The Unfinished Revolution
—‘Vidro Garnu Janatako Adhikarho’
Pawan Kumar Patel
In the liberal democracy, it
is presumed that masses have no politics of their own of any kind but they are merely manipulated in the hands of power elite.
The UCPN (Maoist) setback in Constituent Assembly election of second round in Nepal held in November 2013 stunned the liberal and progressive intelligentsia worldwide. However, the news that some 23 lakh votes were polled less and 54 lakhs voters' names were off the Nepal election record as compared to CA-I election of 2008 was silenced by worldwide media. On the surface, as international media houses like BBC proclaimed with a conscious tone aligned with Election Commission of Nepal and India, Nepal's traditional 'big brother', being the regional hegemon in South Asia, about a record 70 % poll. This news of election boycott in this 'historic ballot', was reduced to mere gossip of local Nepali press and vernacular weekly only.
The boycotting of election all over Nepal burgeoned from the Thabang VDC, known as epicentre during people's war from 1996-2006, primarily led by the split faction of the Maoist outfit under the banner of multi-party alliance. But this news was put aside on this high pitch of velocity of this noise by the pragmatic Maoists that widespread rigging and irregularities occurred with an organised plan to defeat the Maoist party. This mass assertion of election boycott was for the constitution of a Constituent Assembly to write a new constitution as against a mere election to the parliament. In this sense this assertion is a significant one in spite of huge security arrargernents of Nepal Army and armed forces to enforce the election call of 33 parties' alliance as compared to 2008 CA-1 election. But even then, this way people have shown their deep disillusion with the 'transition' process since the abolition of Hindu monarchy and declaration of the Republic Nepal in 2008 and afterwards. The extent of the election boycott in end 2013 asserted the false presumption that 'masses are always manipulated by elites'.
This kind of presentation is not new in the South Asian region where Indian hegemony operates in every part of the SAARC region (less or negligible in case of its traditional rival, Pakistan). This presentation was in fact very similar to the very scene created by the regional power India while helping Nepal's armed Maoist party mainstreaming to democratic path by giving a space for safe landing from a path of revolutionary violence through a Twelve Point Agreement in New Delhi in 2005.
Now after the debacle of the 'Pragmatic Maoists', this progressive intelligentsia is very disappointed. As per Indian state's tone, this section had made a hue and cry after the Maoists signed on "consensus deal" starting from India in November 2005 to Comprehensive Peace Agreement in June 2006 and subsequently CA elections of May 2008. This was known better by now a catchword of 'state re-structuring or reconstruction of old feudal state'. They had pointed out this new discovery with the Maoists’ new policies i.e., their roadmap for questions concerning inclusion of marginalised communities which was essentially concerned with expansion of the Maoist movement in the countryside by establishing people's government locally in countryside after defeating royal armed forces since 1996. Following a guerrilla military strategy with their people's army i.e., PLA comprising of poor peasants, rural proletariat and working class, the CPN (Maoist) was controlling as much as 80 per cent of the countryside in Nepal in 2005-2006. Now after the changed scenario, these forces asserted that the Maoists should have to come in parliamentary politics to institutionalise the notion of state, re-construction through a politics of 'consensus' with seven parliamentary parties to fight against monarchy.
Subsequently the CA-1 election of 2008 gave voice to the marginalised communities unprecedented not only in Nepal but in the whole of South Asia. Be it marginalised identities of the oppressed communities of Janjati, Madhesi, Dalits and women but also assertion of poor peasants and working class on a vast agrarian state of country. These voices came in the forefront of nation building which was until now predominantly ruled by landowning hill upper caste Hindu gentry on a unitary Hindu kingdom since its inception in 1769 by King Prathvi Narayan Shah by a military conquest.
