The sustained high tide in mass movement which followed last November's SPA-Maoist 12-point agreement and which compelled the pig-headed Gyanendra restore the Parliament in April 2006, has now forced the present dispensation make a proclamation more radical than normally expected of a Nepali Congress-led government.
Nepal 's revived Parliament stripped the King of his title as the Supreme Commander of the Royal Nepal Army, brought his private property and earnings into the tax net, and declared that his decisions can henceforth be debated in Parliament as well as challenged in a court of law. The resolution also declared, to the chagrin of fundamentalists in Nepal and India , that the world's only Hindu Kingdom will now be a "secular state". It also dissolved the controversial Raj Parishad, the King's advisory council, and assumed all powers to make legislation on the issue of royal succession. Royal household expenditure and other facilities including security arrangements for the Royal family will also be decided by Parliament. His Majesty's Government will henceforth be called Nepal Government while The Royal Nepal Army will be called the Nepali Sena, its chief appointed by the cabinet which will be the repository of all executive powers of the state. The civil administration and police forces will also be accountable to Parliament alone.
So powerful was the people's pressure on Parliament that all members, including those belonging to royalist parties which had refused to support Janandolan-II, voted in favour of the promulgation. Naturally, the people of Nepal celebrated their victory throughout the country and on this occasion we in the CPI (ML) once again congratulate them and their communist and other left and democratic vanguards.
CPI(ML)'s May Day Message of Greetings to the Fighting People of Nepal
Comrade Madhav Nepal
I am writing to congratulate you for the great initial victory won by the Nepalese people in their heroic battle for democracy in Nepal . On this May Day, please convey our warm revolutionary greetings to the central committee and the entire membership of CPN(UML) and all the fighting people of Nepal and our homage to the martyrs who have laid down their lives for the great cause of freedom and democracy. The powerful movement of the people of Nepal has been a great source of inspiration for progressive democratic forces all over the world and especially in India .
We hope and believe that the ongoing movement will lead to a still bigger consolidation of forces of leftwing republicanism in Nepal and succeed in realising the long cherished dream of establishing a progressive democratic republic by defeating every autocratic design of the US-backed monarchy. We hope the restoration of Parliament would pave the way for an early release of all political prisoners in Nepal and the formation of an elected constituent assembly in accordance with the popular democratic will of the Nepalese people. The victorious march of the Nepalese people in this direction will deliver a great blow not only to the reactionary feudal-royalist forces in Nepal but also to US imperialism and all its collaborators in the subcontinent.
On behalf of the democratic people of India we will continue to extend our total support to the democratic and republican aspirations and struggles of the Nepali people. We are aware of the apprehensions of Nepali people regarding the foreign policy of the Indian rulers towards Nepal , especially in view of the growing strategic partnership between India and the US and the continued Indian support to the discredited monarchy of Nepal . We would like to reassure the comrades and people of Nepal that the revolutionary people of India and our Party will continue to fight for a progressive and independent Indian foreign policy based on consistent anti-imperialism and friendly ties of solidarity, non-interference and mutual respect and cooperation with all our neighbouring and fellow developing countries.
Victory to the fighting people of Nepal !
Long live Indo-Nepal friendship and anti-imperialist solidarity!
Long live the fighting unity of the workers and oppressed peoples of the world!
With warm internationalist greetings of solidarity,
No less remarkable than these announcements is the fact that the king and the military top brass had been taken into confidence and they silently accepted the drastic changes. So did New Delhi . Washington, so far the staunchest supporter of King Gyanendra, greeted the proclamation almost as soon as it was made, and the EU followed suit. Conveying the US stand, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard A. Boucher said in Washington that he had traveled to Nepal earlier this month and that a US team in that country is now working out areas of assistance such as constitutional reform, strengthening the political parties, expanding rural projects, etc.
Does the recent move then signify a shrewd manoeuvre by the forces of compromise to save the monarchy by clipping its wings in a situation that was rapidly developing towards total abolition of that rotten institution, as often happens with high-ranking criminals who are "taken into custody" to protect them from public wrath? Is it a parliamentary coup against the popular forces fighting on the streets? Or is it a new achievement of the movement, a new stride forward in the long march towards a people's democratic republic? Both aspects, both trends, are inherent in the present juncture of bourgeois democratic reform; struggle alone -- struggle between forces of status quo and those working for radical change, a struggle which will be going on both in the parliamentary and extra-parliamentary arenas -- will decide which side wins. At the moment, for crafty, greedy politicians and the exploiting classes (as well as sections of the upwardly mobile middle classes) the motto must be: thus far and no further; divert all attention now to 'peace' (read disarming the Maoists) and economic development. For the basic masses and all progressive and revolutionary forces the slogan has to be: grasp the partial victories to carry the democratic revolution further and deeper.
