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NLR 92, 2015

Achin Vanaik: Nepal’s Maoists in Power

1 August 2015

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New Left Review 92, March-April 2015

Achin Vanaik


A few short years after the great deluge in Eastern Europe and the collapse of the ussr, a small group of Nepali Communists declared their intention to seize power through a peasant uprising that would follow Mao’s template for revolution. [1] The main political actors in Nepal paid them little heed; the outside world was largely unaware of their existence. Swimming against the current of history, Nepal’s Maoist insurgency went on to become the central factor in the politics of this Himalayan kingdom, fighting the Royal Nepal Army to a stalemate (despite the aid which the latter received from Delhi and Washington) and precipitating the fall of a dynasty that had ruled Nepal since the eighteenth century. After playing a decisive role in the popular insurrection of 2006, the Maoists swept to victory in the elections that followed, promising to forge a new political order. Yet five years later, the former rebels found themselves routed at the ballot box by Nepal’s traditional parties, having failed to deliver a new constitution or any major social reforms. Splintered and demoralized, the Maoists were left to wonder what had become of their ‘People’s War’.

The story of this abortive revolution, one of the most remarkable episodes in modern South Asian history, has now been told in detail by two Nepali journalists, Aditya Adhikari and Prashant Jha. Their books can justly be seen as twin volumes: Adhikari covers the period from the beginning of the insurgency to the uprising of 2006, while Jha concentrates on the events that followed. This is likely to have been intentional, as the authors are good friends who have known each other since their youth—each thanks the other warmly in their acknowledgments section—and whose social backgrounds and political views are very similar: both come from upper-middle-class families, both made careers in the Kathmandu press, and both revised their initial suspicion of the Maoist movement to become sympathetic critics, recognizing that it was (and is) the most important source of pressure for the democratic transformation of Nepal.

Adhikari sets out his aim explicitly in the preface to The Bullet and the Ballot Box:

This book is primarily concerned with what the Marxists call the ‘subjective factor’—the personal journeys of Maoists who participated in the rebellion, their beliefs and aspirations, their experiences in forests, villages and prison cells, their relationships with one another and with local communities, the tensions between individual Maoist leaders, their conflicting aims and strategies.

He has based his account on sources hitherto unavailable in English: novels depicting the hardships of rural life, party documents, personal memoirs, interviews with leaders and select cadres, and his own investigative field trips through Maoist strongholds. Those hoping for a detailed, statistically informed survey of the ‘objective’ background to this struggle will need to look elsewhere, however. Geographically, Nepal has three main regions: the Tarai plains in the south, on the Indian border, where almost half the country’s inhabitants dwell; the upland belt in the middle, with a little over 40 per cent, which includes the capital Kathmandu; and the mountainous peaks of the far north on the Tibetan border. The same size as Bangladesh, it has barely a fifth of the population, but harbours extraordinary cultural diversity—31 million Nepalis speak well over a hundred different languages. The central belt has traditionally dominated Nepal’s political and economic life, with an upper-caste ruling elite composed of Newars, Bahuns and Chettris effectively monopolizing the armed forces and government bureaucracy. Beneath these castes stand the Janajatis—indigenous communities that speak Tibeto-Burman languages and make up 37 per cent of the Nepali population—and the Madhesis, people of Indian origin who mostly live in the Tarai and speak Maithali, Hindi or Bhojpuri (Nepali-speaking hill dwellers have often denied their claim to recognition as ‘true’ Nepalis). Dalits are spread out between the hills and the Tarai, though with more to be found in the former region than the latter. In a country where more than 80 per cent live in the countryside, land ownership remains savagely unequal: a 2010 un survey found that 7.5 per cent of farmers controlled almost a third of Nepal’s arable land, while nearly 60 per cent of rural households were ‘functionally landless’ (either their holdings were too small to meet subsistence requirements, or they had no holdings at all).