It was a historic moment for a radical force like Maoists to unravel a progressive step in the interest of masses and expose feudal-despotic state power. This class alliance of feudal landed aristocracy with comprador class aligning with Indian state was effectively ruling since then and after Nepal's entry into 'modern era' in 1951 wherein masses were ruled over through a combination of heavily funded foreign aid without any effort at industrialisation in the country or any land reform. Along with suppressing peasantry, this State had also operated on colonising the janjatis, Madhesis and Dalits by imposing the National Code of Muluki Ain of 1854 by building Nepal as the 'Asal Hindustan' in contrast to polluted India ruled by Mughals and later British (Hofer 1979). Through Muluki Ain, the ruling Rana-Shah feudal landowning elite consolidated its oppressive rule based on the ideology of Bahunwad (Brahmanism) with a nationalist rhetoric of having been the only Hindu kingdom with a pre-dominantly multi-ethnic society which legacy was continued from king-controlled Panchayat 'democracy' to the post-1990s multi-party democracy (Bahudal).
The Maoists became part and parcel of the same ruling clique which effectively ruled having the legacy of the Rana-Shah to the Bahudal rulers though now with a new and radical adjectives, 'post-monarchy' and 'establishment of Republic'. However, class character of ruling elite of the 'Naya Nepal' (new Nepal) as the Maoists love to call it, was no different other than following the same pattern of hill landowning upper caste Hindu feudal classes.
The power structure of this unitary Hindu feudal state was characterised by a multiple system of favouritism which included giving space for close family relatives (Natabad), to those already showing loyalty and considered as a family person (Kripabad) and to one's own people (Afnomanche), flattery and thus cultivating reciprocal obligations to a person who owns a superior status. These networks of social affiliations are finally linked to powerful Hindu monarchy which had nurtured these practices since its inception and had been promoting its people to practice Chakariwad (to serve and appease in seeking favours from god) and that was the sole motto of this feudal power structure which turned out to be having a comprador bourgeois legacy entwined with in web of centuries old dependency towards India and on the donation money through foreign aid (Bista, 1991).
Owing to the continuance of political economy of state formation that the Maoist leadership seldom thought of utilising state machinery in favour of poor- people in the country but remained busy building luxury houses in capital Kathmandu, promoting their family and kinsmen to get jobs in government sector and engaged in amassing what is popularly known as 'commission money', with organising of their party central committee meetings in five star hotels and resorts across the country. Prachand & his associates too followed this legacy of building a five star residential complex in Kathmandu to building many towers in the name of his father, wives and sons in different parts of the country. The whole party's leadership too followed him in the same manner and turned neo-rich and neo-feudal power elites. The everyday lives of masses showed no transformation but became worsened in these 7 years following increasing price rise of essential commodities. It was not surprising that a famous Nepali historian Regmi's work (1978) on agrarian distress caused due to the centuries old power elite of Rana-Shah families is more or less valid for the post-Maoist presence in power structure as the title of his book itself suggests, The Thatched Huts and Stucco Palace.
Re-structuring a feudal state?
The idea behind state re-structuring of a "semi-feudal / semi-colonial and comprador state" as per Maoists' world view was first brought into public discourse in 2001 during the first Peace Talk with the then state which they termed as the old State. This was a time, when for the first time, the idea of electing a CA was adopted by the Maoist party in public domain and to establish a Republic. With their revolutionary movement, the Maoists had considerably broken shackles of feudal exploitation which governed Nepal with a yardstick to contain its pristine identity of being the only Hindu kingdom in the world [on a predominantly semi-feudal agrarian economic setting] and being a 'developmen-talist state' based on foreign aid. They were also successful in exposing Indian state's hegemony over Nepal throughout its history of state formation. With the Treaty of Sugauli in 1816 with British Indian empire it has been called by many as merely a semi-colony of India (Stiller 1976). The Maoist people's war was on predicted lines as just two decades prior to the initiation of the people's war in 1996, a group of British scholars (P Blaikic, J Cameron & David Seddon 1980) had rightly anticipated the possibility of an armed uprising as their work was titled, Nepal in Crisis.
