- Dahal must engage with Baidya to bring him on board the peace process, not otherwise
May 4, 2014-
Disagreement among the top UCPN (Maoist) leadership has once again arisen after Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal presented a proposal on the party’s future. The document states that the Maoist party should initiate measures to unite with all like-minded forces and instigate polarisation between communist forces and others. This is mainly a reference to a possible unification with the Mohan Baidya-led CPN-Maoist. Dahal has been in negotiation with CPN-Maoist leaders in recent weeks and he feels that given the weak positions of both parties, it is in their interest to unite.
Furthermore, Dahal’s document, as presented at the party General Convention, states that there is only a slim possibility that a new constitution will be drafted this time around and that this is yet another reason why unification is necessary. Baburam Bhatttarai, meanwhile, has opposed the Chairman’s proposals.
Bhattarai is right in opposing them. Granted, the split between the two Maoist parties has further fragmented Nepal’s political landscape and that is not in the interest of broader Nepali politics for parties to remain strong and cohesive. But the question is: on what terms is Dahal proposing the Maoist unification? The Baidya party opposed the November elections and has time and again demanded the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly (CA). It has also threatened to instigate a ‘people’s revolt’ to capture state power. Will the CPN-Maoist agree to participate wholeheartedly in the political process once it comes together with the mother party? This seems unlikely given their history and ideological positioning. Rather, Dahal’s proposal regarding the necessity of ‘communist polarisation’ and his doubts regarding the promulgation of a new constitution seem to indicate his ambivalence towards the political process and the all-important constitution writing. It seems that Dahal wants his party to adopt a much more confrontational stance against the parties who stand firm in favour of the constitution and the peace process. Granted, his party—not least himself—has been pushed to the back foot since the CA election debacle in November. But he will be committing yet another political blunder if he tries to cozy up to the Baidya party in their anti-peace process agenda.
The withdrawal of the UCPN (Maoist) from the constitution-drafting process and the adoption of a confrontation stance will have a destabilising effect on the political process. It will mean that Nepali politics will again be consumed by antagonism and the needs of society for lasting peace will again be ignored.
The constitutional process could be indefinitely delayed. Dahal should remember that many of his attempts over the past seven years to renege on the terms of the peace process to increase confrontation with other parties have failed. This was most visibly demonstrated during the Maoist general strike in May 2010. If Dahal does genuinely feel the necessity to unite with the CPN-Maoist, he should engage in patient negotiations with the Maoist comrades and try, instead, to convince them to participate in the political process. That would be a much more constructive approach for the Maoist parties and the peace process.
Published: 05-05-2014 09:33