The linchpin of this social order was the Shah dynasty. King Mahendra had dismissed Nepal’s first elected government in 1960 and imposed the ‘partyless’ Panchayat system. His successor Birendra bowed to pressure from mass protests three decades later and a multi-party system was established. But no discernible change followed for those at the bottom of the social hierarchy, as Adhikari shows, creating a space for the more radical strand of Nepal’s fragmented Communist movement to win support and launch its insurgency. The first and strongest Maoist bases were in the remote and forested hill districts of the mid-west, populated by the largest of the Janajati groups, the Magars, who—like most such communities—reacted strongly against the official discourse, which glorified a supposedly homogenous and unified nation-state shepherded into being by 240 years of Palace rule. This ideology legitimized the conquest of indigenous peoples and their territories, and papered over the modern reality of cultural and linguistic discrimination that they confronted. The Communist Party of Nepal–Maoist (cpn–m) broke with the tradition of all previous communist groups by making such fundamental questions of identity a central part of its programme, rather than focusing exclusively on class exploitation. The party held up the banner of multi-cultural equality, even if this was couched in a language inherited from Stalinism, with the ‘nationalities problem’ to be dealt with by granting ‘self-determination’—in other words, cultural-linguistic rights and a degree of political autonomy (though not independence)—to the various groups. The Madhesis of the Tarai, seen as potentially disloyal by the dominant hill castes and subjugated by Padhesi settlers even in the southern plains, were another important base of support for the Maoists. While Dalits also found the cpn–m programme attractive, they were dispersed throughout the whole country: the Janajatis and Madhesis were more territorially concentrated, making it easier to mobilize them behind the would-be revolution.

It was the expanding Maoist strongholds in the hills that offered the most valuable terrain for different aspects of the growing insurgency: political training of cadres, guerrilla raids on police stations to procure arms (beginning with small groups of seven or eight, before graduating to larger platoons and companies), looting banks, raiding government offices, and burning documents held by landowners and moneylenders as a way of gaining popular support. Ideological inspiration and commitment was developed just as much (if not more so) through the party’s cultural activities, its songs and theatrical skits, as through more formal reading and discussion sessions. But there were many other factors attracting young people to the party. There was scope for personal advancement and for a break with conservative local traditions: the movement offered a space where caste taboos could be broken to public approval, with the freedom to find partners and make cross-caste marriages. The Maoists frowned upon premarital sex so early marriages were the norm: couples had to subordinate themselves to party discipline, which would often assign husbands and wives to duties requiring long physical and geographical separation. Adhikari does not conceal the fact that the cpn–m also resorted to ‘Red Terror’—intimidation, arbitrary threats, punishments and killings of suspected informers and ‘class enemies’, to set an example and ensure passive cooperation or silence. Popular attitudes could range from enthusiastic support to open hostility, depending on local circumstances. But the response of the Nepali state typically drove people into the camp of the guerrillas, as its own brutalities were less selective, with soldiers treating communities en masse as enemy sympathizers: ‘Caught between an army that was indiscriminately brutal, and rebels who punished non-cooperation but also offered benefits in return for collaboration, many locals tended to gravitate towards the latter.’

Adhikari supplies a detailed portrait of the two most important cpn–m leaders, Pushpa Kamal Dahal—better known as Prachanda—and Baburam Bhattarai. Prachanda was the party’s most charismatic leader and a key military strategist with the widest support base among movement cadres, having been active in Maoist circles since the 1970s. He was to hold the balance in all the bitter factional disputes of the years to come. Bhattarai was the preeminent Maoist intellectual. He had already become a kind of national celebrity at the age of sixteen by achieving the highest mark in Nepal’s secondary school examination, and went on to study at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, where he completed his PhD—a Marxist study of underdevelopment and regional structures in Nepal—in the 1980s. This was at a time when Prachanda and the other Maoist leaders were already active in underground cells. Although his communist sympathies were well developed by then, Bhattarai only joined the cpn–m in 1991, and had not shared in the bonding experience of clandestine work over the previous decade. He became the most important spokesman for the party’s legal front in the period before the ‘People’s War’ was launched in 1996, coming into regular contact with activists from other political formations. To judge by Adhikari’s account, Bhattarai could hardly be seen as a ‘Maoist’ at all: unlike other cpn–m leaders, who ‘doggedly maintained that the evolution of the Soviet Communist Party since Khrushchev and of the Chinese party since Deng marked only a “degeneration into revisionism”’, he believed that multi-party competition would be essential for any socialist system if the failures of ‘actually existing socialism’ were not to be repeated. In line with the cpn–m’s usual idiom, Bhattarai had to search for quotations from Mao that could be used to legitimize political pluralism—no easy task (in more recent years, he has been known to cite Trotsky and Rosa Luxemburg approvingly). His ideas on the subject would eventually be codified in a 2003 party resolution, ‘The Development of Democracy in the 21st Century’, which Adhikari summarizes.

