By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan.
In my update no. 248 ( Note 248), I had made a brief mention of the attempt of the Maoists to start “mass mobilisation” by the back door. It is now learnt that the Maoists have not only begun the mobilisation but have given a “military structure” to the organisation to pave the way for an eventual “people’s revolt!
The party has formed a 59 member Volunteers Bureau led by Netra Bikram Chand, a hard liner who said to be close to the hard line faction led by Mohan Baidya and plans are afoot to form state, district and local committees.
There will be six commands and six departments exactly in the way the party functioned during the ten year people’s war, with divisions, brigades and local units as the PLA functioned during the insurgency period.
Media reports indicate that cadres have been nominated to take charge of various commands with Uma Bhujel for central command, Jaga Prasad Sharma the western command, Shrawan Yadav for the Madhes command, Himaldhan Rai for the eastern command, Ganesh Man Pun for a special command and Deeplip Prajapathi for the party wings command.
That the force has the blessings of all the three factions amongst the Maoists can be seen by the fact that the most important wing- the publicity wing is headed by Shakti Bahadur Basnet, a cadre close to Dahal and the chief of the training unit is headed by a cadre Devendra Paudel who is reportedly close to Babu Ram Bhattarai. Netra Bikram Chand is, as said before is close to Mohan Baidya.
Netra Bikram Chand in an interview said that this organisation is a new concept meant to deal with the “current situation”.
What Chand has failed to say that the current “mess” – not situation was more due to the intransigence shown by the Maoists with “suitable contributions” made by the other two mainstream parties- the Nepali Congress and the UML.
Chand also made it clear that the new force will be in addition to the 50,000 strong Youth Communist League and thus confirmed what was long suspected that the Maoists were never going to disband the YCL despite repeated promises made by the party chairman Dahal.
Dahal in a recent cadre training programme hinted that the new force will have a strength of 500,000 and this was also confirmed by Netra Bikram who said that there “would be a few thousand whole-timers and tens of thousands of part-timers”. There will be no limit to the strength of the organisation that would go on expanding. He recalled that the party had once mobilised 500,000 youths at one time in Rolpa for road construction and in another time over 700,000.
Initially the force will be used for having cultural programmes which is perhaps meant to create an “awareness” amongst the people and later will be utilised in three sectors- Security, production and (Re)-construction.
The catch is in the term “security.” Though Chand had said that the organisation is a service-oriented outfit and that there is no “direct relation” between the party’s policy to revolt and formation of People’s Volunteers, the use of the term security would show that the intention is not as benign as is being made out. .
A separate publication is being launched to cover the activities of the bureau.
Having failed to regain power and with the chances of forcing Prime minister Khanal to hand over the Home portfolio getting slim, the Maoists appear to be mobilising people for mass action.
The peace process is already in jeopardy and the Maoists have not so far cooperated in getting the PLA combatants integrated or rehabilitated.
The tardy progress made so far in completing the new constitution before the deadline of May 28 could give the Maoists sufficient excuse to let loose the volunteers for “action.”
It is time other main stream parties put their house in order to meet the new challenge now posed by the Maoists. In the Nepali Congress, the Deuba faction does not appear to have reconciled to its merger with the parent unit. The UML is a divided house with the Madhav Nepal- Oli faction openly defying the party chairman and the Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal. The Madhesis are getting split into many factions and their influence is waning.
In this situation, the Maoists are the ones who are going to gain most and the move to create a “people’s volunteer force” with thousands of volunteers in addition to the PLA which is yet to be disbanded and the 50,000 strong YCL should certainly be a cause for concern for all the democratic elements in Nepal. But they seem to be embroiled in their own internal fights and are yet to see the larger picture and the lurking danger!
As the veteran democrat Surya Man Gurung had said, “lack of clear vision and strong leadership” is the reason for the prolonged political deadlock.
Another quote- this by the young and bright intellectual- Deepak Gyawali is worth quoting. He said and I quote in its entirety “ . . . Global history tells us that the paranoia of the new political masters takes over, most of what is good of the old ( but very little of the bad) is destroyed and the new never gets built on the rubble of the past. This where New Nepal is today, five years after the euphoria of 2006, stuck in a blind alley with a defunct Constituent Assembly and squabbling party warlords, even worse than 1958, 1997 or 2002.”