Millennium Post

Crisis awaits Maoists in Nepal

One is led by the UCPN(Maoist) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, aka Prachanda and the other with Baburam Bhattarai, who put in his papers as the vice-chairman in June last. The schism was brewing for several months before the disastrous performance of the party in the election to the Constituent Assembly, held in November this year. But it came to a head somewhat prematurely for the party’s disastrous performance in the election to the Constituent Assembly in 2013. It won just 26 seats in direct election (first-past-the-post – FPTP) out of 240 directly elected members of CA. In 2008, the Maoist party 120 FTPT seats. In contrast, the Nepali Congress witnessed an almost three-fold increase from 37 to 105. The strength of the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist) shot up – FPPP representation – from 33 to 91, about 200 per cent rise.

 Prachanda and his cronies in the party’s central committee said that there had been ‘massive rigging’ but for which the Maoist would have won a respectable number of seats. This hasn’t cut much of ice. The claims of irregularities ‘appear very much like sour grapes.’ The former US President Jimmy Carter, an observer during the election and other EU observers expressed their satisfaction over the voting process. Matters became trouble some for the 58-year-old Maoist supremo when Bhatarai has lobbed a bombshell off with his statement that the post of chairman should not be held for more than two terms, meaning that it is time that Prachanda hangs up his boots, at least from the top slot. A pro-Bhatarai party activist Hemraj Bhandar wrote on Facebook, ‘All that Bhattarai wants is to establish a system in the party structure and there is no vested interest’. All these revelations before the ensuing plenary meeting of the central committee, rather a party special convention for organisational reforms to fill the vacant positions in the party and reform the party’s organisational structure shows that factionalism has struck deep into the organisational physique of the UCPN (Maoist). ‘We have been holding the same debate since our general convention in Hetauda earlier this year,’ party leader Leelamani Pokhrel told a Kathmandu-based English daily. But Prachanda faction isn’t sitting idle It is hell-bent on preventing Bhattarai from move into the shoes of Prachanda. Prachanda-followers suggest that sweeping reforms in the party organisation is not desirable when a wide spread pessimism following the unexpected setback in the polls. Party spokesman and a Prachanda-adherent Agni Sapkota, recently admitted that there is a growing demand within the party to ‘purge’ and none wants to change the present party leadership. He claims that both Bhattarai and Narayan Kaji Shrestha share this view. ‘No one challenged the chairman or blamed him (for the party’s defeat in the election) during the formal politburo meeting which concluded on Friday,’ Sapkota claimed. But another polit bureau member Devendra Paudel, close to Bhattarai, said that Bhattarai is not reluctant to take over the mantle from Prachanda, who has been sticking to the post for over two decades.

Small wonder, Shakti Bahadur Basnet, a close confidante of Dahal, came out with a statement – ‘I don’t think even Bhattarai and Shrestha are out to change the chairman; that is not our necessity and we all are only debating the structure of our organisation.’

Independent observers, including some of the traditional fellow travellers of Nepali Maoists, have been cautioning their high-level contacts in the UCPN(M) that the image of not only Prachanda and his backers but Bhattarai-supporters for lavish lifestyle of Prachanda and several leaders discourage foreign investors who apprehend rampant instability out of these. Furthermore, the administration behaves helplessly in taking on bank robbery, kidnapping and extortion. The Communist Party of India (Maoist) has, from the time the Maoists in Nepal embraced open functioning and dissolved the underground structure, almost totally been sceptical of the tearing hurry in the transition.

On 20 July 2009 CPI(Maoist) released an ‘Open Letter to Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) from the Communist Party of India (Maoist)’ criticising the leadership of the fraternal party. The Indian Maoist leadership stated, ‘In the name of the struggle against dogmatism, there have been serious deviations in the International Communist Movement (ICM), often going into an even greater, and more dangerous, abyss of right deviation and revisionism. In the name of creative application of Marxism, communist parties have fallen into the trap of right opportunism, bourgeois pluralist Euro-Communism, rabid anti-Stalinism, anarchist postmodernism and outright revisionism. Right danger or revisionism in the ICM has emerged as the greatest danger in the period following the usurpation of the leadership of the CPSU and state power in the Soviet Union after the demise of comrade Stalin.

Com Mao and other genuine revolutionaries had to wage a consistent ideological-political struggle against revisionism and reformism in the ICM and also within the CPC.’ The verbiage in the 24-party broadsides notwithstanding, the Maoists who wage a grim struggle in over 80 districts of India, especially in Bastar of Chhattisgarh and adjoining states, have shown their commitment to high level of integrity and camaraderie with the subalterns in their bases.

Reports have it that the breakaway section of UCPN(M), led by Mohan Baidya and CPI(Maoist), are in frequent contact. One of the reasons for electoral debacle of UCPN(Maoist) is the split and mudslinging therewith.

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