KATHMANDU, June 28: As factionalism and disputes over the tactical line deepen the internal crisis in the party, Chairman of the UCPN (Maoist) Pushpa Kamal Dahal struggles to maintain his hold on the party and call a meeting of the Standing Committee, prior to resuming the Central Committee (CC) meeting that was postponed on Monday for three days.
According to sources, the Maoist chairman held rounds of meetings with Senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya who leads the party´s hard-line faction, and Dr Baburam Bhattarai who leads the moderates, but to no avail.
At one of the meetings of the party top leaders, another Vice-chairman Narayankaji Shrestha proposed Bhattarai as the party´s candidate for prime minister and Baidya had seconded the proposal. But in another meeting with Baidya, Dahal had tried to convince him that the party should rather forward the name of General Secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa as the prime ministerial candidate, terming Bhattarai as “rightist”.
“The chairman wants to break the tactical alliance between Baidya and Bhattarai that has been formed lately to cut him to size. Perhaps he plans to become prime minister himself finally after creating rifts among the senior leaders,” said a senior leader close to Baidya.
On Friday, 156 lawmakers from Baidya and Bhattarai factions had submitted a memorandum to the party demanding that the party implement its earlier decision to give women 33 percent representation in the Maoist share of the present council of ministers. The move clearly indicated that Dahal is in minority in the parliamentary party.
As the party´s wrangling factions have so far failed to mend fences, they continue to hold separate meetings of their groups to chalk out strategy.
On Monday, the Baidya faction held a meeting at Kupandole, the Bhattarai faction at Sukedhara and the Dahal faction at Jhamsikhel in Lalitpur.
The tactical alliance between Baidya and Bhattarai is meant to demand transparency in party finances and end to the centralization of power by the chairman.
Bhattarai faction has demanded its leadership in the party´s political front, while Baidya faction wants its leadership in the party organization.
Asked when the party would call the standing committee meeting, party secretary CP Gajurel said, “The chairman has told us that he would call a meeting after completing his homework. Perhaps he is focused on his homework.”
The most contentious issue however is the party´s line in the peace process. The hard-line faction, led by Baidya, has demanded that the party revoke its earlier decision to move ahead with the integration and rehabilitation of its 19,000-plus combatants prior to formulating a constitution, which ensures sweeping socio-economic changes in the country.
The faction has threatened to split the party if Dahal compromises on the party´s fundamental principles. According to sources, Dahal has assured Baidya that the peace process and constitution writing have already fallen into conspiracy and that there is no other option but to embrace the latter´s line of “people´s revolt” to realize the party´s ideological goals.
It may be recalled that Dahal had briefed the party CC meeting on Friday that there is almost no chance of the conclusion of the peace process and constitution drafting due to “conspiracy” hatched by the Nepali Congress (NC).
Many party leaders have demanded that the party unambiguously bring out its stance on the peace process and its road ahead.
“The party neither splits nor stays united. The party should immediately settle everything that is contentious. It would be better if the party splits rather than stay under such indecisive situation,” said Narayan Sharma who is close to Baidya.