BRB demands put Dahal on the horns of a dilemma

- KAMAL DEV BHATTARAI, Kathmandu
BRB demands put Dahal on the horns of a dilemma

May 7, 2014-

The UCPN (Maoist) national convention has not gone according to the script, at least so for party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal. His former deputy Baburam Bhattarai not only stayed out of the final day of the six-day meet in Biratnagar but has also warned that leaders close to him will not join the party’s Central Committee (CC) before its ‘special general convention’. Bhattarai went on record accusing Dahal of stacking the committee with ‘yes men.’

When the convention, the first national-level Maoist gathering after the November election defeat, came to a close on Tuesday, the party looked far from unified.  In fact, the Bhattarai faction has given the impression that if their demands are ignored, they could even go on to form a separate party at some point. They rule out an immediate split in the party, though.  

Leaders close to Bhattarai have put forth two major conditions to their entry into the CC: date for the party’s general convention and intra-party freedom to openly advocate for their political agendas in the party. Bhattarai is in favour of transforming a war-time over-centralised and monolithic party into a participatory democratic-centralist party. There are also differences between Dahal and Bhattarai on how to view current political revolution. Arguing that party’s current ideology has become obsolete, he has called for an intensive discussion inside the party to shape new ideology to retain party’s lost position.  

If Dahal agrees to address their demands, insiders say, the party split will be averted in the short and medium term. The Bhattarai faction wants a fresh convention immediately after the promulgation of a new constitution.

The Dahal faction, however, has said that time is not ripe for the convention. “It is true that party is passing through an ideological transition but it is not possible to hold conventions every year,” said Agni Sapkota, a leader close to Dahal. Bhattarai, who has a “weak presence” in the party’s organisational set up, believes that if the party allows holding discussion on his political ideology, it will strengthen his influence in the party. “We would like to see a system of two-line struggle inside the party so that our views are also given due space,” said Kumar Poudel, a leader close to Bhattarai.

 “Our reluctance to join the CC should be taken as a pressure tactics for now, we still hope that Dahal will take measures to transform the party into a new political force,” Poudel added.

But, Sapkota said ‘excessive freedom’ proved detrimental to the party in the past and it is hard to meet Bhattarai’s demands. Due to the freedom and two-line struggle, senior leader Mohan Baidya split the party and we want to avoid such circumstances in the future, he said.

Dahal has called party’s CC meeting beginning May 15 to discuss the intra-party rift. The Bhattarai faction is also expecting that Dahal will bring some concrete proposal to address their demands in the meeting.   “Bhattaraiji has assured to work for the rebuilding of the party while remaining outside the CC, which is positive,” Dahal said on Wednesday. “We will start to address the demands of Bhattaraiji and speed up the party rebuilding process.”

Published: 08-05-2014 07:40

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