The State of the ANTUF(R)

In a recent entry I had written about the on-going factional crisis within the All-Nepal Trade Union Federation (Revolutionary) and opined that I did not think that if there was to be a split in the UCPN(Maoist) that it would be an unorthodox two-way split of Bhattarai-Baidya (Kiran) on one side and Dahal (Prachanda) on the other, rather than the more orthodox argument that it would either be a Baidya-Prachanda vs. Bhattarai split or a three-way split as some have suggested. I know that some are wondering why I am not commenting on the recent developments regarding the recent statements Com. Kiran has made regarding possibility of a Maoist-supported CPN(UML) government which would include Maoist cabinet members. However, I think that the question cannot simply be one of forming government and the allocation of cabinet seats between Maoist and UML leaders, but must be about the nature of the Party itself.

In the last few days there have been some updates from myrepublica.com regarding the internal crisis inside the ANTUF(R): 1) the leadership of the UCPN(M) demanded that the parallel trade union committees be dissolved; 2) a national conference for the trade union federation be called so that there could be fresh elections for Central Committee seats in the trade union federation leadership and 3) that the ANTUF(R) reduce the number of seats in the CC from 251 to 93 seats (the establishment faction lead by Jammakatel had expanded the number of seats, the Baidya-faction claim, for allowing more Jammakatel supporters to serve). However, this dispute has resulted in greater tensions between Kiran and Prachanda who apparently engaged in ‘heated exchanges’ about the issue; both trade union factions held parallel events regardless of the decision taken, which resulted in the Bhattarai-led faction to boycott both events and argue that both sides were acting in violation of party discipline; and just today saw the Baidya-faction members on the ANTUF(R) being sacked and a public statement by Jammakatel which reads, “I can´t convince those who have been kicked out of the CC after the party decision; I won´t abide by the decision”.

I personally think that there are 3 key inter-related issues at stake here: 1) the near collapse of party discipline regarding this issue, which is incredibly worrying and speaks to a level of internal degradation; 2) an ever-growing crisis within the leadership of the Party and its mass organizations about which line and who should be leading the Party; and finally 3) the development of a new ‘Red’ bureaucratic bourgeoisie within the Party that is closer to the bosses rather, than the proletariat and peasantry that brought then to power (the relationship between the Jammakatel-faction and the bosses has been accused of being incredibly friendly to the detriment of the workers that they are supposed to represent – a problem that we know all too well in North America). However, in a perhaps related article there has been a “reshuffling” of Party posts in the Seti-Mahakali State Committee as part of a ‘purification’ campaign. It seems like the time is coming fast upon the UCPN(M) to rectify the Party and fight the excesses of comrades who have gone “bad” due to the power that they have come to enjoy, otherwise, whether or not an insurrection occurs becomes a moot point as the revolution will have already been lost before the final battle has even begun.

Jammakattel ‘sacks’ Bajgain

KATHMANDU, March 1: Complexifying the intra-organizational crisis, the chairman of the Maoist All Nepal Trade Union Federation (ANTUF), Salikram Jammakattel announced on Monday that he has sacked a dozen Central Committee (CC) members including Vice-chairman Badri Bajgain from union´s central body.

Bajgain, who is close to UCPN (Maoist) Senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya, is the archrival of Jammakattel and he had lately formed parallel committees challenging the legitimacy of Jammakattel as the union chief.

Similarly, Jammakattel, in a press statement issued on Monday, sought clarification from those close to the union faction loyal to Vice-chairman Dr Baburam Bhattarai. He asked ANTUF Assistant General Secretary Lal Dhwaj Nembang to furnish clarification while accusing him of violating party discipline.

Earlier in the day, the Maoist top brass held a meeting with Jammakattel, Bajgain and Nembang to settle the dispute. Dahal requested them to abide by the decision of the party standing committee meeting decision last Friday.

The meeting had decided to dissolve the parallel committee formed by Bajgain and tasked the ANTUF central committee with holding the fifth national convention and downsizing the committee to 93 members from 251. “I can´t convince those who have been kicked out of the CC after the party decision; I won´t abide by the decision,” sources quoted Jammakattel as saying.

Similarly, Bajgain and Nembang stated that they would respect the party decision but object to Jammakattel leading the central body to hold national convention.

