Red Flag Flying on the Roof of the World
Inside the Revolution in Nepal: Interview
with Comrade Prachanda
Li Onesto interviews Comrade Prachanda, General Secretary
of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
Revolutionary Worker #1043, February 20,
"We are fully conscious that this war to break
the shackles of thousands of years of slavery and to establish
a New Democratic state will be quite uphill, full of twists
and turns and of a protracted nature. But this and this alone
is the path of people’s liberation and a great and bright
From the leaflet distributed
by the CPN (Maoist),
in hundreds of thousands of copies, all over Nepal
on February 13, 1996
Four years ago, on February 13, 1996, a new
people’s war was initiated in Nepal under the leadership of
the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). In the first two weeks,
almost 5,000 actions were carried out throughout the country
— including armed assaults on police stations in rural districts,
confiscation of property from oppressive landlords, and punishment
of local tyrants. This was truly an inspiring and significant
development in the world and for the international proletariat.
As in other Third World countries, the revolutionaries in
Nepal must confront “three mountains” to achieve liberation:
Their goals are to overthrow the bureaucrat-capitalist class
and state system, which are dependent on and serve imperialism;
uproot semi-feudalism; and drive out imperialism. To do this,
the CPN (Maoist) is applying Mao’s strategy of a protracted
people’s war — establishing base areas in the countryside
and aiming to surround the cities, seize nationwide power,
and establish a new democratic republic as a step toward building
a new socialist society. Their struggle is part of the world
proletarian revolution. For the last four years, the government
of Nepal has carried out vicious counter-revolutionary campaigns
against the People’s War — over 1,000 people have already
been killed and many more have been arrested, jailed, and
tortured. But in the face of this, the revolution has continued
to advance and grow. The People’s War in Nepal has advanced
from primitive fighter groups to disciplined and trained squads
and platoons. The people’s army has established guerrilla
zones and is sinking deep roots among the people. Women continue
to play a major role as fighters in the people’s army. And
in areas where the People’s War is the strongest — like the
Rolpa and Rukum districts in the West — local reactionaries
have run away and the police stay away, afraid to patrol.
Elected in May 1999, the government of Krishna Prasad Bhattarai
has been unstable and fraught with in-fighting over how to
deal with the insurgency. In the spring of 1999, RW reporter
Li Onesto traveled throughout Nepal with the people’s army
— meeting and talking with party leaders, guerrillas, activists
in mass organizations and villagers. At that time, the CPN
(Maoist) was in the process of leading the people to carry
out their fourth military plan, aimed at establishing base
areas and exercising new people’s power. Military actions
by the guerrillas were becoming larger and more sophisticated.
The following interview with Comrade Prachanda, the General
Secretary of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), was conducted
during Li Onesto’s trip.
Li Onesto, Revolutionary Worker:
There are revolutionary people all over the world who want
to hear about the People's War in Nepal. So it would be of
great interest if you could give a basic picture of the objective
situation and what the material basis in Nepal is for initiating
People's War. Why does the party think it is possible to wage
protracted People's War, to organize the masses through armed
struggle? Why is this the correct strategy given the situation
in Nepal? And why does the party feel it is possible to win
with this strategy?
Comrade Prachanda: First of all,
I want to explain this question in ideological terms. Nepal
is a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country. And MLM (Marxism-Leninism-Maoism)
says that in oppressed countries like this, semi-feudal and
semi-colonial countries, in general, a revolutionary objective
situation prevails. This is the ideological basis from where
we started to study the concrete situation, because the main
thing is ideological clarity. And through the course of class
struggle, mass movements, mass struggle, and mainly the ideological
struggle inside the communist movement, we came to the conclusion
that a situation prevails for initiating the People's War.
We see that Nepal is a small and poor
country. More than 85 percent of the population lives in the
rural areas, and the people are very poor-they are very oppressed.
The feudal relations-the feudal forms of exploitation-are
very severe in the rural areas. Industrial development is
very poor, and the kinds of industrial bases that are there
are all in the hands of a comprador bourgeois class-mainly
the Indian expansionist bourgeoisie. Therefore, there are
sharp class distinctions, and people have been struggling
for reforms, for independence, and for the livelihood of the
people, for a long time. There has been continuous mass struggle.
But due to the lack of revolutionary leadership, due to revisionism
in the communist movement, due to a crisis of leadership:
every time when there has been mass struggle, this leadership
has been able to confuse the masses, to make compromises with
the ruling classes and to get some concessions for this revisionist
I want to mention that in 1815 there
was a big struggle with British India. Nepalese people fought
heroically against British India but ultimately they did not
succeed-they failed. This was armed struggle, this war with
British India, and people participated in this war in different
ways. Different kinds of guerrilla warfare were used. And,
in that war, the British ruling class saw that the Nepalese
people were very heroic and brave-and that they fought heroically
against British India. For more than one year they fought
and fought, and in many places they defeated the British army.
Hundreds and hundreds of masses, including women and old men,
all fought in that war. But the Nepalese ruling class, mainly
the monarchy, the king, surrendered to India.
There was a negotiation in Sugali, and
they made a compromise. And after that, more Nepalese territory
was taken by India. Before this, geographically, Nepal was
more or less three times larger. But all this land was taken
by India with the Sugali Treaty. From that very point Nepal
became a semi-colonial country, and when the British left
India, Nepal became a semi-colony of Indian expansionism.
After that, there came the Rana government clique, and the
great comrade Karl Marx called this Jang Bahadur Rana a British
puppet and dog. People suffered very much from different kinds
of oppression and exploitation, and from that point, Nepal
changed to a semi-feudal country.
In 1949 when the Nepalese Communist Party
was established, it was a great and far-reaching historical
event. That party was established when the great Chinese revolution
had been won and socialism was developing in the USSR.
RW: Was the victory of the Chinese
revolution a big factor in the establishment of the Communist
Party in Nepal?
Prachanda: Yes, a very
big factor. And there was also, at the time, a very big armed
struggle of the peasants in India. This was the surrounding
larger revolutionary situation at the time when the Communist
Party in Nepal was established. The party started to work
among the basic peasant masses, and for three or four years,
there was a big peasant movement-a kind of revolutionary upsurge.
But, at the same time, the leadership of the party changed
and took a revisionist stand. And the leadership of the movement,
the general secretary at the time, appealed to the king, saying
we will do all our work peacefully, therefore please regard
our party like this. And the party leadership totally went
revisionist. After that there were so many mass struggles,
mass movements. But every time, this revisionist clique confused
people, made compromises with the ruling class, and betrayed
the masses. Every time they betrayed the masses. And at the
same time there was also ideological struggle going on inside
Then, when the Great Proletarian Cultural
Revolution was initiated in China under the leadership of
great comrade Mao, it directly impacted on the revolution
in Nepal. There were so many materials from the Chinese Cultural
Revolution that came to Nepal. This Cultural Revolution inspired
mainly the younger generation of communists and the masses.
And at the same time young people in the communist movement
were also inspired by the Naxalite Movement in India. This
inspired young people in the Jhapa District and provoked a
kind of rebellion against the revisionist leadership; and
there was a process of reconstitution of the party. At the
same time the Fourth Party Congress was held, and it also
put the question of armed struggle on the agenda. But a fully
developed political line was still not clear-of how to reorganize
a new kind of party and explain to the masses the need to
rebel. There was a big ideological and political debate for
10 years after the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution,
and all our leadership team is a product of that ideological
And at the same time, inside our party,
there was a big two-line struggle, first with this Lama clique,
because a rightist tendency was there. We fought vigorously
with that line. Later on we fought with this Dumdum line,
M.B. Singh's line, because it was eclecticism and rightism
and very much muddle-headed. Individually M.B. Singh was established
as a leader, but his line was totally revisionist, and it
was so confusing, covered with eclectic words. We fought with
that line, and, when we fought with that line, we developed
the correct line which is now leading the people and the People's
War. We came to an understanding from that struggle with Dumdum
(M.B. Singh), and we defined our ideology as Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.
RW: What year is this now you're
Prachanda: It was 1986,
I think, when we finalized Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as our
ideology. At the time, only the Communist Party of Peru had
said this, and we had some documents from the PCP. But on
that question, already for four or five years, there had been
some discussion about: Why Mao Tsetung Thought? Why not Maoism?
That kind of discussion had been going on inside our party.
We had a debate for one year to change this terminology and
then the whole party adopted Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as our
ideology. It was not only a change of terminology, it was
our understanding of Mao's contribution. We also defined the
People's War and our military line, our political line. And
this is our ideological, political, subjective basis. At the
same time, class struggle was developing, and, in the circumstances
of that class struggle and the two-line struggle, we were
able to see the objective and subjective situation to initiate
the People's War.
On your question about the relationship
between objective and subjective factors, I want to say that
in oppressed countries, according to Marxism-Leninism-Maoism,
a revolutionary objective situation generally prevails in
one or another part of the country. The developing process
of this country is uneven. Therefore, in any part of the country
there is the possibility of initiating armed struggle and
then sustaining and developing the struggle. In general, as
a whole, you can say that an objective revolutionary situation
prevails. In oppressed countries, the question is the subjective
preparation-the main question, the principal factor is subjective.
