Revolution in South Asia

An Internationalist Info Project

Bhattarai: Revolt impossible, forge consensus

Posted by Winston on April 25, 2011

The hammer and sickle flew next to the flags of the conservative parties when all Nepal's political forces united against the King. With the King gone from power, can they stay united? Should they stay united?

As Nepal’s Maoists argue sharply over whether a New Democratic revolution is possible, advocates of both sides of the debate are going to the media. This interview, originally published at Myrepublica, takes place with Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai. Bhattarai is a Vice-Chairman of the party, was Finance Minister in the Maoist-led government of 2008, and was the head of the parallel revolutionary government during the People’s War. He opposes a strategy of people’s revolt, arguing the international and domestic situation makes the success of such a revolt impossible. Instead he argues the Maoists must compromise and seek consensus with the old, conservative political parties to draft a new constitution.

There are reports that your party is changing its official line to launch a revolt? Is it true? 

Pushing for the conclusion of peace process and constitution drafting is the official party line. We have only said that forward-looking changes and socio-economic transformations should be ensured in the constitution. If this is prevented, people have the right to revolt. We are only using the Marxist terminology, but in the tactical and immediate sense, we have been clearly saying that we would move ahead through peace and constitution. That is the official line of the party and we are going to clarify the existing confusion about that point.

Your party chairman prepared a political document in a secluded resort on the outskirts of Kathmandu. What type of political strategy are you expecting from him?

The politburo meeting will make a critical evaluation of the current situation and the possible scenario post May 28 and determine the appropriate policy accordingly. This means there is no option but to conclude the peace process and write the constitution. We will do all that we can do on the peace and constitution front in the remaining 38 days. We should avoid any situation leading to dissolution of the Constituent Assembly (CA) before the completion of constitution drafting and peace process. Otherwise, there will be constitutional vacuum, and a real risk of losing the democratic gains made so far. That´s why our discussion and debates (at the politburo meeting) would focus on taking the peace process and constitution drafting as far as possible, and taking initiative for national consensus and consensus-based government.

One of the options to defer a constitutional vacuum is to extend the CA term. Are you also in favor of promulgating a ´brief constitution´ as another option?

It is not that we cannot mull that option. But I think it is also necessary to follow the obvious constitution drafting procedures; constitution-drafting by a CA is different from the process of a commission. The remaining 38 days would not be sufficient to collect public opinion, discuss them in the CA, and follow other necessary procedures. So we should first prepare the preliminary draft of the constitution, garner consensus on standard norms and modality for PLA integration, and then extend the CA term. Without fulfilling these basic requirements the CA term extension is impossible. Similarly people are also talking about holding fresh elections by dissolving the CA, but that is also impossible because there is no such provision in the interim constitution. The CA election is different from the periodic parliamentary elections.

Dr Baburam Bhattarai

But the problem is that who would lead a consensus government? Has not that always been problematic?

Mistakes were committed during the past three years of the peace process. We should learn from the past, though we are at the last stage. We abandoned the provision of consensus-based politics and that did not help to take the peace process ahead. We should correct these mistakes. Better late than never.

Then who will lead the consensus government?

It is a matter for consensus. There would not be consensus if everyone claims the post of prime minister. First there should be an agreement in principle that the country needs a consensus government. Then we should do whatever is appropriate, pragmatic and acceptable to all.

All we are saying is that there should be peace and constitution. There is no option to peace and constitution. The scheduled politburo meeting would further clarify this point.      

17 Responses to “Bhattarai: Revolt impossible, forge consensus”

  1. siva said

    Mao answered the question: “Where are the bourgeoisie in a socialist society?” by saying that they were right inside the party.

    Bhattarai is an early starter: He did not wait for the revolution to succeed.

  2. mar-wey said

    How did this Bhattarai in a maoist party? . . and holding a very sensitive post?

  3. Alastair Reith said

    There are now two lines in the UCPN (M) – forward to revolt? Or backward to ‘consensus’?

    The people of Nepal must decide their own destiny.

  4. siva said

    Mar-wey,
    Much worse people have been in Communist Parties that made revolutions.
    Some of them reform some of them degenerate in the course of the revolution and after.
    Let us trust that the Nepali Maoists will sooner than later sort out the problem.

