Friday, August 10, 2012

Kinship, not capability, counts in UCPN (Maoist)

KATHMANDU, Aug 9: Here´s a saga of how a party that waged a decade-long insurgency for revolutionary change in society and the uprooting of nepotism and favoritism, among other things, has now become victim of its own prey.

In 2005, the Chunbang meeting demoted all the party leaders, except Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, by one level as per a campaign lunched to purify the party. But interestingly, the same meeting promoted Prakash Dahal, the son of the chairman, to regional bureau member, now the state committee.

Here is one more. When the UCPN (Maoist) shared the cabinet with the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML following the ceasefire agreement of 2006, influential party leader Dr Baburam Bhattarai was asked to recommend a list from his faction for inclusion in the new cabinet.

Many were expecting that Bhattarai´s closest confident Top Bahadur Rayamajhi would top the recommended list, but he didn´t. Hishila Yami, Bhattarai´s wife, bagged the coveted recommendation and was inducted into the cabinet not once but three times in successive Maoist-led governments, despite strong criticism within his camp.

These are just the tip of the iceberg. As the ethos of capturing state power through the barrel of the gun fades among the hardcore cadres, the culture of nepotism and favoritism, according to insiders, has expanded at such a pace that the Maoists have overtaken the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML in this respect.

The culture of nepotism and favoritism popped up alarmingly once more during the recent formation of a 231-member General Convention Organizing Committee (GCOC), reminding many of the popular Nepali saying in Maoist party "Ki poi ko ki kohiko," meaning that you need either to be the wife of some top leader or have blood kinship with such a figure to land positions or opportunities in the party.

Mani Thapa, a former leader of the Maoists, gave a deep sigh when the issue was raised with him, and said, "The Maoists have become utter victims of nepotism and favoritism." Thapa, who was one of policy makers during the people´s war, recalls the glory days during the revolution when capability, contribution and commitment used to be major determinants of who moved into the higher positions in the party rather than the kinship ties he or she had with those in the top leadership.

Unfortunately, things are totally different now and you need to be a close relative of some top gun, not capacity and commitment, to bag a position in the party, he says.

Maoist cadres have a long list of those making a fortunate just because of their close kinship with influential leaders. The most classic example is Sita Dahal, wife of Chairman Dahal.

She used to be one of the advisors to the powerful central committee, but hardly anyone in the central committee ever remembers a single instance of her advising the committee on anything.

"This is a new tradition that the Maoists have developed after opting for parliamentary democracy, and as per this tradition, if the husband is a party politburo member the chances of the wife being appointed a member of the central committee would be very high," he said.

The tradition of holding positions under the aegis of powerful relatves has now seeped right down to the bottom of the party organization, the cell committees. These are dominated by relatives of the influential leaders, ranging from spouses and sisters and brothers to in-laws and nephews, among others.
from Republica

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