And subjective means the communist party, the revolutionary
communist party, armed with Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. We can
also say, in this way, that the main question in these types
of countries is how to fight against revisionism and build
a new type of party armed with MLM. This is the principal
question in these countries.
In imperialist countries this is not
the case. In the imperialist countries, the principal question
is not the subjective factor. The principal factor deciding
tactics and line is objective. Objectively the imperialist
countries suck the blood of the oppressed countries and control
them. Therefore, the main question for revolutionaries in
those imperialist countries is to continuously expose the
whole system and build the party and make continuous preparation
and consciously try to make the objective situation a revolutionary
one-and when a revolutionary objective situation develops,
at that time, deal a big blow. We think this kind of line
should be applied there.
But the strategy is different in semi-feudal,
semi-colonial countries like Nepal, where more than 80 to
85 percent of the population live in the rural areas, whose
developing process is uneven, where the modern workers, proletarian
workers, are very limited. Some people say a revolutionary
objective situation does not prevail in these types of countries.
Just like in our country, the revisionists always say the
objective situation is not there, and they also say the subjective
situation is not there to start the armed struggle. They always
say this, and we condemn this line. This is not a fact. In
these types of countries the question is subjective preparation.
It was in this way that we looked at the conditions for initiating
And at the time of initiation, we tried
to figure out the whole history of Nepal. What is the cultural
standard, the cultural level of the masses, what are the economic
conditions, what are the social relations, what are the forces,
what is the class analysis? We did all these things before
this last final preparation. And at that time we found some
specific characteristics of the situation in Nepal. Although
Nepal is a small country, we think, in another sense it is
not a small country. Geographically when you look at the whole
country of India you can travel in one or two days to every
part and corner. But in Nepal you have to walk up and down
for many days-I know you understand this. It is more remote
RW: Yes, I have some direct experience
while Nepal is a small country, the mountainous region is
very favorable for guerrilla warfare, for People's War. And
we also saw that because there has been a centralized reactionary
government for more than 200 years there has also been a tendency
for the masses to resist throughout all of Nepal. The centralized
government has its guns and control everywhere-controlled
from Kathmandu. And in the long process of resistance and
struggle, the Nepalese masses have developed a kind of situation
where-from east to west, from north to south-everywhere there
is mass, class struggle. So we saw a situation in which if
we call for a program of resistance, of mass movement, then
all of Nepal will engage in that movement.
We also looked at the fact that we are
surrounded on three sides by this big Indian country. On the
east, the west, the south, there is India. And on the north
side, there is China. On the north side it is very difficult
to come and go. The Himalayan Range is there. There are some
places where people can go to and from Tibet, but in general
it is not like it is with India. We also analyzed this situation.
We also found that Nepal is again a big
country because there are so many nationalities. The population
is only 20 million, but there are, more or less, 20 to 25
different oppressed nationalities. There are different languages,
there are different religions. And this is also a particularity
of the Nepalese situation. We studied all these questions
and how to solve the nationality question. We fundamentally
depart from all the revisionist and bourgeois parties. We
uphold the right of self-determination for the oppressed nationalities,
and, for now, in our concrete situation, we say that autonomy
should be the program. We express this and explain this as
a specific situation in our movement.
And in the Terai region-again you can
say Nepal is "big" because you can see that in the southern
part from east to west there is plains land, Terai land, which
is more or less 300 meters from sea level. It is a big plain,
a big agrarian area, with big forests. There is also the mountainous
region, where there are big mountains-this is where you traveled,
so you know exactly about this. And the majority of the population
live in these mountainous areas and the big Himalayan Range,
which is very cold. In this way you can also say Nepal is
a big country, not a small country. We studied these geographical
And we also studied our subjective organizational
situation. We were in the Eastern Region, we were in the Central
and Middle Region, and we were also in the Western Region.
The West is historically, geographically, and culturally the
basin of the revolution. It is the main point for the revolution-the
people here are more oppressed by the ruling classes, and
the government in Kathmandu is very far from there.
RW: What is the material basis
for the revolution being more advanced in the West? Is the
question of the oppressed nationalities a big factor?
Prachanda: Yes, and
one thing is that economically the ruling class always neglects
the development of the West.
Prachanda: Because they
think that to invest there will not be profitable. This is
one factor we can see. And the other is that there are mainly
oppressed nationalities there in the West and the ruling class
is hegemonistic, chauvinistic-upper caste chauvinistic. Therefore
they neglect and oppress these nationalities.
And the other thing is that in the time
of making this country, before 1800, in the last part of the
18th century, at that time, this part of the country was not
totally captured by the central government. There was a kind
of compromise. With the Gorkha empire, this part of the country
was captured later on. First they took the east side, later
on they went on the west side. The main point here is not
first or later. The main point is that those areas were not
totally captured. The local authorities had some power and
the central authorities had some power. In this way these
areas had some kind of autonomy at that time.
So the masses of the Western Region were
not so much in the control of the ruling government. And they
did not care what the government did and didn't do. This is
another historical fact about the West. And in western Nepal
there are the Mongolian ethnic groups-you saw how all our
comrades there look Chinese. These nationalities are so sincere
and such brave fighters-historically they have had this kind
of culture. And upper caste chauvinism and feudal ties do
not prevail in these nationalities.
RW: You're saying feudal traditions
are weaker among these oppressed nationalities?
Prachanda: Yes, weaker.
Really. When you went to the Middle Region or the Eastern
Region you saw that feudal traditions are very strong.
RW: But when I was in Rolpa and
Rukum I didn't see any temples.
Prachanda: Yes, in Rolpa
and Rukum there are not too many temples, and in the family
background in these nationalities, there is a kind of democracy,
a primitive democracy. Even male domination in these places
is weaker-it is not like in the dominating castes. And at
the same time, our party has a long history of working in
these areas, like in Thabang and Rolpa.
RW: And the revisionists in these
areas are weaker?
Prachanda: Very weak.
And there has been a continuation of consistent revolutionary
leadership there. The revisionist influence in that area has
always been weak, and the revolutionary tendency has prevailed.
There are all these factors. Geographically, there are no
transportation facilities, there is no electricity, and communication
is also very weak for the ruling classes. All these factors
led us to the conclusion that the West is the main region
for the People's War. But we also saw that we cannot initiate
the People's War only in the western part, because the ruling
class is very powerful. They have a powerful army, powerful
communication system, and all these things. Therefore if we
initiated armed struggle only in the western part, then the
government would centralize all their forces and crush us.
Subjectively we also saw a favorable
situation for developing mass movements all over the country.
And we had organization throughout the whole country. Therefore
we finalized that we should initiate People's War from different
parts of the country. We should centralize in mainly three
areas-East, Middle, West-and the capital. Cities should also
be another point, not for armed clashes, but for propaganda
and such things. And one other area where we should concentrate
work is in India, because more than seven million Nepalese
live in India. Therefore India should be the other point where
we should make efforts to resist the ruling classes. In this
way we made a plan. These are the specificities we saw in
Nepal. We did not see the exact same situation and plan for
initiating the armed struggle as in the Philippines, Peru,
Turkey, and other countries where there is some kind of People's
War. There are more similarities with the PCP in Peru, but
not exactly. They initiated from one election booth, they
attacked one election booth. But we initiated from different
parts of the country-with thousands of actions in the first
plan. When we studied in detail the historical, geographical,
and cultural situation in Nepal, we came to the conclusion
that we should initiate the People's War in this way.
More than 72 percent of the Nepalese
people live below the poverty line. This is a grave situation.
We have always explained to the people that nothing can be
achieved from this multi-party system-that it is fake, it
is imperialist, it is feudal. Therefore after three, four
years, the masses saw that, "Yeah, what the Maoists have been
saying is really correct." These kinds of sentiments prevailed.
Just before the initiation we organized so many big mass demonstrations
and mass meetings. Thousands and thousands of masses participated.
We had already declared we are going to initiate the People's
War. But the ruling class didn't believe it and thought, "These
people are talking, only talking."
RW: In some of your writings you've
talked about how the party had to make a big rupture-ideologically,
politically and militarily-in order to initiate the People's
War. This is a very big question for parties around the world,
and it is a dividing line between revisionism and MLM-the
question of actually carrying out the necessary ideological,
political and organizational changes in the party, to initiate
the armed struggle. So could you talk about the kind of ruptures
your party had to make to initiate the People's War?
Prachanda: These are
very serious, important questions you have raised. The question
of rupture is a question of making a breakthrough. First of
all there is the question of understanding our ideology, which
means Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. How does Maoism explain or
define this rupture, this developing process? Some people
see a process of evolution, a process of continuous development,
an evolutionary process. But Marxism-Leninism-Maoism teaches
that this is not the case, this is not the scientific case,
scientific analysis. The real process of development is breaking
with continuation and making a rupture. Everything in nature,
in human history and society, in human thinking-the process
of development-is the process of breaking with continuation.
We came to grasp this question very seriously before the initiation.
