KATHAMDNU, March 20: Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has told the party´s central committee (CC) members loyal to him that the party is heading toward imminent split or dissolution if current differences within UCPN (Maoist) are not resolved immediately.
“The party is teetering on the brink of a split; it will dissolve even if it doesn´t split. So we should put in our best efforts to save the party,” a participant quoted Dahal as telling the emergency meeting of around 100 CC members close to him and Vice-chairman Baburam Bhattarai at Hotel Summit in Lalitpur Monday.
The meeting came close on the heels of a rival faction´s recent announcement of a series of campaigns against the party establishment. The rival faction led by Mohan Vaidya has accused the establishment of not implementing the decisions of the last CC meeting to dissolve the current government leadership and mobilize the masses to frame "people´s constitution" and integrate the PLA into the Nepali Army (NA) in a “dignified” manner.
According to sources the embattled chairman of the Maoist party did not appear very optimistic about party unity, but tried his best to assume conciliatory tone in his speech.
He pointed out the need to do away with the deeply-entrenched factionalism in the party, and negotiate in earnest with the hardliners.
“This internal contradiction in the party has been going for so long. We have arrived at this critical stage due to our failure to transform ourselves and take the party unity to a new high,” CC member Prakash Pokharel, who attended the meeting, quoted party chairman as saying.
The chairman reiterated that the party was still ideologically correct, but argued that leaders should change their attitude. Dahal told the meeting that he would talk to Baidya on holding joint programs including the celebration of the People´s Movement Day on April 6 and Lenin Day on April 22.
Similarly, Bhattarai, according to sources, backed Dahal and told the meeting that it would be counter-productive for his party to dissolve the current government. “I will do whatever the party tells me. But it will be irresponsible to resign now without seeking an alternative,” a leader quoted Bhattarai as saying.
Another vice-chairman, Narayankaji Shrestha, on the other hand, came out aggressive against the Baidya faction. He argued that the call for the prime minister´s resignation was linked to ideological tussle in the party. He was of the view that the hardliners wanted to create chaos and disrupt the peace process through government´s dissolution.
The party´s standing committee members expressed their views during the meeting, which will continue also on Tuesday.
The hardliners had also held a similar meeting at Kathamdnu for three days recently. The establishment faction has been pushed to a defensive position after the radicals began mobilizing ex-combatants to bolster their position inside and outside the party and announced protest programs unilaterally to topple the government.
According to sources, senior leaders from the hardline faction are also holding talks with the “patriots and intellectuals” for the causes of "nationalism and revolution".
Baidya and Dahal, who had strained relations for months, had begun hobnobbing with each other after the last CC meet two months back, but suspicion and mistrust between the two surfaced after the latter did not recall Bhattarai from the government and declined to formulate mass mobilization programs.
´No deal with establishment in bits and pieces´
What do you have to say about the separate meeting of the party establishment held on Monday?
I had talked to the party chairman this morning before the meeting was held. I had asked him about the meeting. But they were not yet clear about it. I am yet to learn about the concrete decisions of that meeting. So it will be too early to comment.
There were voices at the meeting that the unilateral political programs announced by your faction should be withdrawn for the sake of party unity. Will you do that?
Currently, we are working out the concrete protest programs. Last Saturday, we had only announced the protests without any details. There is nothing wrong with that as we will come up with programs in accordance with the decisions of the last central committee meeting. We will not make adjustments to the existing status quo.
What actually do you want?
There are so many issues that we have been raising, including the national sovereignty issue. The Bhattarai government has signed "anti-national" agreements. On top of that we cannot compromise on the contents of the new constitution. It seems the party is not working to formulate a "people´s constitution". They are rather surrendering to the parliamentary parties.
That means you cannot forge common programs with the party establishment, to keep the party united.
We are against signing agreements with the party establishment in bits and pieces. There are political, ideological and organizational issues that need to be dealt with in a package. We were compelled to announce the protest programs unilaterally after the chairman said clearly that he cannot implement the decisions of the last central committee meeting to recall Bhattarai from the government and formulate programs of mass mobilization for a pro-people constitution.