Choices to make

  • Dahal must keep urging Baidya to join the constitution-drafting process
Choices to make

Jun 29, 2014-

Ever since the UCPN (Maoist)’s defeat in the election, party chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has been trying to woo Mohan Baidya and his CPN-Maoist back into the party fold. Despite their major differences, Baidya too seems keen to reach some kind of agreement. He and his supporters may have felt some satisfaction when they saw the UCPN (Maoist) defeat but they were soon forced to realise that their own party had become marginal to the political landscape. The position of smaller breakaway Maoist parties, such as those led by Mani Thapa and Matrika Yadav, was even poorer. After months of talks, the UCPN (Maoist), the CPN-Maoist and three smaller Maoist parties have managed to establish a ‘working alliance’. Baidya went so far as to state that this marked the beginning of a process that would lead to the reunification of the parties. Given how staunchly opposed Baidya was to the UCPN (Maoist), this statement is remarkable. It indicates a major change in the Maoist politics.

The primary question at the moment is: what impact will the new alliance have on the broader political and constitution-drafting process? Will it make the Maoists more radical and lead them to try and sabotage the process? Or will it make the Baidya and Matrika Yadav factions more amenable to participating in the constitution-drafting process? The fact is that either of these two scenarios is possible.

Over negotiations during recent weeks, Dahal was able to convince Baidya to demonstrate greater flexibility during the constitution-drafting process. It appears that Dahal pointed to the CPN-Maoist’s isolation from mainstream politics and convinced Baidya that the best way to gain power was through participation in constitution writing. This is a positive step. It indicates that the Baidya faction has realised the limits of its previous line, which rejected the entire process and threatened to wage a ‘people’s revolt’.

At the same time, however, some within the UCPN (Maoist) (particularly those in the Baburam Bhattarai faction) feel that the new working alliance can only further radicalise the party. They are sceptical of Baidya, as he has always opposed the peace process.

They are also worried that Dahal will fall under Baidya’s sway and try to disrupt the process. The reality is that there are various factors that will affect Dahal’s decisions. For example, if the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML staunchly oppose any concessions to identity claims during the debate on federalism, the UCPN (Maoist) will possibly adopt a more radical posture. In other ways as well, the NC and UML will continue to have an influence on the Maoists’ actions. The wisest course for now is to keep urging Baidya to participate in the constitution-drafting process, while demonstrating flexibility during negotiations. This is the best way to keep the Maoists engaged in the constitution-drafting process.

Published: 30-06-2014 08:46

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