC, some UML leaders and Terai Madhesh Democratic Party (TMDP) leaders openly criticised Prachada’s statement. In the meantime, US ambassador to Nepal, Nancy J Powell, met with former Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and UML former General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal and discussed Prachanda’s remarks. Likewise, British ambassador joined the relay and showed his concern over the remarks of the Prime Minister. He also handed a letter written by the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to Koirala.

While signing In the 12-points understanding with the parliamentary parties made in November 2005, the CPN-Maoist had agreed to overthrow the Monarchy and establish a Republic with a progressive political direction. On the 3rd point it is clearly stated that–”Therefore, we are committed to ending autocratic monarchy and the existing armed conflict, and establishing permanent peace in the country through constituent assembly elections and forward-looking political outlet. The CPN (Maoist) expresses its commitment to move along the new peaceful political stream through this process.”

However, the attempt of the NC with the other parties is not new one, as it has tried to demolish the government from the very first day. Everyday, NC leaders say that this government will last long. Even the NC has a commitment to democratic Socialism in its manifesto, so why are they afraid of the term ‘socialism’?

At the same time, the UML is afraid of the Maoist comment on the Parliamentary system; yet the CPN-UML is known as a Communist Party. So is a Parliamentary system the ultimate goal of a Communist party? Moreover, why did Nancy J Powell meet with Madhav Kuamr Nepal? Many feel that Madhav Kumar Nepal is loyal to the US; so how should people understand this meeting while the general secretary of the UML is Jhalanath Khanal at present? Is the parliamentary system what the UML want to achieve? If so, Madhav Kumar Nepal should propose changing his party name.

The ambassadors of the US and the UK have shown that they want to check the Maoist through the parliamentary system. The parliamentary system is their ‘litmus paper’. However, an obvious question arises-who are they to test the Maoist and comment on the people’s choice in Nepal? They should honour the Nepali People’s choice and decision in choosing their political system. Will they be happy if a Nepal ambassador suggests to American or British politicians that they should adopt Socialism.

For centuries, the parliamentary system has a failed. The Nepali people are all aware of its characteristics. They understand the two-party dictatorship in US and Britain. People in these countries have no choice to choose between bad and worse. The whole world can see their parliamentary democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Nepal, for the past 15 years, the parliamentary leaders have shown enough the real nature the parliamentary system.

The CPN-Maoist has never agreed to the parliamentary system. It has only agreed to struggle to achieve its goal through peaceful means. The Nepali people have rejected the failed and infamous parliamentary system and shown their inclination towards socialism. The overwhelming support for the Maoist in the CA election has shown this.

4 Responses to “Nepal: A matter of class interest!”

  1. Ka Frank said

    Putting aside the question of how and to what extent the CPN (Maoist) plans to break out of the parliamentary system and move towards socialism, aren’t the Maoists working within such a system now? Red Star Reporter says that “the CPN (Maoist) has never agreed to the parliamentary system,” but it seems the party has agreed to work within it, and has made this the centerpiece of its political strategy at this point.

    I have been asked in a previous post to explain my view, but it seems that you have a parliamentary system constituted through recent elections, the formation of a cabinet by the new parliament with Prachanda as Prime Minister, and the CPN (Maoist) has centered its efforts on the elections and now on government policy, and not on continuing class struggle outside the bounds of parliament. Am I missing something?

  2. n3wday said

    Ka Frank,

    I’m going to have to contradict you responding to the second part first.

    “and not on continuing class struggle outside the bounds of parliament.”

    This is simply not true (unless of course you only consider armed struggle legitimate). Various wings of the Maoist organization such as the YCL and their trade unions have been waging bitter class struggle through strikes, seizures of factories, and other actions. The only thing they haven’t been doing is waging actual armed struggle. I think there are reasons behind the recent issue with Yadav; primarily that he chose to engage in this action on the eve of land redistribution. My guess is the greater body of the CPN(M) viewed this as a leftist deviation.

    I think your characterization of the situation in Nepal isn’t really based on a whole lot.

    On the question of parliament. I believe their plans for the new federal structure and the proportional parliament system; which gives minimum requirements for representation among oppressed castes and women (as opposed to a liberal system) are part of the class struggle within the government itself.

    I need to review their proposal for a federal structure before I comment more.

    Here are three sources available on this site.

    Something worth looking into are the different ways each party conceives of federalism, and how those serve their class interest.

  3. arthur said

    Part 1 link is broken due to typo. Try here

    Nepal is fascinatingly diverse and complex and its hard to get up to speed enough to form much of an opinion about how the ways each party conceives of federalism serves their class interest.