  5. I agree with friends Shiva and Mar–Wey. Really how man as Bhattarai is holding the key post in Maoist party? It is a matter of irony. It is a matter of deep sorrow.But now, not only Bhattarai Prachanda also standing side by side with him. We fought ten years people’s war with Pen and Gun. we loosed 13000 our beloved dear ones. But now? In the name of Peace and constitution they are betraying the revolution. Not only no, also before 2006 Bhattarai was pleading bourgeois democracy and sub–stage. It is not new thing for him. He is known as a reformist and pro–Indian ‘leader” in the Maoist party . But what about Prachanda ? Now he has also come out in his true color,in his real face advocating the peace and constitution. But we have bright side also. revolutionaries have raised the flag of revolution in the leadership of Comrade MOhan Baidhya ‘Kiran’.If you want more and mora about revolutionary activities of UCPN–Maoist, please visit the website thenextfront.com

  6. Rajesh said

    Great to hear the brave words from Rishi. We urge Kiran to stand firm and provide leadership in this critical phase of Nepalese revolution.

  7. maitri said

    bhattarai is only being realistic and talking sense. as the maoist party are following bhattarai’s line, perhaps it would be better if bhattarai was the leader of the party rather than Prachanda?

  8. siva said

    Is Maithri being realistic or wishes that thw Nepal revolution be doomd so that Maithri could boastfully claim “I told you so”?

    The inner party struggle is far from over and each revolutionary struggle, the world over, has had its ups and downs.

    A more positive attitude for those who want revolution would be to identify the erroneous line and its backers, expose and denounce them, while identifying the correct ones, those who can be persuaded to adopt it that way and encouraging them.

    This is hardly the time to be negative.

  9. maitri said

    siva- i;m not being negative. as it goes; i think the nepali revolution has been over for a while, and it carries on to exist mainly as political rhetoric. the party has made the transition from a revolutionary party to a revisionist one quite a while ago. Bhattarai knows it and doesn;t pretend, Prachanda and Kiran still pretend as though there is a revolution when there really isn’t one. I would like to ask you though; is there a Maoist party without Prachanda? and what if Prachanda has made a compromise with the imperialists or been bought off?

    I think Bhattarai has a realistic plan, and it is progressive and similar to the old plan of the CPI M in Bengal. not a revolution, but not all negative either. the world does have its ups and downs, but so what? dogmatic faith will not get you anywhere.

  10. Kumar Sarkar said

    Whether or not people’s democratic revolution and thereby advance to socialism, is possible in the present situation in Nepal, can be decided PRIMARILY by those, who are on the ground. Internationally, those parties, groups or individuals, who have appropriate experiences can offer advice and ADVICE only.

    Internationally, our task is to organise actions of solidarity with the oppressed people of Nepal. WE CANNOT DO THIS IF THE LEADERSHIP OF THESE STRUGGLES CANNOT DECIDE ON A STRATEGY AND IMPLEMENT IT WITH APPROPRIATE TACTICS. The leadership of the UCPN(Maoist)is failing repetitively to do just that. It seems, the Party does not see any obligation on its part to explain to anyone outside, its frequent changes in tactics.

    One does not know why a Congress has not been called over 20 years! And how a Plenum can be a substitute for it, and why even the decisions of a Plenum can be overturned by a meeting of the Central Committee or by the Party Chairman.

    It goes without saying that under the prevailing circumstances, actions of international solidarity cannot be organised…….Solidarity with what?!

  11. Siva said

    Dear Maitri, kindly tell me what is ‘dogmatic’ about faith in a revolutionary struggle. One can be counter-revolutionary and be truly ‘dogmatic’.

    I cannot readily dump the different lines in a party and its spokesperson into one basket to claim to be realistic.

    The Nepali situation is complex and there is a need to consoilidate the party behind the line adopted by the party. If you cannot tell the difference between Bhattarai’s line and the line adopted by the party, that is too bad.

    I would rather be ‘dogmatic’ and encourage the revolutionary line, rather than prescribe the realistic line of Bhattarai.

  12. maitri said

    Dear Maitri, kindly tell me what is ‘dogmatic’ about faith in a revolutionary struggle. One can be counter-revolutionary and be truly ‘dogmatic’.- Siva

    ok Siva- it is ‘faith’ in revolutionary struggle. faith is a religious category. one can be dogmatic about anything, including counter-revoulution or anything else. but so what? where does that get you? i think the party’s line is bhattarai’s line, with some of Prachanda’s dressing to keep the ‘faithful’ like you on board. the problem with blind faith is that it is easy to manipulate.

    It goes without saying that under the prevailing circumstances, actions of international solidarity cannot be organised…….Solidarity with what?!- Kumar Sarkar

    Quite right! solidarity with what? Com.Kiran faction? Matrika Yadav? Mani Thapa?

