Questions raised by Peter Tobin’s speech

tobinBy : The Next Front

The speech given by Peter Tobin, former  trade union activist and a ”freelance journalist”,  has produced a lot of debate and discussion within CPN-Maoist and outside. Various Nepalese medias have published different types of news and views  regarding this issue. Tobin gave his speech standing alongside with Rambahadur Thapa ‘Badal’, general secretary of the CPN-Maoist, where he had attended as the Chief guest, in a  march-past rally of youth volunteers, held in Charikot, Dolakha . As a supporter of anti-imperialist movement any one can   deliver speech and is free to write articles in support of people’s movement in Nepal and elsewhere. Basically it is the task of a Marxist.  Marxists  always follow the spirit of Proletariat Internationalism.  

Yes, it is true, Peter Tobin’s speech  has produced a kind of stirring among the politicians as well as in the public sector.  Raising the questions on this issue,  medias have  published provocative news and views. But in which circumstance Peter Tobin delivered his speech, it was natural to be so.

On Friday, September 27 regarding this issue, a press statement has been published in the name of Bishnu Hari Nepal,  which has produced another confusion and bewilderedness  within  the CPN-Maoist.

Bishnu Hari Nepal is just a member of advisory board of CPN-Maoist and a member of International department. It is a matter to surprise that  he has used the letter pad of International department of CPN-Maoist and has projected himself as the in charge of the ”jana-maitri sangathan department- CPN-Maoist.”

Firstly,  it has come to  know that in the name of International department, no one has  got authority or has given any authority to someone to publish this type of statement except Comrade Gaurav, chief of the International department.  One must be cautious while releasing press statement on such sensitive issues.

Secondly, Bishnu Hari Nepal has mentioned himself  as the in charge of the ”jana-maitri sangathan-department CPN-Maoist” (People’s Friendship Organization Department, CPN-Maoist ? ). As we know, there is no any organization like this within CPN-Maoist and International department. In fact, it is just the  misuse of   letter pad of  the International Department– CPN-Maoist.

Thirdly, When Peter Tobin has been introduced as  a reporter, then it would  be better to speak Publicity Department of the CPN-Maoist or its sister organization Revolutionary Journalist Association rather than International department. But Bishnu Hari Nepal unnecessarily has dragged International department on this issue.

Fourthly, it has been told that Peter Tobin is the senior editor of the ”Red Front”. During the National Convention, just we had seen a magazine named ”Red Front”, here  we   need no more  comment on ”Red front”.  To be very frank, we never meet Peter Tobin and we know no more about ”Red Front”. Who is handling ”Red Front” in unknown to us. as we know it is not under the control of International department and Publicity department. Just we have gone through Peter Tobin’s  reporting in Democracy and Class After Dolakha event we have got a comment from Democracy and Class Struggle, that is :

Democracy and Class Struggle have just had this disturbing report below from Kathmandu Post about the police seeking to arrest our comrade Peter Tobin for making a speech against the current fraudulent elections being planned in Nepal’

It is outrageous that a journalist making a speech about the elections in Nepal can lead to an arrest – clearly the ruling elite is Kathmandu is terrified that its election charade has been exposed even before it gets off the ground, hence their paranoia about a speech.

 We call for wide publicity for this threat to Peter Tobin to expose reactionaries and to call for his right to free speech in Nepal be protected.

Nickglais, Editor of Democracy and Class Struggle

We fully agree with above mentioned comment by Com. Nickglis. Though the statement released by Bishnu Hari Nepal is not the official statement. But  it is our responsibility to defend Peter Tobin as a Marxist activist and a ”freelance journalist.

Peter Tobin a man of 70, is a man to respect. We must respect his revolutionary spirit and   liveliness. We discard the provocative  propaganda  done by the medias and we denounce the negative attitude of the government agencies on Peter Tobin’s speech, whereas they are silent on the naked intervention of the Indian reactionaries, who are directly involved in the daily political affairs in Nepal. Not only this, they are silent on the Carter Center’s illegal activities– which  is  openly threatening  against the people’s agenda- ”boycott  the CA election.” We strongly condemn the Carter Center’s unnecessary intervention on the internal affairs of Nepal.

 In spite of this, one thing we would like to make clear that  Peter Tobin’s activities need some clarity, there are some things to be point out.  Anyone who wants to support the movement waged by CPN-Maoist, it must be done within the frame work of the party, through the right channel, particularly through the Revolutionary Journalist Association. We appreciate the report of Peter Tobin, done in the past.  We always defend Peter Tobin as a former trade union activist, Marxist ”journalist”, and a long time supporter of Nepalese revolution. As a freelance reporter anyone is free  to make report as he thinks or  likes, But it must be done in a scientific way, under the directed policy and procedure.

The Central Committee Meeting of CPN-Maoist has passed the resolution to boycott the CA election actively and vigorously. There is only one way to move forward, that is to follow the party decision done by the Pokhara  CC meeting. There must not be any hesitation to follow the decision, staying at the crossroads will achieve nothing.

We know very well that the current political situation is very complicated. Reactionaries of old and new types, backing by their foreign masters, have come out with their   unified force against the CPN-Maoist and its alliance force. Only adopting   the spirit of the CC meeting we can overcome the   obstacles that we are facing   these days. It needs strong will power and dedication. We are firm in our mission.  A strong party unity, based on the revolutionary line is needed now. There must not be any smell of factionalism and anarchism. It should be strongly rejected.  While reporting the news and views on any event, concerning the activities of the CPN-Maoist, our supporters and well-wishers   inside the country and abroad, must be cautious on this issue.


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One Response to “Questions raised by Peter Tobin’s speech”

  1. peter tobin says:

    Comrades have just seen thoughtful comments above and deeply regret my intervention in phony election was used as stick to beat Dashists with.
    Below is my article from that time which clarifies position.




    The international line-up against the Nepalese Maoists boycott of the scheduled November 19th election has already taken shape. This week the European Union (EU) ‘missions’ in Nepal condemned the successful one-day general strike (bandh) called by the 33 party alliance led by the CPN (Maoist) and urged them to desist from agitations: “which disrupt people’s daily life.”

    Parties to this statement were; Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the UK plus Norway and Switzerland; all expressing ‘serious concerns’ over the effect of the bandh in the Kathmandu Valley and nine eastern districts of Nepal. They furthermore stated that the ‘bandh culture is inhibiting Nepal’s investment prospects.’

