UCPN(Maoist)’s Orbit seems to be Experiencing a Big Crunch

So by now I am sure that you all have heard that the Prime Minister of Nepal, Jhalanath Khanal, has resigned from his post due to pressure from his own party (the CPN(UML)) to stand by his commitment to resign and the fact that a “no-trust” motion sponsored by the Nepali Congress (NC) had gotten the support of 60 lawmakers. Predictably, Prachanda has called for the formation of a consensus government under the leadership of the UCPN(Maoist), and most likely with Baburam Bhattarai as PM (the NC has similarly demanded that they be allowed to form government because it is “their turn” as if the Prime Ministership was some ride at the local amusement park). It remains unclear how the sharp divisions that exist within the Party will effect the possibilities of such a scenario occurring. Indeed, the possibility of a split looms large over the UCPN(Maoist) and its fortunes, albeit a split seems unlikely in the near future. Although troublingly, the Party’s orbit seems to be experiencing a Big Crunch as mass organizations seems to be collapsing onto themselves as yet another mass organization affiliated with the Party has split, although this time into Prachanda and Kiran factions only (it is unclear and slightly surprising that a Bhattarai faction has not emerged considering the fact that Bhattarai is well-liked amongst intellectuals, but less so amongst Party ideologues). This is the second mass organization that has publicly split in the last year. Indeed, it suggests either that the Party factions’ leadership is increasingly being unable to control mass organization leaders and bridge the rift that the line struggle has caused OR these splits are actually carefully planned events that precipitate a future split i.e. these splits become a controlled split that occurs over several months and allows for the creation of the necessary infrastructure for the future split parties.

Also, a recent article suggests that life inside the YCL has also become a burden especially as it has become crystal clear to all those who are willing to see that the Party is unlikely to approve a plan for an urban people’s uprising in the immediate future. However, it is incredibly troubling that the YCL and its effective successor, the Youth Volunteers, seem to have become moribund organizations as it suggests that even if the Party was to to change course  it would take time and effort to reorganize and consolidate. Indeed, it is apparent that even if the Party were to split tomorrow and a revolutionary wing to emerge from such a split that it is unlikely that any future organization would have the necessary infrastructure or popular support to actually effect such an uprising. It is far more likely that this organization would have to spend close to another decade reorganizing and convincing the masses all over again that they should support another revolutionary endeavour, albeit popular support for a revolutionary capture of power continues unabated in the countryside where families continue to bear the scars of the decade-long people’s war. Furthermore, it is in this period of flux and uncertainty that a second-generation of revolutionary leaders must emerge for the Nepalese revolution to have any chance of success.

Maoist cultural wing splits

KIRAN PUN

KATHMANDU, Aug 13: The recent efforts within the UCPN (Maoist) to end the continuing intra-party feud seems to have fallen apart, with a split in the party´s top cultural group – Samana Pariwar — on Friday.

Members of Samana Pariwar close to party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal formed a separate cultural group, splitting from the group dominated by Senior Vice Chairman Mohan Baidya.

The faction of the cultural group close to Baidya was in Birtanagar for its cultural campaign “Saman Jansangeet Abhiyan” when the Dahal-faction announced a parallel group in Kathmandu.

“Finally, we announced a 23-member committee,” Bhim Kumakhi, newly appointed coordinator of the group close to Dahal-faction, told Republica. Earlier, he was the coordinator of the Magarat Pariwar.

This is the first time that the establishment faction of the largest party has split a sister organization. The group is the second wing of the party to have faced a split after the party´s trade union. The trade union was split into three groups.

Samana Pariwar had played a pivotal role in educating common people in rural areas about the Maoist ideology during the conflict.

The feud in the Maoist cultural group had surfaced some three months ago after the Dahal faction forcefully separated its members from members close to the Baidya faction.

Both the teams had conducted separate cultural programs in Rastriya Nachaghar and Nepal Academy last month in a clear indication of an imminent split.

Meanwhile, both the cultural groups have claimed to be the legitimate group of the party.

“The party should decide which group is legitimate,” said Bijaya Sampang, coordinator of Samana close to the Baidya faction. “We will file a case in the party against another group.”

Maoist cultural bureau in-charge Ninu Chapagain said the split is the reflection of the continuing intra-party feud. “The split reflects intra party rift. Disputes can be resolved if the faction leaders so want.”

After the split, both the factions have accused each other of being counter-revolutionary.

What went wrong with YCL?

POST B BASNET/KIRAN PUN

KATHMANDU, Aug 11: On the banks of dirty Bishnumati river, just across the residence of Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal at Nayabaazar, is a dilapidated hut where Saroj Lama, 24, and his wife Karina, 24, are busy doing household chores.