RW: You're talking about making
Prachanda: Yes, making
a leap. At one point in our party, for every comrade, on the
lip of every comrade was the question of leap, leap-we have
to make a leap. We made this question of making a leap very
sharp, that we have to make the leap. The revisionist parties
and revisionist leaders always teach the people the question
of reform, reform, reform. And reform is reformism, is revisionism.
But the question of making leaps is revolutionary.
We condemn all the revisionist cliques
as vulgar evolutionarism. We are revolutionary, and revolution
means breaking with continuation and the question of making
leaps. Before the initiation, we had a big debate on these
questions. When we changed our terminology from "Marxism-Leninism-Mao
Thought" to "Marxism-Leninism-Maoism," at that point, we had
a big debate inside the party on this question of leap. And
we came to an understanding. Mao said in the theory of knowledge
that there is a two-stage theory-the stage of sense or perception
and the stage of logical conclusion. We tried to educate the
whole party in Mao's theory of knowledge, this two-stage theory.
And this gave us a new understanding of MLM. Before that,
there was some kind of thinking that MLM meant different kinds
of reforms and gradualism. But when we defined this question
in this new way, then new feelings, new confidence, a new
situation developed inside the party. There was a struggle
with rightist tendencies at that time, and we fought, mainly
with rightists, revisionism.
Then, when the plan for initiation was
drawn up, there was another debate over questions of how to
initiate People's War. Our party was so much influenced by
rightist tendencies. At the same time, we had indirectly participated
in the elections, and we had 11 members in the parliament,
nine in the lower house and two in the upper house. And that
also had a big influence inside our party circles-the rightist
influence was there. That was a big challenge for our party,
how to make a leap. The party was so much encircled by rightist
revisionism, petty bourgeois tendencies, all these things.
And many people were working openly. Although I want to mention
and give more stress to the fact that our main leadership
team was not working openly at that time. There were our MPs
(members in the parliament) who were public. But our main
PBMs (polit-bureau members) and comrades and main regional
leaders and main district leaders were not open, they were
underground. There was parliamentary work but the main party
organizational mechanism was underground at that time-you
should note this.
So in making the plan for initiation
there was great debate over how to go to the armed struggle
because many people were influenced by "peaceful" struggle,
work in the parliament, rightist and petty bourgeois feelings,
and a long tradition of the reformist movement. Then we said
that the only process must be a big push, big leap. Not gradual
change. There was some thinking from different people in the
party that first we should do some actions without declaring
the People's War, and then see what happens. This kind of
thinking was also there among some people. And we discussed,
is this the process? And we said-no, this is not revolutionary,
this is also reformism. It is a conspiratorial approach. And
armed struggle is not a conspiracy, People's War is not a
conspiracy-it is open, politically open and declared openly.
This conspiracy theory will not work, and it is also not revolutionary.
Doing one action then saying, "OK, let's see what will happen."
Then doing another action... No, nothing will work like this.
There was also some thinking that we
could start armed struggle in different parts of the country
but not say we had initiated the war-and then later on, when
we see how the situation develops, we could declare People's
War. This kind of logic was also there. And some sections
wanted to initiate the war but wanted to still participate
in the parliamentary system in an independent way. They argued
that some people should still be in the parliament, that it
would "help." Later, some of these types of people didn't
exactly degenerate but politically retreated after the initiation.
They had the logic that, "OK, we will initiate People's War,
but in the main region, in Rolpa, Rukum, four MPs should be
in parliament because we can win there and this will give
strength to the People's War." That kind of logic was also
there. And we condemned all this logic and, said, no, this
is not Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.
RW: This period you're talking
about is 1995, the year of preparation before the initiation?
Prachanda: Yes, mainly
1995. We condemned all this logic, saying this is not Marxism-Leninism-Maoism,
this is not according to the objective and subjective situation
of Nepal. Our view was, we should declare freely and frankly
that we have initiated the People's War and that this is the
only alternative left for the people, for their emancipation,
for their independence from the brutal imperialists. We should
distribute leaflets all over the country. We should put posters
up all over the country. We should carry out actions all over
the country. And we should launch a great debate all over
the country. There was some doubt about this line, some thinking
that it may be "ultra left" or "adventuristic." That kind
of doubt was there. Such people did not openly voice that
line, but only doubted. When there was a discussion they unanimously
agreed, but there were these tendencies.
Only one month after the initiation there
was a big national debate about the question of People's War.
Every newspaper, every radio, everybody in the country was
asking: what is this People's War, what is this Maoist party?
In one push, the party was established in a big and national
way and it was in the center of debate-after only one month.
We had a polit-bureau meeting, and we
synthesized the experience of this one month. It was a big
transformation process for the whole party-for the whole of
our mass organization-because it was not a gradual change.
It was a big question of life-and-death struggle and everything
was shaken. We concluded that this process of initiation had
been correct, that the party's first plan of initiation had
proven to be correct and really shaken the country. Then the
enemy started to massacre the people. Arresting, raping, killing,
looting-they started all these things. And then we drew up
the Second Plan, immediately, one month after initiation.
RW: Before you go on to talk about
the Second Plan, in terms of all the ideological struggle
that went on during the period of preparation, what role did
the international communist movement play?
Prachanda: Yes, really,
I have to mention this. In the whole process of this final
preparation...there was consistent international involvement.
First and foremost, there was the RIM Committee (Revolutionary
Internationalist Movement). There was important ideological
and political exchange. From the RIM Committee, we got the
experience of the PCP (Communist Party of Peru), the two-line
struggle there, and also the experience in Turkey, the experience
in Iran, and the experience in the Philippines. We learned
from the experience in Bangladesh and from some experience
in Sri Lanka. And there was a South Asian conference that
we participated in. At the same time we were also having direct
and continuous debate with the Indian communists, mainly the
People's War (PW) and Maoist Communist Center (MCC) groups.
And this helped in one way or another. It helped us to understand
the whole process of People's War.
Therefore, what I want to say here is
that one of the specific things about our People's War, the
initiation of our People's War, is that there was international
involvement right from the beginning. Right from the time
of preparation, up to the time of initiation, and after the
initiation, there was international involvement. Help, debate
and discussion was there. It was a big benefit for us. It
was a big help for the Nepalese masses. Theoretically we are
clear, and every time we insist, that the Nepalese revolution
is part of the world revolution and the Nepalese people's
army is a detachment of the whole international proletarian
army. This is clear. But during preparation for the initiation
and after the initiation we came to understand this, not only
in a theoretical sense, but came to see the practical implications
of this proletarian internationalism, what practical role
it played. We made the point to the RIM Committee that when
the People's War in Nepal faces setbacks, then it will not
only be a question for the CPN (Maoist), but will directly
be a question for the RIM as a whole.
People's War, Maoist Communist Center
and others in the revolutionary struggle in India have been
involved in this process in one way or another. We understood
right from the beginning that we should try to involve more
and more sections of revolutionary masses in the process of
our initiation. Therefore, beforehand, we made some investigation
of the Bihar in India. We went to Andar Pradesh to look at
the struggle there and we tried to understand the practical
situation and practical problems of armed struggle.
Mainly, the debate and discussion in
the RIM was very helpful. And after the initiation, with this
debate, this big result, thousands and thousands of Indian
masses came to understand the People's War in Nepal. And our
People's War also helped the whole international movement-because
there had been a big setback with the People's War in Peru
[with the capture of the PCP's leader, Chairman Gonzalo and
the emergence of a right opportunist line]. At a South Asian
conference, I told other parties that in this situation the
question of helping Peru was not only a question of giving
the revolutionaries support, but that we have to initiate
People's War in our own countries. That would be the big help.
And after the initiation of the People's War in Nepal it has
been proven-we helped the PCP, we helped the RIM as a whole,
we helped the whole revolutionary masses. And we also took
help from all over the world.
Yesterday I saw a note in your journal
from your trip, and, really, I am very impressed. You noted
there that in Nepal, during only three years of People's War,
there have been very big advances. You saw this yourself and
noted it there. But you also observed that a very crucial
point is coming up. Right now things are at a crucial point.
The enemy's involvement against the People's War is going
to get much bigger, and this will be a big challenge. We were
really impressed that you made this type of conclusion. You
understand this kind of situation is developing and the challenge
this presents. And you also emphasized in your notes that
the whole international community should be alert to this
situation and should play a role in talking about and helping
to develop the People's War and opposing the government's
From this point of view we also think
international relations and the importance of the People's
War in Nepal has been developed. And we think your tour itself
is also a vital point in this. It is not merely a case of
"you came here and left." It has historical implications,
and it is a very big and good initiative. Your trip in Nepal,
your project in Nepal, will be a very big initiative for proletarian
revolution-for opposing the reactionary ruling classes and
for helping the masses of Nepal. It will be a very big initiative.
It is not completed-there should be a continuous process with
From your experiences we have come to
understand more deeply that these kinds of projects should
be done in a continuous and planned and organized way. And
now the RIM will learn from your experience in Nepal after
the success of your trip. There have been so many physical
hardships you've fought, but you've succeeded. And therefore,
internationally, we also want to mention this project and
this whole trip.
