ANTUF(R) Split

The ANTU(R) finally split on March 12th into three factions which reflect the three main factions in the UCPN(Maoist) despite formal calls for Party-discipline and unity. There are some particularly troubling assertions that their is corruption inside the union with the head of the ANTUF, Jammakattel, making deals with employers and that Prachanda is unwilling to discipline him because he is the best fund-raiser. If this indeed true would mean to suggest that there are some serious problems in some of the priorities of the organization. The Baburam Bhattarai faction most interestingly formed it own faction that is calling for unity of all three factions, rather than siding with either faction. This of course raises immediate questions about my own reading of the Party divisions in the last few months. It immediately raises the question as to why the Baburam Bhattarai-faction did not pick a side in this split and has decided to form its own faction that is calling for unity. I think that there are two possible answers for this: 1) the split in the trade union federation is localizable to that mass organization alone (something that I noted was a possibility when I first reported on this issue) and 2) that picking a side in the trade union federation would prematurely flag a split in the party itself. A split that is not inevitable anyways (I am cautious about this fixation on two-line struggle and on splitting, especially when the UCPN(Maoist) has always believed in uniting with forces and continuous self-transformation). Anyways, I wanted people to see an update on the matter.

Maoist trade union splinters again (Kiran Pun)

KATHMANDU, March 12: Assistant General Secretary of the Maoist-affiliated trade union, Laldhwaj Nembang, who is close to Vice-chairman Dr Baburam Bhattarai, formed a parallel trade union on Friday, further splitting the trade union that has already broken into two.

Nembang, who was beaten up and held hostage by the Shalikram Jammakattel faction of the trade union 10 days ago, formed a 175-member committee after a meeting of trade union members loyal to Dr Bhattarai on Friday.

This means the Maoist trade union has formally split into three factions. Earlier, Badri Bajgain, who is close to Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya, had formed a parallel trade union, challenging the leadership of Jammakattel, who is close to Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

Beside Dr Bhattarai, Maoist standing committee member Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and politburo members Ram Karki, Devendra Paudel and Nabaraj Subedi attended the meeting of trade union members loyal to Bhattarai.

Nembang was active in bringing together the rival factions led by Jammakattel and Bajgain and forging unity in the trade union after Bajgain formed his parallel union last month.

Speaking about the Friday meeting, Nembang said, “We formed a committee for a unity campaign”. Nembang, who has been named coordinator of the campaign, added, “It will exert pressure [on rival factions] to unite.” 

According to him, the committee will very soon form similar committees in each state committee of the party and at industrial enterprises down to the local level.

“The unity campaign will end only after the two rival factions unite,” Nembang said about the committee´s plan.

But Maoist leader Shakti Basnet, who is party in-charge of the trade union, voiced his objection to the development and said, “It is ridiculous and unbecoming for the party vice-chairman to participate in such a meeting and address it as chief guest.”

The internal crisis in the trade union flared up after the rival factions declined to abide by the party Standing Committee decision last month. The party had decided to downsize the current central committee (CC) of the union from 251 members to 93 members and entrust the CC with holding the union´s national convention.

Meanwhile, the Bajgian faction is scheduled to hold a meeting of the Sanghiya Parisad, a mega gathering of all central committee members of Maoist trade union chapters, on Saturday.

Peasants Association gets office-bearers

The Maoist-affiliated All Nepal Peasants Association (2007) (ANPA) finally got its office-bearers on Friday, three months after its convention. Internal conflict in the party had delayed the appointment of office-bearers.

“Our office bearers are appointed on the basis of region, language, nationalities and state committee,” Nanda Bahadur Budha Magar, general-secretary, said, adding that the appointments reflect the equation in the party among Chairman Dahal and Vice-chairmen Baidya and Bhattarai.

Big money behind Maoist union split

KATHMANDU, March 13: The Maoist trade union, which is perhaps the most important organization of the party for the much-needed money and muscle, formally split into three factions on Saturday, with the rebel union leader Badri Bajgain declaring to have dissolved the existing 25 branches of the union and formed new ones.

“We held a meeting in the presence of party secretary CP Gajurel and formed 25 branches of the union,” Vice-chairman of the Maoist-aligned All Nepal Trade Union Federation (ANTUF), Badri Bajgain told Republica.

Bajgain is close to party Senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya, while the incumbent chief Saligram Jammakattel is close to party chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

On Friday, the union´s Assistant General Secretary Lal Dhwaj Nembang, who is close to Vice-chairman Dr Baburam Bhattarai, had also declared to have formed a separate 125-member union leadership. Previously, Jammakattel had declared to have sacked Bajgain and asked for written clarification of Nembang for breaching the party discipline.

The party leadership seems hopeless in the face of deepening crisis in the organization, though party sources say the leaders are backing their respective factions.

Two weeks back, the party had decided to dissolve all the parallel committees, downsize the current ANTUF central committee, headed by Jammakattel, from 261 members to 93 members with the mandate of holding a national convention for a new leadership. But Nembang and Bajgain declined to accept the leadership of Jammakattel for holding the national convention, while the latter also refused to downsize the ANTUF.

Union leaders admit that the amount of money the union has been collecting as “donations” is behind the current intra-organizational crisis. “I have been demanding action against Jammakattel for two years, but my voice has only fallen on deaf years,” said Bajgain.

There are around a dozen complaints against Jammakattel in the party. According to sources, however, Dahal doesn´t want to take action against Jammakattel as the latter is his “most reliable fund-raiser.” The union chief is said to have collected Rs 30 million to buy the votes of the lawmakers in favor of Dahal when the latter was a prime ministerial candidate.

“Another reason why Dahal in not in a mood to sack the union chief is because he is the man who can thwart the influence of Baidya and Bhattarai camps in the union,” says a Maoist central committee (CC) member.

The casinos in Kathmandu are another source of income for the union. Sources say the union raises more than Rs 100,000 from each of the eight casinos here. “The union gives protection to the casinos and the casino owners pay handsome amount to the union leaders for that,” says a junior leader of the union.

And the union also raises sufficient amount of money from the houses around bus stations which are rented out.

The Bajgain and Nembang factions have also accused Jammakattel of sellout. “The union calls a strike at workplace and suddenly calls it off without getting its demands fulfilled. The reason is that the leadership receives money from the owners,” says a senior union leader adding that the senior union leaders also join hands with the industrialists in sacking the employees.

The Maoist leadership had long been avoiding the intra-organization conflict in the union, and when it finally took a decision two weeks ago to resolve the conflict, none of the union leaders accepted the decision. “We have been told that the party will soon take a decision,” said Bajgain.


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