[From The Worker, #1, February 1993.]
Mass Struggle Led by the Party: A Review
Immediately after the Unity Congress our Party had decided to launch a mass struggle from the month of February 1992 on the current issues of nationalism, democracy and people's livelihood and raise it to the climax of Nepal bandh (general strike) on April 6, the historical people's movement day (in commemoration of the anti-monarchy mass uprising of April 6, 1990). The way this struggle developed and turned out to be an important event in the history of mass struggles in Nepal, has taught the Party many important lessons.
People had expected some relief after the fall of the autocratic Panchayat system ruling for the last 30 years. However, this could not happen even after two years of introduction of the multi-party system and one year of formation of the Nepali Congress government. In this context, a Central Action Committee was formed under the leadership of our Party, which crystallized the immediate problems of workers, peasants, landless people, students, civil servants and other masses of the people, the issues of price rise, corruption, state terrorism, Congressization (i.e. conversion of every branch of state machinery into a tool of the Congress Party) etc. and the question of national independence & sovereignty as aggravated by the Tanakpur and other water resources agreements with India, into, firstly an 8-point, then 14-point and finally a 19-point charter of demands and the struggle was launched in a planned and systematic manner. To make the struggle more effective our Party had adopted a policy of forging unity-in-action with other left factions and Right revisionist groups. When these groups hesitated to come along, our Party on its own went ahead with the programme of Nepal bandh on April 6 and May 3, which were a grand success.
At the initial stages, programmes like small meetings and torch-light processions were conducted in selected urban and rural areas, educational institutions, factories, etc. Later on these developed into militant and massive public meetings, demonstrations & rallies. There were also preparations for resistance against state repression on April 6. The countrywide massive torch-light processions on the evening of April 5 and 'black out' programme from 8.20 p.m. to 8.50 p.m. in the Kathmandu valley on the same evening proved to be very effective for the Nepal bandh on April 6. When the situation increasingly turned in favour of the struggle other left and rightist groups were also forced to express moral support to the bandh.
On April 6, life came to a total standstill in educational institutions, factories, markets, and transportation sectors. General masses came out in the streets. There were big clashes between the police and the demonstrators throughout the country. There were many instances of wrecking & burning down. Many vehicles were burnt down. The police lobbed tear-gas in many cities and there were innumerable instances of cane-charging. Atrocious shooting incidents took place at Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Butwal, Dhangarhi & elsewhere from noon onwards that day. Sixteen persons were martyred, scores were injured and crippled and many others were missing. In the name of protecting "infant democracy" the government massacred many infants. The whole country was drenched in the blood of the people. Curfew was clamped down in the capital city for about a week. General mass media gave a good coverage to the success of the Nepal bandh, but the government controlled media tried to smear it as an instance of anarchism and rowdyism. On the Nepal bandh, the weekly Jan-Manch usually sympathetic to the government headlined "Nepal bandh Amidst Violence & Tension: Deep Shock to Democracy" and said- "The Nepal bandh" called by Communist Party of Nepal (Unity Centre) and the Central Action Committee on April 6 in commemoration of April 6, 1990 and with a 14-point charter of demands was successful beyond all expectations and ultimately turned into an orgy of violence." Was it justified on the part of the government to resort to shooting? The Human Rights Organisation of Nepal says: "On the April 6 incidents in Kathmandu and Patan it was resorted to shooting when the situation did not warrant it." Even prohibited bullets were used, against which various organizations had lodged their protest. Why did the government go for such a shooting spree? The Home Minister answered thus: “If there had been no shooting, Kathmandu, would have been devastated, it would have been turned into ashes." In justification of the shooting the Home Minister declared: "The police had to resort to firing when the irate and violent mob attacked with stones and brick bats and attempted to set on fire the state cultural house (Rastriya Naach Ghar), the Fine Arts Campus, the Royal Nepal Airlines building, the post office and the telecommunications regional office building in the capital. Their agitation was totally violent and was under the command of trained wreckers." The Minister went on: "If the violent mob out to terrorise the whole Kathmandu had not been stopped by the use of force, one cannot just imagine the likely orgy of death and subsequent tragedy that could have ensued then." (Interview with the Home Minister in Deshanter Weekly, April 10, 1992). An independent civil enquiry commission headed by a senior advocate later disproved the claims of the Home Minister and blamed the government for resorting to unwarranted firing on the agitators.
