Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Basics of the Nepalese Revolution.

This is something I wrote for The Proletarian Sun newsletter which can be found here.

The Basics of the Nepalese Revolution (part one)

The Toppling of a King
The people of Nepal were under the rule of a Monarchy/feudal system until a civil war that lasted from February 13 1996 til November 21st 2006 and was led by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal liberated the masses of Nepal from the old systems. The Maoist declared a three month cease fire in September 2005 to try and sway other political parties towards the overthrow of the government by showing that reformism was a dead end in Nepal. The King initially allowed elections but in 2005 but he sacked the government and decided to have direct rule over the country on his own. This brought on the wrath of all opposition forces. In early April 2006 the Maoist organized a general strike and promised to keep it a peaceful one. The next day on the 7th of April there is a huge clash between the police and the protesters on strike. Hundreds are arrested by the loyalist forces and a couple handful of people are injured. The day after the clashes the by now afraid king who has "direct rule" powers declares a curfew on Kathmandu and he gives the order that all people violating the curfew to be "shot on sight" (1). On April the ninth it is reported that three are dead, the curfew was popularly opposed as thousands defied the curfew and filled into the streets to demand more democracy (2). The king was forced to allow a new government to form and his throne was demoted to a mere ceremonial position until it was completely abolished by the government on May 28th 2008 and the now former king was given 15 days to vacate the palace.

The Names to Know in the UCPN
There are generally three names that ones needs to know in order to understand the UCPN and the different lines that are struggling with in the party at this current time. When reading about Nepal's UCPN leaders it can get confusing because two of these three leaders have nicknames of sorts and hopefully by the end of this section the reader will be able to tell the difference.

The Chairman of the UCPN is (most popularly known as) "Prachanda" (his nickname). His real name is Puspa Kamal Dahal. He used to be considered the middle line or the more moderate political line in the UCPN. More recently and more increasingly he has been seen as the conservative/right wing line in the party. He has been accused by the left-wing of the party of betraying the guerrillas and people's army (who fought for the liberation of Nepal) when he turned over the keys to the weapons cache's in the UN camps built to house the Maoist rebels. He did this without approval of the UCPN and has been accused of ignoring democratic process within the party. He has also been accused of compromising too much with the opposition and enemies of the UCPN. Giving too many concessions with out getting any demands in return. The left opposition within the party recently released a document critiquing the Chairman and his line and should and can be read here. This was not always the case as Puspa Kamal Dahal was once seen as the middle road and the hero of the Nepalese revolution. The chairman comes from a landlord peasant family which is the most oppressive position one can hold in a peasant society*. But there is no reason to believe that Pachanda carries this way with him in his politics.

Dr. Baburam Bhattarai is seen as more of the right wing line in the party and is the vice chairman of the UCPN. His relationship with the chairman has been through a lot of ups and downs but recently he has been siding with the chairman against the left wings call to continue the people's war to install a peoples government with a pro-peoples constitution. He has been accused by the left wing of misusing funds and using party money for personal gains and favors. Dr. Bhattarai was born to a lower middle class peasant family, meaning that most likely his family owned little land and little farming equipment but not enough possessions to feed their family all year and probably had to sell some of their labor*. Most middle peasants still live very hard lives and should not be compared to what we in the states call "middle class" workers. (I will refrain from writing too much about Dr. Bhattarai as I out right oppose his line and do not want to compromise the integrity of keeping this article un-biased). He is also the current prime minister of Nepal.

Mohan Baidya is the leader of the left-wing radical line and huge supporter of re-starting the people's war if the opposition parties refuse to sign a pro peoples constitution. His nickname is "Kiran", he is also vice chairman of the UCPN. Baidya saw a rise in support among the masses after he raised alarm to money issues and abuses in the party (3). He has even called for demonstrations against the chairman's decision to hand over the keys of the weapons cache in the peoples army cantonments. Baidya has even threatened to split the party if the UCPN continues down the path of revisionism, reformism and consession without demands being met. He has stated that he believes that the party on its current path is betraying the people of Nepal and he aims to put it back on the right path to revolution and serving the people. (I will also refrain from writing too much on Baidya because I support his line in the UCPN outright.)

Next month we will discuss the opposition leaders and the general politics of all the major parties.

Written by; Dustin Slagle

* these examples are taken from the class analogy of peasants given by Jen Pi-Shih in the book "several problems regarding land reform" written in 1948. translated and explained by William Hinton in his book "Fanshen" in the re-published version (2008) paperback page 27

(1) Gurubacharya, Binaj. "anti-monarchy rallies spread in Nepal". Boston Globe April 8th 2006. print

(2) "Violent Clashes Amid Nepal Curfew". BBCNEWS. BBC, Web. April 10 2006.

(3) B, Basnet, Kiran Pun. "Money issues boost Mohan Baidya faction". Web. 12/21/2011

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