Indian Maoists on Sharp Line Struggles Within Nepal’s Revolution
Posted by Mike E on January 16, 2009
The following appeared in the Indian publication Maoist Information Bulletin #5
Continuing political crisis in Nepal now affects the ruling CPN(Maoist)
According to newspaper reports appearing in the last week of October the ruling CPN(M) is embroiled in a severe inner-Party strugge. A serious debate was said to have taken place at a CC meeting held in October on issues concerning the future direction of the Party and the State. Majority of the leading body were said to be opposing the line pursued by Prachanda and Bhattarai. The Party will hold a national conference from November 10 to decide the issues by majority vote.
According to reports, one of the senior most leaders of the Party, comrade Mohan Biadhya, popularly known by the name of Kiran, is leading the struggle against Prachand’s line. The struggle between the two factions in the CPN(M)–one described as that of moderates led by FinanceMinster Baburam Bhattarai and the other termed as hardliners led by Mohan Baidhya–was said to have erupted openly in last July itself when a group of cadres loyal to Bhattarai attacked Netra Bikram Chand alias Biplav, a prominent member of Baidhya faction. Baidhya faction alleged that the attack was organised by Prabhu Shah, a stanch suporter of Bhattari. After the incident the two factions drifted further apart. Two meetings were organised in Birgunj by the two factions separately to commemorate the death anniversary of the party leader Ram Brikshya Yadav.
On August 6, Bhattarai issued a statement condemning attempts at his character assassination from within and outside the party. CPN-UML’s accusation that Bhattarai was being close to the Indian intelligence agency, RAW, prompted him to issue the statement. There were allegations that senior party leaders did not defend Bhattarai in this matter.
According to newspaper reports, the Baidhya faction is supported by CP Gajurel, Krishna Bahadur Mahara (Minister for Information and Communications), Dev Gurung (Minister for Law and Condituent Assembly Affairs), Haribhakta Kandel, Kul Bahadur KC, Netra Bahadur Chand alias Biplav, Gopal Khumbhu (Minister for State Restructuring) and Khadga Bahadur Biswokarma while Bhattarai’s faction has the support of Hisila Yami, Dinanath Sharma, Devendra Poudel alas Sunil, Prabhu Shah and Ram Karki alias Partha Chhetri.
In this inner-Party struggle Prachanda is said to have not taken any side yet. Likwise Defence Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa alias Badal, Peace Minster Janardhan Sharma, Matrika Yadav, Pampha Bhusal, Lekhraj Bhatta, Barsa Man Pun alias Ananta too were said to be away from the two factions.
Mohan Baidhya had resigned from the Constituent Assembly. Answering a query about comrade Kiran’s resignation, Matrika Yadav, another CC member, said that Baidhya had resigned so as to concentrate on Party affairs.
Prime minister of Nepal and leader of the CPN(M), Prachanda, admitted that an inner-party crisis had broken out over the issues of people’s democracy and change of party’s name. According to The Himalayan Times, Prachanda, while addressing party workers in Nepalgunj, said that it was natural for inner-party differences to arise on various political issues. He also said that he had assured the international community that when Maoists come to power their main concern should be the interests of their own country. The Finance Minister and another senior ideologue of the party, Baburam Bhattarai, had assured the international community that he would ensure that the party’s name would be changed. The abandoning of people’s democracy and deletion of Maoist from the name of the party had given rise to serious dissent within the Party and, according to Nepali media, some comrades within the party have begun attacking Prachanda as a revisionist who had deviated from the fundamentals of Marxism-Leninsim-Maoism.
Such a development is not surprising to keen observers of the events unfolding in Nepal following the electoral victory of the Maoists in April last.
Ever since their victory in the April 10 elections, the Maoists were caught in a situation where they had to play the game in accordance with the rules of parliamentary democracy set by a state whose very existence rested on the basis of a class-divided society. As they had no majority of their own in spite of emerging as the single largest Party in Parliament, they had to depend on the support extended to it by other parties. This, they had anticipated due to the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) forged in November 2006 at a meeting in New Delhi hosted by the Indian political establishment. The NC and UML, the two principal Parties in the SPA, emerged as the second and third largest parties in the elections. These two, combined with the strength of the Madhsi Janadhikar Forum, could topple the tables and defeat the candidate of the CPN(M) in the Presidential election.
