Daya Varma and Vinod Mubayi


Does people’s war have a future in countries like Nepal and India?


People’s War was a unique strategy developed by the Communist Party of China under the leadership of the late Mao Zedong in its struggle first against Japanese colonialism and later against the Kuomintang clique supported by U.S. imperialism. The main components of People’s War were a people’s army under the leadership of a communist party guided by Marxist-Leninist ideology. The other successful people’s war was waged by the Communist Party of Vietnam, first against the French and then against the USA.


The key elements in both China and Vietnam were the following. 1. The main enemy was a foreign imperialist power hated by the vast majority of the population. 2. They were wars of national liberation, not for establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat.  3. The fighting forces comprised of a regular people’s liberation army in addition to guerrilla units. 4. They had mass popular support.


All subsequent struggles claiming to be people’s wars have been caricatures, long on ideological rhetoric but short on a concrete analysis of concrete conditions, with the exception of the one waged by Nepal Maoists under the leadership of Prachanda. Nepal Maoists did have a people’s liberation army and achieved major successes in battles against the monarchical and feudal Royal Nepal Army. However, in a country as ethnically diverse as Nepal, the Nepali Maoists enjoyed mass popularity as long as the feudal aristocracy was in power. The end of monarchy created a new situation; the United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-Maoist) correctly analyzed the situation and opted for participating in popular elections, supporting democratic governance, and dismantling their armed wing, the people’s liberation army. In the elections following the end of monarchy, the UPCN-M emerged as the largest party in parliament and formed the government.  As was to be expected, the bourgeois parties led by the Nepali Congress did all they could to disrupt the rule of UPCN-M.  Both Prachanda and Bhattarai, the most recent UPCN-M Prime Minister, have rightly analyzed and stated that the response to the provocation from the right should be to deepen the democratic struggle, particularly as a way to assuage the fears and enlist the support of hitherto oppressed and neglected ethnic minorities as the article by Prashant Jha (see below) points out. But old habits die hard. It is not an easy task for a communist party engaged in years of armed struggle to retain its cohesiveness and unity following a major shift in political line.


The Mohan Baidya faction that recently broke away from the UPCN-M is daydreaming if they think they can launch “people’s revolt on the foundation of people’s war”.


Nonetheless they could cause some damage to UCPN-M before becoming a roving armed group practicing social banditry as is the case with the Indian Maoists. In an age and time where masses have the vote as is the case in both India and Nepal, the idea that a so-called people’s democratic dictatorship with all political power vested in the hands of one party can be brought to fruition via an armed struggle is a chimera.

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