The future of Nepal’s king – “Either exile or trial before a people's court”
20 February 2006. A World to Win News Service.
The 13 February, the tenth anniversary of the people’s war in Nepal, was marked by military actions, a mass support rally in New Delhi, India, and a series of interviews given by Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) Chairman Prachanda to the Nepali, Indian and world media. Chairman Prachanda’s comment on the king’s future – or lack of one – caused a huge stir because friends and foe alike knew that it was not only a statement of intent backed by millions of people in revolt and a rapidly advancing revolutionary army, but part of a specific plan and timetable.
The demonstration held 12 February in the Ramlila Maidan, in the heart of Delhi, was organized by the Nepali Jana Adhikar Samrakshen Samiti (Nepalese People’s Rights Protection Committee, India). Approximately 50,000 people of different nationalities from across India attended, from Meghalaya in the east to Gujarat in the west, and from Srinagar in Kashmir to Kerala in southern India. Nepalese living in India came from 150 cities in 22 Indian states.
A broad political spectrum of speakers addressed the crowd. They included people associated with the CPN(M) and the Communist Party of India (Maoist), leaders of major Indian and Nepali parliamentary parties and other political organizations, the president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Association, oppressed caste organization representatives, human right activists and well-known journalists and intellectuals. A spokesman for the World People’s Resistance Movement (South Asia) spoke, as did representatives of revolutionary Nepali mass organizations of women, students, peasants and cultural people.
The programme begun with a minute’s silent tribute to the martyrs of Nepal, India and the world over who have sacrificed their lives for the emancipation of humanity from all exploitation and oppression. Then the communist anthem The Internationale roared from the throats of many in the crowd. All speakers emphasized the need to overthrow the monarchy in Nepal and establish people’s democracy. The powerful spirit of the programme reflected the tremendous battering the people’s war in Nepal has given to the old state and the coterie of Nepalese feudals and bureaucrat capitalist elements it represents. Among the speakers, the representatives of parliamentary parties in Nepal and India stressed the need to elect a constituent assembly, end the monarchy and establish a republic of Nepal, while the Nepali and Indian Maoists stressed the abolition of the monarchy and demanded that India drop its “two-pillar policy”. (India holds that the “two pillars” for the Nepalese political system should be multi-party democracy and a constitutional monarchy.)
In the war in Nepal itself, in mid-February the Royal Nepalese Army reported that it was conducting major helicopter bombing raids in Palpa and Napalparasi, where it had suffered serious defeats in the first weeks of the month. The People’s Liberation Army also launched several successful attacks on the day of the anniversary itself. On 17 February, the CPN(M) announced that the People’s Liberation Army under its command would block roads leading to the capital and other major cities in March and called for a country-wide bandh (shutdown) starting 3 April.
This timing is especially significant in light of Chairman Prachanda’s remarks in the extensive interviews he gave the Nepali newspapers Kantipur and The Kathmandu Post, the Indian daily The Hindu and the BBC World Service (all are available online in English). As a major part of the party’s 10th anniversary celebration, Chairman Prachanda outlined his views on the future of the Nepalese revolution, the prospects for world revolution and the responsibility of the world’s Marxist-Leninist-Maoists to develop the science of revolution to new heights so as to achieve socialist revolution country by country and advance to communism across the Earth.
Despite the sweep of his discussions, what most attracted the attention of the media and created the biggest stir among reactionaries in Nepal and abroad was the following answer to a question posed by the BBC: “In history, wherever there has been a revolutionary movement, when a people's movement moves forward – in the process of revolution, a clique of feudal elements will be staying within the fortifications of the army. They will stay in there until their end comes but in the end, revolution will, as seen by history, destroy the feudal elements and in the end, these elements will have to come to the people's court and be tried. We believe that in the near future, these elements will be in the people’s court and will be tried by the people.”
This statement rocked not only the royal palace and Singhadarbar (the seat of government), but also the US Embassy in Kathmandu. The American envoy to Kathmandu has again begun going door-to-door to collar the parliamentarian leaders and persuade them to capitulate to King Gyanendra. At a public occasion in Kathmandu 14 February, US Ambassador to Nepal James F. Moriarty expressed his regret both for the split between the king and the parliamentary parties since the king dismissed parliament last year and for the recent memo of understanding for joint struggle against the king signed by these parties and the CPN(M). “If the king and the parties reconcile, they can find a path back to genuine democracy and effective means to counter the insurgency,” he said. “If the king and the parties remain divided, the Maoists will keep on winning.” Then he warned, “Reconciliation between the king and the political parties would bring back democracy in the country while the failure in it could haul the country to great misery and the Maoists would inevitably seize power.”
In a bid to bring the parliamentarians and the king together, the US put pressure on the Royal Army and King Gyanendra to release ousted Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba from prison. Similarly, the Royal Commission for Corruption Control (RCCC), set up by the king after his coup to harass and imprison leaders of the opposition parties, including Deuba, was scrapped. These measures were taken by the Supreme Court and have been touted as evidence of the court’s independence.
Actually, they represent desperate political manoeuvring by the monarchy. They came in parallel with a campaign by the king’s hand-picked ministers to get the parliamentary parties to accept compromise and reconciliation with the royal palace. These ministers have been telling the press and political meetings staged under tight Royal Army security that what they call the constitutional elements should be in one league. They have particularly stressed that the Supreme Court decisions are evidence of the viability of the present system.
Directly responding to Chairman Prachanda’s BBC interview, Gyanendra’s Home Minister told Nepal Television that the king is the incarnation of god and bringing him before a people’s court would be a deadly blow against god himself. But as millions of people in Nepal have come to see, courts are an organ of political power and the king’s political power rests on this army and ultimately the backing not of any god but of US imperialism. It is very likely the American ambassador himself is the “god” who has been telling the king and his “independent” Nepali Supreme Court what to do. Some parliamentary leaders criticized the American intervention and the ambassador’s arrogant “suggestions”.
Answering a question from Kantipur, “When will this series of violence end?”, Chairman Prachanda replied, “I can't answer this question like an astrologer. If things go as we have said, it should end in two to three months. We want to see things crystal clear by April 6. We have been trying to see the civil war has an outlet.”
Chairman Prachanda had referred to this “outlet” in a speech he gave 1 February, on the occasion of the PLA takeover of the headquarters of the district of Palpa in central Nepal: “It has been proven historically that the feudal elements never intend to leave even an iota of power unless they are forcefully overthrown. It is sure that the faster the massive resistance develops with clear slogan of a People’s Democratic Republic, the faster the people will attain People’s Democracy and the faster the series of the destruction of the people’s lives and property will come to an end. Along with this, our Party makes a special appeal to all the jawans (rank and file soldiers) of the Royal Army and police to revolt against the ardent and shameful feudal autocrats and write a new chapter in history by standing on the side of the people’s aspiration for the people's democracy.”