    The CPN-M hit back directly, expressing anger this ‘meddling
    In Nepal’s internal affairs’ was a breach of diplomatic norms but because a critical mass of the political representatives of the Nepalese people were excluded from the corrupt political process which had delivered this kathit nirbaachan (so-called election) process they had no other peaceful option at their disposal.

    This is a foretaste of what is to come in the propaganda war against the Maoists and their allies. The enemy has – on the face of it – a formidable array of powerful foreign states, the UN, international government and non-government organisations all focused on driving this election through.

    The UN – in all its multitudinous manifestations – is mainly here to keep Nepal underdeveloped and aid dependent according to the imperatives of western monopoly interests and this case to wave a stick on as it imposes western ‘democratic.’ norms on possibly troublesome natives. The White Sahib now patronises as much as he terrorises. But it is same old imperial mindset, just tricked-out in Madison Avenue PC gloss. The White Man’s Burden de nos jours.


    Therefore, we had last week the first batch of international observers arriving to subject the process to scrutiny. Representatives from the Carter Center and up to a 100 from the United Nations having already arrived; “to assess the pre-election environment”. Observers from the European Union and the Asian Network for Free Election (ANFREL) will be here in the next couple of weeks.

    All of these international worthies and many indigenous ones will soon be granted accreditation prior to any monitoring taking place.

    The Carter Center’s senior consultant – Peter Burleigh – has form. He ‘monitored’ the 2008 Constitutional Assembly as well, as part of a broader US strategy, orchestrated by the then American Ambassador – De Lisi – aimed at discrediting the election where the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (CPN (M) had emerged as the largest party. The allegation made was that the Maoists had won by intimidation, using the 300,000 strong Young Communist League (YCL) to enforce a victory. Hence the thuggish response this time to the boycott campaign was not surprising as the Centre in its report of October 1st , inter alia, urged the government to launch a police-crackdown on ‘anti-poll activities’ and gave full support to security services acting against: ‘illegal efforts to block the election process’. It further claimed that efforts to block voters’ registration were in breach of Article 9 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Therefore concluding that ‘incidents of intimidation, theft and destruction of ECN (election) materials’ violated these rights. Underlying how seriously sections of the international bourgeoisie are taking the boycott as they goad the Nepalese state repressive apparatus into attack mode.

    ANFREL is a straightforward NGO ideological mechanism promoting western bourgeois ‘democratic’ practice in the patently unsuitable soil of the region. Its lofty mission statement claims it is all about ‘promoting electoral integrity’ and its founding member and ambassador emeritus is General Saiyud Kerdphol, retired Supreme Commander of the Royal Thai Armed Forces. (What a great world when a retired warrior from a feudal autocracy can undergo a Damascene conversion and become a force for equality and fair play. He even gets the ultimate ‘honorary white-man’ accolade – a lofty Latin tag.) Its board of directors is fronted by regional worthies – including one from Nepal, Kapil Shrestha, from its National Election Observation Committee (NEOC) and all funding comes through United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

    Therefore this time they are here – not just to monitor – but to enforce an election. They believe they have good reason to be confident in the ability of the security forces to meet any Maoist challenge. The Nepal Army, e.g. has swollen from less than 35000 before 2001 to nearly a 100,000 in 2013 mainly thanks to US dollars, training and logistical aid* and is complemented by para-militaries of the 35,000 strong Armed Police Force (APF). Plus the government has just been given permission to hire another 50,000 special extra cops in a show of overwhelming state power.

    In total there will be 51 groups, 49 national and 2 international, accredited by the Election Committee deploying 74,000 observers covering 18,000 voting booths. The NEOC alone is providing 10,000 personnel. The two international groups chosen and mentioned above are the Carter Center and ANFREL and the EC has also extended invitations to the EU and the UN.

    The EC has said that it is setting minimum academic standards for national observers saying they should hold at least a high-school degree or have some experience in monitoring polls with local ones having at least a school leaving certificate.

    * From previous page: (Although US arms began filtering arms through to the then Royal Nepalese Army after 2002, subsequent to the Maoists being labeled ‘terrorists’ in the same category as Jihadis, even up to the 2006 ceasefire the average squaddie carried a bolt-action .303. Standard; issue now is the much-improved, modified and versatile M16 along with its carbine variant for Rangers and Special Forces battalions. With the UK providing also the Heckler & Koch SA 80s it is evidence that the army whatever its overall logistical problems till now, has considerably enhanced its infantry firepower with modern bull-pup weaponry.)

    The minimum requirements for the extra police are similarly tailored to the work and preference will be shown to ex-servicemen, as long as they do not have a police record, although a spokesman has said that: “The force does not necessarily have to be only ex-soldiers.”

    The proposed measures of all these domestic and foreign governments and organisations show they are aware that the forces supporting boycott are not negligible; at the political level the CPN-M alone has 92 delegates plus allies in smaller parties in the 491 strong CA, on the streets it has shown its strength with the cumulative wave of well-drilled marches and rallies organized by the People’s Volunteer Bureau (CPN-M youth wing), at a possible operational level the Party has retained the support of 70% of PLA veterans. Add to these factors the latest successful bandhs unfolding across the country and consider that these are only preludes to the main campaign due to be launched next week and the fear in the ranks of the status quo is both palpable and explicable. It accounts for the huge military and political over-reaction and evidences a determination to see the electoral process through.

    To some extent the Four-Party syndicate is a bystander in the unfolding drama as it squabbles – not only among its constituent parties but within the parties themselves as factions and clans jockey for political position and advantage. They are also divided by sotto voce by psephological prospects as to the actual election date and the scope for flexibility in trying to bring the CPN-M on board. It is not a monolithic front and the Maoists have exploited this fact in negotiations but whenever agreement has looked likely Dehli has directly intervened. The latest occasion last week when Dehli firmly squashed any suggestion of Regmi – the Chief Justice appointed as PM through Prachanda’s machinations – resigning in response to a CPN-M demand for a political administration. The Indian Foreign Secretary – Sujatha Singh – followed this up by stating to Koirala – the NC leader – in Katmandu that they must take place on the 19th November and that furthermore India would seal the border to curb: “unwanted elements.” (Himalayan, Sept.15th) This will involve open tactical cooperation with Nepali security forces.


