King Mahendra reportedly said in the mid-1960s: “Communism does not travel in a car.”
Some say he used the word ‘truck’, not ‘car’. Whatever. I think, communism does not but communists do. Communists travel in the most luxurious vehicles according to their availability. Nepal’s ruling UCPN (Maoist) is an example how controversial communists can become when they struggle to maintain a balance between their ideology and lifestyle. The party floated new jargon in its just concluded seventh General Convocation, that is, national productivity.
Is this concept a major paradigm shift in ideology of UCPN (Maoist)? What is the covert intention of chairman Prachanda? Can Maoists translate concept of national productivity into action? And can they bring about any changes in lives of ‘proletariats’ for whom they claim to be engaging in politics.
By Siromani Dhungana
Surrounded by Pulsar-riding cadres of Young Communist League (YCL) and party leaders who have already elevated themselves to the elite class from the proletariat that they were until recently, and flanked by his Mustang-rider deputy Dr Bhattarai talks about austerity but indeed encourages corruption, nepotism and favoritism in his government, comrade Prachanda announced in the Hetauda Convention that his party will be focusing on national productivity.
That announcement didn’t come at a surprise to those who are familiar with inherent nature of UCPN (Maoist) – which is popularly known as ‘cash Maoist’ (as opposed to the dash Maoist, the Mohain Baidya led CPN-Maoist) due to the party’s excessive focus on amassing ‘cash’ through intimidation, forced donation and brazen corruption.
I do not think, the concept of national productivity will bring any differences in ideological front of the ruling party. His concept of national productivity neither supports capitalist economic system nor socialist. Rather, I think, there are two implied meaning of Prachanda’s proposal: to maintain a hold on all economic/financial resources and to divert attention of his cadres from political issues to other less contentious issues.
Following the restoration of democracy in 1990, Nepal Congress-led government introduced liberal economic system which intensified economic activities and helped shape up country’s economy in modern world scenario.
Nepal’s entire economy after 1990 is the result of the new and progressive policies adopted and propagated by NC-led government. The entire economic regime after 1990 is continuity of NC-introduced economic policy. And it is to mention here that even Dr Baburam Bhattarai who assumed the charge of Finance Minister in 2008 also continued the policy adopted by NC-led government. He was a Maoist finance minister who performed well inside the economic system put in place by the NC.
If Dr Bhattarai was a successful Finance Minister in 2008-2009, the reason behind it was nothing more than NC-created policies. He was successful to implement the economic policy formed by NC-led government effectively.
After assuming the post of Finance Minister, guerilla-turned-minister Barsha Man Pun has been advocate of privatization and liberalization (though many think his stand as a mask to assure the international community).
In this context, I do not think Prachanda can bring any drastic change in ongoing economic system. After floatation of idea of national productivity, many think that Maoists are trying to impose socialist economy whilst others argue that it is paradigm shift in ideological front of UCPN (Maoist).
I think, as aforementioned, Prachanda wants to shift attention of his cadres to control possible anger and criticism against him and his deputy Dr Bhattarai.
On the other hand, Maoists are trying to maintain their hold on all sources of income and resources. Allegedly, Maoists have channeled their investment by picking up some investors at present (Ajay Sumargi, for example, who is said to be the personal portfolio manager of the Chairman). And, in the name of national productivity they want to institutionalize their extra-legal hold on resources.
After their emergence as a formidable power during peace process, lifestyle of Maoist leaders who were in forefront of the ‘janayuddha’ has drastically changed. Maoist have started the culture of institutional corruption (remember the party swallowing up a large chunk of money that was meant for former guerillas) and created an environment where corruption in the name of party was acceptable (seeking forced donations and not having to be accountable to anyone). Increasingly lavish lifestyle of its cadres has compelled the party to amass more money at any cost. In the name of national productivity, they will distribute resources to their cadres and its headquarter will be commission collector.
And, Maoists are now trying to ruin whole economy in the name of national productivity. It is likely that they will curb all efforts of genuine business if businesses don’t fulfill the party’s demands.
It’s an irony that Maoists had provoked dozens of gullible villagers to die or to kill others saying they (villagers) were fated to live in poverty due to feudal-led government and the Maoist was a force that could change their lives for better. Maoist also sold the dream of political dominance of the poor and proletariat.
But in practice they could do nothing due to their greed and deviation from ideology and principles. And now they are trying to give clear sign that running a business without being affiliated to the Maoists is not possible in Nepal.
In my opinion, Maoists will continue current concept of mixed-economy in principle but in practice, they will introduce an economic system having no base and philosophy and push the country into further uncertainty and financial anarchy.