By that time, more immediate questions of strategy were threatening to break the movement in two. Nepal’s multi-party system was characterized by acute instability, with thirteen different governments formed between 1990 and 2002. In the first phase of their war, the Maoists had been careful not to take on the Royal Nepal Army and focused their armed actions on the police. The rna’s top brass were suspicious of civilian politicians, and their real loyalty lay with the Palace. The Kathmandu elite was plunged into crisis by the massacre of King Birendra and his family in 2001: the official investigation—which found that Crown Prince Dipendra had shot his parents and siblings before turning the gun on himself—was widely dismissed as a cover-up. Fingers pointed at Birendra’s brother Gyanendra, who inherited the throne. Regardless of whether this was true or not, his reign thus began under a cloud of suspicion, which was exacerbated when he set about gutting the liberal constitution in a bid to restore untrammelled royal authority. This set in motion a triangular political battle, well described by Adhikari, between the Maoists, the parliamentary parties and the Palace (with the rna leaning towards Gyanendra). All three saw some value in playing off one against the other and shifting the main focus of enmity. The Maoists never cut off channels of communication with either the Palace or the parliamentary parties, or for that matter with the Indian government, which in turn had strong links with the rna. They rationalized their shifts within this triangle in terms of what should be seen as the ‘primary contradiction’ under changing circumstances.

Gyanendra brought matters to a head with his autocratic tendencies: after a truce between the government and the Maoists collapsed in 2001, he persuaded the Nepali Congress premier Sher Bahadur Deuba to declare a state of emergency and dissolve parliament; Deuba was then dismissed from his post, and elections were postponed indefinitely. The Maoists had begun to engage the rna directly on the battlefield by this point. Behind the scenes there were fierce arguments in the cpn–m leadership about the correct approach, which are described by Adhikari in some detail. A hardline faction led by Mohan Baidya (‘Kiran’) gave priority to the struggle against Indian hegemony and was open to forming a tactical alliance with the Palace in pursuit of this goal. Bhattarai’s tendency, on the other hand, wanted the Maoists to struggle with the parliamentary parties against the monarchy so as to establish a republican, secular, federal and democratically inclusive state, in place of the unitary Hindu kingdom that based itself on a fictitious cultural homogeneity. Prachanda held the balance between the two factions, and for much of the 2001–05 period he suspected Bhattarai of being power-hungry, favouring the ‘nationalist’ line. Bhattarai’s ‘outsider’ status reinforced the distrust of veteran cadres; according to Adhikari, a burgeoning personality cult around Prachanda was deliberately nurtured by other cpn–m leaders as a way of undermining Bhattarai. Prachanda put out feelers to King Gyanendra (inside the party, such contacts were justified by the precedent of Sihanouk’s alliance with the Khmer Rouge against Lon Nol in Cambodia). Political differences became entangled with accusations of treachery after the Indian police began arresting Maoist leaders. The inner-party struggle had reached such a pitch by 2005 that Bhattarai and his supporters were placed under house arrest by the cpn–m’s armed wing.

It was at this point that Gyanendra launched the final stage of his coup with support from the rna, placing opposition leaders under house arrest and suspending the constitution. As Adhikari shows, Prachanda now abandoned his effort to reach an accommodation with the Palace and swung back in favour of Bhattarai’s line. This harmonized with a shift in Delhi’s position: Indian officials had come to believe that the Palace was a more destabilizing factor than the Maoists, and brokered an agreement between the opposition’s Seven-Party Alliance (spa) and the cpn–m. This paved the way for the great popular uprising of spring 2006, the Jan Andolan. Two million people took to the streets of Kathmandu, led by the mainstream parties—primarily the Nepali Congress (nc) and the Communist Party of Nepal–Unified Marxist Leninist (despite its name, the uml had long been politically neutered to become a conventional bourgeois party with a thin social-democratic veneer). The Maoists for their part brought tens of thousands to Kathmandu from outside the city and were instrumental in mass mobilizations on its outskirts; their supporters were also chiefly responsible for organizing demonstrations in most of Nepal’s 75 district capitals. It was this nineteen-day upsurge, culminating in a massive general strike, that finally brought down the monarchy. Prachanda came to the capital for talks and a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (cpa) was signed in November 2006: the cpn–m effectively abandoned the path of armed struggle in return for pledges that its soldiers would be integrated into a greatly downsized national army. An interim government declared Nepal a republic and prepared for elections to a Constituent Assembly, which were held in April 2008. The Maoists stunned their rivals (and perhaps themselves) by winning 229 of 601 available seats—more than the nc and uml put together—and went on to form Nepal’s first republican government.

