Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Maoist factions bracing for showdown

KATHMANDU, June 15: The rival factions in the UCPN (Maoist) have begun separate intra-party campaigns for a showdown at the crucial Central Committee (CC) meeting beginning June 22 as internal disputes over the party´s tactical line and tussles for power reach a boiling point.

The meeting is being considered historic by party rank and file as it is expected to forge the future course for a party that is at a critical phase in the peace process.

The party hard-line faction led by Senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya has put up a stiff resistance to the party´s move to integrate and rehabilitate combatants as per the inter-party five-point deal, while the party establishment plans to endorse the move by a majority vote in the CC.
The Baidya faction, which claims the party deviated from its ideological goals after ending the "Protracted People´s War", is opposed to taking the integration process forward without forging a national security policy and democratizing the Nepal Army (NA).

With the backing of the faction led by Vice-chairman Dr Baburam Bhattarai, the party establishment may well endorse an earlier decision to accept the integration model floated by the Nepal Army (NA), but things don´t appear so easy for Dahal.

And there is no guarantee that the hard-line faction will just write another note of dissent and abide by the party decision taken by a majority vote. "We cannot say anything definite now. We are at a very critical stage," says Maoist leader Devendra Poudel who is close to Bhattarai. In fact the Baidya faction has recently drawn sympathy from PLA rank and file by opposing the NA model that proposes turning the former rebels into a non-combat force.

The party decision to discontinue the security details for senior party leaders provided by PLA personnel has been vehemently opposed by the hardliners and over two dozen armed PLA personnel in the security details of leaders from the hard-line faction are yet to return to the cantonments.

Kicking up a rumpus over the party´s acceptance of the NA model, the hard-line faction, sources say, is making preparations to present a separate modality at the party CC. The Baidya faction has also launched a campaign to convince combatants that the party´s decision amounts to surrender.

Sources say commanders loyal to Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal are trying hard to convince them that it was only the spirit of the NA proposal that the party has agreed to and details including the issue of turning them into unarmed soldiers are yet to be settled.

The Baidya faction plans to cash in on Dahal´s "deviations" and attack his support base in a move to split the party sometime in the future, if need be.

But Maoist Vice-chairman Narayankaji Shrestha argues that the party would go ahead unitedly with a concrete decision on the peace process despite factional disputes. "It is not necessary that all the party members hold the same opinion. We will exercise the principle of democratic centralism -- diversity in ideas, but unity in action," Shrestha says.

The disputes over the ideological line led to vitriolic polemics in public and to subterfuge and plots in the party. The CC is supposed to take up seriously the issues of factionalism, organizational disputes and growing anarchy in the party. "The party is facing problems of internal contradictions; there have been incidents which show factionalism, indiscipline and anarchy," says Shrestha.

The party´s three factions - led by Dahal, Baidya and Bhattarai respectively - have lately stepped up separate closed-door meetings of their factions and spitting of venom at each other.

The Baidya faction held orientation programs for faction members in Gorkha and Sarlahi on Monday. The Dahal faction held its own training programs in Kathmandu and Nawalparasi the other day, and another program in Birgunj on Tuesday. Similarly, the Bhattarai faction is also busy holding its own training programs across the country.

"It was quite normal for the minorities to hold separate meetings in light of the party establishment holding its own gatherings. In fact factionalism has now reached a very complicated mode as the party establishment itself is involved more than the rival factions," said CC member Sabitri Kumar Kafle, who is close to Baidya.

Also on Monday, Chairman of Samana Pariwar, the highest body among the Maoist cultural troupes, accused Dahal of planning to create a parallel body after the party establishment recalled four members who had joined the troupe two months back. Members of Samana Pariwar stay in a commune at Balaju. "A YCL van came to the commune, picked them up and drove off without telling us anything," said troupe member Jhankar Magar who is close to Baidya. "It means the party establishment is planning to split the party," he added. The Baidya faction has a majority in the troupe and sings songs composed by party hardliners including Netra Bikram Chand.

According to sources, the Baidya faction has been holding a series of meetings of the party´s sister wings t create parallel bodies.
"The problems surface in many outfits including the trade union although the party had already settled the disputes in earnest," Vice-chairman Shrestha said.

Though Dahal and Bhattarai are now jointly pushing the line of peace and constitution, Bhattarai has maintained his tactical alliance with the Baidya faction to cut Dahal down to size. Recently, these two factions joined hands to force Dahal into guaranteeing 33 percent reservations for women in all areas including the cabinet. Women from the Dahal faction did not support the signature campaign in support of this, but when the party endorsed the demand, these women submitted another application to the party demanding 50 percent reservations for women.

The longstanding disputes have thrown the party machinery into disarray and the party now stands at a critical mode. "The party is in a difficult situation and nothing can be said now. The best thing would be to fix a date for a general convention to decide the party line and keep party unity intact," says Maoist leader Poudel.

It is yet to be seen how the Baidya faction moves to save its "revolutionary spirit" before the general convention as the party establishment is now ready to make compromises for peace and constitution. Party insiders say the faction has adopted the strategy of attrition and of not letting the party move ahead with the line of peace and constitution.

The forthcoming CC meeting will see fierce disputes over the party line and the Baidya faction is expected to play all its cards. But it is yet to be seen whether the faction will just write a note of dissent, accept the principle of "democratic centralism" and wait for the general convention or immediately press for an alternative route to save its "revolutionary line."

No comments:

Post a Comment