    The huge security operation just announced will see deployed 62,000 Nepal Army as back-up, 54,000 police, 22,000 Armed Police Force and 44,000 temporary police operational at voting centres, with officials of these four security services cooperating with the Home Secretary and the Home Minister in an Integrated Security Plan. The government will further form central security and central command committees with devolved powers to the five regions and 75 districts. This has led to a drastic escalation of expected budgeted costs, rising from over 8 rupees billion originally demanded by the Home Minister from the Finance Ministry, to an amount that now could exceed Rs 14 billion. The increase solely attributable to pressure from the security services for an enhanced role.

    This reflects a justifiable jitteriness – especially from the Army who know that among the ranks of CPN-Maoist are many tough, experienced political/military personnel who were at the forefront of the decade-long People’s War. They are largely second-generation leaders who may have joined the PLA as teenagers and are now in their early forties. They have been influential in the setting-up of the People’s Volunteer Bureau – a proto-army that has been evident at the boycott marches and rallies. This and their unflinching determination to stop the ballot mean they have the potential to wreck these electoral stratagems. If there is extensive government repression they know it could provoke armed conflict.
    The Maoist leaders have not ruled this out and it is another worrying prospect for the NA command.

    This scenario demonstrates the latent power of the Army as a decisive player in Nepalese political life, intervening now as forcefully as it did in the 2008 coup when it overthrew the infant Maoist-led government under Prachanda. Here we see a supposed democratic function become usurped as a military/police operation. The election therefore has become subsidiary to security considerations as a tight-knit political/military cabal attempt to dictate the course of events up to and on election day, along with their foreign allies and advisers.

    In this respect NA staff meet monthly with their American counterparts at the US embassy, Kathmandhu, at the Office for Defense Cooperation – OCD – convened under CINPAC – US Commander-in-Chief – Pacific. It reflects a growing ‘Egyptianisation’ of the NA, as its officer class and high command are integrated into the US industrial/military complex, building on links already established through Nepal’s comparatively high level of participation in UN ‘Peace-Keeping’ missions. The US army provides extensive training programmes and has inducted the NA into – inter alia- counter-insurgency strategy and tactics. With the weaponry already alluded to, on paper, this makes it a much more professional force than the one which faced the PLA after the turn of the century There are however, geo-political constraints on the NA command as a recent US president asserted that the US and PRC were “strategic competitors” in Nepal. Given that Nepal has a strong national interest in seeing a strong China as a growing counterweight to its present neo-colonial subservience to India this gives little room for any blatant pro-American strategic maneuverings. Nevertheless the synchronisation of US- Indian strategic was revealed by SJB Rana, the garrulous NA Chief o Army Staff who commented on a recent visit to India that the Chinese PLA: “…had no capacity to enter India.” And that
    “The Indian army is capable of giving strong resistance to China in case of attack or war.”
    (Kathmandu Post, October 7th, 2013)
    Subservience to India is ingrained deeply in the military sphere, for all the US targeted aid and indeed India is now resuming its role as the NA’s major supplier of arms and equipment. It is now Nepal’s biggest military aid provider. This follows a long gap of eight years when India cut off aid in protest at King Gyanendra’s 2005 declaration of Emergency Rule under which the CA was dissolved and parties banned.
    The timing of this resumption is no accident and is to bolster the 62,000 NA personnel being deployed and to help them mesh effectively with the police and other security forces in ensuring a trouble free election. The fact is that despite the targeted US military aid in officer training and light weaponry the army has been suffering from severe logistical deficiencies in basic equipment and has made several requests to the Indian government which hitherto have gone unanswered. Now New Delhi has resumed its role as Nepal’s major military aid provider and it has been prompted by the fact that the Maoist-led boycott creates uncertainty. It believes resumption will boost the chances of the army containing any violence and has assured to that end:
    “All possible logistical support for the polls, including 764 vehicles at the cost Rupees 50 crores….The total value of equipment and other logistics to be supplied immediately was stated as Nepalese Rupees 1.76 billion.”
    (Hindustan Times, October 3, 2013)
    Back in August jeeps, buses and motorbikes began arriving; three drones have been acquired and Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) manufactured in Bangalore by Hindustan Aeronautics have been promised, all under the rubric: “Bilateral assistance in restructuring and capacity building”.

    This is a sub-continental show of ‘machtpolitik’ showing that New Delhi is not only prepared to crush brutally internal Maoist revolt but will also intervene to defeat the same threat in Nepal. Therefore, each of Nepal’s present military partners has their own reasons for wanting Nepalese Maoism contained at least with respect to the boycott and hopefully extirpated at a later time.
    It has to be containment as all elements in the cabal, domestic and foreign know that a bloodbath will tarnish the election unless it can be pinned on the Maoists. In this respect I mentioned in an earlier piece regarding the estimated 25,000 Indian security personnel (Research and Analysis Wing, RAW) in Kathmandu who may act as agent provocateurs providing the excuse for massive repression. While obviously preferring quiescence they may have to consider switching tactics should the boycott be effective.
    They also have to consider Chinese reaction given that the CPN-M is the only political party that is credibly pro-Chinese having made the estimate, mentioned earlier, that a strong China was in Nepal’s national interest and that vice versa an independent Nepal was in Chinese national interests, not wanting to see it either ‘Sikkimised’ by India or used a border fort by America as part of an encirclement strategy aimed at hobbling China. (The Chinese have earlier evidence of the latter given continuing US, CIA support for Lamist, Tibetan separatists.)


    Therefore the boycotters face a considerable security apparatus with the emerging modalities of a police-state. While in parallel there is a sustained, domestic, vitriolic, anti-Maoist campaign centring on the Kantipur media monopoly – a conglomerate with tentacles in press, TV and radio. As the date of the intended election draws nearer the indigenous propaganda machine will be supplemented by foreign media organizations; CNN, BBC, Al Jazera, NBC, SKY &c. They will send battalions of journos, reporters, photographers, cameramen, commentators, anchorman, presenters, ad nauseam and will be uniformly hostile towards the CPN-Maoist and the 33 party alliance’s boycott.

