Creation of CPN-Maoist Centre Can It Revive Maoist Movement?
Ritu Raj Subedi
The creation of CPN-Maoist Centre that combines ten different Maoist groups has breathed new life into a disintegrated Maoist movement. The massive merger of ragtag Maoist factions, which had lost much of their ideological and organisational traction in the wake of changing political dynamics, sought to avert their existential crisis. The outcome of the second Constituent Assembly (CA) election held in 2013 was almost a deathblow to the party that had earlier risen to power by using both bullet and ballot. Of late, however, the war-era rights violation cases hanged like the sword of Damocles over their heads. This common threat virtually brought all Maoist splinters to one place. Though some factions refused to go along with Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda’s unity roadmap, all the Maoist splinters are unanimous in denouncing the attempts to litigate serious conflict cases against them. Even Dr Baburam Bhattarai, who went so far as to disassociate himself with the Maoist politics, teamed up with them to castigate the government for ignoring their plea not to tackle such cases through regular court. Thus, there lay an obvious motive behind the frantic and hasty declaration of unity: Live to fight another day, meaning that they must put up a bold face against any ploy to deny the ‘glory of people’s war’ and send them to prison.
The leaders ranging from soft-liner Bhattarai to hardliner Mohan Baidhya and Netra Bikram Chanda have spurned to jump on the unification bandwagon. Instead, they hurled far-fetched communist invectives against the new Maoist centre. Thus, the unification has generated two opposite sentiments in the Maoist rank and file. A sense of euphoria swept away Prachanda and his newcomers. He has really gone overboard when he said the unity heralds the start of Maoist victory. His elation is not natural given the fact that he suffered many in the past as he led the nation towards the home grown peace process. His political energy was exhausted by the series of splits of the party. He earned kudos from the non-Maoist parties and international community for his bold step to turning the party into a civilian force and successfully managing and integrating his combatants. But, his incarnation as a peace leader got a roosting from the hardliners, who heaped serious charges and scorns on him for betraying the ‘revolution.’ Against this backdrop, the unification of several groups seemingly gave a new lease of life to his declining political career and moribund Maoist movement.
Nonetheless, the political sceptics argue that the unification can hardly put a brake on its constant slide. Ideologically, the Centre has arrived where the CPN-UML is. Barring some boisterous rhetoric, the UML and the Maoist Centre are not fundamentally different in their political, economic and social programmes and policies. The moderate masses can prefer the centrist UML to the belligerent Maoist Centre. The Maoist cadres see the UML being bogged in the parliamentary quagmire. This accusation also applies to the Centre that brought all sorts of bourgeois maladies to it within a short span of it. In some cases, it even outpaced the UML. Many Maoist cadres and leaders became parvenus by abusing power and browbeating the public. A large number of former militia, who became disillusioned with the Maoist revolution, are pointing the finger at their overlords for their opaque fiscal deals and promiscuous behaviours. Moreover, the ethnocentric politics that the party invoked to lift the insurgency has now become an albatross around its neck. Now the chauvinistic ethnic slogan has threatened the nation’s integrity with its backers openly talking about its secession.
However, Prachanda is said to have made many undue compromises to forge unification in a mechanical manner. It was more a convergence of parties than ideological unity, claim the detractors. In its immediate tactical line, Prachanda has said that the CPN-Maoist Centre will fight for nationality and strive to complete the capitalist revolution to usher the nation in socialism. Waging a merciless battle against imperialism is another agenda. However, he has toned down rhetoric against the southern neighbour in order to bring Matrika faction to his fold. According to a weekly, Prachanda had initially used term ‘expansionist’ to define the hegemonic character of India but Matrika insisted that this will land them in the soup and asked Prachanda to retract the word. He accede to his demand and rope in him, who is known for his freakish mood and erratic acts. Now Maoist functionaries have started to see him as a mule and slippery Madhesi leader.
It is baffling that the unity move did not turn out to be good news for the stiff-necked stalwarts like Baidhya and Biplav or moderate ex-Maoist guys like Bhattarai. They are belittling the creation of Maoist force. Baidhya and Biplav banded together to deride it as the crowd of revisionist and non-revolutionary guys. For them, this unity is merely a deceptive and illusionary move and seeks to abort their Naya janabadi kranti (New democratic revolution). One Biplav’s aide went too far when he said the centre consists of ‘mass of corpses.’ Bhattarai also could not resist his temptation to mock the unification. He called the constituents of new Maoist party as ‘dead wood’. As an old pal, he could at least extend best wishes to his friend-turned-nemeses upon their reunion. His malicious feelings towards them show he has not still got rid of past hangover when he and his rivals trade brickbats over absurd ideological issues. In Nepal, the communist groups have not yet developed political culture to respect different views among themselves. When they divide or unite, it is quickly followed by a wave of derision. Could they not avoid bellicose grandstanding and slanging match when they go through division or unification?