Maoist Rebels in Nepal

Maoist rebels who have cut off Nepal’s capital for four days pledged to expand their blockade to the Tibetan border as fresh violence left six people dead.

Political History of the Maoists in Nepal

The Nepal Communist Party was founded in 1949.

Until a new Constitution guaranteeing a multi-party system was adopted in 1990, however, most Communist politicians had been in exile. In coalition with a few other left wing political groups, representatives of the Maoist faction of the Nepal Communist Party founded the United People’s Front (SJM) in early 1991.

The SJM was active in Parliamentary politics and became the third largest party in the House of Representatives in 1991. By 1993, the SJM began to splinter. In 1995, former Parliamentarian Pushpa Kamal Dahal, known as Comrade Prachanda, left the SJM to form the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which would remain outside of politics and begin guerilla fighting.

Maoist Rebels in Nepal
Maoist Rebels in Nepal

The two organizations remained close, however, and the SJM was often identified as the political wing of the CPN (Maoist). In early 2000, the SJM was officially dissolved. The CPN (Maoist) is organized along a political front and a military front. Each front has committees at the country level, regional level, and district level. Comrade Prachanda is the leader of the Military Front.

The Maoists of Nepal see their armed struggle, based on Marxism – Leninism – Maoism, from three perspectives – the international, the Nepalese and the Indian.

While analysing the international situation, they admit that the proletarian movement all over the world has suffered a set-back, which, however, they consider as temporary, and that China, the birth place of Maoism, has been under the control of a counter-revolutionary group since the death of Mao. They attribute the set-back suffered by the international proletarian movement to international revisionism, modern revisionism, revisionism in China and Russian revisionism.

They are, at the same time, confident that the world would see in the medium term a revival of revolutionary fervour. According to them, the Shining Path guerillas of Peru sowed the seeds of this revival and, though they have suffered a set-back at the hands of the rightist opportunists, the spark of the revolutionary fire has since spread to Nepal and India from where it would set off a new prairie fire.

Maoist Rebels in Nepal
Maoist Rebels in Nepal

To quote Prachanda, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist): “Objectively, there is a dialectical relationship between the People’s War in Nepal and the whole international situation and movement. And what we think, and I think, is that a new wave of revolution, world revolution is beginning, because imperialism is facing a great crisis. Some people are saying that economically and culturally imperialism is in deeper crisis than before the Second World War. There are so many symptoms of radical change that the people’s movements are seeing around the world. And from an economic, cultural and political basis, we see that a new wave of world revolution is beginning. This is a fact. We have to grasp this question because just like Mao said, there will be 50 to 100 years of great turmoil and great transformation. From a practical point of view, the People’s War in Nepal is contributing to making and accelerating this new wave of revolution. And it is contributing to the organization of the international communist movement on a Maoist basis.”

They attribute the success so far achieved by them in Nepal to the correct lessons drawn by them by studying the experiences of the Maoist movements in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Iran, Turkey and Peru.

Prachanda describes the influence of the international proletariat on their movement as follows: “In the whole process of this final preparation…there was consistent international involvement. First and foremost, there was the RIM Committee (Revolutionary Internationalist Movement). There was important ideological and political exchange. From the RIM Committee, we got the experience of the PCP (Communist Party of Peru), the two-line struggle there, and also the experience in Turkey, the experience in Iran, and the experience in the Philippines. We learned from the experience in Bangladesh and from some experience in Sri Lanka. And there was a South Asian conference that we participated in. At the same time, we were also having direct and continuous debate with the Indian communists, mainly the People’s War (PW) and Maoist Communist Center (MCC) groups. And this helped in one way or another. It helped us to understand the whole process of People’s War.

“Therefore, what I want to say here is that one of the specific things about our People’s War, the initiation of our People’s War, is that there was international involvement right from the beginning. Right from the time of preparation, up to the time of initiation, and after the initiation, there was international involvement. Help, debate and discussion was there. It was a big benefit for us. It was a big help for the Nepalese masses. Theoretically we are clear, and every time we insist, that the Nepalese revolution is part of the world revolution and the Nepalese people’s army is a detachment of the whole international proletarian army. This is clear. But during preparation for the initiation and after the initiation we came to understand this, not only in a theoretical sense, but came to see the practical implications of this proletarian internationalism, what practical role it played. We made the point to the RIM Committee that when the People’s War in Nepal faces setbacks, then it will not only be a question for the CPN (Maoist), but will directly be a question for the RIM as a whole.