This is where the reader must turn to Prashant Jha’s book. Jha explains in the preface that he returned from almost a decade of studying and working in Delhi at the beginning of 2007—like Bhattarai, he is a graduate of jnu—and spent the next six years reporting on the country’s political turbulence. In tracing this part of the story, he covers two major gaps in Adhikari’s book: the role of the Indian state, and the two great Madhesi upsurges of 2007–08. The author himself has a much stronger presence in Battles of the New Republic than Adhikari does in The Bullet and the Ballot Box: his account of political developments is interwoven with personal recollections of his encounters with the participants. Jha’s study draws heavily on interviews with Indian government officials who were determined to manage events in Nepal from their base in Delhi’s South Block. At first they dismissed the Maoist rebellion as an ‘irritant’ that would be put down by the police or remain marginal. The royalist coup in 2005 made it impossible for Delhi to cement an alliance between Gyanendra and the parliamentary parties against the Maoists, and the king’s overtures to Pakistan and China were considered disturbing by Indian leaders. Meanwhile, the Prachanda–Bhattarai leadership had recognized that there was no escape from engaging with India other than following the suicidal path of all-out confrontation. Bhattarai used some of the connections he had built up as a student to facilitate a rapprochement. These contacts formed the indispensable backdrop to the spa–Maoist alliance. But as Jha demonstrates, South Block saw this as a way to contain and co-opt the Maoists, and expected them to be comfortably beaten in the Constituent Assembly elections. The results therefore came as a nasty shock.

The Maoists in turn were wrong-footed by events in the Tarai. At the insistence of the traditional parties, the interim constitution put forward in advance of the elections was vague and non-committal on the question of federalism. Although they had been the political force most sympathetic to Madhesi demands, the Maoists now found themselves on the wrong side of the argument. One of their allies in the region, Upendra Yadav, had broken away to form a new party, the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (mjf). There were violent clashes between mjf supporters and the cpn–m, with fatalities on both sides. Jha, who comes from an upper-caste Madhesi family, writes with a sympathetic yet often critical eye about the grievances which fuelled two massive protest waves in 2007–08 (he notes in passing that his colleagues in the Kathmandu press generally dismissed the Madhesi question with typical upland myopia). The Madhesi awakening ensured that all political actors, including the Maoists, would have to take their claims seriously; it also provided some old-guard politicians with an opportunity to rebrand themselves. In the 2008 elections, three Madhesi parties won 84 seats, with Upendra Yadav’s mjf taking the lion’s share. In spite of the clashes in the Tarai, the cpn–m and mjf could find common ground on the question of federalism, and Prachanda formed his government with Madhesi support.

A conservative backlash was not long in coming. The Permanent Establishment of Nepal (peon), as it has been dubbed by the writer C. K. Lal—the business class, the upper echelons of the civilian and military bureaucracy, the caste and hill elites that control most of the land, the royalists and the leaders of the old parties—had no intention of letting events take their course, as Jha demonstrates. They considered the social composition of the new assembly to be an affront. There had been just one Dalit in the three parliaments of 1991, 1994 and 1999; now there were 49. Jha quotes a remark made to him by a Nepali lawyer: ‘Take it from me. The ca will not write the Constitution. What do these cooks, these cleaners, these vegetable-vendors, these women who have never got out of the house, know about constitutionalism?’ With Delhi’s support, the peon set about thwarting the Maoist agenda, focusing on two pressure points: the army and the constitution.