RW: In a number of places I met
comrades who talked about how before the initiation the composition
of the party was mainly intellectuals. And they told me how
there was a lot of ideological struggle among intellectuals
to make the necessary rupture, to make the necessary sacrifices,
to go underground, leave their jobs and so on-how there was
a lot of turmoil among some party members over the sacrifices
that needed to be made. Some people fell away, some people
came forward. New people came forward from among the masses.
Could you talk some about this process of the rupture and
the change in the composition of the party-with the initiation
and over the last three years of People's War?
Prachanda: This is also a very
important question. Yes, there has been a big change in the
party, really. We realized before the initiation that after
the process of initiation there would be a big process of
transformation inside the party. We thought that, possibly,
more than 50 percent of our party members could fall away
but that other new comrades and new people would come and
join the party. We thought this may happen. We considered
this question beforehand and we prepared mentally for this
to happen-because there were so many petty bourgeois tendencies,
so much intellectualism. We mentally prepared for dealing
with the question of how to sustain the People's War after
this big leap. We discussed this question again and again
in the Central Committee and in regional bureaus and in important
district committees-that this could happen and we have to
be prepared. We said that a very big problem may arise if
we do not prepare ourselves. But if we are prepared mentally,
then it will not shake us. That was one question.
And in the plan for initiation we had
a military plan to attack the police force, the landlords,
the local goons in the rural areas. But we did not have a
big plan for sabotage in the capital city because, at that
time, we did not want to create a situation where with one
stroke the intellectuals would go away from us. We wanted
to sustain their support. We did not want to make the intellectuals
in the capital city or other cities run away and stop working
with the party.
What happened was that, after one month,
we saw a big change in the rural areas. Big changes started
in the rural areas. Some people fled. Some new people came
forward. Thousands and thousands of people went underground.
In Rolpa, in one month, thousands of people went underground.
Not only party members but also masses went underground-in
Rukum, in Jarjarkot, in Salyan, in Kalikot. That kind of situation
developed. So the process of transformation was very big in
those rural areas.
But in the cities where there are more
intellectuals, the process of transformation was very, very
low, and in some cases, we can say, unsatisfactory. We were
not satisfied with the petty bourgeois reactions. One example
is what happened just after the initiation of People's War,
in the capital city, in Kathmandu. There was government repression
everywhere. Artists, journalists, professors, lecturers-everywhere,
those who had sympathy with us-were arrested. And at that
time, what happened in the city? Wherever we went people said,
"You should not stay here, the police will come." There was
so much terror among the different sections of intellectuals.
For a long time they had been with us. But at that point,
they were so afraid, they had so much terror, that even for
us, they did not dare to fight-to give us shelter. So for
22 days we had to move about continuously in the city.
But when we got a report from Rolpa,
Rukum, Gorkha, Sindhuli, Kabre, the rural areas, there was
confidence among the masses and the revolutionary cadres.
The sentiment there was, "Yes, we have done a big job. Now
new life has started." There was new mass support and mass
upsurge in the rural areas. But in the city, the intellectuals
were vacillating so much, they were so terrorized, and we
saw that this was a question of class. Which class thinks
that now we are taking destiny into our hands? This was the
situation, and so we had to wage ideological struggle in the
RW: What about the proletarian
forces in the city?
Prachanda: The proletarians
were in a better position. During this tough time they were
the forces in the city-laborers, workers-who helped the party,
saved the party. Workers from our All Nepal Trade Labor Organization
helped us very much. They were not so terrorized. Their feeling
was, "OK, this is a new thing." And another important section
was women-this is very, very important. Women in Kathmandu
were the other force who, in that time of terror, boldly supported
us and gave us shelter and helped us move around. The women
helped us at that time. There was also help from students
because we had good organization among the students all over
the country. And at that time the students were also not so
afraid. They felt enlightened, that this was a new thing for
Nepal that our party had done. This kind of thinking was there
among the students. So it was mainly laborers, women and students
who helped us. But the intellectuals, who had a lot of knowledge
of philosophy, theories, etc., these people were wavering
so much they could not help very much.
And after one year, we saw further big
transformation in the rural areas. Thousands and thousands
of mass organizations were built up, and in new areas the
party's influence spread and new organization developed. Some
petty bourgeois revolutionaries, due to terror, fled to India,
to Arab countries and other places. Others stayed strong.
And at the same time, in the rural areas, there was a mass
upsurge of women, and thousands of full-time cadres came forward.
People who we did not know beforehand became heroes, really.
Just one year after the initiation, for one month, I was in
Rolpa, Rukum, Jarjarkot, Salyan, and I saw, and our party
saw, that a new thing had developed. The people were not only
fighting with the police or reactionary, feudal agents, but
they were also breaking the feudal chains of exploitation
and oppression and a whole cultural revolution was going on
among the people. Questions of marriage, questions of love,
questions of family, questions of relations between people.
All of these things were being turned upside down and changed
in the rural areas.
We came to understand Mao's vision that
the backward rural areas will be the basin of revolution-the
real base of the revolution. We saw in Rolpa, Rukum, Gorkha,
Sindhuli, Kabre, the seeds of the new society, the examples
to inspire people. Everywhere in the country, in the revolution,
the masses feel proud of their Rolpa and Rukum. And we see,
at the ground level, on the mass level, that the transformation
process is not only in the party and mass organizations, but
among the masses as a whole. The chains of feudal oppression,
mainly feudal relations, are breaking.
RW: Yes, especially between men
Prachanda: Yes, men and women,
really. And our party has tried to develop the leadership
of women comrades. There have been problems in doing this,
but now we are, step-by-step, working to solve this problem.
Masses of women have come forward as revolutionary fighters.
And we had a plan right from the beginning that the women
and the men comrades should be in the same squad, the same
platoon and that all things should be done in this way. We
have worked to make new relations between men and women-new
relations, new society, new things.
In the Western Region, right from the
beginning, we did not have any big problems and setbacks in
this process of transformation, because thousands and thousands
of masses were seeing that here was another life. But in the
Middle Region and in the Eastern Region that was not the situation.
There were more intellectuals there inside the party. When
the party would go on the offensive and be victorious these
forces would go, "Oh yeah, we should do this." But when there
was some kind of setback and repression then they would say,
"Oh, no, this will not do." There was this kind of thing in
the Middle Region. Here many of the people in the party were
petty bourgeois intellectuals, from a petty bourgeois class
background. And there is also a more well-to-do economic situation
there-every family has some land, some electricity, roads,
educational facilities. All these things are there and many
party members are from this class, so there are wavering tendencies.
But in this three-year process we have
seen transformation also going on in this Middle Region-cultural
transformation, ideological transformation. And some of the
very best leaders and cadres are developing from this region.
This is an important thing we are seeing, new things coming
up-some of the older and petty bourgeois people are going
downward, and the new masses are coming forward. New cadre
are coming forward, and we are trying our best to give responsibility
to the new comrades. That is our party's policy. We have to
try to do this, not only on the regional and district level,
but even on the Central Committee level. Just in the last
Fourth Plenum, in the fourth historical plenum, we brought
onto the Central Committee seven new younger comrades from
the regional level who are really fighting on the ground.
You know the comrade who you met in Rolpa in charge of the
RW: Yes, he's a very good comrade!
Prachanda: That comrade,
just in the Fourth Plenum became a central committee member.
There are so many comrades like this. If we do not do this
some of the old comrades have the problem of lagging behind.
To keep up with the situation, a quickly developing situation
with challenging questions, there are comrades who cannot
change their whole thinking. They think just like before,
and that is a problem. So our party is trying to give responsibility
to those comrades who have been steeled in the process of
three years of People's War, and this helps the party to stay
on the correct path. Leadership should not be in the hands
of any kind of opportunistic tendencies. We are very serious
in developing new leadership, and the forces we are developing
are very enthusiastic, very good. We see that there have been
more than 700 martyrs. But thousands have stepped forward.
This process does not harm us, it helps us.
When the ruling class started their repressive
Kilo Sera 2 operation, we thought it would be a very big thing
for our party, that there may be vacillation among the ranks.
But ultimately the objective results were that there was not
so much vacillation. In some regions there was some vacillation.
But in the Western Region, mainly there was not vacillation.
Instead there was more confidence, more determination, more
confidence to fight. On the mass level, there is not vacillation,
therefore we are proud of the masses in our party ranks. In
the Middle Region there is some vacillation, there are some
vacillating tendencies there. And in the capital city, as
you already know, there is vacillation among some intellectuals.
But there are also good comrades from among the laborers,
women, and students. Very good comrades with commitment and
During this three years of People's War,
there have also been other kinds of changes. Peoples of the
oppressed nationalities-the Mongolian peoples, the Terai peoples
and the far western peoples-have been very sympathetic to
the People's War. They feel it is the only alternative for
them. And this is also a big victory for the People's War
and a big defeat for the reactionary ruling class. So many
new organizations among the oppressed nationalities developed
after the initiation, like the Magar National Liberation Front.
RW: Yes, I met one of the leaders
of that organization.
Prachanda: There is
the Taru National Liberation Front in the Terai region and
the Terai National Liberation Front and the Rai and Limbu
and Tamang. And in the capital city there is Newar Khala,
the mass organization of that nationality which has had so
many programs-like the recent successful Kathmandu shutdown.
