By David Hoskins
NYC chapter of FIST
Nepal swore in a new prime minister on May 25, three weeks after the resignation of Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda from the post. Prachanda’s resignation followed attempts by the armed forces, the Nepali Congress, and India to topple the revolutionary government.
The new prime minister is United Marxist Leninist leader Madhav Kumar Nepal. The UML, despite its militant-sounding name and support from a section of the left, maintains strong ties to the old feudal ruling class and to an imperialist-dependent comprador capitalist class. The UML has oscillated between reform and reaction throughout its history and has a long record of betrayal of popular causes.
The UML first failed to deliver on the promise of land reform when it led a minority government after the 1994 elections. More recently, it deserted the Maoist-led coalition government prior to Prachanda’s resignation. The potential for revolutionary progress under the new UML-led government is further diminished by the party’s current alliance with the Nepali Congress, which, like its namesake in India, is a bourgeois, pro-imperialist party.
New government an attempt to brake revolution
The UML-led government is essentially a concession to the interests of Indian expansionism and U.S. imperialism as Nepal’s right-wing attempts to halt the revolutionary process in that country.
Prachanda’s party, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, is the largest and most popular party in Nepal. From the launching of the historic armed struggle in 1996 to the party’s first-place victory in the 2008 Constituent Assembly elections, the UCPN-M has consistently fought for and won over to its side the masses of workers and peasants.
Despite the difficulty of taking state power in a small landlocked country like Nepal, the UCPN-M was able to push the revolution forward during its eight-month term as the leading party in government. An analysis of the political situation in Nepal in May by the UCPN-M shows that the achievements during this period were both great gains for the masses and sources of contention for the reactionaries.
By the time Prachanda resigned, the revolutionary government had already made free basic health care a right, doubled the wages of workers, cancelled the debts of small farmers, launched a mass literacy campaign, and reintroduced agricultural inputs subsidies that the IMF and World Bank had previously eliminated.
These popular actions incurred the wrath of foreign aid donors, the feudal ruling class, the comprador bourgeoisie, moneylenders, and all who sought to profit off the suffering and exploitation of the country’s masses.
The UCPN-M had also advanced negotiations for a treaty with China that would increase Nepal-China ties and bring into balance Nepal’s relationship with China to the north and India to the south. The revolutionary government also pushed to complete the integration of the revolutionary People’s Liberation Army with the Nepal Army as the peace accord mandates. India and the United States were clearly opposed to both the friendship with China and to anything that would weaken the old state army.
These reactionary domestic and international forces rallied against the Maoist-led government. The immediate result of this right-wing backlash was Prachanda’s resignation from government, and the formation of a new regime under the UML. The UML-led government has already reversed many of the decisions made under Prachanda.
UCPN-M mobilizes masses in the streets
The Maoists’ resignation from government has sharpened the political struggle in Nepal. Prachanda recently spoke at the founding conference of an organization for those injured or disabled during the people’s war. At this conference the Maoist leader encouraged party workers to prepare for the further advancement of revolution. Prachanda stressed that the war has only entered a new, unfinished phase.
The UCPN-M has appealed directly to its base of workers and poor peasants in the streets. The UCPN-M Central Secretariat has announced a new round of nationwide protests. The revolutionaries are mobilizing their party and affiliated organizations for mass demonstrations in all 75 districts throughout Nepal. Fresh protests on the floor of the Constituent Assembly will supplement the street mobilizations.
The Maoist-affiliated All Nepal Peasants’ Organization-Revolutionary recently seized the property of the deceased former leader of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party. The RPP is an extreme right-wing royalist party tied to many of the atrocities carried out during the absolute rule of the deposed monarch, Gyanendra.
The revolutionary peasants have occupied the former RPP leader’s 12-acre estate and ancestral house. The peasants have warned his family that severe action will be taken if the land is sold from underneath them.
The recent actions by the UCPN-M illustrate the revolution’s strong base of support among the masses and offers hope for the further advancement of revolution from outside the government. The developments in Nepal illustrate the difference between leading the government—which the UCPN-M did for eight months—and wielding the state power necessary to fully protect the revolution’s victories—something still to be determined by the struggle.