HETAUDA, Jan 7: At a time when the opposition parties have launched anti-government protests demanding his immediate exit, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai on Wednesday told his party´s rank and file that it had become necessary for the party to stay in government for the next 20-30 years.
Addressing the closed session of the ongoing seventh general convention of UCPN (Maoist) in Hetauda, Bhattarai also sought support from the party organization to formulate party policy and programs accordingly. He said he would not step down any time soon without finding a suitable alternative.
“We would have been in a serious trouble had we not been in the government. We would have landed in the International Criminal Court had we not been in the government,” said Bhattarai. The prime minister also claimed that the government has averted a “counter-revolution”.
While the faction led by party chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal had criticized the Bhattarai government for failing to fulfill people´s aspirations, Bhattarai countered them saying it had become necessary for the party to remain in power. He said Maoist leaders would find themselves in trouble if they quit the government. According to a participant, Bhattarai also claimed that his government has done enough compared to past governments.
Stating that the government had not been able to work properly due to non-cooperation from the party, he said, “There is no coordination between the party and the government,” he said. He also accused the judiciary of interfering with the government.
“The court has prevented the government from carrying out its activities. The court summoned me three times when I tried to save cadres of Dailekh,” said Bhattarai.
He also accused the president of not approving ordinance related to formation of Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
He also defended the BIPPA agreement with India saying it was both a compulsion and necessity. Dahal and Vice-chairman Narayankaji Shrestha have been criticizing BIPPA saying it is not in the interest of the country.
Bhattarai also expressed displeasure with Dahal for portraying him in a bad light. “I have never challenged Dahal´s leadership. I accept him as the party leader,” said Bhattarai adding, that the party, however, should encourage collective leadership. He also objected to the tendency in the party to portray him as an “agent” of India.
Shrestha under fire
Presenting their reports, representatives have demanded action against Vice-chairman Narayankaji Shrestha for flouting the party´s discipline. They objected to the press meet conducted by Shrestha while the party´s general convention was under way.
Shrestha had called a press meet on Tuesday criticizing BIPPA agreement signed with India. He had also threatened to register his note of dissent if the issues of national sovereignty were not discussed in the convention. He had also demanded a plenum in the next six months if the issues were not discussed in the convention.
Closed session hall collapses
Strong winds on Wednesday brought down the tarpaulin erected for the closed session of the party´s ongoing general convention. The tarpaulin collapsed in the afternoon when the representatives were having lunch outside the enclosure. This had obstructed the closed session for a few hours.
Speaking during the closed session, leader Ram Karki said that the party rank and file should get a chance to criticize leadership. “We should get a chance to criticize the party chairman,” a participant quoted Karki as saying.