This new organization, generated by the party, is carrying
out the plan of the party. This process is a new thing that
has been born. The reactionary ruling class feels that if
these forces grow and develop it will be very dangerous for
their whole system. Therefore they try to manipulate the people.
They try to make some concessions to the oppressed nationalities
and say they will do all kinds of things for them. And they
say about the Maoists: "They want to divide the country. They
want to divide the Mongolians. They want to divide the Rai,
Limbu, Terai. Everywhere they want to divide the people. These
are separatists and they will break up the country. Don't
follow them." This is the kind of propaganda they try to spread.
But people don't believe them. The people know that we are
taking this national question seriously and, from a political
point of view and a national and historical point of view,
this is the only solution for the oppressed nationalities.
Nobody, not even the ruling class people of oppressed nationalities,
dare to oppose our policy. They are forced to say that this
policy of the Maoists is correct. There are so many members
of parliament who say, "Yeah the policy of Maoists is correct
for oppressed nationalities."
There are also some problems because
we have not been able to develop a big wave of struggle of
the oppressed nationalities. But new things have been born
among the oppressed nationalities, and this is a very big
force to sustain the People's War and to make the People's
RW: The People's War is about
destruction of the enemy. But it is also about construction.
One of the biggest achievements of the three years of People's
War is how the masses are beginning to exercise people's power.
One important contribution of Mao is that he showed us that
the process of protracted people's war is also a process of
training the masses to run society in a new way, to ideologically
and politically train the masses in MLM and to begin transforming
themselves and society-even before the seizure of nationwide
power and the building of a new socialist society. Could you
talk about the importance of exercising people's power at
this stage of the revolution?
Prachanda: We had mentioned in
our initiation document that initiating the People's War means
not only crushing the enemy-it is also to change ourselves,
to change the masses. The great Karl Marx stated that the
working class would have to go through 15, 20, 50 years of
civil war, not only to crush the enemy but also to transform
itself, to make itself fit to exercise new power. We quoted
this, and we quoted Lenin about how the process of civil war
will come with an extremely complex situation. And by facing
this situation, the party will be able to exercise power.
We also quoted comrade Mao about how the process of People's
War is not only to crush the enemy, but also to clean our
own dirtiness and all our bad habits-bad things we have had
for a long time. To clean all these things, that is also the
aim of the People's War. Right from the beginning, we tried
to give the masses this message, and we tried to train the
whole party in this direction. And in our country where the
proletarian class is very weak numerically, the laborers who
work in factories in Kathmandu or other cities have also not
totally broken with bad habits.
Therefore in this type of country, protracted
People's War is also part of forming a new type of revolutionary
party. This is a lesson of history. Without this kind of revolutionary
struggle, a revolutionary communist party is not possible
in these types of countries. We train the people in this thinking.
We have said that, ultimately, the process of destruction
is not only a process of destruction, it is also a process
of construction. Without destruction there will not be construction,
as Mao and other great leaders have said. But which is principal?
After the initiation we said, for us, destruction is principal,
construction is secondary. And when we reach the point of
seizing and exercising real power, at that point, questions
of construction will be the main point. But even then, there
will be a question that without destruction there will not
be any construction. Like Mao said, people usually think that
war is very destructive, war is very bad, it kills people,
all these things. But people do not understand that war is
a great process of construction. War has a very big cleansing
effect. We also try to teach the people and train the cadre
to understand this.
And we must also learn war by waging
war. The intellectuals' instinctive tendency is that we have
to learn all these things, we should read everything, we have
to do all these things, and then we can make war. These kinds
of tendencies were there right from the beginning. But we
said, no, this is not Maoism. This is not Marxism. This is
not dialectical materialism. This is not according to the
scientific theory of knowledge. The question is learning war
Comrade Mao said: We had nothing at first.
We had only millet. We ate millet. We had some rifles, and
we fought, and we captured all these things. We were not clear
at that time what to hit and what not to hit. We went to hit
and we learned how to hit.
We also try to do things in this way.
You asked about the question of people's
power. In the Western Region, in some districts, there was
a kind of power vacuum just after one year. But at that point,
we were not in a position to exercise power in an organized
form. We had not defeated the police enough. This was the
kind of situation there.
RW: You mean like the government
Village Development Committee (VDC) chairmen were gone, but
the police were still strong?
Prachanda: Yes, the
police were strong. There were no VDC chairmen working there,
but the police post was still there. This was the particular
kind of situation there one year after the initiation. And
after two years, the question of power became a burning question.
It was coming onto the agenda, and we started to study the
question of exercising power. We discussed at what level we
could organize the process of exercising people's power. And
after two years, two and a half years, we saw that, in the
main region, mainly in the Western Region, the local police
were mainly defeated. They stopped going into the villages
in the rural areas. They were so afraid that they did not
go into the villages. They stayed in their offices, at their
post. And even then, sometimes the police would sleep outside
the post. They would put a candle or lantern inside the post,
and when the Maoists came to attack the post, then they would
be outside in the forest. This kind of thing happened. This
was the kind of situation at hundreds and hundreds of police
posts. Our squads succeeded in carrying out some important
ambushes and some important raids and that terrorized the
police. They suffered a kind of defeat. And at that point
in the villages there were not any Village Development Committees
and there were not any police.
But at first, our exercising of power
was not well planned, it was not well defined. It was not
well done. In the process of two years of People's War, in
the main region, a power vacuum developed, and our comrades
should have begun exercising power. They did not understand
what they were doing, that we needed to exercise power. But
they had to do everything. The masses were demanding this.
Among the masses there were some quarrels that needed to be
settled. There were the questions of marriage, education,
and land-mainly land questions-that needed to be settled.
All these things. At one point, when we studied what was going
on in the field, we found that the squad commander was becoming
the political leader. Power was in the hands of the squad
commander, not the party DCS (district committee secretary)
or area secretary. People saw the squad commander as their
political leader. The squad commander would give speeches
and attack the rural agents. And everything he did-he was
in uniform. So then the people think, he is our leader. Power
was in the hands of the squad commander. At one point, for
three to four months, that was the situation. And we said,
this is not a good thing. The guns should be led by the party.
The guns should not lead the party. This is the Maoist view.
This was not a mistake on the part of the squad commanders.
It was not well planned, it was not well discussed. It was
spontaneous. Then the party center discussed all these questions,
and the questions of united front and the questions of power
RW: This was two years after the
Prachanda: Two and a
half years. The spontaneous exercise of power started just
after two years. For four months, not only in the Western
Region, but in some areas in the Eastern Region and some rural
areas in the Middle Region, there was a power vacuum; and
in fact power was administered by the people themselves, by
the people's army, the squads. That was the situation.
RW: So the party's organized plan
and strategy for exercising people's power is fairly new?
Prachanda: Really we can say this
started after the Fourth Plenum, when we said: now we are
going forward on the road of making base areas. Then we had
a well-defined plan of exercising people's power.
RW: So this was at the end of
Prachanda: Yes. But before then,
a general vision was there-that we should have a united front,
that we have to exercise power. A general vision was there,
but a complete plan was not. And before our plan was completed,
real power was in our hands. You have already heard how our
comrades tax the local businessmen, how there are people's
courts, land distribution, and collective farming, divorce,
marriage-all these things the people do. We saw this new people's
power develop. At first, we did not teach the masses-they
taught us how to begin exercising power. It cannot be dictated
from above. The masses themselves, through the process of
People's War, through the process of struggle, gave birth
to the forms of new people's power. They started to do all
Just after starting this whole process,
we completed plans to make a united front, organize mass gatherings
and have the masses elect leaders to exercise people's power.
We said we should follow the three-in-one principle [forming
leadership groups which combine the party, the army and united
front masses]. We saw that we needed to study more and more
the process of making revolutionary committees, like what
happened in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China-that
we should learn from how they formed revolutionary committees
and applied the three-in-one principle. We are now in a preliminary
process; it is not yet refined. But we are seeing big things
happen. And now, what people think, when they see this whole
process, is that they have power and they feel proud. The
masses feel that we have power now: we can distribute land,
we have collective farming, we can divorce, we can make arrangements,
we can break all the chains, we can tax the businessmen, we
can manage the forests. We can do all these things by ourselves-no
VDC, no police. Our united front is here, our squad is here.
The people really feel this. And this great feeling is the
basis for the victory of People's War. This is the basis the
enemy can never crush.
This great feeling among the masses is
mainly in the Western Region. In the Eastern and Middle Region
this feeling is also developing. But the situation for the
enemy in these regions is very favorable. The government can
go everywhere and crush the people. Therefore there are problems.
But even in these areas people are gradually understanding
the importance of power. In the Middle Region, many hectares
of land have been captured, and thousands and thousands of
quintals of grain have been captured and distributed to the
masses. And this process makes the people feel like, "Yes,
this is ours."
RW: In terms of exercising people's
power, one of the areas that is less developed is land reform
and more collective forms of production among the peasants.
For revolutions in oppressed countries, the land question
and production relations in the countryside are very key in
terms of revolutionizing society. What is the party's vision
of this process of revolutionizing production relations in
the countryside, as part of the process of construction in
the People's War?
