On Nationalism Among Nepalese Communists

By | 03/16/2022

On December 27, 2015, the Russian Maoist Party (RMP) sent a letter to International Coordination of Revolutionary Parties and Organizationa (ICOR) “To the ICOR Office on some questions of the end of 2015”, which reads in part:

“We entirely support this draft (resolution against the blockade of Nepal and Rojava) regarding Rojava. But we are rather well informed on Rojava thanks to frequent and diligent informing by the ICOR Office. On the contrary, we know almost nothing about current blockade of Nepal. On this question within the ICOR there was only single letter from the Nepal Communist Party (Mashal) (of October, 11th, or November, 10th, 2015 (it was not obvious, what date was meant: ‘Brief NCP/Mashal vom 11.10.15’)). It has been written by so negligent and chaotic English language that we could not understand it well and translate to Russian. We appealed to the ICOR Office via comrade Dorothea Jauernig for an explanation of a point (on December, 18th, 2015) but have not received any answer yet. Therefore our idea of this situation remains extremely rough. Something in the Mashal letter causes alarm concerning their position on issues of national equality and the right of the nations on self-determination. Therefore we (and, as we suppose, other member organisations of the ICOR) are not ready to make public statements on this problem.

We would like to clear following questions:

  • Does NCP (Mashal) support electoral discrimination of the Madeshi nation in Terai region? As we have understood, the new constitution gives them fewer constituencies, than it would be proportionally to the population. Does Mashal considers it as fair, correct and non-infringing against the Madeshi nation?

  • Does NCP (Mashal) support making difficulties for persons of the Indian origin in reception of Nepalese citizenship and any discrimination of Nepalese citizens of the Indian origin concerning appointment to the state office?

  • Does NCP (Mashal) oppose the rights of the Madeshi nation to self-determination in the form of federalisation and autonomy or secession? What is general Mashal stand on the right of the nations on self-determination?”

After that, in February 2016, the Nepalese party responded to us with a “note on the political situation in the Terai” signed by Mohan Bikram Singh. Unfortunately, the original text of this note has been lost, so here it is given in a reverse translation from Russian. If you’re worried that accuracy might be seriously affected by doing this, see Singh’s later article linked below, which has similar content.

So, a note on the political situation in the Terai:

“The situation with Terai, also called Madhesh, is very complicated. Terai is the southern part of Nepal, surrounded by India from the east, south and west. It takes a little expiation to understand the real situation with the Terai.

India has been adopting an expansionist policy towards Nepal for decades. First, Nepal is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of water resources. India wants to monopolize Nepal’s water resources. Secondly, they want to annex the Terai from Nepal. Finally, India wants to make Nepal into Sikkim, or a part of itself like Sikkim.

India used various methods to achieve these goals, of which the proposal to amend the constitution to provoke the Madesh people to organize the Terai movement and the blockade known today. Decades earlier, Madesh political organizations had been formed to work for India’s expansionist policies in Nepal. The Terai people are commonly referred to as the Madhesi, although they make up only less than a third of the total Terai population, the other two thirds being Tharu and people who immigrated from the northern highlands. However, a clear distinction should be made between Madesh and Madeshabadi. The Madeshi are part of the Terai people that have been oppressed and exploited for centuries. The Madeshabadi are a handful of people who mostly immigrated from India. Many of them are naturalized citizens of Nepal. Their main goal is to work for India’s expansionist goals in Nepal.

The current controversy between Nepal and India arose after the constitution of Nepal was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on September 16, 2015. After this constitution was formally issued, a seven-point amendment proposal was put forward by India. India denies making such a proposal. But this is a well-known reality, detailed by the Indian magazine India Today. Madhesh organizations organized a movement to force the government to accept these amendments. India used the blockade against Nepal to force the government to accept these amendments. What are the main of these amendments?

The current constitution of Nepal is not entirely consistent with India’s expansionist goals. Therefore, it wants to make some fundamental amendments. Following the instructions of India, the Madeshabadi emphasize in relation to it that the two Pradesh (provinces) in the general system should be formed in the Terai, completely separate from the land of the highlands. They also demand that these Pradesh have the right to self-determination. Obviously, the goal behind the demand for two separate provinces is to annex the Terai from Nepal through the right to self-determination. They also require that all naturalized citizens have the right to be elected or nominated to the highest offices of President, Prime Minister, Speaker of Parliament, Commander-in-Chief, Chief Minister of Pradesh, etc., which is prohibited by the current constitution. It is worth mentioning here that Sonia Gandhi herself was not allowed to become the Prime Minister of India, although her party won a majority in Parliament.

