The rise of the far right in Nepal

B.D Bista

Far-right groups in Nepal have been gaining some momentum in the recent time. With the major political parties still lingering over the promulgation of a constitution through the constituent assembly and with the masses feeling betrayed by their leaders and with their common day to day grievances going unheard, the far-right has found the perfect time to raise its head again, after being buried by a wave of a Maoist popular revolt and a mass uprising that led to the abolition of monarchy and founding of a secular, federal democratic republic.

The monarchist party RPP Nepal has long been advocating the reinstatement of the monarchy and the Hindu state. From the first constituent assembly that failed to draft a constitution within the stipulated time period to the second constituent assembly, the party has managed to more than triple its votes from 76,864 to 252,579, an increase from a meagre 0.74% to 2.79%. Although it still is a tiny minority of votes, its influence on the people which seems to be increasing day by day, cannot be measured from their votes alone. The two major political parties Nepali Congress and CPN(UM-L) turning their backs on the previously agreed agendas and the Maoist party led by Prachanda and Baburam unable to intervene, with them slipping to being a minority from being the single largest party in the first constituent assembly and the masses feeling alienated from them, it is only helping the cause of the far-right groups.

Moreover, a faction of the Nepali Congress Party led by the notorious Khum Bahadur Khadka, who had boasted of suppressing the Maoist rebellion within weeks when it first broke out in 1996 when he was the minister for home affairs, has formed a Hindu ‘army’ and recently threatened to cut off arms of all non-Hindus in a demonstration. Just yesterday, the Prime Minister Sushil Koirala from the governing party Nepali Congress, while receiving a memorandum from.the monarchist party RPP Nepal, said that he had no idea where secularism came from, implying that his party was never in its favour, unsurprisingly, as all these agendas like abolition of monarchy, secularism etc were pushed forward by the Maoists. To add to that, the ascension of the right-wing Hindu chauvinist party BJP to power in India, which has been historically meddling with Nepali politics, has helped the far-right Hindu groups here in Nepal too. Many of the BJP leaders have openly called for reinstatement of Nepal as a Hindu state. They have been comparatively silent on the question of monarchy. But it’s no secret that they favour a comeback of a Hindu monarchy. The ex-king Gyanendra himself has been lobbying amongst the BJP leadership, including the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the last time being during his visit to New Delhi a few weeks back,

The Maoists themselves are in no position to deal with the rising tide of right-wing forces. In addition to dissolving their parallel government, courts and the army, they have also dismantled their last militant force, the Young Communist League a few years back, which would have been an important force to counter the far-right. The party has split twice, recently just a few weeks back. They have drifted away from the classes they claim to represent and more importantly, they haven’t realized the gravity of the situation. If the far-right manages to gain more strength or come to power in the near future, which is not impossible, the Maoists will receive the first blow.

The faster they realize the impending danger, the better will they be prepared to face it. But given the current situation and their attitude towards this issue at hand, it’s unlikely that they will take the necessary steps.

In conversation with a Nepali Bolshevik

In this interview with a radical bolshevik student from Nepal, Bibhusit Bista, we publish a set of responses to some important questions pertaining to Nepal and the revolutionary process over there, understanding what are the political and social forces at work in determining class struggle in Nepal.

1) The Nepali revolution was a landmark in recent world history. It was what can rightfully be called as the first ‘Spring” of the 21st century. It was also important as a part of the revolutionary struggle in South Asia where monarchy was abolished. But since the beginning of the revolution, there have been many negative developments and it appears that the social agenda is not being pursued. The revolution appears to have stopped at the achievement of a republic. Would you agree that the revolutionary process has ended at the republic ?  What is the present situation in Nepal and what is the future of class  struggle in Nepal ? 

1. The ‘speciality’ of Nepali revolutions/uprisings till date is that all of them have ended in reaction. Be the 1950 revolution against Ranas, 1980 students’ uprising, 1990 uprising or lately, the 2006 uprising. One of the chief features is the class-collaborationist, Menshevik line adopted by Communist Party of Nepal during these events. Its failure to recognize the reactionary nature of the bourgeoisie has always applied brakes to the evolving revolutionary situations. With their continuity of this tradition, this time by the Maoists, Nepal has once again fallen to a period of reaction. The UCPN-M seems to have adopted Menshevik theories while CPN-M led by Mohan Baidhya look unclear. What’s common to both is their insistence on aligning with the non-existing revolutionary bourgeoisie which is supposed to be ally of the working class.

The revolutionary tide seems to have receeded. With the recent split in the Maoist party, there is a chance of revolutionary polarisation. But here in Nepal, there’s no genuine revolutionary alternative.