Prachanda: We say that
this new democratic revolution is an agrarian revolution.
Basically, the character of this revolution is agrarian. But
the situation in Nepal is not classical, not traditional.
In the Terai region we find landlords with some lands, and
we have to seize the lands and distribute them among the poor
peasants. But in the whole mountainous regions, that is not
the case. There are small holdings, and there are not big
landlords. Therefore our main plan in those areas is to develop
collective farming and revolutionize the production relations.
How to develop production, how to raise production is the
main problem here. The small pieces of land mean the peasants
have low productivity. With collective farming it will be
more scientific and things can be done to raise production.
But we cannot do this collective farming instantly. In terms
of land ownership, it will be private ownership by the peasant.
But the production process will be collective. We are trying
to do this in our regions. And, mainly in our developed regions,
collective farming has already been established.
RW: Can you explain this more,
how that is happening?
Prachanda: In the developed
areas we have already made a plan and started, in some areas
of Rolpa and some areas of Rukum and some areas of Jarjarkot
and some in Salyan-less in Salyan, mainly in Rolpa, Rukum
and Jarjarkot. First we seized some land from landlords who
live in Kathmandu, and from usurers and such types. We seized
that land, but we did not distribute that land to the peasants.
Because to distribute that land piece by piece to peasants
will not work, will not help to develop their livelihood,
their economic level. So number one are the kinds of land
seized from landlords, usurers, etc. Number two are other
lands, like public lands which can be cultivated. And number
three are lands owned by peasants. These are the three types
of lands that are there. When we seize the land from landlords,
that land will become collectively owned-there will be collective
mass ownership. That land will be the land of the masses,
and all the peasants will work on that land, and the earnings
from that land will be the property of that locality.
RW: How is the grain from that
land distributed? Does it become collective funds?
Prachanda: Yes, collective
funds. The return from that land will be the collective funds
of the masses, used for the needs of the masses of that locality.
Up to this point we have done it like this. And the fallow
land, or public land which can be cultivated-we are trying
to cultivate this land collectively and distribute the return
to the masses collectively. Collective distribution means
according to what percent of the work has been done, according
to the number of hours worked. How many work hours a particular
family did on that land-the return will be in that percentage.
RW: So there is some system of
accounting where the peasants work and they get so much credit
for hours worked and grains are distributed accordingly.
Prachanda: Yes, exactly
that. Where our mass base is strong and the masses are in
the process of struggle, we are starting to have collective
farming. Private ownership, but farming collectively. This
has already shown effectiveness in the process of production.
RW: So this would be like five
farmers who each own five plots of land, but they all will
work on the land together. Will they collectivize the tools,
tools, land-according to the land, according to the tools
they use and work hours, in that percentage, according to
the percentage of the work done, they divide the production.
In this way we can raise the quantity of production. This
is what we are doing in the developed areas. But in less developed
areas, in the Eastern Region and the Middle Region, we are
trying a kind of system that is not exactly an exchange of
labor power. But like during the rainy season, if you have
less manpower or your labor power is not sufficient and you
cannot do well in cultivation, then other peasant families
are there to help. My family will help you, and your family
will help me, and we will help him. This kind of tradition
is there in peasant families.
RW: This kind of tradition already
Prachanda: These kinds
of traditions were there, and now we are developing this tradition
in an organized way. And in a more organized way we are starting
to develop different kinds of collective farming-and measures
that lead to collective farming. We are trying to organize
this system of farming, and it enables the peasants to achieve
a kind of unity among them. They are doing all these things
to break the chains of feudalism, and it is a school of cultural
transformation. When all our families work together, eat together,
sing together, dance together-then it is more communal.
In the Terai, up to this time, we haven't
had a strong mass base, there is not a strong struggle. There
is guerrilla action going on in the Terai, in the plainlands.
There are big landlords, there is king's land, queen's land-so
many big bourgeois lands are there. Up to now what we have
done is seize the grain of landlords. We are not yet able,
in the Terai, to seize the land. But we are able to seize
stored grain. This enables the masses to understand the importance
of the People's War, the importance of the revolution. Gradually
they are coming to see, "Yes, this is ours." And so we are
also developing a mass base in the Terai region.
RW: One very important question
I wanted to ask relates to the party's Fourth Strategic Plan
of developing the base areas. Could you speak about where
that process is now and what needs to be achieved in this
next period to carry out that plan.
Prachanda: This is also
a very important question. Our Fourth Plenum has sketched
out, figured out, the questions of building base areas. To
make this plan of developing base areas, first of all we tried
to clarify the theoretical conception of base areas, because
in South Asia there is a tendency of armed economism, a kind
of armed economism-a kind of reformism, armed reformism.
RW: Armed struggle with no vision?
Prachanda: No vision,
exactly. This line exists in India. Some groups say guerrilla
zone, guerrilla zone, guerrilla zone. For 25 years they say
guerrilla zone, but there is not any perspective, real perspective.
And we knew this question of guerrilla zone and base area
was going to be a very serious question. We tried to clear
up these questions because base areas is a strategic question
for protracted people's war. Without the aim of base areas
there is no real people's war. Without a strategic view of
base areas there is no question of protracted people's war.
The question of guerrilla zones is not
a strategic question. It is a transitional question-from unarmed
masses to armed masses and from the masses without power to
the masses with power. To go through this process, the guerrilla
zone is only transitional. It is not a strategic question.
Therefore we should not confuse the terms guerrilla zone and
base area. Our main strategy is to seize, to capture, base
areas, to build up base areas. First we clarified this in
Second, in our concrete situation we
are not, right now, going to establish base areas. We are
not in that position. We are not going to establish base areas
in this Fourth Plan. We are concentrating, centralizing all
our efforts to build base areas. Our political, ideological,
military efforts are all concentrated on forming base areas,
but now we are not establishing base areas. We are in the
process of building base areas. We need to understand this.
RW: Is the distinction between
permanent and temporary base areas?
Prachanda: Not exactly.
We are not using the terms temporary and permanent. We are
in the process of building base areas. We are not saying "temporary
base area." It may be temporary or permanent. It depends on
the force of the people's power-which means our military capacity.
RW: What will distinguish a base
area? Right now you say you are in the process of forming
base areas. But what will be the criteria to say: now we have
established a base area?
Prachanda: The criteria
for having a base area, from the military point of view, is
that we have defeated the military capacity of the enemy at
that point. Until and unless we defeat a section of the military
sent against us, the enemy's armed force-then we cannot say
we have a stable base area. We can exercise a kind of preliminary
form of base area. But we cannot say it is stable.
We see that Mao did not use the term
permanent or temporary. What he said is stable base area,
unstable base area, base area in preliminary form. These three
types of forms Mao experienced and synthesized. Therefore,
to have a stable base area we have to crush the enemy's armed
force. But before this we can make unstable base areas. We
fight with the armed forces, and, for the time being, they
do not come. Therefore, we have a base area. But when they
come, then they will fight, and that will be unstable. And
for the time being, it may be just like a guerrilla zone.
Then again, we capture, we defeat the enemy and then it will
be stable. This kind of stable and unstable process will be
there. We see it like this.
And you asked about the criteria to have
a base area. One is a strong party organization. Strong, consistent
leadership should be there. Number two is a good mass base,
just like Mao said. A good mass base of struggling masses.
And having a good mass base means having not only sympathizers,
but masses who themselves are trained in the war. That is
the meaning of a good mass base. And you need a strong people's
army. Up to this point, we have not said, "People's Army,"
"People's Liberation Army"-these kinds of terms we have not
used. We have used guerrilla squad, guerrilla platoon.
RW: So you do not use the term
Prachanda: In the theoretical
sense we use the term people's army. But as a formal name
of the army, we are not saying, "This is our PLA, People's
Liberation Army." We have a people's army, but we have not
called this form of organization the "People's Liberation
Army." Now we have a goal of forming companies. We are organized
now, up to the platoon. And you saw the Special Task Force-this
is a step, moving toward forming companies.
When we sustain a company formation,
when there are two, three, four companies, and, at the same
time, there are platoons elsewhere-then we will say this is
our strong army. Our vision is that when we have companies,
then we will have a strong army to have a base area. That
is also the other criteria.
And to establish base areas a particular
national situation and international situation is also necessary.
This means there are big contradictions among the ruling classes-they
are fighting among each other-and there is also an unstable
situation with India. Because for us, ultimately, we will
have to fight with the Indian army. That is the situation.
Therefore we have to take into account the Indian army. When
the Indian army comes in with thousands and thousands of soldiers,
it will be a very big thing. But we are not afraid of the
Indian Army because, in one way, it will be a very good thing.
RW: You will be able to capture
lots of guns from them...
Prachanda: Yes, they
will give us lots of guns. And lots of people will fight them.
This will be a national war. And it will be a very big thing.
They will have many difficulties intervening. It will not
be so easy for them. But if they stupidly dare...they will
dare, they will be compelled. They will do that stupidity.
