Fractional Brew

There are two aspects of the on-going line struggle in Nepal that I wish to briefly discuss today, 1) the recent reports of faction meetings and 2) the ANNISU(R) president, Himal Sharma’s, statement regarding the education of the children of party leaders. In the last few days there have been widespread reports that there have been numerous faction meetings around Kathmandu and other cities where UCPN(Maoist) leaders have been meeting party cadre and discussing the two-line struggle within the party and consolidating support for their respective faction and its policies. It is of unclear as to the exact content of these conversations and what implications they may have on the on-going two line struggle, however, it is unsurprising that such meetings are occurring and does not necessarily foreshadow any major changes in the immediate future. But it is evidence that the line-struggle is becoming increasingly intense within the party. The situation of the party may seem to be completely disheartening, however, there is something very interesting that is simultaneously occurring, an active internal debate that is demonstrative of an active political life within the party (I am of course thinking of Gramsci’s differentiation between ‘bureaucratic centralism’ and ‘democratic centralism’). In 1919, the CPSU, after having captured State power in the October Revolution was tired and weary from its ongoing civil war was also racked by factional struggle. Indeed, Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin all agreed that the factional struggle in the party had become so bad that it had become necessary to ban all factions within the party and reassert “democratic centralism” as to ensure that the party did not split (ironically one of the factions banned was also called “Democratic Centralism” – I must admit that I think that this banning factions was one of the biggest mistakes that was ever made by the CPSU and played a central role in the construction of a monolithic communist party). In the case of the Nepalese party, despite the fact that the factional struggle has racked the party there is no clear evidence of an evident split and ‘democratic centralism’ has been largely maintained. However, as we all know, there have been notable collapses in democratic centralism including the factionalization of the ANTUF(R) and the death threats against Baburam Bhattarai (indeed the fact that the culprit was simply suspended from the party for four months is laughable, as he should have been expelled from the party and turned over to the police).  

Furthermore, the president of the ANNISU(R), Himal Sharma, like his predecessors, has demanded that the UCPN(Maoist)’s leaders educate their children in public schools rather than in private schools. This demand is not new. However, what is surprising is that this remains an issue after this many years. Indeed, one of the first splits to occur in the party was when two leaders of the party, including Mani Thapa (leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party (Nepal), left the CC of the then CPN(M) citing the fact that the leadership had become accustomed to a petit-bourgeois lifestyle which included education their children to private schools in Nepal and abroad. This aspect of the line struggle is important as it speaks to some of the basic issues that resulted in the need for the GPCR in China in the 1960’s. Revolutionary China, despite the attempts to provide education to greather swathes of the masses, still saw a highly segregated education system in which the children of political (the children of Party cadre) and cultural elites  (the children of the educated petit bourgeoisie) were recruited to magnet schools that would ensure their place in the premier universities thus reproducing themselves as a bureaucratic class, whereas the children of the working class and peasantry were being educationally sidelined through limited access to secondary education. This of course resulted in the reproduction of basic class differences, albeit in altered form due to the abolition of private property and business within China, and thus necessitated the GPCR. The UCPN(M) leadership have often argued that having learned from the GPCR and its failures that they had developed a theory of ‘continuous cultural revolution’ however, it does not seem that this has been able to stamp out the problem of party leaders sending their children to private schools (indeed, in the model village of Thabang a private school has been opened in 2008 with the blessings of UCPN(M) leaders). Thus, whilst the party continues to struggle over the immediate political problems that it faces, far more difficult and long-term problems are steadily becoming entrenched.

Shrestha holds meeting with supporters

KATHMANDU, May 31: UCPN (Maoist) Vice-chairman Narayankaji Shrestha on Tuesday held a meeting of former Ekata Kendra Masal cadres in an apparent bid to increase the latter´s stake in the UCPN (M).

Shrestha was the leader of the Ekata Kendra Masaal which later merged into then CPN (M) shortly after the Constituent Assembly polls in 2008.

“The meeting was organized to consolidate our [former Ekata Kendra Masal] position in the party,” said a leader close to Shrestha.

The UCPN (Maoist) is embroiled in intra-party conflict between the three factions led by Chairman Dahal, Senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya and Vice-chairman Dr Baburam Bhattrai. Shrestha is a key aide to Chairman Dahal.

Dahal, Baidya and Bhattarai factions have been organizing separate meetings in recent days.

Shrestha had organized a separate meeting of former Ekata Samaj during the Palungtar plenum in a bid to garner support for Chairman Dahal.

“The party is embroiled in intra-party conflict. The meeting focused on the management of the inter-party-struggle and the role we can play to resolve problems” said Shrestha talking to media persons after the meeting.

Shrestha said he also has differences with Chairman Dahal.

Around 250 supporters of Shrestha from the area, district and state committees of the party attended the meeting held at a party palace in Tinkune, Kathmandu.

‘Maoist brass must send children to public schools’

Tek Narayan Bhattarai

PALPA, May 31: UCPN (Maoist) student wing All Nepal National Independent Students Union-Revolutionary (ANNISU-R) Chairman Himal Sharma on Monday said that the children of UCPN (Maoist) leaders should discontinue educating their children in private schools.

“Some leaders are trying to enroll their kids in private schools on the pretext that this was being done for them by their relatives,” he said.

Speaking at an interaction organized by the Association of Revolutionary Journalists on Monday in Palpa, Sharma said contractors and the education mafia will be ready to enroll the children of the party´s leaders but that should not be allowed. Such children also should go to public schools like the children of ordinary people, he said.

“If they don´t oblige we will ask the party to take strong action against them,” he informed.

Sharma said that Moaist leaders will not be allowed to invest in private schools and colleges either and in case secret investments are made, they will expose them. He said their party has been discussing this issue as an agenda in itself. It was important that the Maoist party internalize this policy so that it would be easy to introduce and implement the same in other parties as well.

Sharma stressed that their student union will not let attempts to weaken public education and privatize it completely succeed. “If we follow Tribhuwan University´s educational calendar and strictly adhere to the dates for admissions, classes and examinations, it will be very easy to implement this plan,” he said.

Talking separately to Republica, Sharma said the student union had already submitted a memo to party Chairman Prachanda, who has promised to raise it as an agenda item at the party meeting.

Some leaders have already placed their children in public schools while those with children still in boarding schools are looking for suitable public schools, Sharma claimed.
“We can only exert moral pressure,” he added.

In a different context, Sharma said that the student union is acting like a ´super glue´ to prevent the parent party from splitting.

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One thought on “Fractional Brew

  1. Thanks again for this insightful update. Of all the blogs out there you still have the best gloss on the situation in Nepal. Both this post and the previous (the one that most sadly demonstrated Bhattarai’s capitulation) provided a window into the line struggle within Nepal.

    It is sad that something as obvious as the public/private dichotomy is still such an issue. Excellent parallels [though maybe you should copy edit – just a suggestion!] with the GPCR in China. Especially since, as Mobo Gao pointed out, the whole private school privilege scenario was responsible for producing reactionary morons like Jung Chang.

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