KATHMANDU, April 18: The general conventions of the two Maoist parties -- Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led UCPN (Maoist) and Mohan Baidya-led CPN-Maoist -- had concluded with decisions to go for slim central committees (CC), arguing that these would run more smoothly. But in the end, both the Maoist parties have formed jumbo CCs, in clear disregard of the mandates given them by the general conventions.
While the UCPN (Maoist) has decided to form a 399-member CC and it already has 236 members now, the CPN-Maoist is going for a CC of 151 members, of which it already has 144.
The general conventions had mandated only a 151-member CC for the UCPN (Maoist) and a 51- member CC for the CPN-Maoist. Interestingly, neither party could give full shape to its CC at its general convention and finally both parties have ended up with the jumbo committees.
They formed the large committees taking advantage of loopholes in the party statutes that allow the number of CC alternative numbers to be decided according to necessity.
The Maoists had initially formed a jumbo committee after merger with the Narayan Kaji Shrestha-led CPN (Unity Centre-Masal). Interestingly, the Maoists had run their 10-year people´s war with only a 35-member CC.
What are the main reasons forcing formation of big CCs?
The first reason is to stop party leaders from joining the rival Maoist party. Earlier, the UCPN (Maoist) had formed a jumbo CC to stop its people from the joining CPN-Maoist. Following the formation of the UCPN (Maoist) jumbo CC, it became a compulsion for the CPN-Maoist also to form a big CC in order to stop its leaders from the joining the Dahal-led Maoists.
It was the Dahal-led Maoist party that first formed a jumbo CC, and the Baidya-led Maoists followed suit.
For the Dahal-led Maoists, one of the reasons is the politics of factions and sub-factions within the party. It is a compulsion to form a big CC to maintain a balance among the three major factions-- those of Dahal and the two vice-chairmen Baburam Bhattarai and Narayan Kaji Shrestha. Not only these factions, but there is also a compulsion to maintain a balance among the sub-factions within major factions.
Similarly, another reason is that the senior leaders could not supress their desire to promote their own near and dear ones. In both the Maoist parties, some were nominated as CC members just because they were the spouses or close relatives of senior leaders.
"In the insurgency period, it was risky to be a CC member. They had to play with death," said Suk Bahadur Roka Magar, a Dahal-led Maoist leader who was also a former People´s Liberation Army division commander. He argued that the jumbo committee was the result of a mixture of sycophancy and threats to form more factions and sub-factions.
Yet another reason was that CC members do not have to be elected. Leaders nominated as CC members neither take pride in their posts nor do they feel the gravitas thereof.
"The main reason is that they were not elected but just pulled out of the pockets of their leaders," said a Dahal-led Maoist leader. "If the leaders had had to be elected, they would feel proud of their posts and also they would not stake claims to the posts so easily."
For the Dahal-led Maoists, a further reason used to be to ensure a plurality of leaders and cadres to render Baidya in a minority. In the language of the cream of Maoist cadres, they were chaite [or opportunistic] Maoists. The Baidya faction was finally forced into a minority in the origional party.
But why did the Baidya-led Maoists form their jumbo CC? The leaders of the Baidya Maoists argued that a jumbo CC was needed to implement the party´s current political line of people´s revolt on the foundations of people´s war.
"A CC member will lead the class struggle in a district. We also calculated that some leaders will get injured, some will be jailed and some others would be in the military sector," said a leader of the Baidya-led Maoists.
Similarly, another reason both Maoist parties have been saddled with jumbo CCs is deviation from their ideals. The Maoist leaders started to look upon party posts as capital.
Interestingly, leaders at both Maoist general conventions who lobbied for slim CCs argued that they themselves should not be excluded from the committees.
"Though they argued during the general conventions that the committees should be small in size, they all demanded that they themselves should nevertheless be included in those committee. So, how can there be small committees," argued the Maoist leaders of both parties.