Communist leader: ‘We will construct a new Nepal’
Published Oct 4, 2008 7:27 AM
Prachanda, the new prime minister of Nepal and chairperson of the Communist
Party of Nepal (Maoist), spoke to a meeting of progressives here on Sept. 25.
He was visiting New York for the United Nations General Assembly opening.
From left to right, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Nepali Prime
Minister Prachanda, Sara Flounders of the International Action Center and
LeiLani Dowell of Fight Imperialism, Stand Together
WW photo: John Catalinotto
Comrade Prachanda (born Pushpa Kamal Dahal) led the 10-year people’s war
that ousted Nepal’s monarchy and old parliamentary system. The CPN(M)
came in first in Constituent Assembly elections held earlier this year with 37
percent of the vote.
Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark and the International Action Center
hosted the by-invitation event, which was attended by a broad representation of
progressive forces in New York. The program was co-chaired by Sara Flounders of
the IAC and LeiLani Dowell of Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST).
In her opening remarks, Flounders emphasized the importance of the
people’s war in opening up avenues for real democratic and social change
in Nepal by going outside the corrupt structure of the parliament and refusing
to accommodate the monarchy. This has helped not only to displace the royalty,
but to lay the basis for a Constituent Assembly to create new democratic
structures and rewrite Nepal’s constitution. Flounders said this was a
powerful example of how the struggle of poor and working people, coming from
the grassroots, was the fundamental condition for social change.
Ramsey Clark introduced Prime Minister Prachanda, whose name translates as
“the fierce one.” Prachanda’s ferocity, said Clark, is for
social, political and economic justice for his people.
Standing ovation greets Prachanda
Prime Minister Prachanda was greeted with a standing ovation and raised fists.
He spoke to the gathering in English and afterwards answered questions from the
Comrade Prachanda explained that the CPN(M) has tried to understand the lessons
of the international communist movement, of the revolutions and
counter-revolutions of the 20th century. He briefly reviewed the history of the
people’s war, which began in 1996 after the monarchy’s violent
repression of mass demonstrations in both the capital city, Katmandu, and in
rural areas where the CPN(M) was strong. Prachanda said that his party worked
to explain to the people that it was not opposed to peaceful change, but that
all avenues had been closed and armed struggle was necessary.
After five years of civil war, the CPN(M) embarked on a serious internal
discussion of the lessons of previous revolutions, including the 1917 socialist
revolution in Russia. At this time the party adopted the idea that a multiparty
system and political competition should exist even under socialism.
They determined that this is what Lenin would have done had he lived another
five or 10 years, in the process of trying to build the basis for a socialist
economic system in Russia. Lenin would not have followed the same path as
Stalin, who made “serious mistakes in his understanding of philosophy and
dialectical materialism,” according to Prachanda.
Following this internal discussion, the CPN(M) initiated negotiations with the
Nepali government. However, the talks failed because the government rejected
the minimum condition of a constituent assembly.
The democratic revolution must be completed to carry through the socialist
revolution, Prachanda said. He explained that through its stupidity and
intransigence, the monarchy played a very important part in how the revolution
developed. The result was an understanding between those carrying out
people’s war and other parties involved in the mass struggle.
Bourgeois democratic and people’s movements fought side by side,
including armed struggle in the countryside. This culminated in 19 days of mass
actions that brought about the beginning of the end for the monarchy in
Prachanda commented on the “confusion of some people” when the
Maoists became the leading party in Nepal. He said the CPN(M)-led
government’s mandate consists of three tasks: 1) drafting a new
constitution; 2) carrying through the peace process, termed the
“rehabilitation and integration” of the Nepali armed forces; and 3)
initiating new economic development.
When he visited China for the closing of the Olympic Games, Prachanda
explained, he tried to convey that “we are making a big
experiment—not only for Nepal, not only for South Asia, but for the
people of the world. We communists are more flexible and dynamic. We try to
develop our ideology according to new conditions. We understand the dynamic of
Just three years ago, Prachanda said, he was labeled a terrorist by the U.S.
and had a price on his head of 55 million rupees (about $1.2 million). The
CPN(M) is still on the U.S. “terrorism watch list,” even though he
is now representing Nepal at the General Assembly. Prachanda joked about the
leaders of the U.S. being the ones who are truly “sectarian and
dogmatic,” not the communists. He thanked the audience for the
opportunity to address the “socialists of the USA.”
Prime Minister Prachanda briefly answered questions from the audience.
Bernadette Ellorin of BAYAN USA asked about the future of the peasantry and
land reform in Nepal. Prachanda responded that this was a key question facing
the coalition government, which is undertaking the study of “a scientific
A Venezuelan representative asked about the role of the Nepali army and the
dangers they might present to the revolutionary process. Prachanda replied to
this “very serious question” that Nepal was developing “our
own model for rehabilitation and reintegration” different from the one
espoused by the U.N. One of his first tasks upon returning from the U.N.
General Assembly will be the formation of a special cabinet-level committee to
oversee this process.
Comrade Shahid of the Pakistan-USA Freedom Forum asked about the role of youth
in Nepal. Prachanda explained that Nepal has a very high percentage of youth
compared to most countries so this has great significance. He said youth are
being mobilized under the popular slogan to “Construct a New
Ardeshir Ommani of the American-Iranian Friendship Committee asked about the
role of the united front. Prachanda said that previously there was a united
front of seven anti-royalist parties. Since the big developments that took
place between 2006 and 2008, the front has changed and is now represented by
the current governing coalition, which includes the Communist Party of Nepal
(United Marxist-Leninist) and others. He predicted that the front will go
through even more changes with the drafting of a new constitution. Prachanda
added, “We want to have a front even with the Nepali Congress
Party” against foreign intervention, although it is outside the
An audience member asked about Nepal’s economic future, given the
country’s past reliance on tourism. Prachanda stated that the 21st
century has been called the “century of water resources” and Nepal
has huge water resources. His goal is to develop hydro projects at small,
medium and large levels. “Through these water resources we will have an
economic revolution.” He said there could also be a qualitative
development in the tourism industry, as his country is very beautiful and is
“the roof of the world” with Mt. Everest.
Monica Moorehead of Workers World Party asked about the role of women in the
revolutionary process. Prachanda explained that the Maoists have always given
the highest priority to integration of women at all levels of the struggle. He
said he was proud to point out that 33 percent of the elected representatives
of the Constituent Assembly are women, a higher percentage than in most
“democratic” countries. Other parties have been forced to give
opportunities to women because of the CPN(M)’s example.
Deirdre Griswold of Workers World Party and newspaper asked whether the
Maoists’ experiences with land reform carried out in liberated areas of
the countryside during the people’s war could now be applied on a
Comrade Prachanda termed this a “delicate question.” During the
civil war there were liberated base areas in much of the country. Now, however,
he said, “We had to make some compromises with other political
parties” and this is the basis of the “scientific land
reform” process. He compared this to China’s struggle against
Japanese imperialism, when Mao had to make compromises with Chiang Kai-shek in
the interests of the anti-colonial struggle.
Prime Minister Prachanda concluded by noting the he would address the U.N.
General Assembly on Sept. 26, “where we will put forward Nepal’s
struggle as an example for the world.” Smiling, he predicted that would
“generate some controversy.”
Besides those mentioned above, representatives of the Malcolm X Grassroots
Movement, Nodutdol, the Bolivarian Circle, Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM),
May 1st Coalition for Immigrant Rights, New York Free Mumia Coalition,
Palestinian and Puerto Rican organizations, and others attended. The Venezuelan
and Algerian U.N. delegations also sent representatives.
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