Nepal: Staggering Backwards
By South Asia Intelligence Review : On October 12, 2011, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda told party Vice President Mohan Baidya aka Kiran that there was no sense in the latter remaining in the Party, if his hard-line faction continued to function in a parallel manner.
Dahal observed that it would be better for Baidya to part ways, if the party's decisions, norms, values and discipline were to be continuously violated by the hard-line faction.
Finally, on June 19, 2012, after nearly a year of functioning as a 'party within the party', Mohan Baidya caused a vertical split, forming a new party to "accomplish the remaining tasks of the people's revolution." The official announcement came on June 19, following a decision to the effect taken during a three-day national convention organized by his faction in Kathmandu from June 16 to June 18. The new party has been christened 'Communist Party of Nepal, Maoist' (CPN-M). The name is very similar to that of the Matrika Yadav-led CPN (Maoist), though the new party's Central Committee (CC) member Bharat Bam points out that they have avoided any parenthesis in the name.
The hard-line national convention, attended by around 2,000 cadres, declared Baidya the Chairman of the new party, with Ram Bahadur Thapa as its General Secretary, Chandra Prakash Gajurel its Secretary and Netra Bikram Chand and Dev Gurung, Politburo members. It also formed a five-member Standing Committee comprising these five leaders. Besides them, other members of the Politburo were Kul Prasad KC aka Sonam, Hari Bhakta Kandel, Khadga Bahadur Bishwakarma, Narayan Sharma, Pampha Bhusal, Indra Mohan Sigdel, Dharmendra Bastola and Hitman Shakya. The convention also elected a 44-member CC. The 44 were also CC members in the mother party.
On June 19, 2012, Baidya declared that his party was against parliamentary politics and that it might not even register with the Election Commission.
Mohan Baidya has the support of 48 CC members out of 148 and 72 out of 236 UCPN-M members of the dissolved Constituent Assembly (CA). Further, the CPN-M has claimed that 19 of the 26 chiefs of the parent party's 'sister organizations' have come into its fold. "Of the remaining seven organizations, four sister organizations have majority of former chairman [Dahal] and three others have majority of Baburam Bhattarai," Suresh Ale Magar, General Secretary of the Aadibasi-Jaatiya Kshyatriya Mahasangh, Nepal, claimed, "but majority of leaders in those organizations are on our side."
Magar also asserted that the chiefs of all 19 'sister organizations', including the All Nepal Women´s Association (Revolutionary); Revolutionary Journalists Association; All Nepal Farmers' Federation (Revolutionary); Society of Disappeared Fighters Families, Nepal; All Nepal Progressive Health Workers' Association; All Nepal National Independent Students' Union-Revolutionary; Nepal National Intellectuals Organization; Federation of National Industries and Commerce, Nepal; Dalit Liberation Front; All Nepal Ex-servicemen´s Organization; and Nepal National Industry and Commerce Organization, were in their front.
Similarly, the chiefs of the Unified All Nepal Cultural Federation, All Nepal Teachers' Organization, All Nepal Trade Union Federation, Nepal National Government Employees Federation, Nepal National University Teachers' Organization, All Nepal Landless Association, along with more than 80 per cent of leaders and cadre are claimed to have joined the Baidya-led Party.
The CPN-M (Baidya) has declared that its ultimate goal was to establish a 'People's Republic' through People's War.
The Mohan Baidya faction has argued that the ultimate goal of establishing a 'people's republic' was no longer possible under the leadership of Prachanda and Bhattarai, as both had done irreparable damage to this aspiration by dismantling the PLA, handing over the keys to the arms' stores, making the base areas and the parallel system of government dysfunctional, and failing to draft the Constitution. Only the 'people's war' can secure the objective of the People's Republic. The Prachanda-Bhattarai 'clique' is now viewed as a 'revisionist forces', and the Baidya faction has also accused the 'establishment faction' to have failed to defend the party line of anti-fudalism and anti-imperialism, and to have succumbed to Indian 'hegemony'. The Baidya faction views India as an 'imperial power', and as the principal enemy of the 'revolution'.
