Revolution #167, June 7, 2009
Nepal: Prachanda Resigns,
New Government Formed
On May 23, a new Prime Minister was elected and took office in Nepal. With the support of 21 out of 24 political parties, Madhav Kumar Nepal of the Communist Party of Nepal–United Marxist Leninist (UML) took the position of Prime Minister and is forming a new government to replace the government of Prime Minister Prachanda (Pushpa Kamal Dahal), Chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (UCPN[M])1 who resigned as Prime Minister on May 4. This change in government is occurring amidst a constitutional crisis in Nepal centered around the dismissal of Nepal Army Chief of Staff Katawal by Prachanda, and Katawal’s refusal to be dismissed.
Prime Minister Prachanda had sacked General Katawal for continual and deliberately provocative insubordination to the civilian government, in defiance of the interim constitution and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that brought the 10-year-old People’s War to an end in 2006. But President Ram Baran Yadav, closely allied with the Nepal Congress Party, overrode Prachanda’s decision and backed Katawal’s refusal to accept being dismissed from his post as Chief of Staff. Other political parties, in particular the UML who had served as coalition partners in the government headed up by Prachanda, reversed course and sided with General Katawal. The Nepal Congress Party, the pro-India party which is not participating in the government, has been accused by Prachanda of being a major force behind the undermining of the decision to dismiss Katawal. In the face of these developments, Prachanda resigned as Prime Minister. (See Revolution #164 for more background on the current crisis.)
While the particular incident that precipitated this crisis was the failure of the President of Nepal, Yadav, and other parties to back Prime Minister Prachanda in his dismissal of General Katawal in a clear violation of the norms of the current constitution, underlying this whole situation are questions of who has the legitimate right to rule in Nepal—the forces led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) [CPN(M)] who waged a powerful revolutionary People’s War which opened up a path for a new kind of system with a different state power to back it up, or the forces of the old state and the class forces it represents. This is the decisive question of the hour.
Despite the fact that the CPN(M) won the largest number of seats in the Constituent Assembly, and was broadly recognized as the victor in the elections of April 2008, the reactionary pro-imperialist forces inside and outside of Nepal have not viewed the Maoists as a legitimate force to head up their government. These same political parties served in the government under the monarchy and during the whole course of the People’s War were the upholders of the reactionary state and worked together with the monarchy to suppress the revolutionary struggle led by the CPN(M) and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) for many years. Finally when that struggle led to a situation where the old dominant forces ruling Nepali society could no longer rule in the old way, and many of the broader strata joined in the struggle to end the rule of the monarchy, some of these political parties joined in the popular upsurge to be included in a post-monarchy republic. Parties like the UML have tried to portray themselves as legitimate forces for progress and change, while attempting to portray the CPN(M) and fighters of the PLA as forces who had to be reined in and controlled.
Ever since the elections resulted in a new government headed up by Prachanda as Prime Minister, there has been contention over who will control the Nepal Army, and what to do with the two armies: the Royal Nepalese Army (now called simply the Nepal Army) and the PLA. These two armies were locked in battle during the whole period of the People’s War: the RNA was renowned for its vicious suppression of the people, while the PLA was seen as a force for liberation by millions of Nepali masses. Which army should have the legitimacy to be at the center of a new state in Nepal? Clearly from a revolutionary perspective it is the PLA and the forces it has led, and not the NA. However, according to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement the two armies were to be integrated into a single Nepal Army, answerable to the authority of the civilian government. What this has meant in reality is that the forces of the PLA were confined to cantonments, while the RNA changed its name to NA but has not changed its fundamental character, nor who it answers to.
On what terms this integration would take place has been the subject of much contention between the different class forces inside Nepal represented by the different political parties making up the government. And the “international community” represented by India, the United States, and Britain, as well as other major powers, have inserted themselves aggressively. They have made their views known in various ways, including directly putting pressure on the CPN(M) to toe the line, raising a hue and cry that the CPN(M) wants to control the state, and casting the PLA as an illegitimate force which has to be brought into line. In the midst of the crisis about the dismissal of Katawal, delegations from these different countries visited Prachanda, and while the exact content of those discussions is not known, it is clear from the statements made by Prachanda when he resigned as Prime Minister that there was pressure coming from India and others to essentially call the shots and force him to back down on the dismissal of Katawal. Ask yourself, what legitimate role could these forces have in dictating the resolution of this situation?
