Archive ref no: NCA-18618
Strategy & Tactics of Armed Struggle in Nepal
(Document adopted by the Third Expanded Meeting of the CC of the CPN (Maoist) in March 1995.)
When analyzing Nepal’s history from historical materialistic perspective, it can be easily inferred that the Nepalese people have been struggling against the complexities of natural forces and various man-made problems for their own survival & development. Modern Nepal was evolved through the struggle between and intermingling of, on the one hand; simple, innocent people struggling to live peacefully in steep slopes with their natural economic system and tribal culture, and at the other, the Hindus who had periodically intruded into this country from the south specially about 1000 years back with their superior technology of production and art of war after they were defeated by Muslims. In this historical process the rise of princes & chieftains and the struggle that kept ensuing between them has forced the people to be trained in violent struggle, which has been proved by the history. The Nepalese people who had acquired military & fighting prowess in the course of their historical development were able to fight bravely against the Britishers in the south & the Chinese in the north who were well equipped with modern knowledge, technique & weapons, during the later period. In the battles fought for their own sovereignty the children, old men, women, youths have demonstrated unprecedented sacrifices, bravery & astuteness on the basis of arms & equipments made in their own country. This had frightened & terrorized even large imperialist armies and their commanders and established the Nepalese (Gorkhali) people as one of the greatest fighters of the world. Even today any independent Nepali would feel proud when he remembers the fighting prowess, bravery and sacrifice of the Nepalese people in the past history. It is a matter of no lesser pride that even Karl Marx, the proponent of communist ideology & the leader of the world proletariat, too, had appreciated the sacrifice, bravery and skill shown by the Nepalese people in those wars.
However, from the point of view of the leadership, even yesterday & today the foreign imperialism and its running dogs, the domestic reactionary ruling classes, have conspiratorially turned the brave Nepalese into mercenary soldiers. For us it is necessary to pass this historical legacy to the people through the struggle and encourage them to take their destiny in their own hands.
Here, even after the development of the centralized Nepalese state, the Nepalese people have been fighting & opposing in their own way against the atrocities let loose by the ruling classes, specially the Ranas and the Shahas. Notable among these are many clashes within the different ruling classes and the rebellion of Lakhan Thapa against the Ranas. Under the background of the growing people’s consciousness & rebellion worldwide around the period of Second World War, the Nepalese people, too, began to fight violently against the oppression perpetuated by the ruling classes. In this process, the Communist Party took birth in Nepal and Nepal entered into a stage of New Democratic revolution against feudalism & imperialism. The people from different parts of the country rose to fight with arms against the Indian expansionist ruling classes, their stooge the Nepal Congress, and the feudal king, who had conspired to crush the people’s movement through the Delhi accord. In this connection the armed rebellion that took place in Bhairahawa area is notable. Even after that the people continued to be involved in small or big struggles breaking the reactionary law & administration. Armed conflicts against the local feudal tyrants in different places started taking place.
Among this kind of armed rebellion against feudalism & expansionism, armed rebellion that took place under the leadership of Bhim Datta Pant in western part of Nepal is historically important. In the year 1952-53 itself the way Bhim Datta Pant made hundreds of armed squads, the way he was able to annihilate corrupt government officials, the way he was able to capture grains from the government granaries & other essentials and distribute amongst the poor and famine-stricken peasants, the way he was able to attack the feudal tyrants one after the other, it was of no less importance. The very fact that it was beyond the capacity of the Nepalese government to quell this rebellion itself proves clearly how popular & powerful it was. Thousands of Indian troops were called inside to crush this rebellion and the leader was killed in a most gruesome & inhuman manner. It was from that period onwards itself the present ruling class had shown its anti-national, capitulationist and fascist character.