    The local right-wing media has long portrayed the CPN-Maoists leadership as ‘dogmatic’ and ‘hardline’ and further worked itself into a state of hysteria at the effectiveness of the bandas. Incidents that could be magnified distorted or invented given prominence as part of a sustained campaign against boycott activists, particularly the Maoists. E.g. last week in Charikot when a group of bandists were attacked by a few local goondahs; the press unanimously declared this heralded popular resistance against ‘these anti-people activities’, with the Katmandu Post – part of the Kantipur media monopoly) opining that the Maoists had got: “the trashing they deserved”.

    I myself, inadvertently became a target for Kantipur for daring to give a message of solidarity with the boycott, from communists and progressives in Europe and the Americas, to a huge Dash Maoist rally the following week in the same town – Charikot – (in the Tamsaling region which surrounds the Kathmandu Valley) and was labeled in Kantipur the next day, to paraphrase it, an ‘Irish trouble-maker’. Subsequently a police and army man-hunt has been launched for some alleged breach of electoral law and I write this after some days underground.

    This shows two things; the first is that the countrywide search for a ‘Controversy stirrer Irish’ (sic) (Kathmandu Post, Sept. 26th ) arises from panic and secondly the double standards applying where a sole left-wing supporter of the boycott is pilloried and hounded while hordes of foreign right-wingers can descend and tell Nepalese why they should submit to a November 19th election and blasting the boycotters and the many Nepalese people they represent without any comment or action being taken. The Party’s International Department’s representative, Dr. Bishnu Hari Nepal pointed this out and called for Jimmy (‘No more Mr. Nice Guy) Carter to be charged similarly with meddling in Nepal’s affairs. (Kathmandu Post, September 27th).

    Misinformation and black propaganda are familiar in countries where there is monopoly bourgeois control of all media outlets and which fashions ideological Rottweilers en masse and habitually unleashes them, to denigrate progressive causes and demomise radical individuals. In relation to Nepal this well-oiled attack machine is going to appear in even more concentrated and coordinated form when the foreign homologues of the local commentariat descend and the battlefield widens from the national to the international front.


    *After much discussion the Party adopted the title CPN-Maoist in order to distinguish itself from Yadav’s CPN (Maoist) – an earlier breakaway from the UCPN (M) and they are now called the Dash Maoists in common parlance.

    Despite this considerable array of political, military and ideological apparata the CPN-M has kept its nerve and matched the threats and avoided equally the subtler ploys of the opposition trying to lure them into an electoral trap. Further, it has stoutly condemned the mobilization of the Army as a violation of the 2006 Comprehensive Agreement. The right has had to twist the terms of Article 158 of Interim Constitution and finally used the ploy of presidential decree to grease Army mobilization through.
    Dev Prasad Gurung, CPN – M secretary went as far as to say that the government was declaring war and inviting conflict into the country. Baidhya, the Maobaadi Chairman, followed up this statement saying: “Deploying the army in an election is a serious matter. Armies and police should fight against those who have been damaging the image of the country.” (Himalayan, Sept. 24th). Underlying the seriousness with which the Party viewed this deployment further saw Guarev (CP Gajurel) deliver an official memorandum to the UN SG, Ban ki-moon via the residential coordinator, McGoldrick, complaining that the unilateral deployment contravened the CPA in not consulting the signatory parties. This was as much to build a case as it was to put the UN on the spot; its remit from 2006, along with running the cantonments where the PLA and its weapons were sequestered, was to oversee electoral modalities for the CA and the interim constitution. This was followed up by visits to all the major embassies. For the present Ban has sidestepped the issue by allegedly redoubling his efforts to get the CPN-M and all the dissenting parties into the election process but in fact sealing the process that excluded the CPN-Maoists and the 33 party alliance.

    Reiterating his general point made three weeks ago at a massive march and rally in the capitol that the Party will engage in ‘urban-centric street agitation’, as opposed to returning to the jungle, G.S Badal nevertheless stressed that there would be resistance to military suppression or heavy-handed tactics wherever it was manifest. Politically the Party has attacked the election as a means of drawing up a right-wing, status quo constitution and is the reason they were originally excluded from the High Level Political Committee (HLPC) which was the four-party carve-up that produced this electoral stratagem. Now it is, according to Dahal UCPN (M) boss and leading HLPC member: “working to the last minute to bring CPN-M on board” (Republica, Sept. 27th.) Dahal has even tried to lure Baidya personally, aware that the date PR and FPTP candidacies has passed and therefore dissenting parties are officially out of the race, by offering him a seat under a UCPN (M) banner.
    These blandishments have been resisted although Kiran (Mohan Baidhya) earlier said he would not close the door in case the four-party syndicate ‘regained wisdom’ and accepted at least an open-ended, roundtable conference. By the first week in October he recognised that the time for talk’s option was at an end, appealing to people to boycott and for candidates to revoke their candidacies. He further said that a new CA would not draw up a people’s constitution and would only force Nepal into becoming a new Sikkim. Therefore the scheduled election was not a political solution but if these points were ignored and:
    “They use force against us, we will take counter-measures.”
    (Republica, October, 3rd)
    Affirming that the next stage was one of struggle he said they would make the constitution in the streets saying:
    “We will take a decision from the field if they come against us with force.” (ibid)

    Thus the Party continued to up the ante on the boycott campaign and while the term ‘effective’ is a balance between ‘active’ and ‘peaceful’ it is no less confrontational. Guarev, e.g. has floated the idea of kidnapping those attempting to register as candidates saying it was in the national interest to do so. The right-wing press – led by Kantipur – went apoplectic at this idea calling for the security forces to give protection to any aspiring politico thus threatened. The Maoists have also asked candidates not to enter villages to canvas for votes and have begun extensive training programmes on effective boycotting with young cadres in the villages, some of which has been described in the press as of a military nature. It has also announced further agitation programmes culminating in a 10 day national general strike running from the 11th to the 20th November

    What is apparent is the Maoists are undaunted before the combination of enemies already limned. Prankanda (KB Bisawkarma), a veteran PW battlefield commissar and still a young man, summed this attitude up insouciantly:
    “We sustained a People’s War for ten years. Stopping this electoral plot will not be so difficult.”

    Biplav (NB Chand) said in a recent interview about the Maoist’s bottom line:
    “Our emphasis is on the nitty-gritty of a future constitution. All others issue are subsidiary.”
    “What people want now is a constitution – not an election.”
    This is why the Dash Maoists are demanding a round-table conference to thrash one out. They are acutely aware that domestic reactionaries – at the behest of Delhi and Washington – used the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement as cover behind which to re-group and, aided by complicity of the Prachanda/Bhatterai UCPN (M) leadership, used the years since to block a progressive, reforming and federal constitution that tackled land reform, ethnic oppression and discrimination being enacted through the Constitutional Assembly.

