Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Maoist communes on verge of collapse

RACHIBANG, Rolpa, March 9: With the party continuing to "drift" from its ideals and paying little attention to the communes developed during the conflict period, the families living there are fast losing faith in the revolution and have started returning home.

“The party has not come up with any concrete plan for giving continuity to the communes,” said Rabikiran Roka “Yojana”, a member of Ajammari People´s Commune at Rachibang in Thabang, Rolpa district.
“The leaders have not come here since the party joined mainstream politics, nor have they paid any attention to the communes.”

The Maoists had developed four communes during the insurgency as part of their campaign to reject “capitalist individualism”. Initially, the communes were developed as shelters for those who lost family members during the conflict. Juni Commune, the first one, was developed in Jurka and Nipane villages of Jajarkot in 2002 for the families of 14 people killed by security forces during the insurgency.

Meetings were held at the communes every evening to plan the work to be done the next day and distribute responsibilities, said Sumanti Roka Magar. In addition, each commune held a review meeting on the second day of every month, besides holding discussions with other communes.

But things begin to change after April 2006, following Janaandolan II.

The Maoist leaders went off to Kathmandu; the party joined the government; it took part in the historic Constituent Assembly election, and after the election results it led the government as the largest part.

As the party got immersed in the cut and thrust of open politics and the party´s leaders gravitated increasingly toward an urban, individualistic life style, getting gradually sucked into lust for wealth, the communes were happily forgotten. Neglected, perhaps even abandoned, the commune dwellers also began to gradually desert the communes.

There were 32 families at Ajammari People´s Commune during the conflict but only about 22 families live there now. “Some had left the commune during the conflict while others left after the party joined mainstream politics,” said Kitab Jhakri ´Shahas´, another commune member.

Jaljala Commune in Jelbang in the same district fares no better. Commune members are now planning to turn it into a cooperative. “Though no formal decision has been taken, we working to convert it into a cooperative,” said Dhan Bahadur Gharti Magar, commune in-charge, adding that they desperately need party support to retain the commune membership.

Santosh Budhamagar, who is also a member of Ajammari People´s Commune, said the individualistic and profligate lifestyle of the Maoist leaders in the cities and even at the district headquarters has eroded people´s faith in commune life.

In addition, the long-running conflict between top party leaders -- Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Mohan Baidya and Dr Baburam Bhattarai -- has also affected the morale of commune dwellers.

Sumanti informed that one family, increasingly frustrated over the growing rivalry among top party leaders, left the commune after Dahal, Baidya and Bhattarai floated three conflicting tactical lines at the Palungtar plenum.

Budhamagar added that the commune could be retained if there is a complete revolution or if the party is moving in that direction. The revolution, however, remained far from complete.

"So, it is very difficult to save and maintain the communes. They can now be saved only if party central committee members hand over their property to the party,” he added.

Almost all members of the communes have lost family members during the conflict.

"We have not lost just family members but our hopes and dreams as well," said Sumanti, whose husband was killed just 20 days after they got married.

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