CPN-Maoist warns of confrontation
KATHMANDU, JUL 02 – The ongoing Central Committee (CC) meeting of the CPN-Maoist ended here in Pokhara on Tuesday with the party making an official decision to foil the upcoming Constituent Assembly (CA) polls slated for November 19. The party has decided to use all its force in its bid to stymie the scheduled polls. The party also warned of confrontation if the four major parties and the government went ahead disregarding their pleas.
CPN-Maoist spokesperson Pampha Bhusal said that the leaders and the cadres have supported the political document and a document on party organisation and struggle proposal floated by Chairman Mohan Baidya and General Secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa respectively. Bhusal warned that the people themselves will draft the new constitution through street movement if the government goes ahead with the election procedure. Mohan Baidya-led CPN-Maoist has been opposing the election procedure and has repeatedly warned to disrupt the CA polls . Their demands include scrapping the incumbent Khil Raj Regmi-led government and replace it with a party-led government, organise a rountable conference among parties, among others.
CPN-Maoist in ‘foil-poll’ mood
POKHARA: A majority of CPN-Maoist central members who spoke on the third day of the party’s ongoing Central Committee meeting suggested that the party should be ready to take any initiative to foil the Constituent Assembly poll scheduled for November 19. The CC members speaking at the meeting, which kicked off here on Saturday, urged the party leadership to take a harsh move to boycott the election and turn the environment against elections. The speakers suggested mobilisation of the party’s rank and file in the villages and towns to make people aware that elections held by a technocratic government could not write a people’s constitution.
According to CPN-Maoist spokesperson Pampha Bhusal, a total of 40 leaders who aired their views stressed that the polls must be boycotted at any cost. More than 100 CC members have registered their names to air their views on the political and organisational papers presented by party chairman Mohan Baidhya and General Secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa. Some CC members have also suggested revising both the papers. “As we are a communist party, revolt is our first priority. We know very well that state power cannot be achieved without revolt,” Bhusal said, adding “If the four major political parties and the government suppress our agitation, we shall go for revolt.”
She, however, clarified that the party would not resort to armed rebellion, but would be from the street and parliament. “If the four political forces and the government do not take a progressive step, we shall bring the people on to the street and start a revolt,” Bhusal warned. CC members at the meeting argued that the party has to embrace a tit-for-tat policy. “If the government treats us with soft policy, we shall do the same. But if the government takes harsh action, we shall retaliate,” Bhusal quoted a CC member as saying at the meeting.
A CC member said that speakers at today’s meeting had urged the party leadership to form an alliance with leftist, nationalist and republican forces and concentrate on foiling the CA polls. On the third day today, more than 40 CC members including Haribhakta Kandel and Pampha Bhusal aired their views. At a press meeting, Bhusal said her party was prepared to boycott the poll. A CC member added that his party would not go for unity with UCPN-Maoist at any cost. “As CA polls held at the behest of foreigners cannot address people’s problems and save past achievements, we will boycott and foil the CA election.” Bhusal warned.
In Nepal, another ultra-left challenge
Dark clouds hang over Nepal, promising rain and rejuvenation, but at the same time, threatening a destruction of life and property. The political scene is no different. In the next five months before November 19, the date for the election of the second Constituent Assembly (CA), we will witness the full effect of this year’s politics. By then, we will probably discover whether the peace accord that ended Nepal’s first civil war holds seven years later, or be broken by the splinter Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M), led by Mohan Vaidya “Kiran,” frustrated with its marginalisation since the previous Assembly was dissolved last year.
The CPN-Maoist is opposed to elections “under the status quo.” This translates into a demand for the immediate resignation of the Chief Justice (CJ)-led election government, and an abstract call for a “round-table conference.” Other agitating parties, the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Nepal and the Sanghiya Samajbadi Party, have registered with the Election Commission, signalling their willingness to participate. Ideologically, they are not opposed to parliamentary politics either, and a few concessions and “face-saving” gestures should entice them to join the elections.
In fact, one of their demands, the formation of a constituency delineation commission, has already been met. There are indications that another key demand — increasing the ratio of seats allocated to proportional representation which will increase representation of excluded groups — will also be met. Such concessions will further isolate a CPN-Maoist unwilling to compromise on its demand that the current government be dissolved. Electoral calculations further complicate the picture.
The Prachanda-led Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is poised to lose votes if its former comrades participate while the Nepali Congress (NC) expects to benefit from the division in the Maoist party. The mainstream Maoists are aware of the debilitating consequence of a similar division in another communist party — the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML) split in the 1990s, which helped the NC sail home in the 1999 elections. The mother party often tries to lure the supporters of the splinter party with talks of reunification or an electoral alliance. The radical party itself appears to be in a dilemma about what course to adopt.
The idea of path dependence is being deployed by both the Maoist parties to prove opposite views. For the splinter party, the current path of the CJ-led dispensation was deceptive from the start and there is no way it will lead to a “pro-people” constitution. And since the CA would not produce the constitution, what is the point of participating in it? For its part, the mother party insists that the current path was necessary to break the impasse and write a constitution, and that it cannot be reversed, The big question, then, is what lies at the end of the path?