    For what it’s worth my impression is that the Maoist concept is pretty firmly rooted in the orthodox democratic framework as elaborated by Stalin on Marxism and the National Question. This seems a pretty sure winner since they can always put it to a referendum in each of the proposed units to bypass any obstruction from the other parties.

    I haven’t studied the other major parties much beyond what’s in part 3. Impression I get is that UML and NC both oppose federalism with NC having nothing much to say about it due to general collapse and UML trying to “revise” it into something more like the old Nepal’s geographical tiers of government. That would perhaps serve the class interest of a bureaucrat boureoisie dependent on government employment, but it strikes me the overall class interest of both comprador and bureaucrat capitalism would not be inherently opposed to federalism. The UML’s problem may be that being based on comprador and bureaucrat capital (as well as a larger base of small traders etc) they have nationality contradictions with federalism as their leadership, like Congress, is overwhelmingly Khas Bahun-Chettri so genuine federalism means less dominance.

    MJF is much more complex as they now include much of forces of the previously under the Congress and UML’s specifically from Madheshis. They do genuinely want autonomy for Madheshis and have no dreams of Madheshis dominating Hill regions, so inherently also supportive of autonomy for others outside the Terai.

    However their class position is connected with semi-feudal landlords trying to divert a mass base of poor and landless Madheshi peasants into fighting “Hill people” instead of fighting landlordism. They want Madheshis to take pride in oppressing other nationalities in Terai including Tharus who dominate the West and various minorities important in the East rather than worrying about the fact that very few Madheshis have much stake in anything other than ethnic identity since a tiny minority owns the wealth. They also want to highlight Hindi as lingua franca of the Madhesh (which it is) in opposition to Nepali as the dominant language of the dominant community from the Hills (which it also is) negating the fact that Nepali is also the lingua franca for Nepal as a whole (which it also is). They also want to de-emphasize the various major dialects of Hindi (eg Awadhi, Bhojpuri and Maithili) that are the actual mother tongues of Madheshis since emphasizing them tends to reinforce Nepali as the national (including Terai) lingua franca rather than Hindi as a Madheshi lingua franca.

    Here again the orthodox democratic approach of self-determination strikes me as a winner. Whatever Madheshis want, referenda in the West Terai can confirm Tharuwat autonomy and in the East Terai can confirm a non-Madheshi state for the various minorities there. Likewise within the geographically central part of Terai a referendum in Chitwan will confirm that district is overwhelmingly Khas and not Madheshi at all, so the Madhesh autonomous State will have to be divided into separate Eastern and Western enclaves or exclaves that would be difficult to separate from Nepal without open annexation by India.

    The MJF leadership also seems to be somewhat Mithila centric (and Yadav clannish). As to whether the Madhesh will establish 3 separate autonomous sub-states, that again would be ultimately up to referenda. If they decide to adopt Hindi there isn’t much Hills people or other nationalities in East or West Terai could or should do about it. If any of the non-Mithila districts of the Madhesh want sub-autonomy there isn’t much the Mithila speaking leadership of the MJF could do about that. It’s not that clear to me whether there is much basis for sub-autonomy. eg the proposed Awadhi sub-state apparantly has two districts with a majority of Awadhi speakers separated by one district that is overshelmingly dominated by Bhojpuri speakers, with an overall majority of Bhojpuri rather than Awadhi.

    Central point worth grasping is that the diversity is not eradicable. Different communities are intermingled in the rural as well as urban areas, at least in neighbouring villages and sometimes in the same village. Many of the poor and landless peasants in the Madhesh (and other strata too) are immigrants from the Hills and Tharu don’t just live in the Eastern part of the Terai etc etc. The Kathmandu Valley has a large majority of non-Newari speakers. The autonomous states can only provide recognition of the diversity of nepal rather than a basis for actual secession to form multiple nations or to annex part to India. As far as I can make out the only ethnically homogonous regions are in the Western Hills dominated by Khas. That is a Maoist stronghold. There is no way you can territorially separate castes or genders and no reason to fear secession by any of the nationalities, none of which is viable as a separate nation.

    I’m not at all clear as to how any of the federal proposals relate to mountain people, many of whom are of Tibetan ethnicities and with some local economic connections to Tibet while being more tied to internal trade with other districts of Nepal. The social structures are quite different (eg there is a local Kingdom in Mustang district that has had to accommodate to a Maoist presence from outside the district).

    PS I emphasize again “impression” and “for what its worth”. That isn’t worth very much for anyone who, like me, doesn’t speak any of the languages or dialects and has never lived there. Also apologies for mis-spellings.

  4. N3wDay said

    Thanks Arthur,

    Very interesting commentary. Nepal news also put out a series about federalism (which I believe I provided a link to under ‘part 3’) that have some more developed views of federalism put out by a few intellectuals that don’t overtly appear (from my brief glances) to be attached to any parties.

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