Baidya, Chand statements indicate widening rift
KATHMANDU, Sept 20: In a clear indication of the intra-party rift widening in the CPN-Maoist, the party Chairman Mohan Baidya and Secretary Netra Bikram Chand issued separate statements on Saturday in connection to the recently signed Power Trade Agreement (PTA) and Project Development Agreement (PDA) with India. Arguing that the agreements were against the national interest of Nepal, the CPN-Maoist had been pressing the government not to ink the deals. However, while unveiling their protest programs against the agreements, Baidya and Chand stood divided. After Baidya refused to impose general strike during the festive season, Chand announced strikes in several districts in the mid-western and far-western regions. Chand called a three-day general strike starting Tuesday in the districts demanding that the agreements be scrapped.
On the other hand, Baidya, issuing a separate statement, announced only to stage demonstrations against the PTA and PDA. Likewise, in the statement, Baidya has not demanded to scrap the agreements; he has merely condemned it and appealed for solidarity from people against the protest programs of the party. A party source claimed that, Chand had prepared separate protest programs after Chairman Baidya appeared reluctant to impose a general strike in view of the festive season. “The party leaders had called on the leadership to issue a joint statement,” said a party leader, who was privy to the party´s internal deliberations, requesting anonymity. “We knew only from the media that two separate statements were issued.”
A rift between party establishment, which is led by Baidya and General Secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa, versus the Chand faction had deepened after they were sharply divided over whether or not to attend the ´all-party political conference´. Chand had been pressing the party leadership not to attend the conference. Chand had demanded that other political parties recognize CPN-Maoist as a parallel political force just the way the “people´s government” was regarded during the insurgency era. Having differences on party´s political agendas, party secretary Chand had floated a separate political dossier in the party central committee meeting a few months ago. The document was floated among party cadres for their feedback. Failing to settle the intra-party rift, CPN-Maoist had postponed its special general convention indefinitely.
“The differences over party policies between the two leaders have become public. But Chairman Baidya and Secretary Chand have similar stance with regard to the PTA and PDA,” claimed party leader Sharad Singh Bhandari. However, another party leader claimed that the differences existed between party General-Secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa and Secretary Chand. “Actually Baidya has been working hard to settle the differences between the two leaders,” said a party leader close to Chairman Baidya. Baidya has strong backing in the party from General Secretary Thapa, Secretary Dev Gurung, leader Pampha Bhusal, Hitman Shakya and others. While Chand has support from leaders Khadga Bahadur BK, Padam Rai, Bharat Bam, Om Prakash Pun, Uma Bhujel and Santosh Budha Magar, among others.