Sunday, July 10, 2011

Differences persist, standing committee meet Sunday


KATHMANDU, July 10: Just a day ahead of the crucial meeting of the party standing committee, Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Saturday reached out to influential party leaders in a bid to consolidate his position in the party, as the other two rival factions -- led by Senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya and Vice-chairman Dr Baburam Bhattarai, have forged a tactical alliance to cut him down to size.

Leaders from the party establishment met Dahal at the latter’s residence at Nayabazaar on Saturday afternoon and then went to the residence of Vice-chairman Narayankaji Shrestha where they held a meeting for hours in the evening. Party General Secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa also joined the meeting later.

Dahal’s trusted lieutenants Barshaman Pun, Shakti Basnet, Haribol Gajurel and Agni Sapkota were also present during the talks.

What transpired in the meeting is yet to be known, but party insiders say both Shrestha and Thapa have lately stopped speaking in defense of Chairman Dahal and are mulling to join the Baidya-Bhattarai alliance.

 “If both Shrestha and Thapa quit Dahal faction, Dahal will be in a clear minority,” said a senior Maoist leader.

Dahal gained a strong position in the party central committee (CC) after those from the small leftist parties lent support to Dahal after merger with the UCPN (Maoist). So, if Shrestha, who joined the party from CPN (Unity Center-Masal), quits the Dahal faction, Dahal will find himself in a serious difficulty. Thapa also holds a good command in the CC and the party’s parliamentary board.

“Yes, we held a meeting with senior party leaders. It was about the preparations for the standing committee meeting scheduled for Sunday,” party leader Basnet, who is also the minister for Health and Population, told Republica.

Baidya and Bhattarai have demanded that the chairman share power among the party leaders, ending his monopoly in the party. Baidya wants to take charge of the party’s organizational department, and Bhattarai the political front, including parliament.

But Dahal faction has stated that sharing of power in the party can be done once the party clarifies its stance on the peace process.

“We have to settle the political issue first and then reshuffle the party responsibilities among the leaders,” said Basnet.

But Kul Prasad KC, who is close to Baidya, disagrees. “The current struggle in the party is the result of dispute over the party’s political line. So, it is wrong to argue that the party establishment wants to settle the power-sharing struggle only after settling the tactical line,” he said.

The rival factions had also held separate functions in Kathmandu on Saturday, accusing one another of “ideological deviations and moral erosion.”

A group of artistes from the Dahal faction held a function at Ratnarajya School at Baneshowor, which was addressed by Dahal’s younger brother Narayan Dahal. In his firebrand speech, Narayan Dahal, according to the participants, launched a lacerating criticism against Baidya and Dr Bhattarai.

“We have to counter the moves of Baidya and Bhattarai to save our leadership,” a participant quoted him as saying.

On the other hand, the Samana Parivar, the party’s official cultural group in which Baidya commands a majority, held a function at Rastriya Nachghar.

“I want to express my solidarity with the Samana Parivar for their struggle against the ideological deviations and moral erosions in the party,” Baidya said at the function.

In the party standing committee meeting on Friday, Dahal had asked for two more days to bridge the factional divide, but the differences persist.

Published on 2011-07-10 07:00:01

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