Revolution Reports from Nepal - 3
By Stephen Mauldin at Apr 26, 2009
Above: On left is Ganesh Man Pun who signs as "Convener of YCL". He was Commander of the 4th Division of the PLA until about three years ago the Party decided he should lead the YCL. On the right is Raju Khadka, Vice-Convener YCL.
(Continued from Revolution Reports from Nepal - 2) While I was spending time with Comrade Regmi of the All Nepal Federation Of Trade Unions, Puspa left after having been unable to reach me by cell. So ensued another slog across the sea of creatures and mechanical beasts to my hotel room - surviving these smog fests, now I have a reliable face mask replete with little intake valves. I would rest up and find out about the YCL rally or else begin to write about todays activites and interview with Ganesh Regmi. for the second report. Later I wouild cover anything that happened at the YCL rally.
The YCL Rally and Meeting with Ganesh Man Pun
I had just enough time for a pit stop and washing the grime from my hands and face before Puspa was at the door saying hurry up. The Maobadi YCL rally march was on its way down the streets. When we reached the street, the head of the procession was a hundred meters ahead of where we entered the solid stream of marchers. I could see back over the people that the tail of the stream was about a kilometer long and moving at a brisk pace. The red flags with hammer and sickle, larger ones at the front and smaller though out the column were being raised and waved. Every 50 meters or so was a leader chanting slogans repeated by the surrounding crowd, so you could hear several different groups doing something different at the same time - but then of a sudden the entire procession would combine in a rousing cheer.
Above: Ganesh Man Pun and Raju Khadka (just left and behide the rickshaw) lead the long procession into Durbar Square
Having worked our way to the front of the procession we found the YCL leaders and others who I would see speaking before the crowd later. Clearing the way ahead and stopping cross traffic was a contingent of about 20 Nepal Police. I noticed that the officer directing the police activity was on friendly terms with the people leading the rally. The procession entered Durbar Square, filling it and the steep tiered temple steps in the center of the square. Soon the MC was exhorting the crowd over raised loudspeakers. Speakers went in turn. Ganesh Man Pun, Convener Nepal YCL spoke first. A woman gave a very powerful presentation. The final speech was by Raju Khadka, Vice-Convener of Nepal YCL. The crowd roared with approval at given points. I didn't know what was said.
I was "backstage" so to speak and was able to meet a number of people there including Comrade Pun. So in the mist of several people greeting him etc. some introductory talk occurred. This talk continued intermittently and impromptu as the rally broke up. Puspa invited the YCL leaders to a restaurant in walking distance. My talk with Comrade Pun continued on the street while dodging motor cycles. More continued during pizza in the hot and raucous restaurant. We were also accompanied by Raju Khadka, second to Pun in the YCL. Comrade Khadka has little English so Puspa was translating now and again main points, while he just listened - conveying something now and then in Nepali to Comrade Pun.
Now it should be realized that this whole dialog was stop and go, punctuated by Nepali conversations between Puspa and Pun on what I was saying, and my conversations with Puspa in English about what Pun was saying. This stage of secondary conversations would follow pauses in English discussion between Pun and me - which were accompanied by diagrams or mind-maps on paper. We understood more than we could say, then we'd clarify in the secondary dialogs. Then also Comrade Khadki was informed in sketch and he would comment (but that was all in Nepali only).
And so it continued. There were some issues of business between Puspa and Pun so we three left and went through competition to get at taxi and negotiations of a reasonable price - the streets were a mess: packed motorcycles mixed with pedestrians and taxi cabs. Talk continued in the cab and over a final pot of tea at my hotel (not helped by a bad rock band from the nearby club), after which Puspa and Pun left on their business.
I think what I am providing is an eyewitness account. It's not a recorded interview but its good enough in court provided I am a credible witness. It's clear from the account above that the situation and method of communication would hardly lend itself to functional recorded information. I mean the conditions for recording as well as the complexities of the language barrier. The best I can do is tell what we spoke of, why I spoke of it and what I understood from Comrade Pun. I can quote something accurately from memory, not much. I can remember the conceptual organization of his ideas and generally how he presented them in some paraphrasing, but mostly I can write narrative about the conversation:
1. Comrade Pun told me his basic story over the course of our talk. His relationship to the YCL spans twenty years and before it was affiliated as an organ of the Maobadi. He was an active member of the YCL for 2-3 years and because of his work was recognized as a District Political Leader in the province of Rukum which is part of the Mid-Western Region that became the seat of the Maobadi revolution. When the Peoples War broke out his "team" executed successful attacks, armed mainly with clubs at first, on the district police, which is how they got weapons. In time Comrade Pun was captured however. He spent four years incarcerated, escaped during transport for medical treatment, and went totally underground were he continued to gain greater responsibility fighting in the PLA. About three years ago the Party decided he would begin to lead the YCL. At the time he was still Commander of the PLA 4th Division. At this point he is no longer officially part of the PLA, but of course he has close ties.
2. I brought into discussion my understanding of the theory and practice in the Maobadi line. In particular, that a new state of "democratic centralism" as defined by Mao was the objective. It would be made up of the multiplicity of oppressed masses. It would be an interim state withering away to communism as this state effectively exercised dictatorship over oppressor classes until a classless society existed. I found with discussion that I was basically on the same page with Comrade Pun. The most significant exchange was:
SDM: One main question for me is whether the masses involved are not only concerned with their regional, cultural or other unique requirements but also aware and committed to the communist hypothesis we have been discussing - that they fully understand it.
GMP: We can't copy what was done by others before, by Lenin or Mao, but we can learn from mistakes made then and in more recent revolutionary movements. Our YCL people understand and I would say 60% of the people creating the New Nepal government fully understand.
3. We both accept as axiomatic for revolution the need for removal of any power in the hands of reactionaries and to put an end to their standing army. I inquired about the problematic in his view. Comrade Pun made some very interesting comments (I continue to paraphrase using the terminology and argument structure as accurately as possible):
SDM: Lately there has been the obvious possibility of a military coup. One wonders about the capacity of the people to resist takeover by the reactionaries. The PLA will need the help of the armed masses, particularly the YCL and the Union members and others. But are they ready?
GMP: Because we have been in government and in the majority the situation has given us greater access to the internal conditions of the NA.
SDM: Yes, this has been characterized by the reactionaries as trying to destroy the morale of the NA with lies about the "soft coup" and other politicization of the issues.
GMP: There are actually two factions in the NA and two levels at which this split is evident (he drew a diagram in my notepad). We see there is already a morale problem in the rank and file of the NA because of the existing class divisions.
SDM: You mean there are a significant number of lower ranked soldiers who feel oppressed by the traditions of the officer corps?
GMP: Yes, that, but also more. Among the officers, led by some generals is a faction counter to the royalist mindset. Among the reactionaries are those who I would call "progressive". They are very nationalistic.
SDM: Do you mean to say you think there is an inclination in the NA to cooperate with the Maobadi led government, to be more in compliance?
GMP: We believe that a political solution is still possible because of this division within the NA itself.