    (Six wasted years – during which time Nepal has slid even further down the list of least-developed nations. Where private affluence and public squalor increase in tandem – a sure sign of a third world country that has had comprador capitalism thrust onto it, and through economic failure sends many of its best young men into virtual slave labour abroad for the 25% their remittances provide to the national economy which governments have used largely to improve its foreign currency reserve, reduce the balance of payments and fund a large, demanding security apparatus while basic infrastructure at home is either non-existent or crumbling into maintenance-free desuetude and spending on health, welfare and education is nugatory.)

    The ‘subsidiary issues’ relate to resignation of the appointed Prime Minister – Regmi – the Chief Justice and postponement of any election and until next year a 100% proportional representation modality instead of the present 58% PR and 42% first past the post (FPTP). Essentially the Party not against elections per se, as Biplav noted: “taking part in elections is a relative concept.” but not before all Nepalese are represented in the forging of prior constitutional understanding. Nor have they lessened the growing tempo of bandas, agitations, marches and rallies and general street agitations. The Party has shown strength in depth in these activities with first and second generation leaders organising and inspiring a third generation of cadre; where the red shirts en masse have provided the memorable image of the boycott campaign.

    I ought to add a note of caution here having been involved with the People’s Volunteer Bureau reporting favourably on their energy and communist zeal and therefore biased. However, it appears to me that they represent sizeable strata of youth in a very young country that have seized the popular imagination. None of the 4 party syndicate has been able to match this, or indeed to even equal the scale and dynamism of the Dash Maoists boycott programme. Even if defeated here, and that is no certainty, the revolutionary communists have planted the seeds of a possible future victory by inspiring a young, dedicated cadre.

    Similarly with the leadership the Maoists have another as yet imponderable advantage as the least corrupt and most austere of all the major parties; the four party syndicate, e.g. is riddled with millionaires, corruption, nepotism, jobbery and not an honest leader among them, Sitaula (NC), Nepal (UML), Dahal (UCPN (M)) are all rich Brahmins and Gadachhar (UMF) is an equally high-caste, high-cost Madeshi politico whereas all the Maoists leaders led very modest life-styles. Kiran is an exemplar of Leninist rectitude and has the significant asset in being recognised as the only honest leader of any big party, even by his enemies. In a country riddled with corruption – like its big brother India – it is an incalculable asset for a party to be so perceived as not full of placemen, careerists and hucksters and its activists not out solely for personal gain.


    That the political and financial circumstances which led to this election process are politically circumspect and financially unsavory will be argued in the following. To begin; this not a general election but one for a second Constitutional Assembly – an unheard of and ludicrous situation as it being called for and organized by the same forces that rendered the first one ineffective. Marx’s off-quoted epigram was never more apposite; with the first as tragedy and the second as farce. Because they intend to use the election as a mandate to write their own constitution is why the Maoists are not getting caught. They have said they will tear-up any such manifesto which will have been written in New Delhi anyway and, as Kiran said, make one: “in the streets”. Many are aware, not just the Maoists, that the proceedings were therefore triggered as a stratagem of Prachanda’s to exclude them and their allies and so clear the way for such an outcome. That is why the High Level Political Committee was set up earlier this year, which under the conniving of Prachanda was a carve-up between the four parties. Similarly Chief Justice Regmi is Prachanda’s placeman appointed as Prime Minister to give an apolitical gloss to these electoral machinations and, if necessary, carry the responsibility for employment of force majeure.

    Against declining socio-economic conditions these political games have intensified a palpable general cynicism covering a wide spectrum of Nepali society. (But not precisely measurable as opinion polls are banned in run-ups to elections). One commentator summed it up:

    “This has thrown the country into a marsh of four-party dictatorship. Because of the four parties’ bullying, 33 political parties say they have to boycott the forthcoming elections.”
    (Bhagirath Basnet, Republica. October 9th.)
    It is accepted therefore that the new CA will be no different in composition and that people are not being offered a real choice because the four-party syndicate has rigged the system to ensure they come out on top. The party leaders in this respect have ensured their survival by standing in multiple constituencies and putting forward nonentities in each other’s electoral areas. Thus greasy pacts and greased palms are the reality behind the espousal of ‘democratic’ values and practices and the grandiose, but empty manifestos.

    It signifies the continuation of the status quo as it keeps control of the major parties in the hands of the upper castes, and the hegemony of Brahmanism over all political and administrative institutions. Hence Dalits – who make up 20% of the civil population – Muslims – who make up 10% and the Janajatis’ – who add a further 37%; along with other, smaller marginalized groups are excluded from the corridors of power and influence by this ongoing fix. For the Dalits particularly because despite the repeal of the Rana’s 1854 Mulaki Ain – which codified discrimination against them – by King Mahendra in 1963, like the noble Ambedkar’s similar attempt in the 1949 Indian Constitution, have proved only words on paper and in reality discrimination against them is still rife in Indian and Nepalese society. The occasional token Dalit or Muslim might be touted by the parties but the predominant power elites remain Brahmins and Chetris, who combined comprise just over 25% of the population, and whose monopoly of power over the majority marginalized; politically, culturally and economically, continue the unresolved tensions that produced the People’s War. It is one important reason why the CPN – Maoists have retained overwhelming support among these historically marginalised groups.

    It is pretty clear that this present political cartel is pushing this electoral extravaganza as a means of naked self-preservation and aggrandizement; as the weekly magazine, Nepali Times put it in an editorial:
    “If this was a truly fair and independent election and if the (pre-election) surveys are the true pulse of the people, most of the disgraced leaders of the past four years should be voted out.”
    (NT, 11-17 Oct. 2013)


    So much for political chicanery but it is also in the allocated costs of the so-called election that reveals the rotten heart and open pockets of the system’s carpet-bagging politicos and their numerous hangers-on. The Rs.14 billion plus for employing the state’s security apparatus has been mentioned; this includes the Nepal Police receiving Rs.5 billion, the para-military APF a further Rs.4 billion and the army Rs.3.14 billion. The rest of this budget being allocated principally for employing the 50,000 temporary police personnel deemed necessary to beef-up the already swollen military/para-military/police establishment.