In an interview with The Hindu before his trip to India in April, Prachanda said that the splinter group will be isolated and “finished off” if it attempts a revolt. This attitude is buttressed by the conventional wisdom in Kathmandu that people have no appetite for another war. It also says that the mother party understands the methods of insurgency so well that any attempt at revolt by the splinter will be quickly crushed, and that India would have no qualms about such an outcome given that the radical Maoists have been shrill in criticising India’s role in Nepal. New Delhi’s position, sources say, is to support the November 19 election and encourage the splinter Maoists to join the polls.
But if the Kiran-led party tries to disrupt election activities even then, New Delhi feels it must not be allowed to hold the polls hostage, and the state must assert its authority. The splinter party does have disruptive capacity. A senior official involved in election preparation estimates that the group has 1,200 indoctrinated and trained former guerrillas who would have the motivation and capacity to unleash violence. Others put this number at 2,000. A pessimistic assessment of the undercurrents is an escalation of hostilities between the splinter Maoist party and the republican state, with an eventual descent into armed struggle. But there’s an “optimistic” reading as well.
According to a well-informed diplomatic observer, Prachanda is worried that Biplab, the most dogmatic of the radical Maoists and the one most likely to revolt, is playing the same game he played before the 2008 elections — to oppose polls “under the status quo” and ally with those seeking proportional representation — in an attempt to boost his popularity. The success of this strategy depends on the parties’ willingness to compromise. Bring them in Two goals stand out in the current discourse.
While the first, to get a fresh mandate from the people, gets great attention, the second, the continuation of the peace process, gets lesser attention. The only way to achieve both ends is to immediately make the CPN-Maoist a part of the political process by remembering the content and spirit of the 2006 peace accord between the state and the rebels, which remains unimplemented except for the disarming of the Maoists. In addition, its numbers in the dissolved Assembly make the CPN-Maoist a legitimate actor that has been wrongfully shunned by the “high level political mechanism” currently directing the government.
“Besides postponing the elections and removing the government, what could we do to bring the CPN-Maoist into elections,” was Bimalendra Nidhi’s query. The answer lies in a new agreement among the parties in the next few months which renews the commitment to the peace accord signed seven years ago and gives in to some of the Maoist demands without jeopardising elections. In the five months ahead, a big test for Nepal’s peacemakers will be to persuade the splinter Maoists to contest the November election, and for the power centres in Kathmandu to make compromises to that end possible. Conversely, attempts to isolate and split the Maoist party carry a risk of a return to levels of violence that will further destabilise Nepal.
CPN-Maoist leaders seek paramilitary force formation
KATHMANDU, JUL 02 – CPN-Maoist leaders gathered for the ongoing Central Committee (CC) meeting in Pokhara have stressed the need for forming a paramilitary force comprising the former People’s Liberation Army fighters, youths, workers and students.
Commenting on the party leadership’s proposal to start a fresh people’s revolt, around 110 leaders have suggested the party leadership that the revolt cannot be accomplished without such a force. The leaders on Monday emphasised launching an urban-centric ‘people’s revolt’. The speakers, who constitute both the Politburo and the CC members, suggested the party leadership that ‘classical revolution’ used during the Maoist insurgency could not work now. “Most of the speakers asked the party to focus on a new form of revolution terming the classical Russian model and the Chinese model as outdated,” said a CC member who attended the meeting.
Many other leaders suggested that the party leadership unify with other nationalist forces to strengthen the party’s anti-election rhetoric. They urged the party to make alliance with forces including civil society and professional associations who are against the “increasing Indian influence”. Many leaders have expected that the party could also use these forces as an indispensable part of the revolt. Politburo members Pampha Bhusal, Hitman Shakya and Haribhakta Kandel were among the 60 leaders who addressed the third day of the four-day-long closely guarded session.
Each of the CC members was given around seven minutes to present their remarks. The indoor session was primarily focused on commenting on five documents prepared by Chairman Mohan Baidya, General Secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa, Secretaries Netra Bikram Chand and Dev Prasad Gurung and Vice-chairman CP Gajurel. Each document, however, focuses on different aspects of the revolt. Baidya’s document is political while Thapa’s paper deals with party organisation and association.
Similarly, Chand’s document concerns the youths and their mobilisation, Gurung dwells on the party’s anti-election campaign while the Gajurel draft speaks of the party’s foreign policy. Around 15 more CC members are expected to speak by the lunch hour on Tuesday. The party leadership is expected to answer queries at the end of the discussion. Leaders speculated that the CC meeting, which was expected to end on Tuesday, is likely to take one more day.
CPN-M preparing “ultimate foil-poll strategy”
POKHARA: The CPN–Maoist, which is opposing the next elections to the Constituent Assembly, has been preparing to mobilise at least 12 cadres in each voting booth during the elections which, the party said, will be an ‘ultimate strategy’ to thwart the elections on November 19. The ongoing Central Committee meeting of the party in Pokhara discussed about the ‘ultimate strategy’ to foil the elections if they will be happened within the announced date. Party Secretary Netra Bikram Chand ‘Biplav’ proposed the strategy of deploying a 12-member force in each voting booth if other means to obstruct the elections fail to work.
The force will include village and district level party cadres including from student, youth, and peasant wings of the party, a CC member told THT after the meeting. Some 117 members have already aired their views on the political dossier presented by party Chairman Mohan Baidhya till today. Almost all the representatives airing their views have emphasised on the need to boycott the new elections at any cost, according to Maoists Spokesperson Pampha Bhusal. Bhusal further informed that the meeting will conclude tomorrow.