Nepalese Maoists gear-up to take to the streets

Issue 

A senior leader of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M), CP Gajurel stated that the Maoists are prepared to unleash yet another "massive" struggle to institutionalise the Nepal's new republic, According to a January 4 NepalNews.com article.

"We are all geared up to launch such a struggle from the street, the parliament and the government", he said, adding that the country would achieve sustainable peace and development only after the success of another "severe" struggle to "uphold the aspirations of ordinary people".

The CPN-M, which lead a 10-year-long armed struggle against the monarchy, won the highest number of votes in the constituent assembly elections last April— gathering more than a million more than its closest competitor.

The election of the assembly was the final nail in the coffin for the monarchy, with the first order of the Maoist-led body being to declare Nepal a republic — the final victory of a decades-long pro-democracy struggle.

After much wrangling, the Maoists were able to form a coalition government.

There have also been steps towards unity among parties of the left, with moves for the CPN-M to unify with smaller left-wing parties.

On January 12, the CPN-M and the Communist Party of Nepal- Unity Centre-Masal merged to form a new party, the Unified Communist Party Nepal-Maoist.

The UCPN-M have expressed hope that this is just the first of many unifications, and is currently having discussions with other smaller leftist parties and currents.

This unity is of a great importance given the actions of the main right-wing opposition group, the Nepali Congress.

The NC's leader GP Koirala has been publicly calling for a "broad democratic alliance" to overthrow the government led by the Maoists — despite the overwhelming mandate the Maoists received in April last year.

In reality, this "democratic alliance" is an alliance of the rich and powerful, reaching out to bureaucrats in some parties that feel their positions are being threatened by the public upsurge since the pro-democracy "people's movement" in 2006 that succeeded in overthrowing the monarchy.

In response to this threat, both from within Nepal and without, to the progressive government formed out of this uprising and the constituent assembly elections, the UCPN-M has formulated a new strategy to carry out the pro-people budget and write a pro-people constitution.

Prime Minister Prachanda, also chairperson of the UCPN-M, elaborated on these themes at a mass meeting of thousands of supporters that was held to celebrate the unification.

He stated: "We want to write a constitution that protects the rights and benefits of the peasants and the workers, though the constituent assembly. To accomplish this historical task, we have no other weapon than the unity of the Nepalese people and the unity of revolutionaries."

Prachanda further warned opposition groups that "a big hurricane of the struggles will come and people will capture the state power if 'kings', feudal lords and their puppets try to overturn the present government in the assistance of foreign powers."

He continued, "(We) will either advance ahead or go back to the status quo. People should be in continuous struggle.

"The struggle is for victory in the constituent assembly. The peace process will meet an incident if there is no struggle against the enemies of the people."

But the Maoists are struggling not just with problems outside the government but also within it. Government partners, the more right-wing Communist Party of Nepal-United-Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML) and the Madheshi Peoples Rights Forum, have been openly critical of the Maoists and are contemplating leaving the government.

Implementing the budget has proven difficult for the UCPN-M due to the uncooperative attitude of its government partners and the state bureaucracy. Attempts to increase efficiency and reduce corruption in the bureaucracy have been resisted by the employees in the civil service.

These issues mean that the implementation of the budget has been severely disrupted.

As the situation polarises, a tense situation has developed, and key issues such as the writing of the constitution and the creation of the new army involving the integration of the Maoist People's Liberation Army that led a 10-year anti-monarchy guerrilla struggle are at stake.

Another issue is that of the Madheshi people, an oppressed ethnic group.

This has resulted in unsustainable situation, with the UCPN-M in one corner and the NC in the other, with the CPN-UML and Madehsi parties stuck in the middle — caught between the progressive interests of their followers and the conservative interest of their bureaucratic leadership.

This untenable situation must surely come to a head in order for Nepal to be able to achieve any sort of progress — alternatively it will remain in the crushing poverty that has been shouldered by its people for centuries.