The elections in Nepal on Thursday, April 10th, resulted in a victory for the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), stunning the mainstream international press.
Hisila Yami was elected to the forthcoming Constituent Assembly from the constituency Kathmandu 3 — “Asaan,” the crowded ancient center of the city — with 12,276 votes, as against 8,815 for her nearest competitor, Rajendra Prasad Shrestha of the “center left” Communist Party of Nepal (UML).
During the People’s War (1996-2006) led by the CPN(Maoist), Hisila Yami was underground, taking the nom de guerre “Comrade Parvati.” She wrote two articles in Monthly Review, “Women’s Leadership and the Revolution in Nepal” and “People’s Power in Nepal.”
Sunday, April 13th, 2008.
JPA: What are the results after only a few days of counting up the votes?
HY: We have won 42, the CPN(UML) have only won 13 and the Nepali Congress have won 12 seats in the first past the post contest. We will get more in the proportional election.
As of the end of the day on Monday, April 14th, winners have been declared in 184 of the 240 “first past the post” constituencies. Of these the Maoists have won 105, the Nepal Congress 30, the UML 24, and the Madhesi Forum 16. The final results for the 335 proportional representation seats will not be known for several weeks, but it is now certain that in the forthcoming Constituent Assembly the Maoists will at minimum be the dominant bloc, with as many seats as the next three largest parties combined. — Ed.
JPA: Why such great support?
HY: Because of the struggle that the Maoists have led. People are very conscious here in Nepal and they understood what was right.
JPA: It seems that this election has been a step forward for women?
HY: Amongst the Maoists the women performed very well. Women’s power was phenomenal both in participation and in terms of winning seats. This also goes for the dalits and the minorities.
JPA: What do you think is the biggest challenge right now?
HY: The biggest challenge is to be prepared for how the biggest countries will react to the new reality where the Maoists are the leading party. Nationally the biggest challenge is the economic agenda. There has up until now been a big challenge because of the contradiction between the policies that have been decided on and the leadership for implementing these policies. There has been obstruction from the other side. After the results of the elections we can bargain for more seats in the government and we will be in a better position to implement our policies.
JPA: Is your organizational strength big enough to cope?
HY: We have enough organizational strength. We have observed during the peace process that we have equal organizational strength with the government organs.
JPA: Did the elections go as you had predicted?
HY: We were expecting that there was going to be heavy interference from national and international reaction. We were very scared that they were rigging the referendum. I think we had a good campaign. We sent a message to the masses about unity among all the parties, especially with the left. And when the CPN(UML) decided not to have an alliance with any parties it disappointed us. But at the same time it exposed them. We told our cadres to unite with the parties that are against the king. When the CPN(UML) at the last minute before the election, approached us in distress with suggestions we rejected them. I think that we had a good concrete analysis of the situation.
JPA: You did well in your constituency?
HY: My constituency was a CPN(UML) bastion and a very popular candidate from CPN(UML) was my main opponent. It was therefore an important victory to come in first.
JPA: How will the feudal class react?
HY: They rely on foreign forces. They are waiting for some signal. But we have been gradually reducing their power. They are now quite weakened.
JPA: Will it take many years to implement a land reform?
HY: I think we can have a land reform pretty soon. We have a commission already, so we can now push forward.