With the active participation of the masses the Nepal bandh on April 6 was a grand success, but the government did not fulfill a single demand of the people. In that context, it was decided to continue the struggle with the additional demand of resignation of Prime Minister G.P. Koirala, and a call was given for another Nepal bandh on May 3. To counter this the government, on the one hand, cast the net of local elections for late May and on the other, prepared a master plan for winning away to its fold the major reformist party, the C.P.N. (U.M.L.), which is also the principal opposition party in parliament, and crushing the struggle through brute force. The government advanced this slogan - all the forces that believe in parliamentary democracy constitutional monarchy & peaceful change unite & rally against CPN (Unity Centre) that believes in New Democratic republic & violence! The Right revisionists were terrified. On April 30, the CPN (UML) leadership signed a 6 point agreement with the government and came out openly against the Nepal bandh programme. Other left groups remained a silent spectator. In this situation the Party had to face big challenge for the proposed May 3 bandh. However, despite all these adversities, on the day of May 3 the people responded to the call of the Party with much enthusiasm & spontaneity that the second bandh also was a complete success.
Even after the mass struggle reached the climax in the form of Nepal bandh twice in the span of a month, not a single demand of the people were fulfilled. The government made all out efforts to divert the national attention to local elections and blunt the edge of the mass struggle. In this context our Party reviewed the prevailing objective & subjective conditions and emphasized the need to link the mass struggle with rural class struggle, thus: "What should be done now to the government that, instead of listening to the voices of people even after: sea of humanity turned out to raise the legal struggle to its pinnacle, rather resorts to suppression, murder and state terror? The situation is forcing the people to go ahead with breaking the law & order against a government that speaks language of suppression, terror and gun. In this context our Party with all seriousness & sense of responsibility feels it imperative to link the legal struggle especially with the conscious & planned development of class struggle in the vast rural areas. In a semi-feudal, semi-colonial country like Nepal it is getting established beyond doubt that the problem of the people cannot be solved merely through the urban & legal struggles. For this, preparation for a protracted resistance struggle is a must. The present struggle has done a lot to teach this precious ideological lesson." (Press statement issued by the central office of the Party on May 10, 1992).
Though the struggle got checked in between, its major achievement & lessons are as follows:
1) In the course of the bandh, the way the Nepali Congress government resorted to mass-killing & violent suppression and the way it turned a blind eye to the genuine demand of the people overwhelmingly approved by the two successive bandhs, not only the Nepali Congress government but the whole parliamentary multiparty system has been thoroughly exposed amongst the people and the inevitability of the New Democratic revolution has been firmly established.
2) The revisionist CPN (UML) through its ignominious agreement with the Nepali Congress and opposition to the bandh programme has been largely exposed amongst the people.
3) This struggle has confirmed that not by relying on the unity with rightist & sectarian elements but through the independent initiative of the Party, can the struggle be carried forward. In this mass struggle not only the rightist but the Mashal group claiming itself to be a leftist failed to take the struggle seriously and remained aloof from it.
4) The struggle has helped boost the revolutionary image of the Party amongst the general masses in a countrywide plane.
5) It has helped to convince that even the highest form of urban or mass struggle unless it is spread to the rural areas and unless it is linked with the political line of protracted People’s War, cannot get the people's demand fulfilled, cannot ensure the liberation of the people and cannot orient the struggle itself in a correct direction.
With this valuable lesson in hand, the third CC meeting held in June has chalked out basic plan & programme of shifting the main focus of activities to rural areas, whereas due attention would be paid to conduct necessary activities in the urban areas. The resolution says: "The real emancipation of the broad masses of the Nepalese people from the country's semi-feudal & semi-colonial condition can take place only through an agrarian revolution or a New Democratic revolution. For this the path of protracted People’s War based on the strategy of encircling the city from the countryside is inevitable. Hence the Party should immediately go ahead with the tasks of ideological & political, organizational, actional and technical preparations. For such preparations, the task of initiating & building rural class struggles in a planned manner should be taken as a central task and the main force should be centralized & concentrated on the same. This is the main responsibility reposed on us by the Unity Congress and we should right now set ourselves in carrying out this responsibility." (From "Resolution on the Plan of Rural Class Struggle")
It is clear that consolidation of the Party and planned development of rural class struggle are our central task at the moment and our Party is fully committed & geared to accomplish these tasks.
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The seizure of power by armed force, the settlement of the issue by war, is the central task and the highest form of revolution. This Marxist-Leninist principle of revolution holds good universally, for China and for all other countries.
- Mao Tse-tung (1938)