Nepal, The Saga Of Compromise And Struggle Continues
By Pratyush Chandra
28 April, 2006
As sniffing K9s of the global
hegemony, the corporate media around the globe smelled Maoist activists'
and pamphlets' presence in the post- April 6 protests as proofs of the
Maoist infiltration. The BBC reported on April 24: "There are very
real fears that Maoist rebels could well use the opportunity to fill
the void and take control of the protests. Maoist activists are already
believed to have been present at many of the rallies, and there have
been several instances of Maoist campaign pamphlets being distributed
among the protesters. The last thing the parties want is for the protests
to spin out of control and for the Maoists to move in, a view that is
fast gaining currency." Such rumour mongering by the corporate
media is definitely sufficient to send their own masters to psychotic
fits of Global McCarthyism. It can also buy a compromise between the
King and the anti-communist section of the Nepali middle class trained
during the US' Cold War aid regime who grabbed the leadership of many
moderate democratic parties after the 1990 arrangement. However, it
means nothing to the local population. They know that the Maoists were
the only force facilitating their politicisation to the degree that
they could sustain mass strikes for so many days.
Of course, the 7+1 alliance
was a great jolt to the vastness of "popular exclusion" that
the Nepalese polity and its sponsors have till now maintained by utilising
the weapon of "divide and rule". And we saw literally a new
version of Samudra Manthan (churning of the seas) and the whole Nepal
was drowned in the resulting tide. The General Strike in Nepal that
continued to gain momentum since April 6 demolished the floodgates already
tattered in the course of Maoists' continuous assaults for a decade.
These gates erected during the six decades of continuous betrayals forged
and financed by the complex international network that combines the
global, regional and local ruling classes had trapped and 'subalternised'
the confidence and consciousness of the Nepalese downtrodden. Today
the gates are nowhere. Throughout Nepal curfews and "shoot-on-sight"
orders have been enforced and defied. "Emotionally charged sea
of the masses in the streets manifests that the liberation forever from
the feudal monarchy, which has been betraying since the past 250 years
in general and 56 years in particular, is the earnest and deep aspiration
of the Nepalese people" (Prachanda's Statement, April 22).
Justin Huggler aptly captured
the scenario for Independent (UK) on April 22 after King Gyanendra did
his first bid to buy off the leadership by offering the protesting parties
the Prime-Ministership. "Looking tense before the camera, King
Gyanendra said: 'We are committed to multi-party democracy and a constitutional
monarchy. Executive power of the kingdom of Nepal, which was in our
safekeeping, shall from this day be returned to the people.'" On
the other side of the political fence: "'Death to the monarchy!'
they chanted as they marched. And as they walked, the people of Kathmandu
lined the streets to cheer them on. This was a nation on the march.
Several police lines fell back before them. Soldiers guarding the airport
grinned and gave them signs of support."
After the King's second bid
on April 24 once again the million-dollar question remains "whether
the announcement will be welcomed as readily on the street, where hundreds
of thousands of Nepalis have called for the monarchy to be abolished"
(Huggler in Independent, April 25), despite the fact that the Seven
Party Alliance (SPA) has accepted the King's offer to reinstate the
Parliament, dissolved in 2002 on the recommendation of one of the leaders
in the SPA. Guardian (April 25) reports, "There is a danger that
crowds may take to the streets in defiance of the political leadership.
Yesterday, speakers at rallies in the capital's suburbs repeatedly said
they would not be "tricked" by the king."
What we witness in Nepal
today is a unique dialectic of spontaneity and organization in full
operation that characterises any great movement. "The masses are
in reality their own leaders, dialectically creating their own development
process" and the 'leaders' are forced to or willingly "make
themselves merely the mouthpiece of the will and striving of the enlightened
masses, merely the agents of the objective laws of the class movement".
(Rosa Luxemburg) At least one section of the political leadership is
conscious of this dialectic, when it says: "[T]his movement has
not now remained to be a movement only of either seven political parties
or the CPN (Maoist) or civil society or any particular group but as
a united movement of all the real democratic forces, who have been repeatedly
deceived by the feudal autocratic monarchy since 1949." (Prachanda
& Baburam Bhattarai's statement, April 17, 2006)
By rejecting the present
compromise the Maoists show their respect to the Nepalese downtrodden
who fought valiantly for the basic demand to form the constituent assembly
- the institution that will give them at least a say in the process
of 'democratisation' curtailing its patrician character and may serve
as the foundation of the new democratic Nepal. Even though the wavering
petty bourgeois parliamentary leaders afraid of the radicalised masses
unilaterally withdrew their support and rejoiced on the restoration
of their privileges, let us hope the Maoist rejection and the grassroots
unity across various political formations built in the yearlong united
people's struggle will keep them sober.
A commenter on International
Nepal Solidarity Network's website (insn.org) thus reacted to the news
of the King's announcement:
"In protests, for a
moment, people from all classes were present… They will once again
split into the political camps, who best represent their class interests.
The only 'people' who will continue to be on the streets are those who
were already there on the streets and fields before the protests - who
will continue to fight to survive. The 'protests' have at least given
them a rough map of the political scene of Nepal, and heightened their
confidence and consciousness."
However, we must admit that
the recent protests marked a new phase in the Nepalese struggle for
democracy and self-determination. From now onwards nothing remains consecrated
in Nepal, beyond popular scrutiny and criticism. Every section of the
society is politically charged. We see democracy in action in the streets
Tariq Ali rightly puts (Guardian,
April 25): "What the uprising in Nepal reveals is that while democracy
is being hollowed out in the west, it means more than regular elections
to many people in the other continents". It means the people's
right to root out their own poverty, the democratic control of the Nepalese
human and natural resources, ending the caste, national and gender privileges
and discriminations… It means to have a Constitution that secures
all these fundamental rights, and for that they demand a constituent