Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Showdown looms among Maoist factions

KATHMANDU, July 12: The rival factions in the UCPN (Maoist) are headed for a showdown at the Central Committee (CC) meeting slated for Wednesday, with Senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya and Vice-chairman Dr Baburam Bhattarai consolidating their alliance to confront the party establishment led by Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

While Chairman Dahal is preparing to table a political document on the party´s course in the peace process, Baidya and Bhattarai plan to block any discussion on that document prior to settling the issue of power-sharing in the party.

The Dahal faction has stated that the issue of internal work division can be settled once the party unambiguously endorses an action plan for the peace process, but this has been vehemently opposed by Baidya and Bhattarai.

“The chairman is wrong to reckon on breaking the alliance by discussing the party´s work plan for the peace process. We are in a majority and we will block the discussions,” said one party leader close to Bhattarai.
Leaders close to Baidya argue that Dahal´s proposal to settle the issue of power-sharing only after finalizing the party´s course in the peace process is a ploy to break the alliance between Baidya and Bhattarai, who adhere to dissimilar party lines -- the former being for an urban insurrection to seize state power and the latter for a progressive constitution for now.

Baidya and Bhattarai feel emboldened now as party Vice-chairman Narayankaji Shrestha and General Secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa have also, according to sources, thrown their lot with the new alliance.

Terming the alliance “unnatural and unpolitical”, leaders from the Dahal faction have publicly stated that they are ready to face it at the CC meeting. “Let the CC meet; we will then know clearly who is in a majority,” Maoist leader Barshaman Pun, who is close to Dahal, stated in public recently.

But leaders from the Baidya and Bhattarai factions have called the claim a bluff.

"We are also waiting for the CC meeting to see what happens there," said Ram Karki , a Maoist leader close to Bhattarai.

Leaders from the Dahal faction argue that the “unpolitical alliance between the two leaders would ultimately break". “It is similarity of political line that should bring leaders close. So it is not natural and durable,” said Haribol Gajurel, who is close to Dahal.

With the backing of Shrestha and Thapa, the alliance, party insiders admit, will be in a clear majority.

Sources say both Thapa and Shrestha have pledged not to pull out of the alliance. “If anyone rolls back his support from the alliance first, it will be Shrestha,” a source quoted Thapa as saying in jest during a meeting of the alliance recently.

It was only after the Maoist party began to assimilate the small leftist parties, especially the CPN (Unity Center-Masal), that Dahal began to exercise hold over the CC. Most of the old guard are in the Baidya faction, while Bhattarai has a good hold over the educated classes. Almost all these leaders whole-heartedly support Dahal, but have currently defected to the Baidya-Bhattarai camp on the issue of power-sharing. “We are with the chairman on the issue of party line, but we are in favor of a judicious division of work,” said Bishwa Bhakta Dulal.

Dahal is chief of all three organs of the Maoist movement -- party organization, military front and political front. Bhattarai wants charge of the political front that includes the parliamentary party board, and Baidya wants charge of party organization.

Sources say Dahal is not in a conciliatory mode as he has lately argued how he can become an ordinary member of parliament, giving Bhattarai charge of the party´s parliamentary board. “It means that I should resign from parliament,” a leader quoted him as saying during a recent meeting.

With the rival factions joining hands against Dahal´s “monopoly” and matters aggravated by the struggle over party line, intra-party contradictions in the UCPN (Maoist) have reached a tipping point.

There is, however, a group of leaders including Sashi Sherchan aka Sonam Sathi who are doing their level best for reconciliation among the factions. “The ongoing factionalism is sure to lead to dissolution of the party. So we are doing what we can,” said a leader from the group requesting anonymity.

Published on 2011-07-12 08:32:08

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