During this period peasants in league with the Communist Party start fighting against feudal exploitations in different districts of the country. Amongst them the peasant rebellion developed in Bara, Parsa and particularly in Rautahat has special importance. Thousands of peasants defied the law and administration to destroy the bond papers of local feudal tyrants, to break their granaries, to start cultural movement to snub the pride of the feudals, thus spearheading the violent struggles. The peasants nearly captured local political power, leading to the panic flights by feudal landlords. However, it is a matter of sad concern that the then leadership of the Communist Party instead of analyzing the peasant class war & armed rebellions that were taking place in different parts of Nepal and without exploring the potentiality of waging a guerrilla war, condemned them as extremism, and went to surrender before the king. It tried to limit itself into legal, peaceful struggle and to work within the parliamentary system. This was a historical betrayal in the direction of revisionism that would have a long - term impact in the Nepalese communist movement.
Even after that the people’s rebellion went ahead. Peasant’s rebellions of different kinds continued. In this period, peasant’s long struggle against the feudals in Khaniyavas of Dhading and that of Dang are worth mentioning. Illegal struggles of small & big nature continued against signing of Gandak Agreement by the so- called elected Nepali Congress government in the year 1959 and against the bootlickers of Indian expansionists. Incidences of violent struggles in different places against the Royal coup of 1960 and against the partyless Panchayat system were also seen. In this period leftist youths and students movement continued despite imprisonment, repression and terror unleashed on them.
In this process the armed struggle of 1972-73 in Jhapa with the political line of protracted people’s war, while rising in rebellion against right revisionism prevalent in the Communist movement, is the most note-worthy struggle. That rebellion certainly represents the revolutionary trend and the spirit. Those who have been martyred in the process of consciously establishing New Democratic republic are immortal martyrs. Although there were deep shortcomings in the leadership in terms of petty-bourgeois mechanistic and ‘leftist’ adventurist tendencies, it was however an important far-reaching rebellion against the autocratic feudal rule of the king and against the rightist reformist tendencies that had entrenched deeply into the Nepalese Communist Movement. In the armed struggle to pursue New Democratic revolution, the martyrs of Jhapa rebellion will remain in the forefront.
The intense peasant struggles pursued around this time against the feudals and exploiters in the Eastern Terai consisting of Sarlahi, Mahottari, Siraha, Dhanusha and Sindhuli have established a new record in the history of peasant movement. In this process, too, hundreds of thousands of peasants under the leadership of the Party were involved in the class struggle resulting in a kind of power vacuum in the villages. It can be clearly seen that there was a possibility of initiating the process of guerrilla war from the foundation of peasant’s struggle of that period. However, because of reformist line and the petty bourgeois pretensions of the Party, the peasants became helpless under the onslaught of reactionary military operation. During that time many brave sons of the Nepalese revolutionary movement got martyred.
Amidst this, in Chitawan, the peasants’ struggles including the Jugedi struggle took place. Even in that rebellion many peasant youths got martyred. The historic student’s movement of 1979 took the form of people’s movement throughout the country. In this process development of a countrywide violent peasants’ struggle took place. This brought the waves of big peasants’ struggle in the Eastern Terai districts mentioned above and others including Chitawan, Dang and Bardiya. Different sections of people including peasants got involved in the countrywide struggle against the Panchayat and the monarchy by defying the reactionary law & administration. The king was forced to concede to seeking an alternative to the so-called choiceless Panchayat system because of the strength of violent struggle of the people. Although behind it there was an inherent conspiracy hatched by the king & the monarchical forces. Even after that the current of people’s struggle for nationalism, democracy and the livelihood of the people forged ahead with more vigor every passing day. The historical people’s movement of 1990 became the central expression of all these movements. Here along with the countless violent conflicts all over Nepal including the capital city, the movement began to forge ahead to end the monarchial system. In this historical struggle, hundreds of brave sons & daughters of Nepal had to lose their lives. However, the domestic and foreign reactionaries including the rightist reformists in order to get limited reforms went ahead to compromise with the king against the (high) level & spirit of the movement and succeeded in their conspiracy to derail the movement. It is clear that the end of the partyless Panchayat system and the establishment of multiparty system under the leadership of the king is also the result of people’s violent struggle.
