Nepal rightists threaten coup, Revolutionaries forced to resign from gov’t, take to streets

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Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda announced his resignation from his post as head of the Maoist-led coalition government on May 4, just over a year after his Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) placed first in the country’s Constituent Assembly (CA) elections.

Prachanda’s resignation follows a virtual coup by the armed forces in alliance with the country’s president. The UCPN(M)-led government had dismissed the chief of army staff, Rookmangad Katawal, on May 3 following a planned coup aimed at toppling the government. There is evidence that U.S. imperialism and the pro-imperialist Indian regime backed this coup attempt.

Details of the plot were leaked to the Kathmandu Post by unnamed senior officers. Maoists and other select leaders were to be arrested. UCPN(M) and Young Communist League offices would be forcibly closed. In violation of the peace agreement, the Nepal Army would occupy United-Nations-monitored People’s Liberation Army (PLA) cantonments or military stations. All U.N. monitors would be relocated to Kathmandu by helicopter.

The ex-king, Gyanendra, was to be placed under house arrest, presumably for his own safety.

India reportedly played a crucial role in establishing contact between the Nepal Army and CA President Ram Baran Yadav for the establishment of presidential rule following the coup. Yadav is a former general secretary of the opposition Nepali Congress.

The aborted coup plan was only the most recent and most serious of Katawal’s numerous offenses. The army chief had previously interfered with government plans to retire eight generals. The Nepal Army had also engaged in active recruitment under Katawal’s leadership in violation of the 2006 U.N. peace agreement that had at least temporarily suspended the armed phase of the Nepalese revolution.

The Nepal Army was a bastion of feudal power and royal support during the decade of Maoist-led people’s war. The 2006 peace agreement called for the integration of PLA fighters into the Nepal Army. The Nepali Congress and top generals like Katawal feared that close contact with the politically conscious PLA fighters, who support democracy and land reform, might influence the rank-and-file Nepal Army troops to defend the people’s interests. Historically this army has defended the property rights of the old feudal ruling class, but its soldiers come primarily from the peasantry and urban poor.

Katawal flouted the government orders and refused the call to dismissal. CA President Yadav encouraged Katawal to violate civilian control of the armed forces by staying in his position. Under pressure from Yadav and the Nepali Congress, the Maoist’s coalition partners, including the United Marxist Leninists, deserted the coalition government.

UCPN(M) launches street struggle

In light of this virtual coup, Prachanda immediately resigned. A meeting of top UCPN(M) leaders launched a three-pronged struggle. The party has begun to organize mass resistance in the streets while lodging formal protests on the floor of the CA. The Maoists will also challenge in court Yadav’s order for Katawal to remain in his post.

The UCPN(M) has the support necessary to lead a people’s struggle to remove Katawal from his post and push the Nepalese revolution forward. The Maoists won to their side most of Nepal’s workers and peasants during the People’s War and the subsequent popular uprising that brought down the centuries-old feudal monarchy.

In the April 10 by-elections, the UCPN-(M) solidified its position in the CA by winning half of the six vacant seats contested. The elections were widely viewed as a referendum on the UCPN(M)-led government.

The UCPN(M) retained two seats it previously held and picked up another seat that had been considered a Nepali Congress stronghold. The three remaining seats went one each to the Nepali Congress, the United Marxist Leninists, and the Madeshi Jandhikar Forum.

The by-election results demonstrate that the Maoists retained their base of support while leading the government. This base of support will be crucial to the upcoming period of street struggle.

Recent crisis follows U.S.-India interference

Every quarter of foreign and domestic reaction has attempted interference in Nepal’s revolution. The recent struggle surrounding the Nepal Army follows a year of intense counterrevolutionary maneuvering. India was recently the site of secret meetings between Gyanendra and the heads of the Indian Congress party, the ultranationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the BJP’s candidate for prime minister.

Gyanendra also held private consultations with his family at their Indian residence during the month-long trip in March. The Nepal Samacharpatra daily reported that the meeting was a strategy session for enthroning Gyanendra’s grandson as a baby king. Former Crown Prince Paras Shah, who lived in India with his infant son before moving to Singapore, recently announced plans to return to Nepal and rejoin national politics.

The U.S. government has continually tried to discredit the UCPN(M) government. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher has refused to remove the Maoists from the U.S. terrorist list. The Maoists have strenuously objected to their inclusion in the list as the PLA was always a legitimate armed group, is now in U.N.-supervised cantonments, and the UCPN(M) won last year’s CA elections.

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