People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Vol. XXX

No. 18

April 30, 2006



Nepal: A People’s Victory  


CELEBRATION TIME: People celebrating their victory on the streets of Kathmandu


THE 24th of April 2006 will go down as a historic day in Nepal. It is on this date that King Gyanendra backed down in the face of a massive popular movement and announced the reinstatement of the dissolved parliament. Since the call for a general strike on April 6 by the seven party alliance, for nineteen days the people belonging to all sections of society poured out into the streets. Defying brutal repression by the police and the armed forces, curfew and the shoot-at-sight orders, the people of Nepal waged a heroic struggle against the autocracy. Fourteen people, most of them young men, died in the brutal police firings and lathi-charges and 5,000 more were injured. Yet, there was no stopping the mass upsurge which spread to every part of Nepal.


The militant popular movement soon became a rebellion against the despotic King with the demand that the monarchy be ended. It is due to the people's upsurge that this victory was achieved. The first stage of the struggle against the autocracy and for the institution of a democratic republic has been successfully completed. The 12-point agreement arrived at between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists paved the way for the broadening of the popular movement for democracy and isolating the King who launched a coup 14 months ago.


The seven-party alliance has decided to form a government with Girija Prasad Koirala as the prime minister. The King in his proclamation announced that parliament would meet on April 28. The seven-party alliance has declared that the parliament will immediately decide on the holding of elections for the Constituent Assembly. This is a key demand which is part of the 12-point agreement between the seven parties and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).  The Maoists have rejected the King’s proclamation as a ploy to save his autocratic monarchy. The Maoists were not for reviving the old parliament. Instead, they were for an interim government formed after a political conference of all concerned parties and forces which can call for the Constituent Assembly elections. This problem can be overcome when the revived parliament takes up the setting up of a Constituent Assembly as the topmost agenda.


Madhav Kumar Nepal, the general secretary of the CPN(UML), which is an important constituent of the seven-party alliance, has announced that the new government would remove the characterisation of the Maoists as “terrorists”, declare a ceasefire, involve the Maoists in a dialogue and go for a Constituent Assembly. This approach provides the way for both sides – the new government and the Maoists – to go ahead and implement the 12-point agreement. The Maoists taking note of the prime minister designate’s statement that the Constituent Assembly will be the main agenda of parliament has announced the suspension of the blockade of Kathmandu and other towns till the parliament meets and takes a decision.


The first stage in the democratic transformation has to be consolidated by ensuring that the Maoists are brought into the political process so that there is an agreement on the next step towards a Constituent Assembly. The King will try his utmost in the coming days to retain as much power as possible including crucial control over the army. The United States has repeatedly emphasised the necessity for an understanding between the King and the seven parties excluding the Maoists. The US ambassador had denounced the 12-point agreement between the seven parties and the Maoists. The US will make all efforts to shore up the King.   


The BJP has been taken aback by the popular upsurge against the monarchy. After having lauded for long the monarchy of a “Hindu Kingdom”, the BJP finds the popular hatred for the King unpalatable. L K Advani has charged that the CPI(M) is trying to bring the Maoists into the political process which is against India’s security interests. Advani and the BJP are not in the least concerned about the people of Nepal and their democratic rights. The CPI(M) has welcomed the decision of the Maoist party in Nepal to participate in a multi-party democracy under the republican constitution. This provides the basis for a genuine democratic transformation in Nepal. The BJP, not surprisingly, has lined up with the United States against the democratic wishes of the Nepalese people.  


The UPA government should not make the mistake of alienating the people of Nepal by trying to pursue the old two-pillar concept of the monarchy and the multi-party system. Its response to the King’s earlier announcement of his preparedness to hand over executive power to the political parties was misguided and premature. The UPA government should boldly stand for a democratic transformation which is in tune with the aspirations of the Nepalese people. It should not seek to coordinate its policy towards Nepal with the United States, which is solely concerned with isolating the Maoists by using the King and the armed forces.