Even after the establishment of the multiparty system, millions of people are still in the path of struggle for nationalism, democracy and the livelihood of the people. In this period we have also clearly seen in the course of the general legal movements under our leadership that people are willing to extend them full assistance and support with great enthusiasm when there are direct attacks against the reactionary state and there are violent clashes. Within a short period of the establishment of multiparty system hundreds of Nepalese have lost their lives for the sake of liberation & their rights. This includes an important leader of our Party from Dhanusha and other cadres throughout the country.
The conscious peasant class struggle developed in the western hilly districts, particularly in Rolpa & Rukum, represents the high level of anti- feudal & anti-imperialist revolutionary struggle. Despite severe reactionary repression and terror the movement not only remains sustained, but also it is going ahead as a resistance movement with a qualitative leap. That struggle has given birth to some new substances in the Nepalese Communist movement, which have inspired us to be more serious about the business of armed struggle.
From the above historical review it can be concluded that:
In the development of class struggle in the Nepalese society the establishment of the Communist Party in the year 1949 represents an important historic achievement for the proletarian class of Nepal. Even though the Party was not able to grasp the essence & importance of armed struggle, it was able to take clear political stand to fight for New Democratic revolution against feudalism & imperialism. Thus with all the qualities of its infancy, it waged propaganda & agitation from the Communist point of view on the question of nationalism, democracy and people’s livelihood and it attempted to arouse the masses mainly in the rural areas against feudalism. Because of this process, within a short period people from different parts of country got attracted towards Communist politics, and peasants’ struggles started spreading in different places. Amongst them the peasants’ movement in Terai has special importance. Because of the development of peasants’ struggle the question of correct political line in concrete terms arose in the Party. But the then Party leadership not only completely failed to lead the struggle in a revolutionary direction but in the year 1955 it decided to limit itself to peaceful propaganda activities for socialism under the feudal monarchy. From this point onwards right revisionist line openly dominated the Nepalese Communist movement. After this for a long run the Party is found to be completely immersed in peaceful, parliamentary & reformist activities.
Even when in the year 1960 the king imposed autocratic rule in the country by banning all the political parties, the leadership of the Party, which had been immersed in reformism, limited itself to various types of parliamentary slogans resembling those of other reactionary parties instead of advancing revolutionary political slogans and forms of struggle. At this very juncture the Great Debate between China and Russia and the development of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution under the leadership of Com. Mao initiated a debate in its own way about the necessity of armed struggle and the importance of fighting against revisionism. One section of the Party nakedly followed Russian revisionism and it began to get exposed thoroughly amongst the people. The larger part of the old generation of Party leadership supported Com. Mao & China and the path of New Democratic Revolution against Russian revisionism. Pushpa Lal in his document in the Gorakhpur Conference even wrote, "It is impossible to establish this kind of system without waging protracted armed revolution." (Moolbato, P. 66)
However, the leadership of the old generation of that period was not able to evolve even from tactical point of view concrete political line of revolution and failed completely to determine revolutionary forms of struggle to achieve them. In this regard the leadership of the Fourth Congress demonstrated extreme haziness about the basic path of the revolution by bringing in even more illusive and clearly reformist political slogan and by talking of "armed peasant rebellion." In essence, in terms of political line this section talked of some revolution, however, in practice it assumed a reformist character and moved along the path of neo-revisionism.
At this time, after the Naxalbari armed peasant struggle began under the leadership of Com. Charu Majumdar in India after rebelling against the reformist CPI-M, its clear influence was seen among the revolutionary youths of Jhapa in the eastern part of Nepal. Consequently even here some enthusiastic and revolutionary youths of the Eastern region went ahead with armed actions proclaiming armed struggle with the strategy of protracted People’s War after rebelling against revisionism that had taken deep root in the Party. Despite serious shortcomings due to petty-bourgeois mechanistic thought and ‘left’ adventurism, the armed action was an historic rebellion, which created flutter amongst the revisionists in the Nepalese Communist movement and the feudal state structure of the king. At least the question of armed struggle became a topic of great debate in the Communist movement. The Jhapa struggle played an important role in intensifying inner struggle in a new form between the revolutionaries and the opportunists within the neo-revisionist groups following a reformist line. The debate on whether to accept the line of armed struggle or not started taking place in their own ways within the Fourth Congress, Pushpa Lal, Manmohan, Rohit and other groups.