Significantly, Baidya was arrested by Indian authorities in Siliguri in West Bengal (India) on March 28, 2004. Earlier, CP Gajurel aka Gaurav, Politbureau member of the original CPN-Maoist, was arrested at Chennai airport on August 20, 2003, while attempting to escape to Europe on a fake passport. A number other Nepalese Maoist leaders were also arrested in India. Both Baidya and Gajurel were released from Indian jails on November 30, 2006, and both feel they were set up by their own party. At that time they blamed Bhattarai and leaders close to him for their arrests, forcing the party to sack some leaders, including Devendra Paudel, Kalpana Dhamala and Devendra Parajuli. Baidya and Gajurel, moreover, enormously resent the fact that some of the most crucial decisions of the party, which altered the course of the movement, were taken while they were in jail in India.
Then, in 2005, the Party´s meeting at Chungang, Rukum, adopted the political line of a "democratic republic", as against a "people's republic" in the first manifest attempt to abandon the Maoist revolutionary doctrine. The Chungang Meet had paved the way for the signing of the 12-point deal with the then Seven-party Alliance (SPA), in India in November 2005. The Baidya faction interpreted the 12-point agreement as a dissociation from the leftist and "revolutionary" parties and an increasing proximity with parliamentary parties. The Baidya faction also opposed the historic Comprehensive Peace Agreement as a betrayal of the people, country and "revolution".
Since his release, Baidya has been opposing the line taken by Prachanda and Bhattarai at various forums within the party. The divide has widened progressively, especially since the four-point agreement with the Madheshi parties. Later, the faction also had strongly opposed the party decision to hand over the keys of the arms containers to the Government and the process of integration of the PLA with the Nepal Army (NA). It also accused the establishment faction of indulging in corruption in the payment of compensation. The Baidya faction also saw the integration process as a sort of coup by the NA, in view of the deployment in the cantonments on April 10, 2012.
The Baidya faction believes that "the objective circumstances are favorable for revolution but we should create the subjective circumstances for revolution." In the document that Baidya presented at the hard-line convention of June 16-18, it was concluded that all national and international circumstances are also conducive to revolution, and that "capitalist" parties like the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) were in crisis, and there was no possibility of the revival of "old forces" like the monarchy. Likewise, it concluded that the "capitalist and imperialist" countries were also in crisis. In the document, Baidya labeled UCPN-M Chairman Dahal and Vice-chairman Bhattarai as the main obstacles to an immediate people´s revolt. "The [national and international] situation is favorable for revolution but there is no possibility of an immediate revolution because of Dahal and Bhattarai, who deviated from the revolutionary line," the document stated.
A Politburo meeting of the newly formed CPN-Maoist has decided to unveil various 'protest programmes' to create awareness about national independence, increase pressure on the Government to address the day-to-day problems faced by the public, and organise orientation programmes for cadres to justify the party split. The faction is also laying groundwork to make new appointments of office bearers and Politburo and Central Committee members. Leaders state that, once the 75-member Central Committee is given full shape, they will make appointments in these party units, and will concretize the party's tactical and strategic orientation. It is clear, however, that the 'ultimate goal' has already been defined as the establishment of a 'People's Republic' through a revolt or People's War.
Prachanda has responded to the split, dismissing the newly-formed party as a group of 'petty bourgeois anarchists'. He also claimed that Baidya's move would only help a counterrevolution, declaring, "It is ridiculous that the newly-formed party aims to launch people's war and people's revolt, criticizing the former decisions taken by the party."
The split in the UCPN-M and the creation of the CPN-M (Baidya) has again raised the spectre of violence in Nepal, with the new formation openly declaring its commitment to revolution and the 'people's war'. Nevertheless, there is little danger of a quick hurtle into violence, as the nascent group has little current capacity for sustained violence, and obstacles to the creation of a new 'people's army' and the acquisition of necessary resources and weaponry will be great. Nevertheless, given the instability and political chaos in Nepal, and a significant pool of frustrated ex-CPN-M armed cadres, the danger of a new armed movement are real. The Baidya faction's ideological and strategic position, moreover, will bring it close to India's Maoists, and the possibility of support and cooperation from this group would be significant. That bodes ill, both for Kathmandu and for New Delhi.
(The writer Fakir Mohan Pradhan is Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management)
(The view expressed in the article is of the author and not India Blooms News Service)