Through People's War, the Maoists were instrumental in engendering a political class consciousness among the masses nationwide. They popularised the idea that Indian state actually is behind maintaining the status quo of centuries old feudal production relations and under-development. All this was greatly channelised through anti-monarchy Jana Andolan-2 (People's movement) of April 2006 via to stunning victory of Maoists in CA-1 elections as masses took them as their saviours. The old parliamentary stalwarts had a stunning defeat at the hands of the hitherto unknown Maoist cadres. The reason was simple that through their revolutionaiy movement they were able to mobilise oppressed masses under the banner of the Jan Morcha's Forty Point demands prior to the People's War. It is no wonder people had hoped that only they could unleash a fundamental change against all parliamentary parties that ruled over them since the dawn of parliamentary democracy in 1990 by only continuing Panchayat 'democracy', the shadow of despotic monarchy.
The Maoist assertion of 2008 by giving a powerful voice of marginalised identities was built on their decade old political mobilisation in the countryside. Therefore it all resulted in poor peasants hope that only Maoists will release them from their centuries old misery or to re-phrase Catholic priest and historian Ludwig Stiller, The Silent Cry being heard from impoverished hills and Terai since the days of Rana regime. The Maoist victory became a reality to be reckoned with as their PLA was also present though in UNMIN supervised cantonments and the feudal and bourgeois classes feared about this. Although Indian state hoped that Nepali Congress would win after giving a hand to ignite anti-Maoist riot in Madhes since December 2006 by manipulating the Maoists and seven political parties' alliance regarding hurdles of federalism and by fuelling the centuries old exploitative rule of a hill centred Hindu monarchy. This newly emerged Madhesi front was led by those such as, ex-Maoist UpendraYadav to traditionally upper caste Hindu landlords of Nepali Congress like Mahant Thakur to Tharu landlord Bijay Kumar Gachhedar who were successful in fomenting the people's sentiment against the Pahadias from Terai districts on the issue of poor representation of Madhesi community in centuries old feudal power relations. They also received help from several dozens of armed groups who were against declaring Nepal a secular state and abolishing the world's only Hindu kingdom from the earth, in the fragile Nepal-India borderland.
Unfortunately, this time round, in November 2013, the original wishes of Indian ruling classes, turned a reality as all forces comprising of Unified ML 'left' to 'socialists', the right-wing Nepali Congress, once declared "class enemy" by the Maoists, they won 2/3 majority in the CA-2 and the Pragmatic Maoists were marginalised to the third place.
That is why only a section of the people cast their votes in this 'historic' ballot in the shadow of continuous political stalemate, poor preparation and external pressure of the Indian state to stage an election in haste. As a major section of political parties led by a split faction of the Maoists were in continuous opposition on the issue of completing Comprehensive Peace Agreement through CA-1 it failed altogether as neither a new Constitution was written nor could the formation of a national army by integration of PLA and [ex-Royal) Nepal Army take place.19 Moreover the UNMIN chief, Ian Martin had reminded by making a candid position at the UNMIN's exit from supervision of PLA in 2010. He had argued that a new National Army was not formed since the Nepali leaders lacked a "strong political will" to complete the Peace Process following Indian establishment's previous experience of dealing insurgencies (Martin 2010). In place, a surrogate government, led by KhilrajRegmi, the Chief Justice was installed in Nepal having no legitimacy since CA-1 was dissolved and as per interim constitution of Nepal, the CA-1 was also working as the parliament. All these were done by a 'consensus politics' among the four big players of the Pragmatic Maoists, NC, UML and Madhesi front. The voices which split from the Pragmatic Maoists, now known as Dash Maoists-led multi-party alliance was simply demanding that an all party conference be organised which could take a decision to form a national consensus government which could decide upon the election of a second round of election to CA-2. But this simple demand was marginalised in name of consensus politics, although, 'Dash Maoists' (radical Maoists) had come together with over two dozen smaller parties in a common platform.
The decreased number of polled votes shows it clearly that they had no other alternative than to re-test the old and tested corrupt, degenerated parliamentary parties who were known as anti-forces to the Maoist agenda of state-restructuring i.e., CA, Republic, and Federalism. Following a politics of Consensus since 2006, the Maoists had disbanded their countryside roots of peasant mobilisation of people's power (Nayasatta Jansatta) which had substantially weakened the power structure of feudal landlords and bourgeoisie who were absentee landlords with a link with capital Kathmandu. This new power relation had dialectically taken birth from the ten years of peasant mobilisation led by them and was essentially a by-product of People's War. Now with the constraining of the PLA in United Nations' supervised cantonments, their claim of being incorporated in ruling class became stronger.20 So they were lured by the same old arguments that 'masses are sheep and leaders can manipulate them" and got quite degenerated in less than 7 years like the old parliamentary parties who had been tested and known as corrupt after the dawn of multi-party democracy in Nepal.