Most of the reformist leaders of these groups deceived a large section of the revolutionary left forces by accepting the necessity of armed struggle in abstract terms and for the future, but they kept on mounting antagonistic attacks against the living spark of revolution kindled by the armed actions. On this question, the Fourth Congress group headed by Mohan Bikram was in the forefront of vicious attacks. The revisionist essence of Mohan Bikram, known for mounting destructive attacks on the leftist revolutionaries of the Jhapa struggle and giving preference to make Man Mohan Adhikari, the pro-king renegade, as the chairman of the Central Nucleus, is unchanged and well reflected even today in his analysis of UML as a friendly force even when it has degenerated into reaction and in his antagonism in practice towards our Party.
Because of intense repression by the reactionary forces, vicious attacks by the known neo-revisionists and mainly due to the petty-bourgeois, mechanistic and ‘left’ adventurist thoughts of its own leadership the Jhapa rebellion could not develop into a People’s War. As a result of the infiltration of incompatible forces from different groups, together with the gradual degeneration of the leadership of the Jhapa rebellion into right revisionism, today they have even gone to the extent of occupying the reactionary ministry of the king. However, the process of building a revolutionary trend within it by rectifying past mistakes is still on. Some leaders of that period are even today raising the banner of rebellion against reformism & reaction despite long jail terms, torture & enticement.
Because of contemporary national & international situation and the influence of the Jhapa struggle, the debate & inter-struggle within the Fourth Congress increased in regards to the question of political slogan and the line of armed struggle. Despite theoretical & political unclarity relating to armed struggle, immortal martyr Com. Azad also played a role in this debate. Ultimately, after a long and complex struggle the genuine revolutionary forces within the Party managed to save it from the representatives of neo-revisionism, viz. Mohan Bikram & Nirmal Lama, by advancing revolutionary slogan for political power & the inevitability of protracted People’s War for achieving it. Today it has became successful in forging revolutionary alternative in the country by assimilating all the past revolutionary activities (including the Jhapa struggle) of the Nepalese Communist movement. The Unity Congress of the Party has developed a clear outlook on this issue.
In this hour of history we must admit in unequivocal terms that we have yet to materialize in practice what we have correctly formulated in theory regarding the general political slogan and the path to be followed. The reason behind this is, besides the complexities of the situation & the inner-struggle, the Party is yet to be cured of the petty- bourgeois disease of revolution in words but opportunism in practice. It is necessary to make a concrete plan of going ahead with the task of armed struggle by carrying out this kind of self-criticism.
The Nature, Target and Motivating Force of Armed Struggle in Nepal
According to the theoretical directives of M-L-M and the general specificities of the Nepalese society our Party has formulated a political strategy of completing New Democratic revolution with a people’s democratic dictatorship under the leadership of proletariat based on the unity of workers & peasants against feudalism & imperialism. The long term aim of the Party is to move towards socialist revolution after the successful completion of New Democratic revolution as an integral part of the world proletarian socialist revolution and to achieve communism by waging cultural revolutions based upon the theory of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of proletariat. It is clear that the nature & orientation of the Nepalese armed struggle will be directed by and committed to the aim of this political strategy. Accordingly the nature & orientation of the Nepalese armed struggle has been clearly specified by the National Unity Congress of the Party as, "The line of protracted people’s war based upon the strategy of surrounding the city from the countryside".
The Target of Armed Struggle
The aim of the armed struggle is to solve the basic contradictions between feudalism and the Nepalese people, imperialism - mainly the Indian expansionism - and the Nepalese people, comprador & bureaucratic capitalism & the Nepalese people, and in the immediate term the contradiction between domestic reaction which is made up of a combination of feudal and comprador & bureaucratic capitalist classes & backed by Indian expansionism and the Nepalese people. This way it is clear that the target of armed struggle will be to confiscate the lands of feudals and landlords & distribute them amongst the landless & poor peasants on the basis of the principle of land-to-the-tiller and to attack them for the purpose, and, in order to cut the roots of imperialist exploitation, to nationalize industries, banks etc. in the hands of the comprador and bureaucratic capitalists and enterprises run by government & non-government organizations and to attack them for the same. Thus it is clear that the target of armed struggle will be against feudals, landlords, comprador & bureaucratic capitalists.
