Straying Away From Pushpa Lal’s Path
Pushpa Lal, the founder of Communist Party of Nepal (CPN), never wrote his surname, Shrestha, to put himself above caste and ethnicity. Pushpa Lal had embraced spirit of internationalism that transcends colour, caste and creed. He strongly believed that humans will finally be an international race. It is also an essence of ‘Internationale,’ a global anthem of the communists and socialists.
However, many self-claimed disciples of Pushpa Lal are today miles away from his cosmopolitan philosophy. They are even engaged in provocative ethno-centric politics that pits one social group against another. Upendra Yadav, chairman of Federal Socialist Forum, always identifies himself as a true follower of Pushpa Lal. He began his political career from Pushpa Lal’s party in 2032 BS. To show his respect for CPN’s first general secretary, there is a picture of mentor hung up on the wall of his room.
Yadav was associated with CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre before forming his own party. He, however, does not carry the legacy of Pushpa Lal, who had spearheaded pro-peasant movements against feudal classes in the Terai. ‘Ji Kaho’ was one of such appealing campaigns that demanded that landlords address the poor farmers and the landless with honorific terms.
This class consciousness is sorely missing in Upendra’s political discourse that vilifies Khas-Aryans as exploiter of Madhesi people. Toxic ethnic invectives have replaced the concept of class. A host of communist parties today accuse Upendra of serving the Terai’s landlord and not rising above his own community, Yadavs, which make up the biggest chunk of Madhesi population.
Naya Shakti Nepal leader Dr. Baburam Bhattarai joined the fray to team up with Upendra for similar cause. Dr. Bhattarai had first visited Pushpa Lal Memorial Park at Champadevi of Kirtipur to pay a tribute to the iconic left figure after assuming the Prime Minister’s post. But, this has now proved to be only a lip service. The belligerent ethnic tone defines his party’s policies. Immediately after the promulgation of new statute, he quit his CPN-Maoist Centre and went to incite ethnic sentiments in the Terai. He stoked the Madhes agitation to undercut the new constitution. Many heavyweights of his party awoken to Bhattarai’s diabolic politics and deserted him. For the political survival, he has thrown in his lot with Upendra ahead of the local poll.
Bhattarai is going to merge his party with Upendra’s group, accepting the latter as his leader. It marks a big irony for Bhattarai. He often made a fuss that Prachanda never let him become a leader in his former party. And now, Bhattarai, known as an ambitious leader, is ready to acknowledge his ex-cadre as his political boss. When Bhattarai was a second man in the Maoist party during the insurgency, Upendra was working as a member of the regional bureau.
The CPN-Maoist Centre championed the ethnic politics that is now being carried by the Madhes-based parties. Ethno-centric politics had also sparked a bloodbath. The Gaur massacre is one such gory event that took the lives of over two dozen Maoist cadres. It resulted from the violent confrontation between the cadres of Upendra and Bhattarai’s previous party. Bhattarai seems to have refused to take a lesson from this gruesome incident and went on to gang up with his ex-bête noire in a bizarre twist of politics.