Birth Of Maoist Centre And Two Trends
Last week, two significant political events with regard to the Maoists occurred. On May 19, around 10 Maoist break-away parties joined the UCPN-Maoist and renamed it the CPN (Maoist Centre). The following day, the CPN-Maoist, another break-away Maoist party headed by Netra Bikram Chanda ‘Biplov’, a standing committee member in the previous UCPN-Maoist, engaged in a show of strength, with rallies and a mass meeting in Kathmandu.
As usual, the unity among the Maoist parties found coverage in all the national print media whereas the mass meeting of Biplov’s party got no space. That the unified Maoists make the third largest party in Parliament while Biplov’s party is just a rebellious faction may have influenced the media’s coverage. But a clear scene has occurred now, with two Maoist trends in the country, one that stands for the new constitution and the other against it; one that believes that the political revolution is over and the other that is preparing for the ‘real revolution’. These trends have far-reaching political consequences for the country.
According to the newly formed Maoist Centre, the basis of the unity is the need to protect the political achievements made so far. They claim the republic is still under threat, so is secularism, federalism and so on. They see plots being hatched to revive the monarchy, Hindu state and unitary ruling system.
In a nutshell, they are for safeguarding the new constitution, which has institutionalised the political achievement made so far. In this sense, they are for implementing it by making amendments for addressing the demands of the agitating Madhesi and janajati groups.
They think further political gains can be made if they become winners in the coming elections.
But it is actually the weakened position of the parties, especially the UCPN-Maoist, that forced them to come together. After breaking away from the mother party and forming new ones, influential leaders such as Matrika Yadav, Ram Bahadur Thapa, Jayapuri Gharti went into oblivion. On the other hand, Maoist chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda suffered a big jolt when his party got defeated in the second Constituent Assembly election despite his assumption that the splinter parties would make no difference to his party.
Moreover, they perceive threats of war era cases being revived. In spite of the Comprehensive Peace Accord and the previous cabinet decisions to withdraw cases against Maoist leaders, they all know that there are still cases against them in the courts. At one recent programme, Prachanda revealed that there were 38 cases related to the decade-long armed conflict that ended in 2006 against him.
Similarly, successive governments headed by the Nepali Congress or the CPN-UML after the peace process started did not pay much attention to providing relief to the families of the disappeared persons or those who lost their lives in the war or were wounded. Relief was provided only when there was a Maoist-led government or the Maoists were a major ally in the government. The recent 9-point agreement between the UML and the Maoist also mentions that relief to the families of the disappeared would be provided as decided by the previous governments.
The unity is not a party unity as such. It seems only some Maoist leaders have come together. Mani Thapa was ousted during the armed rebellion, Matrika Yadav had distanced himself from the party a year after the first CA election, Ram Bahadur Thapa ‘Badal’ had formed another party with Mohan Baidhya Kiran some four years ago and Tilak Pariyar was a politburo member in the CPN Maoist. But neither Biplov nor Kiran has joined the mother party or the CPN (Maoist Center).
Of course, those who have joined have many members loyal to them, but the whole party has not joined. Because of this and the number of central committee members, some have termed the new party as an umbrella party, meaning more heads than legs. Moreover, the Biplov Maoist party now retains most of the militant Maoist cadres.
In the last one year since Biplov distanced himself from the CPN (Revolutionary Maoist) and formed the CPN-Maoist, his team has expanded its base at the grassroots for what it says a unified people’s revolution. As the people have yet to taste the fruits of political change and the new constitution, Biplov’s party has great appeal in the rural areas. The number of people that participated in the recent rallies in the capital proves it.
Clearly, the Maoist party led by Prachanda has entered the parliamentary system, against which they spat venom during their people’s war. Biplov’s Maoist party is still carrying on with the war era agenda of people’s power. No doubt political changes have been institutionalised, but the people sense no change as such. There is still dissatisfaction among the Madhesi and janajati people with regard to the new constitution, particularly on the number and boundaries of the provinces.
Yet, if Prachanda’s party wants to serve the people, there is enough space. But for this they need to compel other ruling as well as opposition parties to address the genuine demands of the agitating forces, reach out to the people, fight against corruption and black marketing. Otherwise, Biplov’s party will overtake them sooner or later because the base of the Maoist parties is the same - the poor, downtrodden, oppressed, marginalised as well as some middle class people.