Baidya, Bhattarai factions boycott function attended by Dahal

KATHMANDU, Feb 28: The Maoist union factions close to Senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya and Vice-chairman Dr Baburam Bhattarai boycotted a function held by the establishment faction at Khanna Garment, Lalitpur on Sunday.

“We did not attend the function held by Salikram Jammakatel as we have differences with him,” said union Vice-chairman Badri Bajagain who is close to Baidya. Jammakatel is close to party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who attended the function on Sunday.

Bajagain has formed parallel committees challenging the leadership of Jammakatel. On the other hand, the Bhattarai faction has accused both Jammakatel and Bajagain of breaching party discipline. “Jammakatel is running the union in a bureaucratic manner, while Bajagain is an anarchist. We have made up our mind not to attend the functions by these two,” said Lal Dhwaj Nembang, assistant general-secretary of the union. Nembang´s group met party General Secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa to take steps to maintain the union unity.

“The general secretary has invited the leaders from the three factions to settle the issue,” said Nembang, adding that his group and Bajagain´s group would not accept the leadership of Jammakatel.

Meanwhile, Bajagain stated that the party leadership has dissolved both committees — the parallel committee Bajagain formed recently and the one elected by the fourth national convention which is led by Jammakatel.

“I have heard that the party has decided to dissolve both the committees, but retain the one led by Jammakatel to hold another national convention,” Bajagain told Republica.

He stated that it is up to the party leadership to decide whether or not to allow incumbent All Nepal Trade Union Federation (ANTUF) chief Jammakatel to retain his position.

Dissatisfied with Jammakatel´s leadership, Bajagain had formed the parallel committees accusing party Chairman Dahal of turning a blind eye to the financial irregularities committed by Jammakatel.

The party standing committee meeting last Friday saw heated exchanges between Dahal and Baidya over the issue.

Bajagain also stated that his faction would hold a meeting of the Sanghiya Parishad, which consists of central committee members from all branches of Maoist-affiliated unions, as scheduled irrespective of what the party has decided. “You will see, we will hold the meeting with huge fanfare,” he said.

According to sources, the party has decided to downsize the current ANTUF Central Committee (CC) from 251 to 93 members and mandate it with holding the union´s fifth national convention within three months. Similarly, the party also dissolved the parallel committee formed by Bajagain.

The ANTUF initially had 93 members. Bajagain faction has accused Jammakatel of turning the CC into a jumbo committee by inducting those loyal to him.

“The number increased after the party´s unification with Ekata Kendra two years back. So it is not logical to downsize the CC again. I know that the party has taken a decision regarding the union, but I am yet to be officially informed about it,” Jammakatel told Republica.

According to sources, the party has also suspended 11 ANTUF members, including Assistant General Secretary Rajan Timilsina, for six months for beating up two nursing mothers at Khanna Garment, Lalitpur, over the factional row in the union in January.

Timilsina is close to Jammakatel, while the two nursing mothers are close to Bajagain. “It is a victory for us,” said a union leader close to Bajagain.

Dissatisfied with both Jammakatel and Bajagain, the union faction loyal to Dr Baburam Bhattarai had held a separate meeting at Indreni Foodland at New Baneshwar on Saturday. The Bhattarai group is led by union Assistant General Secretary Lal Dhwaj Nembang. “We don´t agree with the ways of Bajagain and Jammakatel. So we held a separate meeting,” said a union leader from the Bhattarai camp.

Maoist Seti-Mahakali committee reshuffled

DIL BAHADUR CHANTYAL

DHANGADI, Feb 28: UCPN (Maoist) on Monday reshuffled positions of top leaders in its Seti-Mahakali State Committee as part of its “purification” campaign.

The meeting of the secretariat of the committee held on February 25-28 in Dhangadi picked Khaga Raj Bhatta as the in-charge of Doti district in place of Trilochan Bhatta.

Bhatta has been given the responsibility of secretary. Likewise, Jagat Bahadur Karki has been appointed in-charge of Dadeldhura district and Bharat Dhanuk the secretary.

Likewise, Bhim Bahadur Kadayat has been appointed as the in-charge of Baitadi and Darchula districts Gopal Chand and Lalit Singh Thagunna have been picked for secretaries for Baitadi and Darchula districts respectively.

Dhan Bahadur Malla has been picked as in-charge of Bajhang district and Ram Prasad Timilsena secretary. Likewise, Om Prakash Pun has been picked as in-charge of Achham and Bajura districts and Man Lal Khatri secretary.

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