Their well-known demand is that all constituencies should be determined only on the basis of population. According to the current constitution, both geography and population must be taken into account when determining districts. They also demand that the Terai have majoritarian parliamentary constituencies. Although Terai has about 51% of the country’s population, it includes only 17% of the entire country’s area. One way or another, in this way they want to get a majority in parliament, which will allow them to decide to transfer all the water resources of Nepal to Indian control, annex the Terai, annex Nepal to a second Sikkimal, etc. The proposal put forward by India is guided by these expansionist goals.

The constitution as a whole is not popular, so we have many fundamental differences with it. But it does not discriminate against the Terai in the sense that India or the Madeshabadi put this question. It discriminates against them because it does not fully contribute to Indian aspirations. We are against the formation of Pradesh in the Terai, completely separate from the highlands. Shaping the Pradesh constitution in this way will serve India’s plans to annex the Terai from Nepal and thus the long term will be against the national interests, sovereignty and integrity of Nepal.

We will be happy to answer your questions if you have any.”

On June 2, 2016, RMP sent the  letter to ICOR “On the Political Situation of Tarai (for NCP (Mashal) and M.B.Singh)”:

  1. “We would like to see proofs that India rose any ultimatums against the constitution of Nepal. The single reference to the India Today is totally insufficient. Could we see a specific article (a link to article) on this issue? Also, we would like to see the exact text of these amendments.

  2. It is unclear does NCP (Mashal) recognize the right of Madeshi to self-determination. We would like to see direct and unambiguous answer for this question.

  3. Described by M.B. Singh demarcation between Madeshi and Madeshabadi is not clear at all. What is the ethnic, linguistic and class character of these groups? Why the ‘main objective (of Madeshbadis) is to work to fulfill the expansionist objectives of India in Nepal’? What determines their stands?

  4. If pro-Indian Madeshabadi is really only a ‘handful of persons’, a handful of immigrants, why you need any constitutional restrictions for people Madeshi? Who is the majority in the two pradeshes, which formation Madeshabadi seek of – Madeshabadi or Madeshi? Why Madeshabadi’s right to be elected or nominated to the highest posts is a such threat to Nepal, when the election or nomination is made in a democratic way? Could the majority of Nepal voters or MPs indeed ‘to work to fulfill the expansionist objectives of India in Nepal’? How proportional system could lead to Madeshabadi’s victory? Whether they dispose the support of the majority of the Nepal population or of Terai population?

  5. A situation when some citizens are deprived of the right to be elected to the state posts and have a smaller share of parliamentary seats than their share in the population surely is discrimination. If ‘51% of the population of the country’ have less than half of the seats in parliament then it is obvious discrimination. We can not accept the unsubstantiated allegation that it isn’t such thing. Not square kilometers but only the living are the source of sovereignty. We also can not accept the reference to the case of Sonia Gandhi in India, since we never considered India a model democracy. Why Nepal should follow India’s example?

We will be glad if you find really compelling and complete explanation.”

After that, the readiness expressed by Singh to answer questions disappeared somewhere. In the end, we were informed through ICOR (July 12, 2016):

«They told us that they have been busy with many current political tasks and unfortunately they need some more time for an answer, because it requires details and cannot be a simple one».

Six months later, Singh published an article “The Current Political Situation in Nepal in the Context of the Constitutional Amendment Bill”. He revealed what he wrote in the note, but did not answer essentially the questions we asked.

Singh’s position is clear: he does not trust the majority of the Madhesi people and the population of the Terai region, but he cannot say this directly. Therefore, he breathes thunder and lightning at the Madhesi political groups, combining this with support for discriminatory measures against the entire Madhesi people. This is obvious chauvinism.

In 2019–2020, another conflict flared up, highlighting the nationalism of the Masal party. First, it pushed through a resolution “on encroachment in Nepal by India”, which was uncritically supported by the majority of ICOR. Then its position was further stated in the statement “On Kalapani, Lipulekha and Limpiyadhura”.

Let’s consider the history of the issue. In 1791, Nepal invaded and captured the Indian kingdom of Kumaon, of which the Kalapani territory is a part. A quarter of a century later, it was taken by the British. This means that there can be no talk of any “original rights” of Nepal to these lands. There is no settled population in these places, but Byansi cattle graze here in the summer, descending to cities such as Dharchula in India for the winter. This means that it is also impossible to talk about the self-determination of the people of this land.

The real reason for Nepal’s claim to Kalapani is obvious. Now Nepal has the Tinkar Pass. If it also would receive the Lipulekh and Limpyadhura passes, he could monopolize the Indo-Tibetan communication in this area. These passes have always been used by the Biansi to trade with Tibet. Now, with the growth of trade and tourist flow, the associated profits have risen. The desire o  Nepal to collect bribes from passing traders and tourists is understandable. It is not clear what grounds the communists have to fight for the redistribution of territorial rent and the establishment of a monopoly of means of communication. Such claims are purely nationalist.

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