The delay in the formation of the new government has been unprecedented. Contradictions among the various constituents of the SPA came to the fore very sharply soon after the election results were announced. Koirala continued in the office of prime minister for almost four months. Finally in August CPN(M) could muster the support of the two major constituents of the SPA–Madhav Kumar Nepal’s UML and Upendra Yadav’s Madhesi Janadhikar Forum–and 14 other smaller parties and formed the government by sharing the ministerial portfolios with these two parties. Koirala’s Nepali Congress refused to participate in the government when the CPN(M) did not agree to the NC’s demand for the Defence portfolio. Koirala wanted to have the coveted post for his party so as to oversee the integration of the two armies in accordance with their plan under the guidance of its mentor India. As part of adjustments to form the government, some crucial portfolios had to be given to MJF and UML such as the ministry of foreign affairs. Maoists retained some important portfolios like Defence. Ram Bahadur Thapa (Badal), the deputy commander of the PLA, has been appointed Defence Minister. It is doubtful how far the COAS Gen Rukmangad Katawal will cooperate with his former arch-enemy. The squabbles for portfolios had assumed such serious dimension that UML ministers absented themselves from the swearing-in as UML’s demand for the number two slot in the government remained unfulfilled.
The first list of ministers to the Cabinet was released on August 22. Another 15 ministers were taken ten days later taking the total number of ministers to 24. For the first time Nepal has three deputy prime ministers. Now the cabinet has 11 ministers from the CPN(Maoist) including the Prime Minister, six from CPN-UML, four form Madhesi Janadhikar Forum and one each from four different small parties. The expanded cabinet includes Girirajmani Pokhrel of the People’s Front Nepal and Rajendra Mahato of the Sadbhawana Party and Ganesh Sah of the CPN-United.
When the CPN-UML began haggling for the second position in the Cabinet senior leaders like CP Gajurel, Dev Gurung and Mahara who were all said to be with Baidhya, publicly stated that there was no problem in giving the second-rankin gposition in the Cabinet to CPN-UML thus not endorsing the CC Secretariat’s proposal to award the psoition to Bhattarai. Bhattarai was said to have tendered his resignation to Prachanda after the latter’s return from Beijing Olympics but agreed to Prachanda’s request to continue until the fiscal budget was presented.
The formation of the coalition government did not end the woes of the CPN(M)-led government. The allies in the government have been openly expressing their dissatisfaction with the policies of the Maoists. The chief bone of contention continues to be the integration of the two armies. Other major issues of difference are the future of Young Communist League (YCL), handing back the properties of the landlords and moneylenders and other exploiters that were seized by the masses led by the revolutionaries during the 10-year people’s war, autonomy to madhesi region, and so on. Contradictions and fissures among the various ruling coalition partners are making headlines news in the media. For instance, Madhav Kumar Nepal of UML, speaking to a TV channel, said: “I hear that the YCL is collecting donations even today. How can I, then, say that the alliance is strong?” Another ally, MJF, had called for an indefinite transportation strike in Siraha district. Protestors said the Maoists had not fulfilled their promises made in the Common Minimum Programme.
The most contentious issue of reintegration of the two armies was sough tto be resolved by constituting a special committee. It was to be headed by Home Minister and UML leader Bam Dev Gautam, two members from CPN (Maoist) and one each from Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) and the main opposition Nepali Congress party. The NC, however, has been blackmailing by saying that it will not join the special committee unless it was reconstituted.
NC has been saying that AISC was unilaterally formed by the Maoists without any consultation with other parties and have demanded that it be dismantled as the Terms of Reference (ToR) for it is against the past pacts and understanding reached on army integration.
CPN(M) leaders like Minister for Law and Constituent Assembly Dev Gurung and Dinanath Sharma had called for amendment of the interim constitution so that a referendum could be held to settle the issue of army integration.
Maoists are also facing a tough situation as they have to fulfill several promises they had made during the elections. For instance, they had earlier vowed to stop the recruitment for young Nepalis in the armies of India and Britain. However, facing threat of a revolt by the same Gorkha community as there is no alternative employment opportumity for the Gorkhas, Prachanda did not raise the issue during his visit to India in mid-September.