CPN-M militants seize prime minister’s land
A profound legitimacy crisis has emerged for the anti-revolutionary forces of Nepal. As we go to press, 33 political parties, led by the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, are launching a national general strike (known as a bandh, a tactic where workers and militants surround and force the closure of all businesses) throughout the entire country beginning tomorrow, April 7. Let’s rewind a bit and understand the root of these strikes and the crisis surrounding them.
Nepal is one of the poorest countries on the entire planet. It is one of the few places in the world that has never been formally colonized. Its monarchies more or less prevented a direct British conquest of the country (losing two-thirds of its territory in the process). The ruling army of Nepal is unlike the state of other oppressed countries where the state is usually directly integrated into global imperialism. In Nepal, the state has historically been of a feudal-nationalist type (one that bitterly oppressed the people while resisting integration into the imperialist world system).
Through a ten year long protracted people’s war (liberating 80% of the country’s territory!) and torrents of revolt in the capitol city of Kathmandu, the old monarchy of Nepal was toppled in 2006. The leading revolutionary party, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), emerged as the largest political party in the Constituent Assembly elections (a post-revolutionary electoral body) following that rebellion. While this was viewed as a victory inside of the party, there were very different lines inside of the party about how to approach this victory.
Some viewed the Constituent Assembly as a place to expose the limits of this form, and to prepare the minds and organization of millions of people for a new national armed insurrection. They based themselves on the millions of poor peasants and Nepal’s small urban proletariat, organized in dozens of mass organizations and the All Nepal Trade Union Federation (Revolutionary). Others, notably Bhattarai and Prachanda (two counter-revolutionary leaders of the party), viewed the Constituent Assembly as an end in itself, and aligned themselves with powerful international imperialist forces, NGOs, and urban middle classes.
The movement split in 2011 after a deal that brought Baburam Bhattarai to the position of prime minister in Nepal. Bhattarai had gone to the state of India (and the United States), and promised India increasing ownership of Nepal’s natural resources and industries in an agreement known as BIPPA. He had promised the Indian state to integrate 10,000 fighters from the south of Nepal (Terai) where many are pro-India secessionists. This was meant to curtail the feudal-nationalism of the Nepal Army and place it more directly under imperialist control. He ordered the handover of the arms of the People’s Liberation Army, and the dissolution of that revolutionary army. And yet, in the face of all of this, the revolutionaries of Nepal have regrouped.
They have regrouped into the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist. They have been in preparations for a new “People’s Revolt” – a national armed insurrection aimed at bringing about a new revolutionary road in Nepal. This strategic orientation has been the plan of their party when it entered the cities from the countryside, and they are creatively innovating and investigating how to make it a reality.
The BIPPA agreement did not go well for the Bhattarai regime. This agreement was even more reactionary than anything ever proposed by the old bourgeois political parties of Nepal, who were not fully on-board with it. The Bhattarai regime’s central promise to Nepal was to write a new constitution and stabilize the country. Two years later, it has failed, providing only a new corrupt bureaucracy. The CPN-Maoist describes the new form of oppression as neo-colonialism, meaning a colonized society ruled by local oppressors (like South Africa). There is no new constitution, the country is in chaos, and Bhattarai has been exposed as a counter-revolutionary who has betrayed the people on a profound level.
In this context, Bhattarai’s ruling party, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), handed over the government to Nepal’s chief judge, Khilraj Regmi, who is now the completely unelected prime minister of the country. Regmi along with the political parties that handed power to him claim that this is a preparation for “fair and democratic elections.” But millions of people say it is a part of a larger coup, meant to impose a new, even more reactionary form of oppression on the people. They point out that these elections do not even claim to guarantee the replacement of Regmi as Prime Minister of Nepal.
CPN-Maoist militants have seized the land of the prime minister, and re-distributed it. They have, together with 33 other political parties, brought the country to a halt. They say this is a preparation for “People’s Movement III.” People’s Movement I was a national rebellion that forced Nepal’s monarchy to hold elections in 1991, and People’s Movement II was the country-wide revolt that toppled King Gyanendrah in 2006. More militant actions and confrontations are coming.
Meanwhile, the government has demanded that the CPN-Maoist’s security officers hand over the remaining arms that are used to protect the party’s leadership. Responding, CPN-Maoist General Secretary Thapa said, “We don’t’ need the old rusted weapons, we will submit it and take new ones to the houses of people… New arms are being made in the factory… They will come to the homes of the cadres.”
Let’s be alert, and prepared to stand in solidarity with Nepal’s revolution if future revolutionary openings (or extreme repression of revolutionaries) emerge.