Noaman G. Ali, BASICS Community News Service, Canada
“We are ready to convert academic institutions into barracks. And ourselves into soldiers,” says Ramil Bhum, a student leader from Nepal’s far-west region of Seti Mahakali.
Sitting on the grass outside a large hall of Tribhuvan University on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Bm is surrounded by a group of international observers, of whom I am one. We’ve been invited to observe the 18th national convention of the All-Nepal National Students’ Union (Revolutionary), or ANNISU-R.
With 1.4 to 1.8 million members, there is no doubt that ANNISU-R is the largest, best-organized and most militant of students’ unions in this poor, land-locked country of 30 million. It is a mass organization of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the country’s largest political party.
“A big storm is imminent in Nepal,” says Krishna Bahadur Mahara, a Maoist leader, sitting with us now in the large conference room on the roof of his party’s headquarters. “Our party is not confused about our immediate and ultimate goals. Our immediate goal is the people’s federal republic, then socialism, then communism.”
Communism? Conventional wisdom in the West is that communism means tyranny, mass murder, inefficient economies, and perpetually grey skies. It’s good in theory, bad in practice. If anyone speaks seriously of communism, it’s usually a member of a small and marginal group.
Yet, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and its associated mass organizations count millions of farmers, workers, students, small-business owners and many more as members. Millions more support the party indirectly. Why?