Six years after giving up arms to join the political mainstream and three years after it became ‘unified’, Nepal’s Maoist party is headed for a split.
With the hardliner faction of Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) rejecting Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s proposal for unity, the country’s biggest party has inched closer than ever to division.
In his seven-point written proposal on Wednesday, Dahal had agreed to review past decisions, correct his mistakes and even discuss possibility of his stepping down for party’s unity.
But the faction led by Vice Chairman Mohan Baidya termed the proposal a sham and decided to go ahead with its national convention on Friday where announcement of a new party is expected.
“The proposal is Dahal’s fresh attempt at buying time and shirking away from taking responsibility for past mistakes,” said CP Gajurel, a Baidya camp leader.
Replying to Dahal’s proposal, on Thursday the hardliners put forth six demands that included written self-criticism by Dahal for shifting away from the party’s official line of peoples’ revolution.
They are unhappy with Dahal’s decision to hand over of arms belonging to Maoist combatants and their integration into the Nepal Army in a hasty and haphazard manner.
Baidya’s group is also angry at Dahal and Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai for their growing closeness to India though the party had agreed to regard the southern neighbour as the prime enemy.
“The issue of India’s growing influence in the country has also been completely overlooked,” Baidya told ‘Republica’, a Kathmandu-based daily, in an interview that appeared Thursday.
The faction has demanded scrapping of the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with India as well as all past agreements among major parties for peace and constitution drafting.
Dahal’s faction is unlikely to agree to these demands. “Hardliners have gone too far. They are actually rightist forces in leftist garb,” ‘The Himalayan Times’ quoted Haribol Gajurel, a Dahal associate.
Despite differences this is the first time both factions have come so close to a split since 2009 when Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) merged with Communist Party of Nepal (Unity Centre-Mashal).
Though they are less in number compared to the Dahal-Bhattarai combine, a split by the Baidya group is bound to affect UCPN (M) and hurt its prospects in the next polls.
While Baidya may formally announce the split on Friday, the Dahal faction is planning to hold a mass rally the same day to counter opposition demand for removal of Bhattarai government.