People's Democracy

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


No. 18

May 18, 2008


Nepal: Portents For South Asia

Prakash Karat

THE successful holding of the elections to the Constituent Assembly in Nepal has been rightly hailed as a historic moment. The victory of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) has to be seen as a clear assertion of the will of the Nepalese people to set a democratic republic ending once and for all the feudal monarchy.

The election result in Nepal has another additional significance. It represents a vital break in the now familiar pattern of intervention and influence by US imperialism in the affairs of South Asia. Ever since the Seven Party Alliance and the CPN(M) came to an agreement in November 2005, the United States tried its best to wreck the political process initiated by the agreement. The then US ambassador, James F Moriarty attacked the agreement saying “We believe cooperation along current lines between the Maoists and the parties is fraught with danger – for the political parties and for the future of the Nepalese people”. The Bush administration had backed King Gyanendra when he usurped all powers and provided military aid to the Royal Nepalese Army. Later it began wooing the Madheshi groups hoping that the timetable for the run-up to the election could be upset. However, at every step from the formation of the interim government with the participation of the Maoists to the holding of the Constituent Assembly elections on April 10, the US plans were thwarted. The example of tiny Nepal defending its national sovereignty and standing up to US dictates should be an object lesson for the rest of South Asia.

These reverses for US diplomacy in Nepal come at a time when in India the opposition to the strategic alliance with the United States has made progress with the success registered so far in blocking the Indo-US nuclear deal. Consequently, the attacks on the CPI(M) are being stepped up as the prospects of the deal being operationalised as per the American deadline fade away. A desperate attempt is being made to urge the government to go ahead with the nuclear deal ignoring the objections of the Left parties and the entire opposition. One of the worn out charges resurrected to discredit the CPI(M) stand and to argue for going ahead with the deal is the accusation that it is acting at the behest of China. Two gentlemen, one a functionary of the FICCI and another a prominent strategic expert have suggested such a course of action.

The secretary general of the FICCI, Amit Mitra, has in an article in the Times of India (April 10, 2008) even gone to the extent of suggesting that the CPI(M) is conniving with China to scuttle the deal. He has made the ludicrous charge that “The Politburo members of CPM including some members of parliament, are whisked away from the airport in Beijing to an unknown destination with no information of their arrival, departure or schedule to the Indian embassy.” This has come from a person whose organisation maintains a regular office in Beijing. Moreover when the article appeared he himself was on a visit to China. The FICCI general secretary knows very well that all the national political parties including the Congress and the BJP maintain relations with the Communist Party of China. All party delegations who visit Beijing are given the same treatment as the CPI(M) delegations. Yet, the necessity to malign the CPI(M) overrides facts and even a semblance of being truthful. The FICCI should consider what its secretary general is doing utilising the columns of a leading newspaper to slander the third biggest party in the Lok Sabha.

As for strategic experts, the dominant variety are those who are “aligned” experts. K Subrahmanyam, is a prominent example. He is an ardent champion of forging a strategic alliance with the United States and one of those who sincerely believes in Condoleezza Rice’s promise that the United States will help India become a great power. He at one stage pleaded with the UPA government to ignore parliament’s objections and go ahead with the deal. He has written once again in the Indian Express (May 2008) railing at the communists. Commenting on the communists stand he writes “As faithful members of the communist ummah they want China to dominate Asia and the world ultimately. That they would like India to play a subordinate role”. Mark the choice of the word “ummah”. It is designed to rouse latent fears of an Islamic jehad in order to buttress the communist conspiracy. It is not ignorance that leads Subrahmanyam to talk of a non-existent Communist International. Such a body ceased to exist in 1945. It is a crude and deliberate attempt to tar the image of those who believe that a strategic alliance with the United States would harm India’s strategic national interests.

The obverse of this pseudo-posturing on national interests is the fact that Subrahmanyam and his ilk were in full throated support of the US invasion of Iraq. They will keep silent about Israel’s nuclear stockpile while joining the American chorus against the development of Iran’s nuclear technology. It is also a telling comment on the UPA government that it appointed such a person to head the task force on “Global Strategic Developments” under the National Security Council.

Coming back to the United States, its hypocritical stance of promoting democracy has been repeatedly shown up to be a sham in South Asia. In Pakistan, its firm support to the Musharraf regime despite its authoritarian measures evoked strong opposition from all sections of the people. The people of Pakistan deeply resent the US “war on terror” which has been imposed on it. The results of the elections to the National Assembly saw a rejection of this US sponsored regime. In Bangladesh, the United States alongwith its European allies, are extending full support to the military sponsored regime and is working for some sort of guided democracy to be set up there. Here again, the people of Bangladesh will assert themselves and the struggle for the restoration of democracy will pick up momentum and popular support.

With the American rulers blaming India and the developing countries for eating more food and causing a global hike in food prices; for consuming more oil and fuelling the oil price hike; and for increasing carbon emissions leading to global warming, it is time that the domestic lobbyists for the United States read the writing on the wall. Increasingly, the people of India and the South Asian countries are pitted against the American hegemonic designs. They are questioning and discarding those sections of the ruling classes who are unashamedly aligned to the imperialist power. The same treatment would apply to the lobbyists and strategic analysts too.