Nepal: Internal Crisis In Maoist Camp A Setback To Peace Process – Analysis
Nepal Media is awash with the details of the internal crisis within the Maoist Camp and of the manouevre of three so-called factions – that of Prachanda himself and the other two at the two ends- the one of Kiran Baidya and the other of Baburam Bhattarai.
What is more significant is that there now seems to be many analysts who appear to know a lot more on the internal divisions, background of various leaders and the dissident activities of various factions within the UCPN (Maoist).
These divisions are being seen in Maoist terms as that of a dilemma of red and expert, two line struggle or internal contradictions that are necessary.
Prachanda path after the twelve point agreement of 2005 appears to be no longer relevant and this was proved when the Maoist leadership had to give up its state wide movement to bring the state to a stand still subsequently when there was objection from a large number of people and representatives of the civil society. The charge that the party has moved from its ideological moorings may be correct, but it is unavoidable once the party decided to take a chance to join the political mainstream.
The Maoist camp is now being seen as three camps- one consisting of the cadres who had worked hard and suffered during the war and who are yet to benefit from the peace dividend that was their right to enjoy. There are others who are now enjoying the power, privileges and prestige, the distribution of which is concentrated in the hands of the chairman Prachanda. There are still others who see the interim peace now enjoyed as an opportunity to consolidate the gains made so far and move forward instead of getting bogged down by the privileges or by the extreme ideological positions taken including a return to “people’s movement.” The last one is identified as that of the faction of Baburam Bhattarai.
There are also (deliberate?) leaks of Kiran Baidya and C.P.Gajurel the so-called hardliners who were absent then, questioning the Chunwang decisions of 2005 that finally pushed the party to join the mainstream politics and try to attain their objectives by means other than war.
I have said it before and I am convinced that the so-called internal rift has nothing to do with the ideology or of the overall objectives- note that all so called factions did not oppose the five point agreement. This has much to do with the dissatisfaction of many leaders over the concentration of power, finance and privileges in the hands of the Chairman Prachanda and the internal crisis is more on lack of transparency in running that party by the chairman. This has much to do with the “style” of functioning of Prachanda and not over serious ideological differences as such
It is no surprise either that both Bhattarai and the Kiran Baidya factions are said to have joined hands to press for “collective leadership.” within the party.
Just as I feared, these internal differences and the postponement of the central committee meetings many times in July are being used to” up the ante” both in the peace process and in constitution making. An unacceptable hardline position is seen taken in the integration of the PLA. The only silver lining seen in the document is that Prachanda still looks for “consensus” in governance and to that end the party elders en masse met the Nepali Congress leaders subsequently.
The proposals made by Prachanda in his political report can be classified broadly into three categories- one those relating to peace process, two, those relating to the draft new constitution and three, those relating to governance. The proposals are
I. Peace process.
1. Regrouping process in the PLA camps into three categories is to be completed before August end.
2. Finalise the number to be integrated and norms for integration to be followed soon after.
3. The new directorate to be created as suggested in the proposal made by the Nepal Army should have PLA leadership and not the Nepal Army.
4. Integration should be unit wise and not on individual basis and there should be rank determination.
5. The integrated force under the new directorate should have a military mandate and not as forest guards or other such types of duties where the use or carrying of arms is not necessary.
6. A national security policy is to be drafted and acceptable to the party.
7. The court cases relating to the conflict period should be dropped.
8. There should be a “relief package” for those discharged.
9. Democratisation of the Nepalese army.
II. On the New Constitution:
1. Establishment of a People’s Federal Republican Constitution.
2. Autonomous federal states with right to self determination.
3. Directly elected Executive President.
4. Inclusive Electoral system.
5. Revolutionary and scientific land reforms
6. Priority Rights on natural resources for locals and marginalised people.
7. All other issues should be in accordance with the party’s draft constitution.
III. On Governance:
1. To form a national government under the party’s leadership.
On the peace process, it will be difficult for other parties and more importantly by the Nepal Army to accept bulk integration ( unit wise) and equally so for the new directorate to be led by the PLA. Though the PLA did not win the war, they are not a defeated group either. The veteran PLA personnel who have fought the war for a decade expect to be treated with dignity. This needs to be addressed. No one is yet clear as to what is meant by “democratisation of the Nepal Army..
On the new constitution, agreement is still possible if the Maoists take a more flexible approach. Prachanda is still the chairman of the special committee that is going into the contentious issues and compromise is still possible.
It is on governance that an agreement couldl be reached easily. On 18th of July, Dahal with his two Deputy Chairmen Baidya and Bhattarai along with the Gen. Secretary Narayan Kaji Shrestha and the former head of PLA and the Defence minister Ram Bahadur Thapa met the Nepali Congress leadership that included Paudel, Prakash Man Singh, Krishna Sitaula, Ram Sharan Mahat and Mrigendra Rijal to discuss on future governance and the need for a national consensus government.
The Nepali Congress is seen to have been taken in by the so called “internal rift” and is said to have pointed out its concern to the Maoist leadership and consequent likely delay in the peace process relating to army integration and constitution making. The Maoist leadership is said to have pushed with their “one line” agenda that the rift will not hamper the process of forming a national government. There was no promise of diluting the hardline position taken by Prachanda in the political report.
If the political document by Prachanda is more a bargaining posture for a “maximalist position” then it is understandable. But if the internal rift within the party real and imaginary is being used to have better leverage in getting more favourable terms, then other political parties particularly the Nepali Congress should take note of the real situation and stand firm on some of the fundamentals.
It is necessary here to point out that the Nepali Congress should dissuade its erstwhile former prime minister Deuba from nursing ambitions to become a Prime minister again in the new national government to be formed. He had proved to be a disappointment more than once and will ruin the party if he is given a chance again!