In 2009, the Maoists tried to dismiss General Rukmangad Katawal from his position as chief of the no-longer Royal Nepal Army. Katawal was adamantly resisting any integration of Maoist combatants and openly thumbing his nose at the civilian government. An ultra-conservative who had been a keen supporter of Gyanendra’s coup, Katawal nonetheless presented himself to foreign diplomats as a champion of democracy. He had the support of the opposition parties, who deceitfully betrayed the commitments and assurances given in the cpa, where the rna and the Maoist pla were placed on a level footing. Crucially, he also had Delhi’s backing. Jha is particularly good in his coverage of India’s decisive role in the crisis: it pressured the nc and uml to hold firm in support of Katawal; urged the nc president Ram Baran Yadav to overrule Prachanda’s government, although he had no legal authority to do so; and engineered a split in the ranks of the mjf, making use of a repackaged nc functionary (while dispensing generous bribes to members of the assembly to make sure they voted the right way). Prachanda was cornered and tendered his resignation in May 2009, to be replaced by a uml politician who hadn’t even been elected to the Constituent Assembly the previous year. There are strong grounds for seeing this as a decisive turning point in limiting the Maoist project. The coercive heart of the old state remained intact to serve its class masters while the pla would in due course be disarmed and demobilized, with most former guerrillas accepting cash payments to walk away. Just 1,500 pla veterans eventually joined the Nepal Army, with no ‘integrated’ Maoist appointed to a rank higher than colonel.

From the days of Nehru onwards, Delhi has been utterly consistent in its policy: the Himalayan crest countries are to enjoy in practice a partial sovereignty and must accept Indian interventions (mostly covert). South Block was not going to allow the transformation of its most important internal lever for ensuring that, whatever the political scaffolding—on which it could be more flexible—Nepal must not move out of the Indian orbit. On the question of preserving the command structures, privileges and institutional interests of the Nepal Army, all the different strands of the Indian power elite—army, foreign affairs ministry, intelligence services, political leadership—were in complete harmony. Jha highlights the powerful connections between the na and its Indian counterpart: India is the principal supplier of arms and equipment, many of Nepal’s officer corps are trained in Indian military institutes, and every na chief makes a pilgrimage to Delhi as soon as he takes up his post (not to mention the fact that his Indian counterpart is always given the rank of an honorary general by the na). The Indian army maintains its own Gurkha regiments and pays the pensions of over 100,000 retired Nepali soldiers via Indian-controlled pension offices dispersed throughout Nepal.

Jha characterizes Delhi’s approach as ‘a highly sophisticated tradition of statecraft’ already honed in Kashmir and Nagaland: ‘Engage, coerce, divide, frustrate, exhaust, corrupt, lure, repeat the cycle, and give nothing.’ He rejects the idea that the Maoists posed a threat to Nepali democracy: ‘They could not even win a simple majority on their own; they could not dismiss an army chief when they wished to; they could not return to power despite being the largest party in the house; and we were being told that they would establish a dictatorship. This seemed like fiction to me.’ But this was never the real motivation. Delhi was anxious to preserve the ‘professional and apolitical’ character of an army whose generals had supported the royalist dictatorship and whose soldiers had been responsible for murder, rape and torture on a grand scale during the war with the Maoists. It used all the tricks of the diplomatic trade to secure its desired outcome.

In May 2010, the Maoists called an indefinite general strike in a bid to force the new prime minister’s resignation, but abandoned the strike after facing strong middle-class hostility and staunch opposition from the nc and uml (naturally with India’s support). Elected governments could be brought down by pressure from above, but unelected governments would not be allowed to capitulate under pressure from below. This was a second crucial defeat for the cpn–m, and exacerbated tensions between its right and left wings. Baburam Bhattarai had emerged as the spokesman of the right faction, which came out on top; he would become prime minister in August 2011 with support from the Madhesi parties after a new round of parliamentary horse-trading (and Maoist appeasement of Delhi behind the scenes). By now, the party’s radical ambitions had been seriously foreshortened: its dwindling cadre base was ideologically adrift, with many seeking the spoils of power and wealth. The cpn–m leaders had encouraged this trend by their example, with Prachanda occupying a palatial home in Kathmandu. The left faction broke away in 2012 under Kiran’s leadership, in protest at the final demobilization agreement that settled the question of the pla’s status.