Married to Saroj in 2007, Karina is now a mother of an eight month-old child who struggles for space within the stiflingly crammed hut time and again as the mother holds the child back and lets her crawl on the bare cold floor.

Members of the Maoist Young Communist League (YCL), Saroj and Karina met in Kathmandu in 2006, fell in love at first sight, got married the following year and decided to devote their lives for the cause of “revolution.” Four years on, they find their zeal and enthusiasm flagging and their commitment to revolution faltering.

“We have received directives from the party to not get involved in politics. We are no longer doing what we as YCL members once did,” says Saroj who joined the Maoist party when he was an eighth grader in his home district Makwanpur.

The couple works in the field around the hut that was once a riverbed, produces vegetables and grains, and send the surpluses to the party. This was, however, a far cry from what they were taught back in 2007, and what they dreamt up. “Back in those days, we were euphoric and everyday was purposeful,” says Saroj.

With the number of YCL full-timers dwindling fast, Saroj and Karina along with four others are the last of their kind to stay back on the riverbank that was once the shelter of over four dozen members. Some of their colleagues were transferred to other party wings and organizations, while others left for home or abroad.

The UCPN (Maoist) has long stopped issuing political instructions to the YCL as the party has been thrown into intra-party conflict and ideological confusion, and the couple, like other YCL members, has been rendered jobless.

What went wrong 

Till a year ago, the YCL hogged the headlines for all the bad reasons: beating up rival party cadres, taking law into its own hands, operating “dubious businesses” and launching extortion drive, among other things. But four years after its formation, the YCL is conspicuously absent from the popular media. What went wrong?

“We have officially decided to keep it low profile for now as per the party´s official decision,” says YCL coordinator Ganeshman Pun. He concedes that there is something wrong with the operation of the YCL that earned disrepute over the years, but adds that the party had to decide to inactivate the youth body for now only to adjust with the current political reality.

Party leaders accept in private that there were at least three reasons that compelled the party to deactivate the YCL: First, demands by other political parties to disband its paramilitary structure; secondly, the serious factionalism in the party; and thirdly, the growing disillusionment of the youths especially after the party launched unification drive in 2008.

“They did not see any prospect of making progress in the party career as the new entrants occupied many top positions. Nor were they sure about the party´s commitment to revolution,” says a senior party leader from the hard-line faction led by senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya.

On top of that, the party, he argues, did not find the YCL as necessary at this juncture.

Maoists formed the militant YCL immediately after joining the peace process. “The YCL were expected to be in the frontline of the people´s revolt. So it is quite natural to make the body inactive as we don´t have that line now,” says Shyam Kumar Budha Magar, member of YCL secretariat in Kathmandu.

YCL was the part of the Maoist party even before launching the insurgency in 1996. After the insurgency gained momentum, the members of the YCL were recruited into the People´s Liberation Army (PLA) and the body was made inactive. After the party joined the peace process, and the PLA was required to stay in the cantonment, the youth force was revived once again as the party as per its organizational philosophy always needs to have a militant body at its disposal in case the political reality requires a final push for “revolution.”

“Most of the PLA members who were politically aware and had leadership qualities were recruited into the YCL to make the body strong,” said a senior YCL leader who did not want to be named. But the party neither saw any immediate possibility of a revolt, nor made preparations for it.

After the Palungtar Plenum in November, the party decided to form Youth Volunteers, a mega organization incorporating YCL and youths from all sections of the society, to launch a people´s revolt.

But the majority of the YCL members who were loyal to the Dahal faction declined to join the Youth Volunteers as it was led by Netra Bikram Chand from the rival hard-line faction.

Then neither the YCL nor the Youth Volunteers became active leaving the party without any well-organized militant force.

Despair and depletion 

After the Maoists joined the peace process, the YCL was the most conspicuous wing of the party, which was regarded a vital organization for launching an urban insurrection for state capture, having seized vast swaths of rural Nepal. Back then, the party had deployed some 5,000 full-timers YCL members in the Kathmandu Valley alone. They had set up camps in all the electoral constituencies of the Kathmandu Valley, with 300 to 400 members each.

But the number is fast depleting. According to party leaders, some were transferred to party´s other departments and wings, some returned home, some initiated their own business, some are involved in “dubious financial dealings”, while others flew abroad for employment. The YCL have quit the camp, but still stay in groups at rented houses in all the electoral constituencies of the valley.

Now the number of YCL members in each group has plummeted to 30-40. Some leaders argue that the party would soon reactivate the organization at an appropriate time.

“YCL has only receded into a dormant state, and the party may revive it when the need arises,” argues Dharma Pun at YCL secretariat in Kathmandu. But most of the YCL revolutionaries are not yet sure how long they should stay jobless and what fate has in store for them.

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