2)  The recent statements from the Maoist leadership in Nepal has stated that they would like to ‘normalize’ relations with india and also called for greater foreign investment in Nepal. There have been many other overtures from the Maoists in Nepal which seem to indicate a reversal in policy of the revolution. Our question is,  what do you feel has been the role of the Maoists in the development of the revolutionary process ? 

2.The Maoists actually played an important role in the development of revolutionary processes. But they are also equally responsible for giving it a death-knell. There’s a great significance of the “People’s War” in unfolding the latter political developments in Nepal. The political consciousness it aroused, mainly among the peasants and the social gains in their base areas have a great importance. Even the 2006 uprising became effective only after Maoists joined it. In a country where almost 80% of the population are peasants, Maoism appeals a lot to them. But when put in practice, it starts showing its faults. Vice-chairman of UCPN-M and Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai believes that to sustain the Nepali revolution, it’s essential to take one of our neighbours in confidence. In this case, India. He also sees the indispensability of “national capitalism” before the transition to socialism. But that is totally a defeatist position resulting directly from the Stalinist two stage theory.

3) Can you give us an overview of the classes and parties in Nepal and what role they play and are playing presently ? Which political force has been in the leadership of the working class, students and peasants respectively ? Which segment played the vanguard role in the revolution and what was the role of each sector of society during the revolution in 2006 ? 

3. Peasantry constitute around 75%-80% of the population. They are mainly represented by Maoists. As we’ve seen before, a part of it have played a revolutionary role. The industrial proletariat is mainly under the reformist CPN(UML). But recently Maoists have also gained some hold but the unions are full of corrupt bureaucrats. The working class has been totally misled and there’s a dire need for a revolutionary, militant alternative. Speaking of the working class, there’s a large number of transnational proletariat working mainly in India and the middle east. Besides these, there’s Nepali Congress Party which represents the bourgeoisie-landowners. There’s also a monarchist party and some fringe parties, mainly representing a section of the prtty-bourgeoisie. There are 3 major students unions, of which Maoist affiliated ANNISU-R seems to be the largest. The other two are Congress affiliated NSU and ANNISU affiliated to CPN(UML)
The April uprising of 2006 was a spontaneous one, Pretty much like the February revolution in Russia. We saw people from all walks of life take part in it-peasants, workers, doctors, civil servants, doctors, lawyers etc. We at times saw women leading the protests and strikes. The students mainly were the vanguard of the revolution. They were not only the vanguard but the guiding revolutionary force who called for republic and not just the reinstatement of parliament.  The working class played all important role. The royal regime shook to its foundation once they went on a general strike. All we lacked is a farsighted revolutionary party with a revolutionary tactic.

4) With this background, what would you say would be the path of development for a Bolshevik Leninist *( Trotskyist ) party in Nepal ? Additionally, there was a clear hand of imperialism in the sabotaging of the Nepali revolution, in particular the Indian ruling class played a leading role in formulating the compromise between Maoists and the republicans and monarchy. What do you feel about the need for an internationalist political approach in Nepal ? 

4.I think we should start off with a Trotsky reading circle and build a party around it. There’s a total absence of Trotskyist literature here in Nepal. People seem to be unaware of him and his ideas. So, for the formation of an organisation, we need to start from scratch. The Maoists are also being discredited by the masses. So, I think this is the perfect time to introduce Trotsky to the Nepali masses.
The Indian ruling class has always been dominant in Nepali politics. Since the 1950 uprising, the leading revolutionary force have bowed down to them at the decisive moments. The same thing happened during the April uprising. The fate of the uprising was already sealed as a result of the compromise between the Maoists and the & party alliance, facilitated by the Indian ruling class. It will be foolish to expect the Indian ruling class to end its hegemony in Nepal and pave way for the proletariat to power. So, an internationalist approach is a must to advance the cause of the proletariat here in Nepal.

5)  Of late there has been a concerted attack on Trotsky by the Maoist press. It seems as if there is a fear in the minds of the Maoists towards Trotsky and his ideas especially of permanent revolution. What is the situation of Trotskyism in Nepal ? Are there any groups or individuals involved in any kind of party or group building effort ?

5. Trotskyism in Nepal is infant. Nepali Communist movement has been dominated by Stalinism-Maoism since its beginning. People still view Trotsky from the eyes of  the Stalin-era falsified history. Many of the seasoned Maoists seem to have the same view. The attack on Trotsky is typical of Stalinists-Maoists, here and elsewhere. Yes, they seem to fear his ideas and do everything they can to discredit him. But there’s a new interest developing towards the revolutionary legacy of Trotsky and his ideas and I think that the future is bright for Trotskyism in Nepal.
There are only a handful of Nepali Trotskyists I know of. Some of them are associated with International Marxist Tendency, which seems to be practicing the entryist tactic. But I have not known of any independent trotskyist group/organisation here in Nepal.”