1. A slogan in Nepali language which stands for 'To rebel is right of masses' which was issued by the Samukta Jan Morcha, Nepal while facing state repression in Western Nepal before the Maoists' initiation of People's War in 1996. The JanMorcha was a legal organization of the underground CPN- Ekta Kendra, later known popularly as CPN (Maoist). Prior to initiation of People's War in 1996, through this banner, the Maoists had fought general elections of 1991 and emerged as the third largest party in parliament. They had 9 seats in 1991 elections including 3 seats won in the four seats of Rolpa.
2. UCPN Maoist referred here as Pragmatic Maoist, otherwise popularly known as Cash Maoist. Prachand led Maoists which were known earlier as Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), now are known as Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) from 2008 after merger with many parties of reformist trends in the name of accomplishing insurrection. According to common Nepali psyche, the Maoists have made such amount of money by doing widespread corruption and plundering state resources as was done in the past by the old and established parliamentary parties and that their treasure would last for seven generations.
3. Here after CA.
4. KiranBhandari, 5 Mangsir, '23 lakh less votes polled compared to 2008 election' (in Nepali) accessed on 2 March, 2014 available at http://setopati.com/raajneeti/5802/
5. Thabang VDC (Village Development Committee) or simply Thabang is located in Rolpa district and it's bordering with Rukum district of Western Nepal. A VDC in Nepal is comprised of many small hamlets (tol) and for administrative purposes, divided into 9 wards (bada) usually.
6. Their party name is CPN-Maoist which came into being after a virtual split from the UCPN (Maoist) in June 2012 and it is led by veteran Communist leader Mohan Baidya alias Kiran. The split faction of unified Maoist party wanted to retain the original name of the party during the People's War. Since it had already existed and was led by MatrikaYadav who had not joined the unification bid of CPN (Maoist) with reformist fractions of various trends in mid-2009 in the name of accomplishing insurrection. Following any coherent ideological-political roots of split with UCPN (Maoist), as new group called for upholding urban insurrection by adding if/then notes of vague political understanding of political stalemate since the failure of CA-1 mandate of concluding Peace in Nepal and a new Republican Federal Constitution. Their eclectic understanding was reflected in their slogans for example 'Janyudha Jaari cha' (People's War is going on). They were also without any plan to unify other smaller Maoist fractions and had this egoist pride that they have 90 plus lawmakers and were third largest party in the now dissolved CA-1 of 2008. There were three kinds of suggestions that came up for debate in their national conference i.e. [CPN, Maoist], [CPN-Maoist] and Maoist Communist Party, Nepal. The present leadership chose the name, 'CPN-Maoist' following its petty bourgeois and eclectic grasp of Marxism and hence follows radical Maoism, also known as the 'Dash Maoist'. Neither could they instigate insurrection after splitting in 2012 after People's Liberation Arrry (PLA) was disbanded. However, they tried to resume armed struggle by replicating through presenting 40 plus points of demands to Cash Maoist PM Bhattarai on line of 1996 but failed miserably.
7. The Cash Maoist leaders Prachand & Baburam Bhattarai both had a humiliating defeat from one each seat but won from other seats amid many irregularities, rigging by its cadres and contestation of other parties. But instruction from the Singh Durbur (traditionally Prime Minister Office) helped them to win. Prachand immediately threatened to boycott these results but was assured by international power centres led by a former US president Jimmy Carter with India to calm down these 'claims' of widespread irregularities and fraud. Subsequently after a brief dilly dallying by initiating a unity talk; with the split Radical Maoists with warning of returning to 'People's War', he finally accepted this ordeal which promised a high power commission's investigation of alleged election irregularities and fraud. Interestingly not only the Cash Maoists but leading voices of Madhes assertion in 2007 i.e., Upendra Yadav too had a similar tone with them.