We have to prepare for that. And for
that reason we are saying we will also need a particular international
situation. And for us this has to do mainly with India, Indian
expansionism. When there is an unstable situation in India
and a strong mass base there in support of People's War in
Nepal and there are contradictions within the Indian ruling
class-at that point we can seize, we can establish and declare
that we have base areas, that we have a government.
When we declare we have made a base area
then formally we will make a central government. We are thinking
that when Rolpa, Rukum, Jarjarkot, Salyan become a liberated
zone, then we will declare the People's Republic of Nepal-the
government of the People's Republic of Nepal. That government
will be in the center, and there will also be base areas,
guerrilla zones, some prospective base area zones, different
kinds of zones. But when a base area is declared, then the
People's Republic of Nepal will also be declared.
Therefore, just now, we are not saying
we have established base areas. But in the practical sense
you understand, when you were there in Rolpa and Rukum, you
saw that there is a kind of base area-where we are exercising
power. We are collecting taxes, we are holding people's court,
we are controlling the forests, all these things. There, we
have the squad, platoon, and Special Task Force. And the police
do not dare come into these areas. This is a kind of preliminary
base area. This is the process of forming base areas.
RW: Let me just clarify. You said
that once a base area is formed the People's Republic of Nepal
would be declared. You're saying this would be declared before
the seizure of power nationwide?
Prachanda: We have not exactly
drawn up a detailed plan. But in general our thinking is that
when we are in the position of first declaring a base area
in one region of the country, other regions should be near
to being base areas. Like in the Eastern and Middle Region,
a form of power will have to be openly exercised. Until that
time, we cannot make a liberated zone in the West. But with
that situation we can organize a big mass movement in Kathmandu
and other cities also. We are thinking like this. It is not
final and it has not been already decided. But we generally
think that in Nepal we can do it like this, because we already
have a central united front. And we have a plan of making
this united front as a tool for revolutionary struggle on
the central level, and a tool for people's power, on the local
level. This is our definition of the united front. On the
local level it should be an instrument of exercising power.
On the central level it should be an instrument of propaganda
and revolutionary mass struggle.
When that kind of situation develops,
then we can make this central united front a form of a people's
republic, a form of people's republic for propaganda value,
political value, and to crush the enemy and arouse the masses.
On the central level, we will have to make a form of government.
But before this we are not saying we have a form of government-it
is a united front.
RW: Declaring a new government
would also have international implications because you would
demand to be recognized internationally.
Prachanda: Yes, international
recognition-all these things we will have to do. In our Fourth
Plenum these questions came up. Should we now say we have
a formal government? No, it would be premature. We must say
that it is premature, it is not time to say this. But when
we look at the whole process of development, we see that,
ultimately, at one point we will have to declare a new government
and the president and the republic, the ministry and all these
things. And we will appeal to the world masses that this is
the people's government.
We are also saying that we will not liberate
only two, three, four districts and not care about other regions
or the capital city. In Nepal when we liberate an area and
declare our government-and it is our base area in the Western
Region-then we will need a clear and well-defined plan for
the whole country and masses. There should be a big mass upsurge
in other parts of the country. Without such mass upsurge and
mass struggle in all other prospective base areas and guerrilla
zones at the time, then militarily we would not be able to
sustain our base area. Because at this time India will also
come at us, and the police force will be centralized to crush
us. Then thousands of masses will be slaughtered.
RW: So a base area can only be
established if the People's War is strong throughout the whole
Prachanda: Yes, that is our perspective.
RW: Maybe you could speak briefly
on the question of building a new culture among the people.
In particular, there were two things that struck me in my
travels. One was the particular culture of sacrifice and devotion
to the party and what role that plays in developing the People's
War and the revolutionary consciousness of the people. The
second thing is more general, the question of developing a
culture of rebelling against feudal traditions and revolutionizing
social relations among people.
Prachanda: On this question
I want to say that training the masses in the spirit of sacrifice
is very important because in the era of imperialism and proletarian
revolution, in today's whole situation, without sacrifice,
without bloodshed, we cannot seize power, and we cannot transform
the whole society on a new basis. Therefore there is the question
of sacrifice, of shedding blood, just as you saw with the
martyrs in the West. People want to be martyrs. The people
feel that to be martyrs is to be respected. This is the great
feeling which will enable us to change the whole feudal, individualistic,
and anarchist outlook prevailing in this society. When you
live among those comrades, those families of martyrs-martyrs'
brothers, mothers, sons-you see that a kind of cultural transformation
is going on inside them and their feelings.
When one of the comrades is martyred
we vigorously make it a question of pride and historical importance.
And the mother and father, the parents of that martyr, will
then feel that, "Now my one son has died, but there are thousands
and thousands of others who are now my sons." This is the
great feeling. This is the great change that has happened.
Those parents see that "everybody is my son-hundreds of young
people are now my sons." The whole feudal and individualistic,
sectarian culture that has prevailed has been changed upside
down. We encourage, for our cultural revolution, this kind
of sacrifice, and we glorify this kind of sacrifice. Because
we know, in this era, in today's world situation, thousands
and thousands of people will have to be prepared to be sacrificed.
Mao said, if there is a third world war,
everybody cannot be killed. Maybe half the population will
be gone and half the population will remain and a new world
will emerge. It's not that Mao was irresponsible to say this.
The spirit of what he said is not that millions of people
should die. It was the spirit of making a new world. It was
the spirit of transforming the world.
And in a more general sense, you asked
about overall how to change feudalism. There are two questions
here, I think. One is the party should make a complete plan,
and there should be a complete effort to do this. There should
be a developed ideological and political line and training
to change the feudal relations. Second, we have to make a
concrete plan for every region. Because, just as I said, although
Nepal is small, then again, it is big. There are many kinds
of culture here. Some are tribal cultures, more primitive
cultures, upper caste cultures-there are all different types
of cultures. And we cannot make one plan for all of these.
For the whole Himalayan region, we should
make a complete plan-looking at the cultural problems, traditional
chains, different kinds of tribal problems that are there.
And in the mountainous region, in the Western Region, as you
saw, there are not so many temples. But when you go to Kathmandu
there are so many temples-it is a capital of temples. Therefore
we have to make a conscious effort for every region, for every
nationality. What are their traditional chains, what forms
of feudal exploitation and feudal oppression are prevailing
in that nationality-we have to make efforts to consciously
crush these things.
And the last point is that the main question
is struggle. In the process of struggle, the masses transform
themselves. Struggle is the main vehicle of transformation.
Other things are secondary.
RW: To follow up this question,
there is the particular role of women in the People's War
and the question of breaking down the feudal oppression of
women. One thing that we learned from the class struggle and
revolutionary process in China is that there is a dialectical
relationship between the ideological and political struggle-transforming
the thinking of people-and transforming the actual social,
economic and family relations that hold women back, that prevent
women from playing an equal role in society.<\d><\n>
In other words, as long as women still have the main responsibility
of taking care of children and the housework, these kinds
of things, they will be prevented from playing a full role
in society and in the revolution. So new forms have to be
found in society to solve this contradiction. And this is
a process of class struggle among the people-to transform
the thinking of the people in order to change the institutions
and to develop new revolutionary institutions which change
the relations between people and further transform their thinking.
Maybe you could speak some to this in terms of what has been
achieved in the People's War in Nepal-and also what more needs
to be done, including bringing women into higher levels of
leadership and responsibility.
Prachanda: Before the initiation,
the woman question was not so seriously debated in our party.
That was our weakness. And in our society, male domination,
feudal relations have prevailed for a long time. In general
terms we agreed, yeah, the woman question is important. As
communists we know these things. But in a concrete sense,
in a serious sense, I will say that before initiation we were
not so serious on the woman question. And because we were
not serious, therefore, many woman comrades were not at the
forefront of the movement. There were some women sympathizers
and some organizers, but there was not much effort to develop
the women comrades.
Then right after initiation the question
came up-it boldly came up. And especially in my experience,
I was very thrilled when, during the first year after initiation,
I saw the sacrifice women were making in the main region,
in the struggling zones-their militancy, their heroism, and
their devotion. When I saw women masses come into the field,
then we started to debate seriously the woman question. And
now the situation in the party, more or less, has mainly changed
to seeing the woman question from a proletarian viewpoint.
From different angles, we try to understand the woman question-what
is the meaning of the woman question, what is the political
and theoretical importance, and what are the practical implications
in the class struggle and the whole historical perspective?
And from a practical point of view, I
want to say that among the oppressed nationalities, there
is not so much male domination. There is a kind of equality
there. In some nationalities women are seen as more important-the
wives are seen as more important than the men.
RW: What nationalities are you
referring to here?
Prachanda: Mainly the
Mongolian nationalities, mainly Magar, and mainly in Rolpa
and Rukum. Here there is not as much male domination. Women
can easily divorce, and if a woman remarries the community
does not look at her like she is a bad woman. The traditions
are very different. More and more militant and revolutionary
women cadres are coming from those nationalities. And we are
trying our best to develop the leadership of those comrades.
Before the initiation there were not
any women comrades in the district committees. Now there are.
In Rolpa, there are three or four women comrades in the district
committee, and in the secretariat also there are women comrades.
And there are women comrades who direct whole area party committees,
who direct whole squads. All these things they are doing.
