Strategy and tactics of the Maoist Terror

Recently we have had the singularly great fortune of reading the words of wisdom of the two leading proponents of the Maoists’ “people’s war” strategy and tactics in “exclusive” interviews to The Kathmandu Post, Kantipur, The Nepali Times and The Hindu of India – all at (an) undisclosed location(s).

The Post and Kantipur interviews were done by their respective editors, Prateek Pradhan and Narayan Wagle. The latter was also responsible for the ‘stunning’ photos of the two luminaries, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, aka Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai, aka Jit Bahadur. The interviewer for the Times was not disclosed, and the one for The Hindu was Siddharth Varadarajan.

For our analysis it is important to note, not only the contents of the interview, but to establish where and how it took place. It was definitely not conducted in a jungle environment. Taking into account the timing of the interviews and the security situation prevailing in our country, it is not difficult to guess that these were organized in India, probably in New Delhi (in the convivial atmosphere of suburbia) the location of choice for the Maoists’ control and communication centre. There can also be no iota of doubt that a section of the Indian government and the intelligence agencies have ‘facilitated’ the encounters. Underlining Prachanda’s pre-eminent role in the coming months, even the BBC in its ‘Asia Today’ programme early Sunday morning aired a live-interview with him full-time.

The two stars of the Maoist movement have spelt out a cogent roadmap, expertly placing the ball in the court of the seven opposition parties and also putting them in a severe quandary. The years in Indian exile – la dolce vita – are reflected in their mode of dress and appearance and their speech. Their Indian masters have tutored them well, judging by their literacy in the ways of the modern world. Not for nothing has Varadarajan described Prachanda as “arguably the most important political player in the Himalayan kingdom today.” And Bhattarai quotes Marx, Engels, Rosa Luxemburg, von Clausewitz and Frantz Fanon fluently to make his points. The leaders of the so-called seven political agitating parties (SPAP) are no match for the Dahal/Bhattarai Maoist-combine – either individually, or collectively in terms of political and intellectual acumen. They have indeed repeated old demands, but done so brilliantly in a changed domestic context and by playing suggestively to the sympathetic international community.

Restoration of Parliament and the Old Guard

First, there is the demand for the restoration of the old House of Representatives, in which “two-thirds of the MPs were from the Nepali Congress, the United Marxist-Leninists (UML) and some smaller parties.” Once this was formally installed, a “legitimate” multi-party government would be formed. The Maoists would oppose a caretaker government called by the King tooth and nail and would also resist national elections held by it. If the King were to abide by this roadmap, all would have already been lost. The royal regime already faces intense pressure to do so.

Negotiations, Interim Government and Constituent Assembly

Second, the next stage would be the very fruitful one of beginning negotiations with the Maoists and the formation of an interim government. Since the Maoists are not interested in power as such (their own admission), they would not participate, but support it “from the outside.” The main objective of the said government would be to call elections to a constituent assembly under international supervision. The King is, of course, expected to play the role of a silent spectator. Otherwise the monarchy in any form would be abolished outright!

However, the vague possibility of a ‘ceremonial’ or constitutional monarchy is just a sop – a carrot held out to wavering and cringing moderate monarchists. The Maoist leadership could as well quote Charles Baron de Montesquieu: “Republics are brought to their ends by luxury; monarchies by poverty.” In contrast, the royal advisers have been woefully lacking in doing their homework.

Lets face the facts: the Maoists and the opposition parties have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams in disrupting the municipal elections. Forget it that this was achieved by an unfair, foul and violent mode. Does the international community care? The end justifies the means. Vice-Chairman Tulsi Giri has been forced to eat his own words, to wit, that the backbone of the Maoist terrorists had been crushed.

Now he has added fuel to the fire by making the nonsensical and superfluous statement that more bullets would be fired, if the situation so warrants. Even supporters of the monarchy are incensed. It seems that people of his ire want to reduce the hallowed institution to: ‘the gold filling in the mouth of decay.’

Democratic Republic: Abolition of Monarchy

Third, it is optimistically expected that the said constituent assembly will return ‘a new people’s democracy consistent with the 21st century,’ i.e. a ‘democratic republic.’ This would mean the triumph of “the most successful revolution of the 21st century”! Students of history are aware that the Maoists would apply typical Communist ‘salami tactics’ and piece by piece erode the substance of what still remained with the political parties. This was a powerful tool used by basically totalitarian Communist parties to gain supremacy and marginalize rival groups.

This was the case of the Bolsheviks in the Soviet Union, the Communist Party of China and the formation of the Socialist Unity Party in the former East Germany (where the social democrats were soon eclipsed by the communists).

It is also a fact of history that regimes have been overthrown by the conspiracies of other states (like Russia in 1917). And the method of conducting war by conspiracy has continued and been refined.

Moreover, the covert use of international intervention has often been a scapegoat for inadequacy. Our decision makers have, therefore, to consider that as a small state in any power equation, we have to input economics, technology, communications and modern weapons, which basically weaken our bargaining position. We can only compensate these through intense domestic mobilization and dexterous diplomacy. In both fields, the current government has proven itself brilliant through ineffectiveness!


With great odds, the Royal Nepal Army is plodding away bravely. It stands as a bulwark against any violent change in the body politic.

Prachanda has, therefore, specially targeted the RNA as the main hindrance to achieving the final goal of a ‘democratic republic’. He makes the proposal of transforming the RNA and the ‘People’s army’ into a national army by retaining progressive elements of the former.

The process of de-mobilization and transformation are to be under UN supervision. It seems that he is in a hurry, because he concomitantly demands the rapid formation of a “parallel government”. This would open the doors for mischief and untold intervention by foreign powers.

Even military intrusion cannot be ruled out. In this scenario, the RNA would be hard put to defend the motherland.

In this way, the Maoists hope to achieve peacefully what they have not been able to do violently in the killing terraces of the Himalayan Kingdom. Their Indian masters have realized that the leaders of SPAP are too weak, corrupt, hopelessly divided and incompetent to support the Indian agenda and the Maoists have now emerged as a willing medium to achieve a puppet state, their revolutionary jargon and anti-imperialist stance notwithstanding. One can only hope that the decent and level-headed leaders of the political parties will see through the ploy of the Maoists and in the name of national sovereignty and territorial integrity offer a united stand to the neo-Maoist menace in the political front.

Shashi P.B.B. Malla writes incisive political opinion about the politics and politicians of Nepal. He sometimes writes with fellow contributor, Chandra Bahadur Parbate.

Educated in Darjeeling, India, with a certificate from Cambridge University, he went to College and university in Calcutta: I. Sc./St. Xavier’s, B.A. (Hons.)/ Presidency, M.A. (International Relations)/Jadavpur, India. He was Assistant Editor: The Rising Nepal, Kathmandu.

He is or was the Country Representative, DAV Summit Club, Munich (Germany’s leading adventure tour operators in mountaineering and trekking)

He is a Senior Lecturer, Conflict, Peace and Development Studies, Tribhuwan University, Kathmandu