Possibility Of Unity Of Maoist Parties
Internal discussions are ongoing in both the Unified Communist Party of Nepal- Maoist, or UCPN-Maoist, and Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, or CPN-M, to unite the two influential parties. Lately, such discussions have become intense. Both UCPN-Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ and CPN-M chairman Mohan Baidhya ‘Kiran’ have held talks on the issue in person and made unity between the two parties as the agenda in the central committee meeting of their parties. The supreme bodies of the two parties have decided positively on the unity.
However, the recently started Central Committee meeting of the CPN-M has been postponed for a month, following intense debate in the meeting over a slightly differing stand between party chair Kiran and general secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa ‘Badal’. Most of the CC members in the breakaway party are for unity with the mother Maoist party. On the other hand, the UCPN-Maoist is so optimistic about unification that it has put on hold the conventions of its sister as well as professional organisations and are to be conducted only after the unification.
The main cause of the split in the mother Maoist party, UCPN-Maoist, in 2012 was the differing stand between the party chair, Prachanda, and the senior vice chair, Kiran. Prachanda was then for writing the constitution through the CA while Kiran was for a people’s revolt to write a new constitution. Differences in the tactical line of these two leaders had caused the split.
Most of the time, even during the decade-long insurgency, Prachanda and Kiran held differing views. This trend continued even after the start of the peace process in 2006 as Kiran was suspicious of the process while Prachanda was confident. When the Maoists’ militia, the People’s Liberation Army, was integrated with the national army before writing the new constitution, Kiran’s faction saw this as Prachanda’s surrender. The Maoist party had been for taking constitution writing and army integration together. In a way, the way the army integration was carried out was the major reason behind the split.
After the split, the newly formed CPN-Maoist, took a line for a people’s revolt for writing a people’s constitution. This party boycotted the Constituent Assembly election held in November 2013. On the other hand, the UCPN-Maoist stood for the CA and the new constitution.
The UCPN-Maoist was hopeful that it would get a good majority in the election whereas the splinter party was thinking it could disrupt the election. They both turned out wrong. The election was held peacefully despite some disturbances. The UCPN-Maoist, which was the single largest party in the first CA, came a poor third, trailing behind the second largest party with a huge margin. The split had led to the ‘defeat’ of both, badly weakened as they were by the division. Leaders of both the factions realised it, but there was no political reason for coming together.
The CPN-M thought that the CA would never write the constitution. Now that the new constitution has been promulgated, and both the Maoist parties have realised the need for unity, the discussion for unification is intensifying. Moreover, the CPN-M has also suffered a split.
There is another reason for coming together between the two parties. Both still harbour dreams of a revolution. Although the CPN-M believes that a political revolution is yet to be concluded as new democracy has not been established, the UCPN-Maoist holds the logic that enough ground has been created for jumping into socialism with the new constitution, a dream shared by both.
Moreover, these two parties have had one voice regarding nationality and issues relating to the peace process or accord. In March 2014, they had issued a joint statement denouncing the arrest of Maoist cadres for crimes committed during the war period. In June that year they also decided to form a working alliance for the new constitution although this decision never materialsed.
With the promulgation of the new constitution, the UCPN-Maoist can argue that it has been able to institutionalise some of the gains, such as republicanism, federalism, secularism and inclusive democracy. The CPN-M can also conclude that its prediction that the new constitution would not be as expected has been proved. But they are partially right, and also partially wrong. They ought to realise their weakness as well as strength. They cannot move ahead or make unity with the hangover of the people’s war. They should realise the changed political situation of the country and identify their next goal.
Unity always sends a positive message. The unification between the two Maoist parties should give renewed hope to their cadres. But before their unity, leaders of both the parties should renew their vow to work for the people, democracy and nation. That they will stand against corruption and for transparency, that they will prevent their cadres from engaging in corrupt practices. They must understand that most people have lost confidence in them. The Maoist leaders must regain the people’s confidence, and doing so will require initiating activities that help the people.
Unity for the sake of nation
Unity should not be for the sake of the term but for the sake of the people and nation. The Maoists still hold relevance today for they were the key players in institutionalising republicanism. And for this, they must work to implement the new constitution. Is the CPN-M which stayed away from the constitution-writing process ready to work for its implementation?