In the present era of imperialism & proletarian revolution, the enemy class is practicing various forms of conspiratorial strategies to stop revolution in countries like ours. Amongst them we must focus our attention on the following, because we can’t arrive at a correct strategy without understanding the strategy of the enemy.
The third specificity shows the possibility of initiating and developing guerrilla wars in different parts of the country by taking peasant revolution as the backbone, by centralizing activities in the rural areas and by relying on and uniting with the poor peasants. The fourth specificity clearly shows that the people’s support will go on increasing if the right revisionists are thoroughly exposed and the tactics of armed struggle is pursued carefully. The fifth specificity indicates that the pace of development of armed struggle to establish people’s alternative revolutionary power would be faster and inspires us to undertake bold tactics to achieve the same. And the sixth specificity demonstrates the necessity of mobilizing the Nepalese people working in foreign countries - mainly those Nepalese working in India - by conducting political work amongst them and using the area for the supply of various logistics for the success of armed struggle in Nepal.
The synthesis of all the specificities clearly shows that it is impossible for the armed struggle in Nepal to make a quick leap into an insurrection and defeat the enemy. However, it is fully possible to finally crush the enemy through systematic development of the armed struggle in Nepal. It can be clearly derived from this that the armed struggle in Nepal must necessarily adopt a protracted People’s War strategy of surrounding the city from the countryside. It is also clear that the said path can be followed only if we pay attention to the specificities of our own country. The fundamental principles of this path are: to grasp firmly that the People’s War is the war of the masses, that it can be developed only by relying on the masses and principally on the peasants and that the masses are the creators of history; to acknowledge the need and importance of the stages of strategic defense, stalemate and offense of the People’s War and to make plans accordingly by accepting the strategic role of guerrilla war as it is the principal form of war in the initial stage of strategic defense; to grasp the importance of developing guerrilla warfare into positional warfare and of establishing base areas to capture central power; and above all, in the ideological guidance of M-L-M, to establish leadership of the Party over the army and not to permit at any cost to arise a situation where the gun would control the Party. It is by practicing the main strategic principles of protracted People’s War and by refraining from committing mistakes that one can unfold the laws of the People’s War in Nepal. It is important to note the truth that the laws of war can be learnt only by participating in the war. The overall strategic and tactical aim of war is to preserve one’s force and to destroy the enemy’s force. That is why it is important to be clear right in the beginning about the policies needed to develop the People’s War in Nepal by understanding the overall national & international situation and the specificities mentioned above.
In our situation, the armed struggle can be initiated, sustained and developed only through a skillful implementation of a policy which would go like this - give priority to the rural work, but do not leave out the urban work; give priority to illegal struggle, but do not leave out the legal struggle, too; give priority to specific strategic areas, but do not leave out work related to the mass movement, too; give priority to class struggle in rural areas, but do not leave out countrywide struggle, too; give priority to guerrilla actions, but do not leave out political exposure & propaganda, too; give priority to propaganda work within the country but do not leave out worldwide propaganda, too; give priority to build army organization, but do not leave out to build front organizations, too; give priority to relying on one’s own organization and force, but do not miss to forge unity- in- action, to take support & help from international arena. Neither by getting one-sided, nor by giving equal emphasis on all work can the People’s War be initiated, preserved and developed in the present context. From this point of view the People’s War will unfold as a total war.
The successful development of People’s War in Nepal will be governed by decentralized actions based on central policy, by launching actions at different isolated spots of the enemy and by applying large force against small forces in order to get quick victory, by adopting hit & run tactics, by promoting guerrilla actions under the centralized plan from different parts of the country but by giving special attention to specific strategic areas, and as Mao has said, by organizing and mobilizing as many people as possible and as fast as possible and with as good a method as possible while placing the question of capturing political power at the centre.