To underscore their objectives, right in the middle of this recent crisis the U.S. State Department decided that the UCPN(M) would remain on its official list of terrorist organizations (the Terrorist Exclusion List). This is clearly intended to give backing to those forces who are working to smash the PLA and the revolution, and to justify any actions that might be taken by the NA against the forces of the revolution.
The very fact that the Nepali Congress party, the UML, and other parties who are now supporting the UML-led government sided with the monarchist pro-imperialist General Katawal in his refusal to obey the government reveals that these forces have no intention of allowing any fundamental change to take place through the current structures of state that are ruling over Nepal. They have now formed a government that is posed against everything the masses of Nepal have fought for, not even abiding by their own constitution and rules. Their resistance to the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to integrate the PLA into the NA makes their intentions extremely clear: if they can’t tolerate having PLA fighters integrated into the NA, then what is their program for the PLA? It could only be the total disintegration of the PLA and suppression of the masses who the PLA has fought on behalf of. The totally unacceptable result of this would be to leave the people with no force to defend the gains of the revolution and no ability to carry the revolution forward.
Since Prachanda resigned as Prime Minister, the UCPN(M) has refused to join in a government headed up by the UML and other parties who have engineered this crisis. They have remained in the Constituent Assembly but have insisted that the first order of business should be to reverse the decision of President Yadav to allow General Katawal to continue at his post. At the same time, there have been mass mobilizations in support of the UCPN(M) in the streets of Kathmandu. Exactly how long this will go on, and if the demands will be focused on carrying forward the goals of new democracy, is unclear. All the events in this recent crisis have only served to reveal the fundamental antagonism between the interests of the people, including the need to carry forward the struggle for a completely different state and new social system, on the one hand, and on the other, the forces of the old order, who are determined to keep things from changing in any fundamental way.
The situation remains very unstable—full of danger for the revolution but also providing a basis to lead the masses out of the stranglehold they have been trapped in. The forces of the old order are concerned that the government they have now installed will not be seen as legitimate by the people, without the participation of the UCPN(M). Articles in bourgeois publications like the Economist, and studies from the International Crisis Group (a pro-imperialist think tank based in Brussels), indicate that there are worries that the hands of forces outside of Nepal, in particular India, manipulating this current crisis have been too blatant. All these forces fear the masses’ dissatisfaction with the newly installed government, and they fear the impulse from the people for carrying forward the revolutionary transformations that they have fought and sacrificed for. But it should be clear that, whatever moves the imperialists and the forces of the old order may take, they will be acting on and carrying out their class interests—and will continue to do so.
Leadership is needed to seize this moment, and work to resolve this crisis on a revolutionary basis, not one that is bound by the current bourgeois constitutional framework that only reinforces the old order. As we said in our article, On Developments in Nepal and the Stakes for the Communist Movement, (Revolution #160):
“This means above all a reaffirmation of the basic principles and goals of communism, which in Nepal means carrying forward—through revolutionary means and not by attempting to rely on, and promote, gradualist illusions and reformist schemes—the struggle to complete the new democratic revolution as the first step toward socialism and the final aim of communism.”
1 The party adopted its present name earlier this year when the CPN(M) merged with the Unity Center [Masal] from which it had originally split. Masal had opposed the concept of Maoism and the People’s War.
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Available for download at revcom.us
introduces letters recently made public which contain a sharp polemical exchange between these two parties over questions of fundamental ideological and political line. All of this provides both a historical and present context for evaluating this recent turn of events and a political framework for evaluating the measures taken by all sides in the current crisis. The issues of two-line struggle that are gone into in great depth in these letters are of cardinal importance now— focusing up the life and death stakes for the future of the revolution in Nepal, and the larger struggle for genuine communism in the world today. We urge our readers to dig deeply into these materials, to take a serious approach and get involved in this extremely important struggle over line in relation to a revolution whose very life hangs in the balance.
Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
January 29, 2009 Letter from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA to the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
November 4, 2008 Letter from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA to the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
March, 2008 Letter from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA to the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
October 2005 Letter from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA to the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
July 1, 2006 Letter from the Central Committee, Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) to the Central Committee, Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
Appendices to October 2005 Letter from the RCP,USA to the CPN(M)
“The Creative Development of MLM, Not of Revisionism”, excerpt from a talk by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.
“Some Further Thinking on: The Socialist State as a New Kind of State”, excerpt from a talk given by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, to a group of Party members and supporters in 2005.
Article from Revolution #160, March 28, 2009.
On Developments in Nepal and the Stakes for the Communist Movement: Letters to the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, 2005-2008 (With a Reply from the CPN(M), 2006)
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