Prachanda becomes first prime minister of Nepali republic

Another great victory for the masses of Nepal as the Maoists overcome many hurdles to form a government, while their chief guerrilla leader, political theorist and tactician is voted into the top job.

On the evening of 16 August, the leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (CPN(M)), Pushpa Kamal Dahal, popularly known by his nom de guerre of Prachanda (The Fierce One), was elected as the first prime minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.

Securing 464 votes, although needing only 298 to win a simple majority in the 594-strong Constituent Assembly (CA), he inflicted a crushing defeat on his rival for the job, Sher Bahadur Deuba of the Nepalese Congress party.

Born on 11 December 1954 in the Kaski District, 140kms west of Kathmandu, this father of three children, a former school teacher with a degree in agriculture, leader of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and strategist of the Nepalese people’s democratic revolution, has travelled a long road to achieve his well-deserved post as the head of the new Nepalese government.

In February 1996, the CPN(M) presented a 40-point programme to the then Deuba-led government. On the latter’s rejection of the demands contained in this programme, the CPN(M) launched an armed people’s struggle for their achievement.

The Deuba government responded to this struggle by outlawing the CPN(M), characterising it as a terrorist organisation and fixing heavy cash rewards for those who could produce the heads of its leaders – especially that of Prachanda.

The decade-long armed struggle against the reactionary forces of the feudal Nepalese state, while claiming 13,000 lives, saw great successes for the PLA, which after 10 years was in control of 80 percent of the Nepalese countryside. The prestige of the CPN(M) soared to unprecedented levels as peasants in the liberated areas started to build the basis for a life free of the shackles of imperialist and feudal oppression, of discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, caste or religion.

Making a radical tactical change, the CPN(M) forced the other political parties in Nepal to sign a peace deal with it for the purpose of bringing down the Shah dynasty’s autocracy, headed at the time by King Gyanendra, who is notorious as the instigator of the Kathmandu royal massacre that wiped out his elder brother and his brother’s family and brought him to the throne.

Consequent upon the massive demonstrations following the formation of the eight-party alliance of November 2005, King Gyanendra was forced to step down in April 2006.

In the CA elections held in April this year, the CPN(M), to everyone else’s surprise, emerged as the single largest party, a major plank in its programme being the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of a republic.

Overcoming the resistance of many other parties, it was able to get the CA on 28 May to abolish the monarchy and proclaim Nepal a republic – thus making redundant this nearly-250 year old Nepalese institution of feudal oppression and parasitism.

In the new government, in addition to the post of Prime Minister, the CPN(M) have secured the important portfolios of defence, finance, land reforms and labour. While nine ministries have been allotted to the CPN(M), the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) has been given six, the Madhesi People’s Rights Forum (MJF) from the Terai region have four, and various fringe parties have one each.

Although Comrade Prachanda has given up the post of Commander in Chief, the 19,000 strong PLA has not been disbanded, nor has land previously seized from feudal lords been returned to former owners (both preconditions that other parties tried to force on the CPN(M) before entering into government with it).

Keeping in view the economic and political conditions in Nepal, as well as the balance of forces globally, the new government has committed itself to multi-party democracy, free-market economy, respect for property rights and allowing in foreign investment – all in order to promote the industrial development of the country.

Presently, the alliance formed by the CPN(M) commands a two-thirds majority in the CA and ought, therefore to be in a position to carry out its policy. With the formation of the new government, four months of prevarication by the bourgeois parties has been brought to an end, and the earlier attempts to forge an anti-Maoist ‘left-democratic’ front, comprising the Nepalese Congress, CPN(UML) and MJF, must be considered well and truly dead.

The new government faces difficult tasks ahead: a new constitution has to be written; economic construction undertaken to tear Nepal out of its feudal integument and set it along the road of industrialisation and modernity; relief has to be brought to the long-suffering masses through the provision of food security and access to health and educational facilities; the PLA, whose number is the equivalent of a fifth of the strength of the Nepalese army, has to be integrated into the latter, an integration which the army top brass oppose for fear of the army ranks getting infected with the Maoists’ ideology.

On top of all this, the new government has to attend to its relations with the rest of the world, especially China, India and the United States.

In the past, Nepal has had unequal relations with the US and India; these have to be put on an equal footing and made favourable to Nepal – relations that recognise its sovereignty, dignity and economic interests. The 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship, as well as the 1954 Kosi Treaty, between India and Nepal are in need of drastic revision.

Both the US and India must be made to realise that they cannot, and must not, interfere as hitherto in the internal affairs of Nepal. There must be no repeat by India of the kind of arrogance and high-handedness shown by the government of the late Rajiv Gandhi, which in 1988 enforced a blockade against Nepal after it imported anti-aircraft guns from China without India’s prior knowledge.

The new Nepalese government has started well. Prime Minister Prachanda has paid visits to China and India and has been warmly received in both those countries.

The CPN(M) has made great achievements to date. Its correct line of waging a people’s war for a democratic revolutionary republic has been remarkably successful. We have every reason to believe that the new government will be equally successful in solving the problems facing it and will steer the people of Nepal along the road to further victories.

The CPGB-ML and its organ, Proletarian, while extending their heartfelt greetings to the CPN(M) and its leader, Comrade Prachanda, send their best wishes for the success of the arduous tasks that lie ahead for the new government.

The successes of the Nepalese revolution are not a private preserve of the Nepalese people alone, they are the concern of the entire progressive humanity, integral part as they are of the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat and the oppressed peoples throughout the world.

> Welcome the Republic of Nepal – June 2008