    On top of these costs the Election Committee is funded to the tuneof over Rs.8 billion which with other incidental provisions will bring the total expenditure in excess of Rs.30 billion. This is nearly twice the Rs.16 billion allocated in this year’s budget announced as recently as July. There are two staggering comparisons in this colossal sum; firstly it is more than ten times the amount spent on the 2008 election, which took place in the middle of an economic crisis and came in at only Rs. 2.81 billion. Even allowing for rampant inflation, running between 8% and 10%, which would allow for an increase of around 60/70%, it does not justify an increase of over 1000%. Neither do the requirements justify it; as one commentator, honing in on security expenditure, has pointed out that police and military personnel only required extra travel and daily allowances with expenditure. In relation to equipment the Army has in fact used to situation to get monies expedited making the excuse that there is limited time available and therefore costs are a secondary consideration. There are also questions as to what happened to all the ballot boxes, vehicles and communication tools left over and supposedly stored from the last election. But instead huge new contracts have been handed out to favored business cronies.
    The Electoral Commission itself stands accused of favoritism having handed the contract for partially printing voter ID cards to the A-Roll Printing Company which, contrary to the commitments to ‘honest and open competition, was the second lowest bidder. SIMCO Business Systems Pvt Ltd the lowest bidder’s proprietor, Ashok Simkhada, bitterly complained that the EC had reneged on an earlier assurance that the job would go to the lowest bidder saying:
    “This decision is unfair and against all the norms of fair play.”
    (Himalayan, October 24th, 2013)
    It is hard not to feel a twinge of sympathy for Mr. Simkahada, however naïve, as he gives expression to the utopian, Smithian ideal of ‘free and fair competition’ which, if it ever really was dominant, in modern world is crushed between corruption on the one hand and monopoly and cartelisation on the other. The former flourishes in Nepal whereas the latter is what defines multi-national globalisation, following the tendency noted by Marx, and Smith before him, of Capital to concentrate into fewer and fewer hands.

    But it is not just a windfall for crony business, huge sums are also provided for NGOs to conduct workshops, seminars, conferences and ‘electoral education’. Given that there are approximately 48,000 foreign and domestic NGOs in Nepal, one for every 850 Nepalese citizens, many of whom will jump with alacrity at this chance to promote ‘democratic’ modalities and ideology in return for wedges of money One election insider has already complained to a former Foreign Secretary, B Basnet, that money is being spent like “looted booty”.


    “Corrupt politicians make the other ten per cent look bad.”
    (Henry Kissinger)

    This financial bonanza is an egregious example of a rotten and, the Maoists argue, irreparable system. Often the term ‘corrupt’ is bandied about as populist suspicion but in the case of Nepal modern polling methods support the rhetoric.

    The 2013 report of Transparency International (TI) states that Nepal’s political parties are the most corrupt according to a survey conducted by Nepal Division at 1,000 houses in 58 different municipalities, based on experience and perception of 70% of interviewees. The index also covers access to information, kickbacks on public contracts, bribery of officials and enforcement of anti-corruption laws. One of the additional weightings relate to, appropriately enough ‘transparency’; i.e. how open are processes of government in terms of procurement, appointment of officials, existence of public’s ‘Right to Know’, anti-corruption legislation and enforcement thereof.

    Here a caveat needs to be entered relating to the ranking system which the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) places Nepal at 139th out 174 countries. This gives you the least corrupt as Denmark, Finland, e.g. with scores of 90 – 100 being perfection and the most corrupt with; e.g. as North Korea and Somalia with scores of 8. Nepal in this context scored 27. It is believable because it used sophisticated polling techniques based upon personal interviews and questionnaires allocated through random selection. I myself worked for the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) for a short period and saw how refined these methods have become in measuring the subjective and anecdotal and extracting valid data that is trusted by governments, international organisations and private companies in the planning of policies or investment decisions. The face-to-face technique over a large a sample as possible is the accepted basis for all present-day market research.

    The difficulty arises for TI is that it to be wholly dependable it must be internally consistent; i.e. that the modalities used to establish ranking must be uniformly applied to all those in the measure. In the case of North Korea there would have been no access to its citizens and therefore no information collected as elsewhere. This ergo places all the weighting and subsequent score on lack of ‘transparency’, placing the DPRK, and similar ‘closed’ regimes like it, under the rubric of: “institutionalised state corruption”. This is more a political/ideological bias and renders TI’s judgment in these examples worthless given its self-proclaimed remit.

    It is quite difficult to establish how they apply these weightings as, although I may have missed something, they are not very forthcoming (transparent even) as to their precise methodology in my trawl through their websites. It is almost as though they’ve been prodded, or indeed ‘grant-aided’ to arrive at a prognostification that most reasonable people would see as counter-intuitive whatever else they may think about that state, good or bad, corruption would not figure largely, if at all, in their thinking.

