Saturday, July 21, 2012

Leaders clash at Maoist plenum

KATHMANDU, July 21: War of words between cadres close to UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Vice-chairman Baburam Bhattarai turned nasty on Friday when both the sides insisted on presenting the report of the Bhojpura State Committee first in the ongoing plenum of the party.

Ashok Jaisawal from the Dahal faction and Baliram Sah from the Bhattarai faction exchanged blows over who should present the report first. The two sides had separately held discussions on Dahal´s document.

Both the sides have accused each other of planning the attack. "Bhattarai faction´s cadres hurled chairs targeting the chairman. This amply proves their ill-intent," said a cadre from the Dahal faction, adding, "Had not the YCL cadres intervened, Dahal would have been seriously injured."

Maoist leaders busy in talks. (Photo: Keshab Thoker)

Similarly, Bhattarai faction has accused Janardan Sharma and Hemant Prakash Oli - both close to Dahal -- of manhandling Bhattarai. They said leaders Debendra Paudel, Hisila Yami and Nabaraj Subedi intervened to save Bhattarai from attack.

Meanwhile, the two factions had already engaged in fisticuffs when Sah was allowed to present his views during the closed session. Dahal´s supporters said Sah was not the person selected by the majority to speak on behalf of the Bhojpura State Committee.

Maoist chairman with security personnel. (Photo: Keshab Thoker)

Soon, both the factions started hurling chairs and water bottles at each other. Police personnel had to intervene to take the situation under control while the bodyguards escorted Bhattarai out of the plenum hall.

Stating that the police should not be allowed to intervene, party Secretary Post Bahadur Bogati then called the YCL cadres to take the situation under control.

According to a participant, while Bhattarai stood and moved out saying everyone should get a chance to present their views, Chairman Dahal and Vice-chairman Narayankaji Shrestha urged him to take his seat and that the problem should be resolved through discussions.

Dahal faction criticizes govt, Bhattarai faction counters

The leaders participating in the plenum have criticized Chairman Dahal´s political document and the performance of the government. However, leaders close to Bhattarai defended the government.

Security beefed up. (Photo: Keshab Thoker)

The leaders had also sought clarification from the leadership over the Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (BIPPA) and extradition treaty signed with India and the government´s move to hand over the management of the Tribhuvan International Airport to an Indian firm.

"The leaders criticized the government, accusing it of being anti-people and anti-state. They said they have not felt any relief though their party is in the government," said Prakash Pokhrel, party central committee member.

Another central committee member said, "Almost all the leaders who spoke during today´s discussion were of the view that the party´s political line is not clear."

Participants of plenum. (Photo: Keshab Thoker)

According to him, the party cadres were skeptical about implementation of the issues included in the political document. They also questioned the party leadership for not identifying the party´s principal enemy. It is a general practice in communist parties to declare principal enemy in its political document. Similarly, the leaders also criticized Dahal´s document for deliberately remaining silent on the issue of national sovereignty.

"All the leaders who presented their views at the group discussion said that the leadership should undergo self-criticism for its failure to ensure respectable integration of former Maoist combatants," said Pokherel.

According to him, the leaders also asked the leadership to clarify whether the announcement of fresh Constituent Assembly polls is tactical line or immediate line of the party.

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