FRFI 209 June / July 2009

Nepal: Counter-revolution mobilizes

On 4 May, Nepal’s communist Prime Minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, resigned from office, barely a year after his Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (UCPN(M)) won the elections to the country’s first constituent assembly. His resignation follows a threatened coup by the UCPN(M)’s opponents, led by President Ram Baran Yadav of the Nepali Congress Party (NC) and supported by the military and the reactionary United Marxist-Leninist (UML) ‘communists’. These events reflect the continuing struggle between the impoverished mass of the Nepali people struggling for socialism, and the corrupt elite colluding with imperialism to try to hold back the revolutionary movement.

Following the elections in May 2008, which made the UCPN(M) Nepal’s largest party, there was an agreement to integrate People’s Liberation Army fighters into the military, with the Maoists bringing their 19,000 class conscious guerillas into contact with the army rank and file. Knowing that the guerillas are supportive of land reform and democracy, the army establishment has resisted their integration at every step. The chief of staff of the Nepali Army, Rookmangud Katawal, has played a particularly reactionary role in trying to undermine the UCPN(M). He was found to be the main organiser of the planned coup, aborted when details were leaked to the Kathmandu Post.

When the UCPN(M)-led government told Katawal to step down on 3 May, President Yadav stood in the way and prevented the elected leadership from carrying out its duties. The other parties in the coalition, including the NC and the UML, quit the government in defence of the army chief. Prachanda saw no other option than to step down as Prime Minister in the face of ‘unconstitutional and illegal’ actions by the President, pointing out that ‘the interim constitution does not give any right to the President to act as a parallel power’.

In government the revolutionary UCPN(M) has been restricted by its opponents’ constant attempts to hold back the many reforms demanded by the mass movement. According to political analyst Kanak Mani Dixit: ‘After coming to power, the Maoists have been systematically attacking the institutions of state, like the judiciary and the media. The army was the only institution they couldn’t touch. The fear was that they would bring down the army also.’ Even under the constraints of the coalition government the UCPN(M) have been clear about their objectives of establishing a socialist People’s Republic and bringing in greater industrialisation. As Finance Minister Bhattarai recently said: ‘We are Marxists, but we are not dogmatic Marxists...We want to develop the science of Marxism...We are very practical and realistic Marxists who want to bring about real change in society.’

Narayan Kaji Shrestha, deputy leader of the UCPN(M), said that his party would not allow parliament to function unless Katawal was sacked. Prachanda exposed the opposition as puppets of imperialism: ‘As per the dictates of their foreign masters, the dejected and rejected UML and NC leaders are forming the next government...Their heads will be always down as they have surrendered to their foreign masters, we have resigned but yet our heads will always be up.’ Amid continuing unrest and a UCPN(M) boycott, the UML’s Madhav Kumar Nepal was sworn in as Prime Minister on 25 May, promising to draft a new constitution, as protesters burned effigies of him and the Maoists warned that his fragile government ‘will not last long’.

Millions of people in Nepal face dire poverty. One quarter of Nepalis live on a daily income of less than a dollar, with more than 80 per cent of the population depending on agriculture for an income. On one side stands a revolutionary force with the overwhelming support of the mass of the people, fighting to radically change the institutions of power and push for better living standards for the poor majority. On the other side stands an elite ruling class, tied historically to the corrupt and brutal military, and supported by international capital. The political situation in Nepal is on a knife edge.

Louis Brehony

 

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