    It is even more suspect where it claims that this austere, embattled command economy is more corrupt than India, which is not so much a functioning state as much as a organized Brahminical kleptocracy and where the criminalisation of electoral politics accordingly is that unfortunate failed state’s most salient feature. The economist Arun Kumar in A Study of Corruption in India estimated that its ‘black economy’ accounts for as much as 50% of GDP. That would make it approximately $500 billion per annum. For Nepal it was calculated in 2006 as being over 50% and worth $4 billion from a GDP of $7 billion.
    However, despite these reservations as to the modalities of precise ranking it would be safe to say that in the case of Nepal and its homologues where the bedrock of the survey rests on data from personal interaction, the TI report does highlight and quantify a glaring anomaly that has only worsened over the last twenty years with the advent of bourgeois ‘democracy’. As the report indicates the politicos’ are the worst of a bad bunch; from the ‘Prada/Pajero’ years of the post-first Andolan nineties, where parliamentarians awarded themselves a choice of either four x fours, and where leading members of the short-lived Adikhari’s 1996 first ‘communist’ government enriched themselves from bribes taken from Indian interests over the Mahakali River Project. (So outrageous it was opined that they had given away more in one treaty than in all the others since Sugali in 1816.) To the present where many of the leaders of the four parties, like the UML’s Oli and MJN’s Gachhadar are part politician, part don. In fact each party has its own underworld connections and in return for enforcement and similar ‘dirty work’ often rewards the gang bosses with safe seats; in this way known criminal dons like Ganesh Lama (just out of prison and cheerfully described by the Kathmandu Post, October 23rd. 2013, in the libel-free atmosphere of Nepal as a “gangster”), and Dinesh Chari will become lawmakers in the new CA. Even the UCPN (M) rump leadership although late to jump on this gravy train have quickly enriched themselves. Prachanda is the most outstanding example, coming from a lower income background to being a multi-millionaire today, complete with mansion, helicopter, owner of a radio station, part-owner of Republica and Nagarik, respectively English and Nepali language daily papers, are among some of his interests. He even has his own ‘enforcer/fixer’ – Kali Bahadur Kham (Bibidh). (Bhatterai though can affect honesty as he became a millionaire through urban planning for Arab oil oligarchs and used his wealth to fund a life-style choice of entering politics to ‘save his country’. He even kept his hands clean during the PW by concentrating on United Front work, unlike Dahal who was Supreme Commander of the PLA and party chairman and for whom the UN International Criminal Court has already set the wheels in motion to ensnare and indict him for ‘crimes against humanity’) Dahal then has joined an active rogues gallery, along with the previously mentioned, including; MK Nepal and JN Khanal (UML), SB Deuba (jailed by Gyanandra’s Royal Commission for Corruption Control – RCCC) and RB Yadav (NC) and Mahanta Thakur (MJN), to name a few of the godfathers.
    However, if you need to understand the pervasive nature of corruption in Nepal there is no better example than that of Khum Bahadur Khadka. He was a high-flying NC leader and a former Minister of the Interior during the 1990s. He was convicted in 2012 of several counts of corruption when in that position and other high-ranking posts such as Home Minister and local development Minister; was sentenced to 18 months prison and given a large fine for staggering levels of malfeasance. The picture above shows his release amidst huge fanfare where he was festooned with a 110 kg garland ordered especially from Kolkata and greeted by thousands who marched from Dillibazar via Ratna Park to his home in Sanepa, all wearing t-shirts bearing his image and chanting:
    “Long live Khumbahadur Dai! Long live Nepali Congress!”
    As one critic put it: “One could easily mistake Khadka for a national hero, a freedom fighter, or people’s saviour.”
    (M Paudyal, Republica, 21st October, 2013)
    The reason for his popularity is that, like many of the leaders/dons, he spread his proceeds around, providing many jobs and lavish treats for supporters. Along with rigging their seats, figures like Khadka, Dahal, Gadachhaar et al invest wisely in their potential voters. What this indicates is a fragmented class only conscious of sectional or caste location and incapable of recognising that its general interest depends on good governance and observance of the rule of law. A ruling-class requires unity of purpose to ensure political, economic and ideological hegemony. Where crony capitalism flourishes in a ‘black economy’ this cannot happen. At the political level it equates the leading players of the parties as no different from gangland bosses, who sometimes squabble, sometimes cooperate over the carve-up of territory and spoils. Elections become under their aegis; a chance to further raid the public purse, to provide bread and circuses for the apparatchiks and validation of a status quo, anything but a desire to serve the people and strengthen the nation. The mask of democracy waved uncertainly trying to hide the face of a peculating oligarchy. This specific election as set out represents political and financial larceny on a grand scale – Biplev put it thus:
    “It is a criminal conspiracy against the Nepalese working class.”
    One astute commentator has described the evolution of corruption in Nepal from the Ranas where it was primarily extractive, draining the state’s exchequer in order to enrich the clan. (The Ranas, who ruled from 1846 to 1951, were like the Boyars but more successful. The talkative Chief of Staff, SJB Rana, alluded to previously, is therefore continuing a family tradition in squeezing over Rs.3 billion for hiring out the army for the election.). Under the monarchy from 1951 to 1990, especially under Mahenedra’s Panchayat regime from 1990, it was distributive and the state’s revenues were used to spread largesse among supporters and for buying off opponents. From 1990 to the present day corruption was democratised and increasingly institutionalised to the extent that it is difficult to demarcate between malfeasance and politics, as Kadkha’s case illustrates so tellingly. He goes on to say:
    “The problem with corruption is not that of picking one or two rotten eggs to prevent the lot from spoiling. The problem is the entire crate of eggs is rotten…and that corruption is institutionalised and deeply entrenched in our systems.”
    (N. Manandhar, Kathmandu Post, October 23rd. 2013)


    The colossal sum of Rs.30 billion is even more startling when you consider that it represents approximately 6% of the government’s 2013 budget of Rs.517.24 billion. If you consider the UK’s 2013 budget of an estimated 720 billion pounds it would require a comparable amount for an election spend of a 43 billion plus! If that is unimaginable in a rich country like Britain why it should be accepted with such equanimity for a poor country like Nepal? And Nepal is poor, ranked the world’s 166 poorest out of 183 countries measured by the International Monetary Fund Economic Outlook Database for 2013. In fact many observers have noted the disparity; in a country where many go to bed hungry, millions of children suffer from malnutrition and are deprived of primary education (with the corollary – child labour), where a quarter of the population of just under 30 million exist below the poverty level, where 60% have no electricity and 53% no access to clean tap water.

    It’s not even as if the last 20 years of bourgeois ‘democracy’ has been a period of economic improvement; to the contrary the conditions of the poorest have worsened while the rich have got richer. Again the statistics bear this out; according to the Gini-coefficient, which measures the gap between the rich and poor (vertical economic inequality) in all countries, showing the devastation brought about by the imposition of neo-liberal, laissez faire policies, through such mechanisms as the Structural Adjustment Programmes, privatisation and general economic deregulation promoted by the IMF, WTO and World Bank. Taking the decile data first shows that in 1985 the poorest 10% garnered 4.04% of the national income whereas in 2010/11 this had plummeted to 1.5%. While the richest, at the other end, which shared 25% of national income in 1985 saw this share increase to 39.5 in 2011. Similarly with the poorest 20% who shared 9.1% in 1985 saw that fall to 4.1% in 2011, while the richest 20% saw a rise in same period from 39.5% to 56.2%. The inequality is measured by how close a country is to 100, in 1985 the Gini coefficient showed Nepal at 29.55% but by 2011 it had marched towards 49.54% and has accelerated within the last ten years according to the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Report 2011. Along with many other mechanisms, such a Kuznet’s ratio and the Human Poverty Index, the figures incontrovertibly show that only 20% of the population have profited from neo-liberal economics with the remaining 80% suffering even greater levels of immiseration and deprivation.