  13. Rajesh said

    I agree with Maitri that the “party’s line is Bhattarai’s line”. Hence, the party is under the grip of reformist leadership

    The line advocated by Kiran is basically revolutionary, but it is in minority. And, there is less likely that Kiran will take firm stand and will reorganize the party.

    However, there is still some hope and it is normal and natural that we keep hope till the last stage.

    In my opinion, the demobilization or activation of PLA (though there could be divisions!) is the final point for a final call. Hence, I request Maitri and other comrades to wait for that day.

    The decision point is quite close, may be, it will take another 2-3 months. Prachanda is in hurry to grab the chair of the PM and naturally, liquidation of PLA is the only capability he has to prove.

    As far as international solidarity is in consideration, it is simply complicated. Solidarity with Nepalese people in general and with revolutionaries at large in particular (an abstract form of solidarity!) is possible, but in concrete sense, it is too difficult to mobilize support and to take sides.

    Our role is limited. We could ask Kiran and his comrades to take revolutionary line and oppose all forms of acts and actions of liquidation; we could urge Matrka Yadav and his comrades to start dialogue with Kiran and Mani Thapa and their comrades to defend the cause of revolution in Nepal. If nothing happens, this glorious phase of Nepalese revolution will be over. However, the revolution will take shape with a new departure point at a higher spiral.

  14. Kumar Sarkar said

    Comments from Rajesh have been very helpful for which I must thank him. In the light of these comments and my previous knowledge of the situation in Nepal, several questions arise:

    a. The line i.e. ‘revolt IF constitution-writing fails’, which I believe is the AGREED party line, what are the interpretations? I have come across the following – 1. Writing constitution is the priority, with no deadline. 2. writing constitution with a deadline, after that revolt 3. writing constitution is the only way forward, with any necessary compromise, otherwise CA will be dissolved with India’s blessings followed by the comeback of monarchy. 4. For Nepal, for the moment at least, there is no revolutionary path available.

    b. Is this constitution a ‘People’s Democracy’ constitution? Or, a bourgeois democratic one? How does anyone expect the feudals and bourgeois democrats to accept a constitution of People’s Democracy via the CA?!

    c. New forces, mainly opportunists, were allowed to join, intentionally, which revolutionaries could not stop. One such force Masal(?) actually had opposed the people’s war. With these forces the bourgeois democrats have become the majority. These forces will decide which line wins even a congress is called.

    d.If the Nepalese Mensheviks are on the majority, then is it advisable that the ‘Bolsheviks’ try to re-organise the party?

    As for international solidarity, it is not a mere sacred ritual but a crucial requirement for the world revolution to proceed without which no revolution can finally succeed.

  15. siva said

    Dear Maitri,
    You are only playing with words.
    A revolutionary has faith in the revolution, in mankind etc. Do not mix it up with religious faith. And faith and dogma are not quite the same. Please tell me if there is a dictionary that suggests that they are the same.
    Being dogmatic is altogether another matter.
    One can be utterly cynical and still be dogmatic.

    If you wish that the Nepali revolution should go the way the CPI(M) did or thought that it would go, so be it.
    Have fun. Amuse yourself.

    There is a serious debate going on in the UCPN(M) and will go on for a while. That is not funny business.

    Bhattarai and Prachanda are not the end of revolution in Nepal.

  16. maitri said

    siva- i think you are a bit confused. you say:
    ‘Bhattarai and Prachanda are not the end of revolution in Nepal’.

    no doubt this is true, but it is the end of the Maoist party’s revolution. I certainly hope there will be a revolution in nepal, but i am fairly certain that the maoist party wont be leading it. there is almost no difference between the maoist leaders and the UML in their behaviour or line or anything else. i remember during the period of maoist government how quickly the leaders were corrupted. without prachanda especially and without bhattarai, there is not much of a party. i think the nepali revolution has already gone the way of the cpi-m, and i dont think that these two line struggles will do much at all. i dont even thing they are that serious, because there is no real chance of turning back the line. you cannot turn back certain agreements that have already been made with the imperialists, india, the UN etc. this is why the bourgeoisie and imperialists are not really worried about nepal, they know that the revolution has been contained and is over. i think you will find out too, but it will take time.

    keep the faith!

  17. maitri said

    check out this article in kathmandu post regarding the deployment of nepali soldiers in Iraq, presumably after some of the European powers pull out their troops. It is rather hard to believe that the Maoists are in the government and they say nothing about nepali soldiers being deployed in an imperialist mission in iraq.so much for anti-imperialism. i would be curious to know what folks think about this:

    http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2011/05/09/top-story/unami-request-army-open-to-iraq-deployment/221504.html

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