Some Important Questions Regarding Initiation of Armed Struggle
How to transform a Party like ours which has been for a long period used to the reformist & parliamentary activities despite a clear political line, favorable material condition, appropriate and increasing mass base, into a Party for armed struggle? Is it possible to transform gradually through study, training, reformist struggle, and small scale resistance struggle? Or for that some leap, a rupture with the past, a decisive step or any big push is necessary? Will our Party be able to enter into armed struggle smoothly, without causing any damage to the fundamental class and organizational structure? After the start of the guerrilla war what will be its consequence and the process of its development? Regarding this, what do Marxist dialectics, experience of the International Communist Movement and our own experience demonstrate? Without being clear on these questions we can’t start guerrilla war.
Marxism is a philosophy of struggle. The law of development according to Marxist dialectics is that each process of development in nature, society and human thought takes place through struggle of opposites and its obvious result will take the form of a leap. Any thought that sees any kind of development process as an ordinary addition- subtraction schema and as a gradual evolution would be exposed as bourgeois evolutionism by the Marxists. It is clear that transformation from one process to another process does not take place gradually, but through leap, through qualitative change, through revolution.
In this regard Lenin says - development is the struggle of opposites; there are basically two outlooks regarding development- the development in the form of increase & decrease and the development as unity of opposites. Mao has given the name of vulgar evolutionism to the thought which views development as increase & decrease or as repetition, and said instead that the inevitable result of unity and struggle of opposites is a qualitative change-or the leap. This he formulated as unity - struggle - transformation.
On the theory of knowledge, Mao developed the theory of two leaps, i.e. from perceptive knowledge to rational knowledge, and from rational knowledge to revolutionary practice. Among these Mao has termed the phenomenon of leap from rational knowledge to revolutionary practice as ‘extremely important’. On this Mao says: ‘Only this leap - the first leap of acquiring knowledge, or the thoughts, theories, policies, plans and means crystallized as reflection of objective external world, verifies the right from the wrong. Not only this-the only intention of the proletariat to know the world is to change it.’ Thus Mao has emphasized on the need and importance of leap in the process of transformation of thought into practice.
Leap, qualitative change and revolution is not gradual evolution but a state of rupture, or a state of transformation of the opposites into each other. Just as, Mao, while talking of revolution as not being polite, restrained etc., had mentioned about the nature of qualitative change.
From this it is clear that the essence of Marxist dialectics on this issue is, to transform thought into practice the conscious side has to make a plan of not the gradual evolution but that of a leap.
After having conceptualized the character of the Nepalese revolution and the path of achieving it on the basis of analysis of the material condition of development of class struggle in the Nepalese society and the international situation, it would not be revolutionary Marxism but mere vulgar evolutionism or petty bourgeois reformism if we continue to repeat in practice the ways of gradual evolution or of reform. It is impossible to transform from one process to another in a gradual manner and for that it is necessary to have a qualitative leap. Hence it is only through the process of shock, leap and qualitative change that our Party, which has not taken to armed struggle even after developing a thought on it, will be transformed into a Party capable of leading the armed struggle. This conforms to the past and the present experiences of the International Communist Movement.
Besides this, we must also be clear that this leap will bring a big change in the structure of a Party like ours which has a predominance of representatives of petty bourgeois class and which has been accustomed to reformist style of work. That is also not going to be smooth and easy; there will be a big change in the overall class structure of the Party because of the process of entry and exit of its members. This process will unfold amidst big losses and achievements. In this process, many mistakes, weaknesses, inadequacies of the Party will have to be paid for by blood.
After the guerrilla war has started, it will go ahead with the process of rise & fall, victory & defeat as according to the law of war. But it is important to pay attention to the fact that once one has raised the banner of rebellion one should be determined not to lower it till the end, and if done without such a determination it will be a crime against the people and it will be against the theory of MLM.
After having a Communist Party with an ideological weapon, political line and means of achieving it, the remaining problem is actually the problem of starting the People’s War. If one lacks clarity on this question, it is not possible to get liberated from reformism. It has been verified by history that the people will judge positively all the historical deeds performed for the sake of the people with a profound belief in the principle of "masses are the creators of history."