Naxals seize Kathmandu, declare autonomous state

From the Economic Times:

KATHMANDU: Maoists on Wednesday announced the seizure of the Nepalese capital Kathmandu declaring it an autonomous region, after storming into heavily guarded Durbar Square, in a development that could trigger a new political confrontation.Waving red flags, 5000 militant cadres forced their way into the Durbar Square city centre where their chief Prachanda declared Kathmandu valley as the Newa Autonomous State. The Maoists, who have already announced formation of parallel governments in nine districts and paid little heed to warnings by the Nepali Congress, to desist from such tactics as it may lead to “biggest political and social confrontation”.

Though the Maoist takeover was more of a symbolic nature, their choice of the capital city sent shock-waves in the ruling CPN-UML-led 22-party alliance. Prachanda lit a traditional lamp to declare Kathmandu as Newa Autonomous State by flying a banner that read “Newa Autonomous State” as hundreds of balloons were let off.

A gun salute was also given and the city declared an autonomous state amidst performance of traditional music.

“Our move is not intended to disrupt the peace process or block the constitution making task,” Prachanda proclaimed adding it was to “make people aware about federalism and strengthen the republican system”. The Maoist supremo claimed that “regressive forces were hatching a conspiracy against the republican system and trying to reverse the change”.

Other Maoist leader who spoke on the occasion defended their move to declare various areas as autonomous regions rejected the claim that it would derail the peace process and lead to disintegration of the nation. The party is planning to declare altogether 13 autonomous states in the country by December 18.

For an understanding of the importance of federalism in the strategy of the UCPN[M], see the three posts on Understanding Federalism Part I, Part II and Part III.



  1. jamie said,

    December 19, 2009 at 12:26 am

    Hey Splinty, you’ve been following this too. This is good on the wider diplomatic context:

  2. johng said,

    December 19, 2009 at 12:32 am

    Fuck me. Thats my considered response.

  3. Neil said,

    December 19, 2009 at 1:05 am

    Being a bit pendantic here but are the Nepalese Maoists called Naxalites?

    I thought the Naxalites were Maoist guerillas in India who took their name from a village (Naxalbari) in West Bengal?

    There’s allegations the Nepalese Maoists are in cahoots with the Naxalites but how much of that is true and how much that is an invention of the Research and Analysis Wing (Indian MI6) to allow India to interfere in internal Nepalese politics I don’t know.

    Even though I’m a Trot and with all the reservations I have with the Nepalese Maoists I must say this is impressive stuff. You can say what you like about their program and methods but you have to hand it to these comrades, when they say they’re going to do something they go out and do it

  4. prianikoff said,

    December 19, 2009 at 7:16 am

    The tactics of the UCPN are hard to fault.
    They are pushing Nepal to a situation of dual power.
    Prachanda rejected formal power over the question of sacking the minister in charge of the army.
    But the UCPN are inexorably building a mass movement which is breaking the bounds of formal bourgeois democracy.

    Squatters and peasants are seizing public land and they’re stepping up the pressure with a General Strike.
    The declaration of autonomous states is a way of undermining the Congress-controlled National government region by region.
    The class content of their demands is the Democratic Revolution;
    Land reform, integration of their guerilla forces into the National Army (led by ministers that they control), federalism and workers rights.
    It’s not yet a socialist revolution, nor could it be in Nepal.

    The bourgeoisie are relying on the Army, the Nepali Congress and the right wing reformist CP’s to maintain power.
    But the balance of forces in Nepal means that implementing a consistent Democratic Programme shifts the balance of power to the workers and peasants.
    The question is, are the UCPN using these tactics to simply pressurise the forces to the right into a compromise, or do they intend to lead the mass movement to power?

    So far it looks like they’ve chosen the latter option.
    If so, it will have a big impact across the border in India and the rest of South Asia.

  5. Dave Semple said,

    December 19, 2009 at 11:00 am

    “It’s not yet a socialist revolution, nor could it be in Nepal.”

    A bit mechanistic there, no?

  6. prianikoff said,

    December 20, 2009 at 9:00 am

    #5 See my final para in #4. Democratic revolution in Nepal could be a spark that sets off the Indian Subcontinent, where a Socialist revolution is possible.

  7. johng said,

    December 20, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    What would the relationship between these two things be? (not ruling it out, but just wondering what you mean).

  8. skidmarx said,

    December 20, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    I did mean to ask how big the Nepalese working class is relative to the total population, compared to the Russian working class of 1917 (with the implication that any stages theory whereby only a democratic revolution would be on the agenda would be ever so unBolshevik), but a quick google provides this link:

  9. prianikoff said,

    December 20, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    #7 There’s a big ethnic and linguistic overlap with India in the Terai region of Nepal, which is the most productive agricultural area of the country.

