The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center) was formed on Monday 25 groups to discuss the political document presented by Pushpa party chairman Kamal Dahal. But the delegates found themselves at their wit’s end.
They were faced with an intriguing question: How to hold a discussion about something that was not in their hands?
Earlier Monday, Dahal read his policy document titled “Nepal’s Road to Socialism in the 21st Century”. Delegates, a total of 1,631 from across the country, expected the party to distribute copies of the document, as is the practice.
But the party did not.
Dahal’s policy document is of immense interest not only to delegates and party members, but also to observers and analysts as well as to those who follow politics and journalists.
âWe will discuss the document and print it as a book after concluding our discussions. Then you will all have it, âKrishna Bahadur Mahara, party spokesperson and coordinator of the seven-member presidium that was formed on Monday to conduct the closed-door session, told media.
The Maoist Center began its eighth national convention on Sunday, initially called the âhistoric first national conferenceâ.
In the Maoist party, the political document presented by the president sets the course for the organization.
âI was impatiently awaiting the political document from our president. We all want to know how the president wants to lead the party, âsaid Devendra Sunar, a young leader from Syangja to Kathmandu. “I don’t know why the party is trying to keep the president’s document secret.”
The Maoist Center is organizing the Eighth Convention with the aim of developing a “new revolutionary thought” and building a “revolutionary party”, with the realization that over the years the party has lost its radical zeal and has become like any other parliamentary force in the country.
âHow our party reinvents itself largely depends on what our president prescribed in his document,â Sunar told the Post. âA full discussion of the document would have helped the convention reach a conclusion on our guiding principle. “
The Maoist Party was formed in 1995, but over the years it has changed its name several times to today called the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center). The party has always followed Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. He launched “People’s War” in February 1996. In 2001, the party adopted the “Prachanda Path”, contextualizing Marxism-Leninism-Maoism in Nepal for a revolution, advocating a combination of mass armed revolt and ” people’s war â.
In 2006, the party disarmed following a peace accord and joined mainstream politics. He then decided to get rid of the âPath of Prachandaâ. But he remained confused about his ideology.
the seventh congress in 2013 decided to adopt as a principle “the capitalist revolution to lay the foundations of socialism”. But leaders say no sincere effort has been made to implement this.
Now, as the party holds its general convention, it aims to find a new guiding principle.
But when the policy document is not available, discussions are not possible, say leaders.
Standing Committee member Chakrapani Khanal said the president presented a number of political documents in the past and they were available well in advance, if not months before, and then certainly weeks before the convention.
He believes that the political document may not have been distributed in advance also because the party had originally planned to hold a “conference” and not a “convention”.
“In our group, delegates also wondered why the document had not been provided to them,” said Khanal, deputy commander during the “People’s War”.
told the Post. “Of course there was discontent among the delegates because they were confused.”
The 25 groups are expected to sit at 11 a.m. on Tuesday to study the policy document.
According to one delegate, each group has a copy of the document. In each group there are 65 delegates.
At previous conventions and other national gatherings, Dahal used to circulate its political documents among key leaders well in advance so that ad hoc discussions could take place.
According to Mahara, Dahal proposed “a continuous and well-managed peaceful revolution” and that the party would be accountable to the workers.
âSocialism is possible thanks to a peaceful revolution. We engage with the proletariat … and a continuous and controlled revolution is underway. We must safeguard national independence and remain accountable to the people, especially the workers, âMahara summed up at the conclusion of Dahal’s policy document at the press conference.
For Dahal, who has been the party’s undisputed leader for more than three decades, the current convention presents certain challenges.
He has previously been accused of deviating from fundamental ideology and leaving the “people’s war” which paved the way for Nepal to become a secular federal republic.
He is also accused of failing to prepare leadership and of failing to guide his party – ideologically and on other fronts.
His extravagant lifestyle also became a topic of discussion among party members, but only a handful of them dared to speak out.
Dahal admitted on Monday that Maoist leaders must change their existing lifestyles to bring about cultural transformation. âNow a cultural transformation is needed and it should start with ourselves,â said one leader quoting Dahal. âThe lifestyles and the culture of the leaders and the executives do not correspond to the political line of our party. ”
Central Committee member Lekhnath Neupane said leaders likely did not want the policy proposal discussed at a broader level.
“In fact, I had advised Dahal to organize a workshop or seminar on at least 10 crucial issues in our society before he started to draft his policy document,” Neupane told The Post on Sunday. âHe told me it was a great idea. But he did not do it.
According to Neupane, a wider participation of people from different walks of life would have helped the party to find out where it had gone wrong and how the party could move forward.
âThere’s no denying that we need to do some soul-searching, but we also need to know how people, society and thinkers perceive us,â Neupane said. âWe cannot stay in a bubble and isolated right now. “
After the collapse of the Nepalese Communist Party (NCP), formed in May 2018 following a merger between the Maoist Center and CPN-UML in March, Dahal’s struggles doubled. He must guide his fractured party as he must make an effort to remain relevant in Nepalese politics.
His party is a key coalition partner in the current government led by Sher Bahadur Deuba of the Nepalese Congress.
Deuba is keen to push through a US $ 500 million grant, which the Maoist Center opposed. The grant, called the Millennium Challenge Corporation, has become a topic of division in Nepal.
He now threatens the ruling coalition.
Dahal is well aware that he is one of the prominent politicians who made the American give a rod for his back by arming him against Oli. He also knows it can shatter the coalition, which he doesn’t want at the moment.
As he addressed the inaugural session on Sunday, he appeared indulgent of the US grant, saying Nepal has long benefited from US aid. However, he instructed Oli to insert a parliamentary ratification provision later.
Reading his paper on Monday, he said that the US grant cannot be passed in its current form.
Analysts say such reluctance is a typical trait of Dahal, and that there might be something more in his document that he doesn’t want delegates to discuss at length. In the Maoist center, the divergent points of view are hardly entertained, according to them.
Historically, too, those who challenged Dahal or took their own positions were expelled from the party. The list goes on, starting with Mohan Baidya, Dahal’s mentor at one point from whom he took over. Longtime Dahal MP, also dubbed the party’s ideologue Baburam Bhatttarai, severed ties with the Maoist party in less than two weeks after the constitution was enacted on September 20, 2015.
Dahal’s comrade in arms during the âPeople’s War,â Ram Bahadur Thapa, has joined the UML.
Observers say the Maoist Center was on a slippery slope a long time ago, especially when it forgot that the party was a movement and not another political organization.
“The document should have been distributed at least a day or two before the start of the talks,” said Hari Roka, political economist. “Behind the delay in distribution, there could be a motive to narrow the divergent views.”