THE COMMUNIST Party of Nepal-Maoist, which broke with the revisionist leadership of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) in 2013, has emerged greatly strengthened after a successful mass boycott of imperialist-backed elections last November, Peter Tobin, a freelance journalist and sympathiser with the CPN-M, told a New Worker discussion meeting in London last week.
Tobin gave an eye-witness report on the complex situation in Nepal after spending six months there, during which a warrant was issued for his arrest for interfering in the election process after he spoke at a CPN-M election boycott rally. He began by explaining the background to current developments.
“In June last year a formal break took place after the leaders of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), [the name the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) adopted in 2008 after merging with smaller parties] – so-called ‘Supreme Leader’ Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai – agreed to a United Nations-backed settlement that saw and the People’s Liberation Army disarmed and disbanded, and the gains of a 10-year people’s war squandered.
“A new party, the CPN-M, emerged led by Mohan Baidya (alias Kiran), a veteran of the People's War and briefly vice-president of Nepal in the first Prachanda-led government. Prachanda’s wing continued to call itself the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).
“The CPN-M has acquired the nickname ‘Dashists’, while Prachanda’s party is popularly known as the ‘Cashists’ due to their penchant for corruption and bribe-taking.
“Baidya told the CPN-M’s founding conference, which was attended by delegates from the Communist Party of China and the Workers Party of Korea, that ‘we will make a new constitution on the streets’. A strategy was adopted to launch a people’s revolution, based on a people’s war, and to rebuild the Red bases and the People’s Liberation Army.
“The CPN-M leadership have declared they will restore collective leadership and democratic centralism.
“The CPN-M also leads the 33-Party Alliance made up of smaller communist and ethnic minority parties which emerged after the announcement of new elections in 2013, and talks over the CPN-M merging with some of the smaller parties in the alliance are currently taking place,” Tobin said.
“The elections were an object lesson in ‘managed’ polls with the deployment of 74,000 international observers, 62,000 troops, 24,000 police, and 44,000 temporary police. A staggering 36 billion Nepali rupees was spent (compared to three billion for the 2008 election), much of which was siphoned off in a jamboree for thousands of observers and NGO [non-governmental organisations] staff.
“But despite claims by government and the international observer brigade that the election was a triumph with a 70 per cent turnout, the electorate was five million fewer than in 2008, and five million voters had somehow ‘disappeared’.
“The election turned into a humiliation for Prachanda, and in my estimate the boycott was supported by 50 per cent of voters and in some villages 100 per cent. The CPN-M, despite having a huge range of forces opposed to it, emerged from the election considerably strengthened.
“A 10-day strike called by the CPN-M was solid across the country with the exception of Kathmandu where it faltered after three days, and Prachanda was forced to campaign by helicopter due to protests and roadblocks.
“Despite standing in two constituencies as a safeguard, Prachanda lost his existing seat in Kathmandu to the great delight of the boycott supporters, and his party fell from first to third place nationally.”
The discussion looked at the background to Prachanda’s betrayal and Tobin recalled: “During the people’s war, in 2005, Prachanda succeeded in pushing through a commitment for the CPN(M) to adopt the goal of ‘multi-party democracy’, arguing this would pave the way to gain access to the cities.”
Tobin said that events in Nepal had major implications for the rest of South Asia and many other developing countries, and called for the Left in Britain to follow events there more closely.