    The local Madheshi were discriminated against by the Nepali Monarchy.
    So the fact the UCPN have announced a ‘Madhesh autonomous state’ undercuts right wing Hindu separatism.

    It provides an example to movements in the neighbouring regions of India.
    Just as radical land redistribution and pro-worker labour laws in Nepal could
    It’s also likely to assist the left opposition to the reformist CP’s in India amongst the far more numerous Indian working class.

  10. johng said,

    December 21, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    That radical land re-distribution measures in Nepal would be a good thing in terms of an example I would’nt gainsay. However it does have to be said that the tenure systems and the struggles around them are very different in India. I’ve heard little about pro-labour laws in Nepal (it was claimed on a site skidmarx linked to by someone in Kathmandu that the leader of the UCPN has made statements about banning strikes, but again, have no way of knowing if this is true or not). There is not a Hindu separatist movement in India.

  11. prianikoff said,

    December 22, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Not sure what Skidmark’s on about really.
    Since the UCPN-M have just been organising a three-day general strike, it seems a little weird to suggest that they’re “banning strikes”.
    Obviously Hindu Separatism isn’t an issue in India.
    But Undercutting a Hindu Separatist movement in Nepal prevents the Nepalese Hindu population being influenced by the Hindu chauvinists across the border.

    • skidmarx said,

      December 22, 2009 at 5:19 pm

      priankoff – my point was that you seemed to suggest that only a democratic revolution was possible in Nepal, rather than a socialist one. As it would appear that the Nepalese working class is bigger in relative terms than that of Russia in 1917, and while it is probably smaller in absolute terms the world working class is much greater, then Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution, adopted in practice by the Bolsheviks, would seem to apply to Nepal.
      It occurs to me now that perhaps you see Nepal since the success as the Maoists as beyond capitalism, and therefore only a democratic revolution is necessary. A slightly different issue, but I’d still reject the contention.

      I hope that clears that up.

  12. andy newman said,

    December 22, 2009 at 10:21 am

    one further progressive aspect of this situation is the firmly pro-Chinese tilt of the Maoists, in particular over the issue of Tibetan independence. Given that nepal has been a serious base for tibetan exiles seeking to destabilise Tibet’s position in the People’s republic, this could be a decisive shift

    • Neil said,

      December 22, 2009 at 9:00 pm

      GRENADE!!!! 🙂

  13. Liam said,

    December 22, 2009 at 10:56 am

    What is progressive about being willing accomplices to the suppression of a movement calling for national self-determination?

    On the plus side there is what Prianikoff says.

  14. johng said,

    December 22, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    If you read the site he links to, there is a comment from someone in Kathmandu. The suggestion is (and again I have no way of knowing the strength of this) that the strikes are political strikes called by the Maoists but that the Maoists have a very top-down attitude towards which ought to be and which ought not to be recognised. In terms of Hindu chauvinists from India not influencing Nepal, well thats not the same as a discussion of how events in Nepal might influence the struggle in India (where the overwhelming impact is likely to be on the existing CPI (Maoist) which opens up a whole different kettle of fish). One feature of events in the initial overthrow of the monarchy was discussion about the role of the CP(M) in mediating for the Indian state with the Nepalese Maoists. This has obviously fallen apart recently (references to problems with the ‘peace process’). In terms of the terrible situation of Tibetan refugees I don’t see anything progressive about a possible clampdown on them and, in any case, the problems in Tibet are problems in Tibet, and not caused by any foreign hand. Chinese like its opposite number Indian sub-imperialism, is a problem not a solution in Nepal. I can remember visiting the Indian embassy in Kathmandu. It was rather more imposing then the royal Palace.

  15. chjh said,

    December 22, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Odd that the Maoists should be pro-Chinese, given that China was until very recently arming the monarchy aginst them.

    • andy newman said,

      December 23, 2009 at 9:36 pm

      well they simply are over the issue of Tibet

      surprising or not.

  16. Mark Victorystooge said,

    December 22, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    I would be surprised if the Maoists are in fact pro-Chinese. There is variation among Maoists internationally, but most tend to think China’s government and society ceased to be revolutionary after Mao’s death (some Maoists took this as far as transferring their allegiance to Hoxha’s Albania).

    • andy newman said,

      December 23, 2009 at 9:35 pm

      well it is simply a fact that pachandra et al are pro-Chinese over the Tibet question, over Xinjiang and taiwan.

      And in areas under maoist control the Tbetan exiles have been prohibited from anti-Chinese political activity.

  17. johng said,

    December 22, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Yeah thats my general understanding. Knowing some Maoists in India they just tend to go quiet at the mention of China. Their attitude is best described as ambivulent. But then that ambivulence is more then re-paid in terms of the Chinese State’s attitude to them as Chjh emphasises.

  18. December 27, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    […] Sunrise comments on those cheeky Maoists in Nepal, who seized Kathmandu last Wednesday and declared it an autonomous […]

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