8. ln this multi-party formation, many Maoist-left and patriotic forces plus federal groups are included having local presence in various locations of the country. It was formed in late 2012 post-split in the Maoists and its number of parties was gone up to 43. Two fringe Maoist groups led by Matrika Yadav and Mani Thapa were two important figures of this alliance since its formation as they were once in central leadership of Polit Bureau of the original party before 2006. Though Matrika Yadav led CPN (Maoist), broke with this alliance in mid-August 2013 by terming Radical Maoist leadership as "opportunist" during their exercise of "political consensus" with ruling political parties alliance in forthcoming election. Yadav's CPN (Maoist) had wider influence in districts of the Madhesh and remained active to prepare space for boycotting election. Finally 33 parties remained in this formation which gave call of election boycott that was led by the Radical Maoist. The other Maoist groups notably are RCP (Nepal) led by Mani Thapa, and CPNM (Prachand- path). The other left forces include CPN (United) led by Pari Thapa, CPN (Marxist) led by Ambika Thaiba, and Prakash Adhikari-led CPN (United). The other federal and patriotic forces include notably Kumar Lingden-led Sanghiya Limbuwan Rajya Parishad (with wider presence in eastern hilly districts), Samajik Loktantrik Manch led by Chainya Subba, Rastriya Ekta Manch, Samta Party, Samabesi Party, etc. Mani Thapa-led Revolutionary Communist Party of Nepal remained in the coalition with various leftist small groups (i.e., CPN Maoist (Prachand-path), CPN (Che Guerawadi) to some district based smaller groups led by ex-Maoist cadres which broke away from mother party after the Peace Deal in 2006. Their mass base is scattered in hilly regions from districts of eastern Terai to western Terai. Some nationalist democratic forces (but not left wing) are also part ol this multi-party alliance.
9. The number of security mobilisation are as follows Nepal Amy=62000, Nepal Police=42000, Temporary Police=45000 and Armed Police=32000. See, http://www.nepalresearch.com/ accessed on 5 April, 2014.
10. Behind the curtain of this mainstreaming, the Indian state might also be keenly utilising this notion through Nepal's Maoist leadership about convincing of their fellow Indian Maoists to come for peaceful dialogue with the State. Refer, http://nepalitimes. com/news.php?id=9190
11. Henceforth CPA.
12. This tactics of aligning with parliamentary parties is known as the Chunbang Document passed by Central Committee meeting of the CPN (Maoist) in Chunbang VDC of Rolpa, soon after King Gyanendra's military coup on 1 February 2005. Baburam Bhattarai was the chief architect of this political line of alignment with parliamentary political parties since he argued that with only military strategy, it is impossible to capture state power. According to him, the Maoists already have been successful in establishing a stronghold and mass base in the countryside through People's War, so now the question is to establish the base among urban middle class for instigating insurrection and capture state power and complete New Democratic Revolution in Nepal. He asserted that it can only be done by this policy of joining hands with old parliamentary parties. Following the Chunbang Line, the Maoists had signed a Twelve Point Agreement with Seven Political parties through direct mediation of the Indian state in Delhi on 22 November, 2005. According to the Chunbang line, a joint anti-monarchy front must be built to end monarchical rule and establish a 'Federal Democratic Republic' through election of CA which would be anti-feudal and anti-imperialist in character and write a progressive Constitution. The document said that they would seek a United Nations (or UNMIN) intervention and will set a clause of integrating two armies [the Maoist's People's Liberation Army and Royal Nepal Army] to form a new national army which would never be agreed to by the domestic ruling classes and its bosses India and American imperialism. It further said that through this only way, they can proceed in the direction of accomplishing mass insurrection and capture state power. See, CPN(M) (2006), Nekpa Maobadi Ka Yethasik Dastavejharu (Nepali), Prasavi Prakashan : Eastern Command, pp. 254-25''.
