Streamlining party main goal

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
Streamlining party main goal

Apr 29, 2014-

As the UCPN (Maoist) prepares to hold its first national convention after the November election debacle, one issue will stand out: how to transform its war-era organisational set-up to suit the peaceful and competitive politics given the changed political context after 2006.

The national convention which starts on May 1 in Biratnagar will mainly delve on issues related to party’s organisational structure, from the central committee down to the district and municipal and village level. Only the general convention, the party’s supreme platform, is more powerful than the national convention.

Leaders say that even after joining peaceful politics, the party has not been able to shed its pre-2006 structures. At the central level, the party adopted collective leadership system forming a seven-member office bearers’ team but in districts and villages traditional structures exist.

During the “People’s War”, leaders at the local level were selected on the basis of their capability to lead combat, not their relation with the local people, and more often than not many senior leaders were not locals but were deputed by the party ‘high command’ to look after a designated area.

 There were no organised committees at the grassroots because all the political activities were handled by “a single commander,” or Chairman Prachanda.

“There was a huge gap between the people and the Maoist party during the war and the leadership needs were different too. Wartime leaders didn’t necessarily have endorsement of the local population and in some districts relations between the local party leadership and the people remained poor,” said Central Committee member Kumar Poudel. “Now that we have joined competitive politics and need to face periodic elections, we should transform the organisations in line with the changed political context.”

The party’s seventh general convention held in February 2012 in Hetauda officially abandoned the political line of a “prolonged people’s war” and instead decided to “work for a capitalist revolution.” The convention had also decided to hold an organisational convention to adapt the party to the new political line.

“The party organisation has remained unnecessarily large. The party needs to downsize these structures in districts and villages to make them more functional and effective,” said senior leader Baburam Bhattarai.

At the Biratnagar convention, the party plans to elect a 99-member Central Commit-tee (CC), down from a bloated 300-member body. “We will downsize party structures that are dysfunctional,” Bhattarai added.

The convention’s first priority will be to select the CC leadership on the basis of consensus and if that does not work there will be a vote during the convention. The CC, however, will decide on the highest leadership through consensus, in case of the seven-member office bearers, including Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

Analysts see the five-day meet as the party’s first major attempt to reorganise itself after the humiliating loss in the second Constituent Assembly polls.

Along with organisational issues, matters related to ideology will also emerge at the jamboree. Senior leaders Bhattarai and Narayan Kaji Shrestha have demanded a general convention to settle ideological differences but Dahal has prevailed for now, choosing instead to settle the outstanding issues through a national convention.

Though the seventh general convention opted for competitive politics, leaders say the Maoist party’s ideology still remains vague and needs to be defined further.

“No decision taken by the convention will be final. This can only be done by the general convention. The Biratnagar meet will only initiate a debate in the party about its ideology and organisational issues,” said Bhattarai.

Chairman Dahal will present a political document highlighting his plans to build a new party and shape its ideology. The convention will also decide whether and when to hold the general convention.

Published: 30-04-2014 09:09

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