The Bhattarai government now faced the challenge of finally delivering a new constitution. The term of the Constituent Assembly had already been extended twice in the face of political deadlock: the assembly acted more like a raucous and rambunctious parliament, with disputes over the sharing out of offices taking priority over constitution-making. What was needed was the setting-up of various commissions to prepare serious proposals for debate, with compromises between the parties and decisions ultimately arrived at by consensus. But fierce disagreements emerged about the future form of government, as Jha explains. The Maoists wanted a strong presidential executive, a unicameral legislature and parliamentary appointment of judges in order to have the tools for bringing about major social transformations. The opposition wanted a bicameral structure, an all-powerful cabinet and prime minister accountable to parliament, a ceremonial presidency and an independent Supreme Court whose members would be appointed by a judicial council. Add to this the divide between ‘reluctant federalists’—those sections of society, represented largely by the nc and uml, who had most to lose from a new dispensation—and ‘strong federalists’ (who nonetheless disagreed with each other on the specific form this should take). But one of the biggest stumbling blocks was simply the concern of the traditional parties that if a new constitution was agreed under a Bhattarai government, it would greatly enhance Maoist credibility and political stature. Even though the Maoists had backed down over much of their constitutional blueprint, the nc and uml continued to obstruct any consensus. When the assembly’s term expired once more without agreement, the Supreme Court intervened to block another extension—Jha argues that its decision was ‘not a legal but a political judgment’; ‘the court had no business encroaching into the territory of the popular, sovereign body’—and Bhattarai was forced to call new elections in 2013.

The poll could not have come at a worse time for the Maoists. Despite having held office for more than two years since 2008, they had no legacy of social reform and material improvements to satisfy their supporters, and now they had no constitution to show for their efforts either. With Kiran’s breakaway group boycotting the poll and actively campaigning against Prachanda and Bhattarai, and the stench of corruption hanging over the party, the Maoists were trounced decisively. Jha’s book ends with the 2013 election, in which the nc won 196 seats, the uml 175 and the Maoists just 80, with Madhesi parties also reduced to 50 seats. His conclusion is sober: while the Maoists had created a new popular consciousness, shaken up social relations and ushered in a republic, and the Madhesis had forced open the doors of the polity to marginalized social groups, ‘at each stage the forces of regression looked as powerful as those seeking to create a new society’. Nevertheless, the Constituent Assembly offered Nepalis ‘a second chance’ to draft their own social contract: ‘This time, we must not squander it.’

Since then, the latest deadline for the constitution, 22 January 2015, has come and gone. There is agreement on a mixed form of government, with parliamentary elections deciding the cabinet and prime minister, and a few powers given to an indirectly elected president. The Maoists and Madhesi parties have given ground on the first-past-the-post system, but are hoping to see at least 40 per cent or more of the seats elected by pr. The greatest bone of contention remains the question of federalism. The nc and uml want seven provinces, with most if not all based on a north–south pattern so as to maximize the chances of provincial control by the old hill and caste hierarchies. The opposition is calling for ten provinces whose boundaries would allow the main Janajati groups to be numerically preponderant without constituting an absolute majority, while assuring the Madhesis of a province of their own. How this will play out remains uncertain. The nc and uml leaders have threatened to ram through the constitution by a two-thirds majority, using their current parliamentary strength—a sure guarantee of continuing turmoil. Ironically, it was Narendra Modi who argued against this during his second trip to Nepal, when he referred to the Maoists and the Madhesis as key players in the constitutional process. For the ruling coalition, a key question is assessing the public unrest that will be unleashed by the Maoists and by Madhesi discontent. Under pressure from their left flank—which now includes a substantial breakaway from the Kiran faction, headed by Netra Bikram Chand or ‘Biplab’, that is calling for the Constituent Assembly to be abandoned in favour of a ‘people’s revolt’ (though not as yet ‘armed struggle’)—the Prachanda group is seeking to mobilize its base to show the nc and uml that it is in their interest to reach a consensus. A joint Maoist–Madhesi rally in Kathmandu on 28 February brought more than 100,000 people onto the streets. It would be wrong, then, to say that things have come full circle in Nepal. Over the last 25 years, popular consciousness and movements against the injustices of caste, class, gender and ethnic oppression have all grown to the point that the old order cannot simply be restored. It is too early to write finis beneath the great political churning that the Maoists did so much to bring about.

[1] Aditya Adhikari, The Bullet and the Ballot Box: The Story of Nepal’s Maoist Revolution, Verso: London and New York 2014, £20, hardback 304 pp, 978 1 781 68564 8; Prashant Jha, Battles of the New Republic: A Contemporary History of Nepal, Hurst: London 2014, £17.99, paperback 358 pp, 978 1 849 04459 2


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