13. Janjatis refer to the mongoloid-Tibetan ethnic communities, mainly inhabiting hilly region, such as Magar, Limbu, Gurung, Tamang, Tharu, Sherpas, Newars, etc. They claim themselves as the indigenous communities of the land. The Madhesis are the people living in the Terai plain around the Indo-Nepal border, assumed to be more connected to bordering north Indian state. Dalits are the lowest in the Hindu brahmanical structure, and they live both in the hilly as well as plain region. All these three groups are highly marginalised in the political structure of Nepal, except Newar ethnic community of Kathmandu valley.
14. For a detailed analysis, see, op. cit., Pawan Patel (2014).
15. In Maoist view, a new power relation known as people's power, (Nayasatta/Jansatta) supervised by their people's army opposed to old state controlled state's security forces was gradually taking birth once they defeated Nepal police effectively in September, 2000. In Dunai attack (September 24), the Maoists were successful in seizure of Dunai, headquarter of Dolpa district for many hours and had killed 15 armed policemen and had injured 48 more. They had razed every government building in the district police headquarter, jail and bank too and had controlled the area for more than 16 hours. They took 50 million rupees cash and set on fire loan and bond papers of peasants kept in Nepal Rastra Bank. They had arrested 17 government officials and released them after 3 days in Thabang througn a mediation of International Red Cross. The ruling Girija government was stunned by this attack and its home minister was forced to resign taking moral responsibility of this incident. Immediately afterwards (25 September), the Maoist leader Prachand had issued an appeal to government for a Peace Talk for the first time. The subsequent Maoist attack at Namule police post forced the then state to roll back over 2000 police posts countrywide with immediate effect. This led to the Maoists to announce their first district level people's government of Rolpa district at Bhabang VDC on 20 December, 2000. See, Nand Kishore Pun, 'Pasang' (2008).
16. This term is developed by a body of writings by Eurocentric social scientist scholars working on Nepal. A leading proponent is David Gellner who argues that Nepal was on roads of developmentalist state since after dawn of the king's controlled Panchayat rule and its speed was faster after arrival of multi-party democracy in 1990s after its incorporation to the process of globalisation. For more See, David Gellner (2002).
17. The Forty Point demands included questions of "Rashtriyata (nationality), Janvad (democracy) and Jan Jivika (people's livelihood)". It was presented to the Deuba government on February 2, 1996 by a delegation led by Baburam Bhattarai. See, Deepak Thapa & Bandita Sijapati (2004).
18. These were amalgam of those social formations of landlord and rich peasants to counter People's War post 1996 in the name of local resistance groups comprising of big landlords of both upper caste Hindus and Muslims to Tharu community. These were similar to the Ranveer Sena of Bihar in India. As Maoists came into parliamentary politics since 2006, these groups were mushrooming simultaneously. Some of them were also led by ex-Maoist leaders of Upendra Yadav's Madhesi People's Right Forum later transformed into a political party as Madhesi Janadhikar Forum and Jwala Singh-led armed group, Jantantrik Terai Mukti Morcha. From the end of 2006 to early 2007, they were operating in Terai and used to operate over this borderland by killing and abduction of the Pahadi (hill dwellers) and taking shelter in Bihar. The most infamous event was carried out on March 21, 2007 when 27 Maoist activists were gunned down in broad daylight amid a public procession in Gaur town of Rauthat district bordering Bihar. Around 60 activists were wounded from gun shots and all of this was carried out in name of Madhesi liberation. For a report of Gaur massacre see, http://www.nepalmonitor.com/2007/04/guar_massiicre_was_pr.html
19. The peace Process was concluded in a guerrilla style by deploying the Nepal Army by the pragmatic Maoist PM, Baburam Bhattarai before dissolving of CA-1 term in 2012. As against the CPA agreement of 2006, only a handful of less than 1500 PLA combatants were integrated out of 19,000 PLA personnel stationed in 7 cantonments. All other remaining PLA combatants were distributed token amounts ranging between 5 to 10 lakh as per their rank in the PLA structure. The basic idea of CPA-2006 was formation of a National Army by incorporation of the two armies. See, 'One Country Two armies' ends in Nepal, The Hindu, New Delhi, October 3, 2012.
Vol. 47, No. 16, Oct 26 - Nov 1, 2014