    That this has happened in every country of the world subject to western neo-liberal economics is gainsaid, working peoples everywhere are being hammered whether in the UK or Nepal, but in the former and all developing third world countries poverty and exploitation are more naked and absolute. Far from being the answer – the once progressive and dynamic wealth-creating capitalist system, as described by Marx in the Communist Manifesto is now the problem and why Maoists in Nepal argue that there is no alternative but revolution. Lenin once said that the capitalist will sell you the rope you hang him with. Similarly the global institutions of capitalism provide the empirical data that makes the case for revolution and rhetoric almost superfluous.

    In the last analysis this so-called election will not address these systemic problems, only further illustrating the uselessness of imported western models of governance. The ‘democratic’ modalities form only a thin carapace over the edifice of a system driven by and striven for a corrupted, compromised and comprador ruling class/caste. The lofty ideals touted do not represent ‘universal and eternal human values’ but are historical contingencies whereby one class – the bourgeoisie – during the course of an epoch established it supremacy – in modes of production, ideology and polity – over its feudal predecessor. The peoples of Nepal, SE Asia and all the third world have made and will make their own forms of democracy and government in their struggle for freedom and class supremacy over the bourgeoisie in turn.


    There is also a strong perception among many Nepalese that all the four parties are servants – in varying degrees – of New Delhi. This is shown is the cartoon above which appeared in the August edition of Nepal – a popular monthly – showing Prachanda, Nepal, Sitaula and Gaddachhar blubbing uncontrollably as Nepal beat India, 2-1,in the SAFF championships just finished. Here again is a liberal, anti-Maoist columnist’s, Ganga Thapa, estimation:

    “It would not be incorrect, if very insulting, to say that Nepal’s top leadership vis-à-vis India, has been morally bankrupt, greedy, hypocritical and have served as no more than errand boys. People are tired of these slick, fast-talking politicians. In fact their reputation has gone down the drain. In a culture aimed above all at seizing power, with material motivations, political democracy and thereby sustained peace is unlikely.”
    (Thapa, Republica, 30/09/2013)

    The Party has therefore hammered the patriotic message – the appeal of which transcends – to some degree – politics of left and right but not equally. The fact that royalists – an aging demographic – support the Dash Maoists for their patriot, anti-Indian expansionism is welcomed by the Party as part of a popular front to protect national sovereignty by resisting Indian domination and expansionism but any such movement will be Maoist led.

    This has been seized on by some leftists and Prachandaite opportunists, Matrika Yadav’s CPN (M) flounced out of the 33 party alliance on the grounds that it was pandering to nationalism and that:
    “Nepal’s sovereignty cannot be protected by pleasing both India and China.”
    And accused the Dash Maoists leadership of:
    “Serving the interests of the international community.”
    Equally odd things to say but no more than the further paranoia regarding the prospect of a King Paras (ex-Crown Prince,
    Gyanandra’s son) in a ‘constitutional communist monarchy’. This is ultra-left/liberal paranoia because the Party asserts its patriotic position derives from Mao’s axiom that in the age of imperialism:
    “The national question is a class question.”
    And it is a class question because in third world countries the indigenous bourgeois classes have become increasingly compromised as comprador classes; in thrall to Western, or as in Nepal’s case, Indian interests. Economically, ideologically and politically dependant, the Nepalese Babus’ acceptance of neo-colonial status renders them incapable of representing patriotic aspirations. Some of them as with the Zamindars in the Madesh would even declare the region for India given half-a-chance. Only the working-classes, rural and urban, only the oppressed minorities, only the Dalits, only the huge marginalized communities have a decisive interest in severing these Indian bonds, of strengthening their border, of repealing the many Unequal Treaties and establishing an independent socialist, federal people’s republic and the CPN-Maoist is the only major party that represents them, with a clear vision and a determination to achieve it.

    The Babus have lost because the years of ‘capitalist democracy’ since 1990 have been years of failure. They have not been able to establish a functioning modern state, in the manner of the Western bourgeoisie, whose epigones they are. History has passed them by and they have not only become redundant but an active bloc on change at the behest of foreign powers. This opens the door to their increased authoritarianism and military repression as they attempt to maintain to maintain power and privilege. The dog barks, and occasionally becomes rabid, but the caravan moves on. And to continue the metaphor is why the old CPC slogan: “Down with imperialism and its running dogs’ is still relevant.

    Nepal is at a crossroads– one way leads to it continuing – in the sort term at least – its status as a vassal, failed state and the other toward it being independent, socialist one. This election boycott is where the conflicting currents in Nepalese society confront each other, if the right succeeds by the point of a gun and the crack of lathi it will a temporary victory because the problems, divisions and manifold injustices that provoked the People’s War will have not been resolved. If the left and its allies succeed it will be a decisive stage in that unresolved revolution.

    Finally: on the face of it below is a picture of a nondescript scene taken in Tundikhel Park, Central Kathmandu on September 23rd. On the left you can just see the red banners of a huge CPN-Maoist boycott rally and foreground, centre and right, seemingly unconnected are over a thousand small hawkers and traders plying everything from counterfeit Ray-Bans, Nike shoes, Louis Vuitton T shirts, pots pans, and assorted bric-a-brac. Haggling here would be callous because firstly, the prices are so low and secondly, more importantly, the sellers’ lives are so precarious. They are a small section of Nepal’s huge sans culottes, rural and urban and what connects them with the rally and the cause is that they are all Maoist supporters. I found this is out through meeting S., a watch stallholder there, who is an active young Party member. He took me along the stalls saying: vahalaai Kiran man parcha (“He likes Kiran) – party card were flashed – clenched fists went up with shouts of ‘Kiran, Kiran’. It was like Kubrick’s Spartacus and one of those moments that make life seem worthwhile.

    What have they and their peers got to vote for?

    More of the same?

    No – whatever the headline outcome of the upcoming charade, the CPN-Maoist and its allies represent a critical mass of the Nepalese people who are not catered or cared for, who are not going away and who are definitely not lying down.

    Lal salaam, Peter Tobin October 4th 2013

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