Maoists stay out citing ‘ideological differences’

  • Maoist leaders: UML backtracked on deal to discuss Maoism under pressure from power centres
- TIKA R PRADHAN, Kathmandu

Feb 16, 2018-

In a new twist to the recent political developments, the CPN (Maoist Centre) has decided to remain out of the Oli government for now. By all accounts, the CPN-UML has refused to own up to the legitimacy of the “people’s war” and instead maintained its allegiance to the “people’s multi-party democracy” (or JaBaJa).

To the Maoists, the violence perpetrated by their fighters during the 10-year insurgency was political in nature and hence justified. They also want the UML to own up to the “political achievements” of the Maoists. The UML, on the other hand, is reluctant to subscribe to such a school of thought, fearing, among other things, a backlash from national and international stakeholders, according to party insiders.

If true, this comes as a major setback for unification between the two parties. Following hours-long hectic talks at the two-party Unification Coordination Committee on Wednesday, UML leader Bamdev Gautam had claimed that “95 percent” of the party unification issues had been settled.

Though the UML is ready to share both the leadership of the unified party and the government, its leaders do not seem willing to compromise on their party ideals in favour of the classical Maoist guerilla war. More than 13,000 people were killed and 1,300 went missing during the insurgency, according to OHCHR, the UN human rights body. This includes state forces, Maoists and civilian casualties.

“Wednesday’s meeting failed to finalise key theoretical issues for the unified party and focused more on government formation,” said Giriraj Mani Pokhrel, a Maoist leader and former minister, adding that his party would support the government but would only join it once the ideological issues are settled.

All the Maoist leaders the Post talked to claimed that the UML had refused to accept the “historical importance” of the “people’s war” and the “Maoist revolution” and was instead pressing the Maoist Centre hard to accept the UML’s People’s Multi-party Democracy (PMPD) as the new party’s political line.

Earlier, Maoist Centre Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal had gone on record claiming that UML leaders and its Chairman KP Sharma Oli were ready to recognise the political achievements of the Maoist-led war. But during top Maoist Centre leaders’ meeting on Thursday, Dahal briefed his party colleagues that the UML had backtracked on their earlier agreement to formulate a new political line for the new entity. Such a political line, Dahal said, was supposed to put both the PMPD and the Maoist Centre’s Maoism up for “discussion” until a national convention devised an overarching party ideology.

Maoist leaders on Thursday said UML leaders were more focused on forming the government at the earliest, for which they needed the Maoist Centre’s support.

Many Maoist leaders unequivocally said that the UML seems to avoid party unity by maintaining a firm stand against discussing Maoism—the ideology that brought the Maoists to this stage. Sources claimed that UML leaders told Maoist leaders that international forces would discredit the UML’s stance on democracy if they abandoned PMPD and that Maoism must not even be discussed as that was perceived by international power centres to be a “terrorist” ideology.

“We’ll decide whether to join the government after seeing how the UML takes the issue of unification,” said leader Barshaman Pun. Though some leaders believe that the ideological dispute could be the pretext for a better power-sharing deal in the new government, Pokhrel claimed that the two parties had not taken up the issue of sharing ministerial portfolios.

However, Maoist leaders are for trying their best to convince the UML. “A meeting of the Party Unification Coordination Committee on Friday will discuss the remaining issues,” said Narayan Kaji Shrestha, one of the architects of the left unity. Many are also of the view that the two parties will ultimately sort out their political differences and it could very well be the war of attrition as they battle for political stakes

Published: 16-02-2018 08:04

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