Also there are some district committee secretaries, new women
comrades who have been developed and they have done a good
job. And you saw in one district in the East, the DCS is a
woman comrade. And in another district, near the Indian border,
there is also a DCS woman comrade. In district committees,
there are now more than 40 to 50 women. This shows the big
change in our national structure and how we are developing
the leadership qualities of women. We are also trying to bring
women into regional level leadership, and we are trying to
develop them on the level of central committee leadership.
In the oppressed nationalities, there
is a lot of potential for developing proletarian leadership
from among the women masses. And we are focusing, centralizing,
our effort here to develop the leadership of women. There
is also a lot of potential to develop the leadership of women
from among laborers.
RW: What about the practical obstacles
that women face in the home, in terms of playing a larger
role? For example, when I was traveling around, I saw many
women with small children, and this is a problem. Some women
are able to have relatives take care of their children, but
this is not always possible. Is there a vision of socializing
more of the housework and childcare?
Prachanda: At this point,
the practical problems women comrades are facing, we can say
the whole party is facing, are mainly the question of taking
care of small children. With squad members who get pregnant
and have babies, there is the question of who will look after
the child. Some women comrades have a good spirit to continue
working, but the practical problems of caring for a baby become
a big obstacle.
In the main region, what the party is
trying to do, for the time being, is that when a woman has
a baby, she will be placed in a secure area among the masses
for about six months. She will not go back to her own home,
and she will be among the masses, still doing whatever work
she can do in the local area. Then after six months, she can
travel with her child and other comrades can also carry the
child, and the women comrades can then go and speak and organize.
This is the kind of thing hundreds of women are doing. And
when the child is one year old, then they can be cared for
by the masses or mass organizations and the woman comrade
Now locally, the party is discussing
the question of how to organize collective childcare. This
question is presenting itself practically at this time. In
some places, there are plans to set up a childcare house where
comrades who have good experience and spirit will go and work.
This plan is not finalized but is being discussed.
Also, the party is not directly pressing,
but strongly encouraging men and women comrades, couples,
not to have children for the time being, to not have a baby
for five to seven or ten years because it will be a big practical
problem. We explain that on this question, it is also a kind
of sacrifice. We should have to sacrifice-don't have a baby.
And there are so many cases of couples who are not having
babies right now. But trying to not have children presents
another problem, because Nepal is very backward and there
are not health centers, there are not doctors.
RW: You mean lack of birth control?
Prachanda: When a woman gets pregnant
then the question arises of abortion-they want to have an
abortion. And after several abortions the physical condition
of the woman will be harmed.
RW: So actually birth control
is a pressing question.
Prachanda: Yes, a pressing question.
We tell comrades it will help if they do not have babies for
the time being. But if they do have a child then we will organize
the masses to solve the problem of childcare. And there are
so many cases where women have a baby, and, when they have
some kind of childcare outside the party's organizational
setup, then the police will capture her. There are so many
woman comrades who are in jail in the Western Region because
RW: Because they had to leave
the safe areas?
Prachanda: If they leave
safe areas outside the control of our organization then they
will be captured by the enemy. That kind of problem also exists.
In terms of women, I want to say that
another very big problem is developing leadership...
RW: And illiteracy is a big obstacle
for women, right? Because the low theoretical level, educational
level, presents an obstacle to women coming into higher levels
Prachanda: Yes, that is also a
question. Now on the local level we are trying to develop
a local education system to teach women comrades to read and
write-night school. Such things are in the process of being
done. But this will be a long process. It is a protracted
process. Five, ten, twenty years is necessary to make everyone
literate. We should teach the women comrades how to read and
write. There are many women comrades now who are already literate,
and we are trying our best to develop them in leadership.
But illiteracy is a big problem, and we are trying to raise
the level of literacy among the general masses.
RW: Before we end, could you briefly
tell us about your personal background, so that people know
something about you. What is your political history? What
shaped your revolutionary thinking and activities? How did
the class struggle, in Nepal and internationally, impact on
Prachanda: I am from
a poor peasant family from the middle region, from Pokhara.
But because of the poor conditions, my family, my parents,
moved from Pokhara, from the mountain area, to the Terai region-Chitwan
district. My whole youth, high school, was in Chitwan district.
And I started being influenced by communist ideology 28 years
ago, when I was about 17 years old. At that time there were
big mass movements in the area. There were student movements.
There were anti-Indian expansionism mass movements. All these
things impressed me. This is an area with big Indian comprador
bourgeois forces and a lot of exploitation. All these things
made some impression on me. And even more, what impressed
me, convinced me, was the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution
in China. Mao, the Cultural Revolution, all the anti-revisionist
movements: all these things impressed me.
Twenty-eight years ago I became a communist,
I became a party member. And after some time, there was a
big two-line struggle, and I was in touch with the revolutionary
comrades in the Fourth Party Congress. In the process of that
two-line struggle, I came into contact with revolutionary
comrades more senior than me, and we had close contact, discussion,
And in the class struggle there was a
big mass movement going on. Twenty years ago there was a big
mass movement, and in my district, a big women's movement
and peasants' movement. This also provided the environment
to develop my revolutionary thinking. At the same time, there
was a big two-line struggle inside the party, and I continuously
went with the revolutionary line. And when there was a split
with Dumdum (M. B. Singh), then collectively we comrades,
the main team in the central committee, tried to study the
whole international process, the international communist movement,
the Nepalese communist movement. And in that process my thinking
RW: The struggle against revisionism
has been very important...
Prachanda: My main thrust
is that I hate revisionism. I seriously hate revisionism.
And I never compromise with revisionism. I fought and fought
again with revisionism. And the party's correct line is based
on the process of fighting revisionism. I hate revisionism.
I seriously hate revisionism.
RW: I'd like to explore some more
your comments about the international situation and, specifically,
the significance of the People's War in Nepal, as part of
the world revolution. What is your thinking on that, from
two sides-how the People's War in Nepal can give strength
to the international movement and how the international communist
movement can give strength to the People's War in Nepal, that
there is a dialectical relationship between the People's War
in Nepal and the whole international situation and movement.
And what we think, and I think, is that a new wave of revolution,
world revolution is beginning, because imperialism is facing
a great crisis. Some people are saying that economically and
culturally imperialism is in deeper crisis than before World
War 2. There are so many symptoms of radical change that the
people's movements are seeing around the world. And from an
economic, cultural and political basis, we see that a new
wave of world revolution is beginning. This is fact. We have
to grasp this question because just like Mao said, there will
be 50 to 100 years of great turmoil and great transformation.
From a practical point of view, the People's
War in Nepal is contributing to making and accelerating this
new wave of revolution. And it is contributing to the organization
of the international communist movement on a Maoist basis.
And Maoism should be the commander of this new wave of world
revolution. The People's War in Peru has done a good job of
establishing Maoism. We also think that the RCP,USA has done
a good job, ideologically and politically, to fight against
revisionism and establish Maoism. And our party and the People's
War in Nepal is also accelerating this process.
Right now, subjectively, the proletarian
forces are weak-after Mao's death and the counter-revolution
in China. Nepal is a small country, we are a small party-but
we have a big perspective. Our People's War may be a spark,
a spark for a prairie fire. We have already seen that during
this three years of People's War, the Indian communists and
Indian masses have been somewhat impressed. And there have
been thousands and thousands of masses in New Delhi, shouting,
"Long live People's War in Nepal. We will support People's
War in Nepal." In every corner now in India the People's War
in Nepal is the subject of debate.
We are carrying out People's War under
the banner of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. Therefore we think
it has played a very significant and important role among
the Indian revolutionary masses and in the ideological debate
in the Indian communist movement. It has also helped the RIM
very much in exposing international revisionism, modern revisionism,
revisionism in China and Russian revisionism. In Nepal there
is a very big revisionist party and much revisionist influence.
And the People's War has played a very big role in exposing
This war has changed the name of the
country itself-the identity of the country. It was a very
backward, poor and beggar country. But now it is a country
of heroes, of proletarian heroes. And now on the world's highest
peak, Sargamatha (Mount Everest) - the red flag is there.
This will be seen from all over the world. People will say:
What country is Nepal? It is the country with the world's
highest peak, Mount Everest. What is there? Heroic proletarian
revolution, People's War is there. This will be seen.
Therefore we think we have a very big
responsibility, we face a big challenge in this present international
situation. And we will do our best. We should do our best,
to the end, to fulfill our duty and responsibility.
When you are in a pond or in the middle
of a lake you do not know the importance of water. But when
you are in the desert, then you see that just one glass of
water is very important. Today there are not many genuine
People's Wars in the world. So in this desert of revolutionary
war, the People's War in Nepal is one glass of water for all
the revolutionary people. And we will fulfill our duty to
give water to the revolutionary people.
We also see that without the experiences
of the whole international communist movement-and without
the help of the RIM and without the help of all the communist
leaders and dedicated comrades who are keenly and seriously
helping the People's War in Nepal-we will not be able to sustain
and maintain the People's War in Nepal. And finally, I want
to say that, although we are in weaker position subjectively,
objectively a wave of revolution is beginning and we communists
should dare to fight and we will win.
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