Signs of this struggle are already to be seen. Soon after the parliamentary proclamation, Prime Minister Koirala said, "Let the King remain like the one in Scandinavia -a civilian King-who commands people's respect." This stands in stark contrast with the Maoist preference, shared by the overwhelming majority of politically active sections of the people, for complete abolition of monarchy. While generally welcoming the proclamation, CPN (M) general secretary Prachanda took exception to this and the silence on the 12 point agreement. Two days later he said in an interview that the interim government should have immediately begun negotiations with the CPN (M), dissolved the old Parliament, and assembled a new national body that would in turn organise elections for the drafting of a new constitution. "Now they want to marginalise us, to bypass us," Prachanda said of the parliamentary parties. He added that his party was hopeful about a peaceful resolution of the pending problems, but if betrayed as in the past, it would have to fall back on armed struggle again. However, leaders of CPN(UML), the second largest party in the ruling coalition, has repeatedly stressed the need for carrying the Maoists along. Meanwhile, industrial strife at Birgunj is being branded simply as a case of Maoist extortions, with the government doing little to address workers' genuine grievances.
Where does Nepal go from here? A road map consistent with the 12-point understanding needs to be worked out. Official talks between the Koirala government and the Maoists are in the offing, and much will depend on its progress and outcome. Politically, two questions are most sensitive and demand delicate handling. One is the manner of conducting constituent assembly (CA) elections and the delimitation of the constituencies for real representation, so that the new constitution may contain mechanisms for socio-economic transformation and guarantee of political and civil rights to all sections of people. The other is the question of arms and armies. Prachanda has rejected the notion that his troops will disarm before elections. He demanded instead that his troops be sequestered and kept under international supervision, provided the Royal Nepalese Army agreed to the same treatment. Enlightened opinion in Nepal holds that it is not impossible to absorb the PLA into a restructured national army of Nepal , as Maoists have proposed, but that is bound to be vehemently opposed by reactionary forces within Nepal and without.
In addition to these, there are other time taking and difficult tasks ahead. Without thoroughgoing land reform, the recent changes in state form will remain largely cosmetic. But a radical reform will mean a death blow to the Ranas and other feudal forces who have ruled the land till the other day, and this cannot be accomplished simply by legal measures without revolutionary struggle at grassroots. In a country with seven out of ten persons living below poverty line, employment and development are other priorities, but then it is equally necessary to resist political interference by those who are a bit too eager to offer liberal aid packages -- the US, the EU and of course, India. Then there are sensitive problems involving caste, gender and nationality. In a word, the more difficult part of a long and tortuous journey has just begun.
Eternal vigilance, it has been said, is the price of liberty. After 1990, the people of Nepal failed to pay up this price adequately enough and forfeited much of what they had gained in course of Janandolan-I. But they have learned their lessons well. In April this year, they not only forced the King to initiate the process of transfer of power to people's representatives, but directly supervised that process by means of a series of rallies, mass meetings and political activism in various other forms. Thus more than a lakh of people assembled at Ratna Park in Kathmandu on 28 April even as the restored parliament sat for the first day. "Take your oaths here, not at the Palace" roared the restive masses, "Don't stop halfway, and don't betray us". Leaders of almost all parties appeared there to interact with the masses: some were greeted with cheers, others booed off the stage. There was no let up in popular pressure even after the Koirala government took office. To take another typical example, speakers at a function organised by the Confederation of Nepalese Professionals (CONEP) to mark the May Day underscored the need to continue the movement. "This is not the time to celebrate victory on the street," said one speaker, "It is high time that we, from the streets, cautioned leaders to go for constituent assembly election."
Mass political surveillance of this magnitude, intensification of class struggle at the grassroots and a matching leadership role on the part of communist vanguards, we believe, will foil the attempts of vested interests to hijack the great achievements of the illustrious mass movement and usher in a thoroughly consistent democratic republic in Nepal . And that will definitely give a big boost to people's struggles in this part of the world.
Long live revolutionary Nepal !
Long live Indo - Nepal People's Solidarity!