Yuba Nath Lamsal
It has been 62 years since the communist party was formed in Nepal. Some leftist groups marked September 15 as the 63rd anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN). However, a large section of leftists do not subscribe to the proposition that September 15 is the founding day. Instead they claim that the communist party was founded on April 22, 1949.
Nepal’s communists lock horns over every issue, which has contributed to the fragmentation of the communist movement. They differ on and dispute even on a minor issue, keeping them divided and disintegrated. The issue concerning the founding day of the communist party has also fallen into controversy, with different groups observing the founding day on different dates. This controversy is not a new phenomenon but began soon after the communist party was formed. Even researchers are divided on this issue.
Dr. Surendra KC and Dr. Raj Kumar Pokhrel are two prominent scholars who are said to be the authority on Nepal’s communist movement. Their Ph. D theses were on the communist movement in Nepal and have written several articles and books on its history and development. However, these two scholars have differing views on the founding day of the Communist Party of Nepal. Dr. KC is of the view that April 22 is the founding day of the communist party in Nepal while Dr. Pokhrel claims it is September 15.
Most communist parties, including the CPN-UML and the UCPN-Maoist, are of the belief that April 22 is the founding day. They claim that September 15 is the day when the manifesto of the Communist Party of Nepal was issued, but it was not the founding day. But some groups and individuals are of the view that there is no documental proof to substantiate that the communist party was formed on April 22, 1949. According to them, the communist party had formally come into being with the announcement of its manifesto, which took place on September 15, 1949.
They further claim that a communist party should be based on ideology and programmes. The birth of a communist party must be along with its programmes, policies, goals and objectives, which should clearly be clearly spelled out in written form and format. The Communist Party of Nepal, thus, begins with the issuance of its political doctrine or manifesto. A mere verbal decision to form a party without any documental proof, organisational shape and set-up as well as programmes cannot mean that a revolutionary communist party has been born.
This school of thought argues that a gathering of some revolutionary-minded people had taken place in Shyam Bazaar of Calcutta to mark the birth anniversary of Lenin on April 22, 1949. This gathering had felt the necessity of a revolutionary communist party in Nepal, which could launch a revolution not only to oust the oligarchic Rana regime but also establish republican democracy.
A decision had, thus, been taken on April 22, 1949 to form the communist party, but there is no formal document to support that the party was formed on that day. Arriving at a decision to form a party and formation of a party are two different things. Thus, the decision to form a party cannot mean that the party was formally formed.
Despite the decision to form the communist party, the group soon after dispersed. Although the idea was noble, it could not take organisational shape. It was Pushpa Lal Shrestha who pursued it seriously and finally announced the Communist Party on September 15.
This group claims that even Pushpa Lal has written that only discussion had been held and a decision was taken to move ahead for the formation of a revolutionary communist party in Nepal.
This group further claims that Pushpa Lal had been entrusted to write the party document for the formal announcement of the party. It had taken him nearly six months for him to write and finalise the document outlining the necessity and rationale for the formation of a revolutionary communist party and its policies and programmes.
A document on the Nepali communist revolution was prepared, which was called the Manifesto of the Communist Party of Nepal and was released on September 15, concurrently announcing the formation of the Communist Party of Nepal.
Some even argue that the communist party was formed even earlier. Dr. Raj Kumar Pokhrel, author of the book ‘A Journey of the Communists in Nepal’, claims that a communist party called ‘Communist Organisation’ had been formed in 1948 at the initiative of some young revolutionaries, including Sambhu Ram Shrestha. But there is no written and evidential document about it.
However, other groups are firm on their claim that the decision to form the communist party was taken on April 22, 1949, and accordingly a five-member party organisation had been announced. This was the birth of the communist party in Nepal, comprising Puspa Lal Shrestha as its founding general secretary and Nar Bahadur Karmacharya, Narayan Bilas Joshi, Niranjan Govinda Vaidya and Moti Devi as other members.
After the formation of the party, the committee entrusted general secretary Pushpa Lal Shrestha to write a constitution, manifesto and programmes of the new party. As per the instruction and mandate of the party, Pushpa Lal prepared the manifesto which was unveiled on September 15, 1949. So there should be no confusion on April 22 as the founding day of the party and September 15 as the day of the declaration of the communist party’s manifesto.
Both schools of thought have their own claims and counterclaims and logic. It is true that there is no written document to prove April 22 as the founding day of the communist party. The only surviving founding leader of the Communist Party of Nepal is Nara Bahadur Karmacharya, who, too, subscribes to Pushpa Lal Shrestha’s view on the issue of the party’s founding day.
As controversy raged on this issue, three founding leaders Nara Bahadur Karmacharya, Narayan Bilas Joshi and Niranjan Govinda Vaidya had issued a press statement in 1959 calling upon all to consider April 22 as the founding day.
So far as September 15 is concerned, it is also an important and historic day in Nepal’s communist movement. This is the day when the communist party formally came up with its political, economic and programmes and its goals and objectives. Thus, both the dates are important for the Nepali Communist movement.
Nepali Communist movement has come of age. In the 62 years of its chequered history, the communist movement in Nepal has seen both successes and setbacks. The most impressive success of the Nepali communist movement is its ability to educate and convince the people on the necessity and rationale of communist ideology and a revolution in Nepal. Now communists have overwhelming majority in the country. Even in the Constituent Assembly which was formed through an election three and a half years ago, communists enjoy a comfortable majority.
The setback and negative side are the fragmentation of the communist movement and bitter rivalry among the different communist groups.
Instead of working together and cooperating with one another to counter other reactionary parties and their attacks, the communists are fighting against each other, which has only benefitted the rightists and reactionary parties.
Since the communist parties are not unanimous even on the issue of the founding day, ideological and political unity among them is next to impossible. All parties claim to be the genuine organisation of the poor, downtrodden and the working class. However, a genuine revolutionary party will not attack the fraternal party and group but try to forge an alliance against the common enemy - rightists, reactionaries and imperialists. This has dampened the image and popular base and organisational strength of the communist parties.
The situation, therefore, requires the communist parties to shun controversy on petty issues and instead work together for the boarder interest of the revolution and radical change in the country.