“People’s War, Maoist Communist Center and others in the revolutionary struggle in India have been involved in this process in one way or another. We understood right from the beginning that we should try to involve more and more sections of revolutionary masses in the process of our initiation. Therefore, beforehand, we made some investigation of Bihar in India. We went to Andhra Pradesh to look at the struggle there and we tried to understand the practical situation and practical problems of armed struggle.”

From the Nepalese perspective, they attribute their initial concentration on Western Nepal like the Rolpa and Rukum districts and the success achieved by them in building up revolutionary bases there to the following reasons:

  • It is a remote mountainous area with poor communications where the control of the Karhmandu-based Government is the weakest. It is ideal terrain for a revolutionary movement.
  • The influence of the Hindu religion is also the weakest in that area. The strong Hindu influence in other areas of Nepal acts as an obstacle to the spread of the revolutionary fervour.
  • In Western Nepal, the people mostly belong to the Mongolian ethnic groups, which are free from the upper caste chauvinism of the Hindu-dominant areas and the feudal influences of the Terai and other areas. The people of Mongolian origin have generally been more receptive to Marxist ideas than people of non-Mongolian origin. Moreover, historically, they have made very good fighters.

At the same time, the Maoists realised that if they focused only on building their bases in West Nepal and did not start operating in other parts of Nepal simultaneously, the security forces would easily be able to encircle and crush them. Therefore, while concentrating their initial efforts in the West, they simultaneously launched their armed struggle in other parts in order to force the police to disperse their strength all over the rural areas.

They see the success of their armed struggle as having to pass through the following three stages:

  1. The armed struggle against the Nepalese police, which they claim to have already defeated and de-moralised. They claim to be confident that the Nepalese Police is no longer in a position to counter them effectively.
  2. The armed struggle against the Royal Nepal Army which, according to them, is yet to start because the Army, which is directly under the King’s control, is fighting shy of a confrontation with the Maoists. Its role till now has been confined to helping the police in defusing improvised explosive devices. It has not undertaken any search and destroy or other counter-insurgency techniques. The Maoists do not want to take the initiative in attacking the army. Instead, they would prefer that the army comes into the rural/interior areas to attack them so that they could confront and defeat it.
  3. The armed struggle against the Indian army. The Maoists apprehend or even foresee that when they ultimately proclaim the establishment of a People’s Republic of Nepal either in the areas presently under their control or in the whole of Nepal, if and when they capture Kathmandu, India might not be a silent spectator of their success and that its Army might intervene to crush the Maoists. They proclaim themselves as confident of being able to take on the Indian Army, with the back-up support of the Maoists of India in general and of Bihar in particular. At the same time, they have been discussing how to confront the Indian army if it intervenes to crush the Maoist revolution in Nepal.

Prachanda says:

“We decided that we should initiate People’s War from different parts of the country. We should centralize in mainly three areas-East, Middle, West-and the capital. Cities should also be another point, not for armed clashes, but for propaganda and such things. And one other area where we should concentrate work is in India, because more than seven million Nepalese live in India. Therefore India should be the other point where we should make efforts to resist the ruling classes.”

Maoist rebels in Nepal blockaded the capital (AFP/Rob Elliott)
An elderly Nepalese man carries an 80kg bag of grain on his back through the streets of Kathmandu, as Maoist rebels who have blockaded the capital since August 18, continue to fight to abolish the monarchy.

“Ultimately, we will have to fight with the Indian army. That is the situation. Therefore, we have to take into account the Indian army. When the Indian army comes in with thousands and thousands of soldiers, it will be a very big thing. But we are not afraid of the Indian Army because, in one way, it will be a very good thing. They will give us lots of guns. And lots of people will fight them. This will be a national war. And it will be a very big thing. They will have many difficulties intervening. It will not be so easy for them. But if they stupidly dare…they will dare, they will be compelled. They will do that stupidity. We have to prepare for that. And for that reason we are saying we will also need a particular international situation. And for us this has to do mainly with India, Indian expansionism. When there is an unstable situation in India and a strong mass base there in support of People’s War in Nepal and there are contradictions within the Indian ruling class-at that point we can seize, we can establish and declare that we have base areas, that we have a government.”