Dr. Baburam Bhattarai and the Race to the Prime Ministership

Ex-Prime Minister Khanal stepped down from the Prime Ministership this past weekend and the jousting for position is well underway (indeed, it was well underway the day that Chairman Dahal himself stepped down from the post). The UCPN(Maoist) has put forward Dr. Baburam Bhattarai as their candidate for the Prime Ministership as was agreed upon in the power-sharing deal that was reached within the Party. Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, as many know, enjoys widespread support amongst the Nepalese middle classes, who regard him as both a successful intellectual but also as a honest political moderate. The UCPN(Maoist) has recently also held meetings with the Madheshi parties to negotiate support for his candidature. Dahal  has also attempted to lure support for Dr. Baburam Bhattarai by repeating the same old refrain that they, the UCPN(Maoist), is the only Party capable of leading the government and breaking through the impasse in the peace process. However, what is more surprising are comments made by Party leaders close to Com. Kiran, such as Com. Kul Prasad KC, who have said,

If they want the return of properties seized during the People´s War, they should also be ready to withdraw trumped up legal cases against the party leaders. They should also legitimize the decisions take by the people´s government during the People´s War

Indeed, it is seems less clear, if such public statements accurately describe the Kiran faction’s line, then what the major differences are between Com. Kiran’s camp and that of Pushpa Dahal’s or Dr. Baburam Bhattarai regarding the peace process besides the exact nature of the compromise reached (Bhattarai is accused of being too conciliatory, Dahal of being opportunistic, and Kiran being more intransigent). I mean it is clear to all that Com. Kiran is less conciliatory than Dr. Baburam Bhattarai and the Pusphpa Dahal when it comes to negotiations with the CPN(UML) and the Nepali Congress and that he supports preparations for the people’s revolt, however, it seems that there seems to be a gap between his position on the latter issue and his positions on the former issue. Indeed, any compromise on the peace process that allows for any advancement in the peace process would necessarily make a people’s revolt far more difficult. In fact, the differences between the Kiran faction and the Bhattarai faction regarding the peace process seem more akin to those who are on the Left in the Democratic Party and complain that Obama and his team is not hardline enough against the Republicans and too willing to compromise. What remains lacking is a clearly articulated message by the Kiran faction as to how the Party could be placed back on a revolutionary footing.

That is why it is good to see two articles circulating by Com. Indra Mohan Sigdel, also known as Com. Basanta, entitled, “The question of building a new type of communist party” and “The International Communist Movement and Nepalese Revolution“. In these two articles we begin to see the nascent articulations of a new revolutionary programme for the UCPN(Maoist), however, I personally find Com. Basanta’s contributions to the debate regarding the ICM to have greater clarity than his article on the problem regarding a party of a new type. Indeed, Com. Basanta summarizes the classical positions put forward by Marx, Lenin and Mao regarding the role of the Party and its organization, and argues for the need for a revolutionary transformation of the Party that avoids the revisionist pitfalls it is currently mired in. However, Com. Basanta does not clearly articulate a vision of what this new revolutionary party would look like and how it would differentiate itself from the UCPN(Maoist) in its current, save its present reformism. Indeed, I agree that the two-line is the manifestation of the class struggle in society, however, it seems to me that then one would assume that the form of the organization or at least its must change to also reflect this new class content. However, no such organizational programme it clearly articulated. In regards to the ICM, an issue that Com. Basanta is closely intimate with due to his current role in the UCPN(Maoist)’s International Bureau, Com. Basanta argues that there needs to be greater attentiveness on the part of the UCPN(Maoist) to its internationalist responsibilities including to the RIM. Furthermore, he decries the relationships that the UCPN(Maoist) has made with the CPI(Marxist) and SUCI, whilst neglecting relations with other Maoist parties. And calls for the resuscitation of a RIM-like organization, and a broader anti-imperialist united front.

It is clear that as the politicking continues for the Prime Ministership the Party’s Left is still attempting to develop a coherent revolutionary programme that put a stop to this revisionist slide into peaceful transition and parliamentary politics. Indeed, as Com. Basanta explains, all is not lost, the UCPN(Maoist) has been in such a situation before and has in similar situations been able to rise to the challenge and clearly articulate a revolutionary programme and strategy, and that the time has come for renewed efforts.

Maoists push for Bhattarai as PM

KATHMANDU, Aug 17: The Maoists have decided to take the initiative for a national consensus government led by their party Vice-chairman Dr Baburam Bhattarai.

A meeting of the party´s top office bearers on Tuesday took a decision to this effect.

“We have decided to take the initiative for a national consensus,” said party Secretary CP Gajurel after the meeting. He said the top office bearers have been entrusted with the task of holding talks with other parties.

“Bhattarai is our prime ministerial candidate — whether the party leads a majority government or a consensus one,” said CP Gajurel.

The Maoist party secretary stated that his party is ready to strike a concrete deal on the peace process, but added that the other political parties should also come up with their roadmap for negotiations.

Party leaders close to Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal have argued that the party is ready for give and take on the issues of peace process and constitution drafting in order to lead a national consensus government, but it would not capitulate to each and every demand of the NC and the UML. “We cannot surrender ourselves just for the sake of government leadership. A deal should be struck on the basis of past agreements,” said Shakti Basnet, who is close to Dahal.

Leaders close to Senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya also stated that there must be give and take while striking a concrete deal on the peace process. “If they want the return of properties seized during the People´s War, they should also be ready to withdraw trumped up legal cases against the party leaders. They should also legitimize the decisions take by the people´s government during the People´s War,” said Kul Prasad KC, who is close to Baidya.

According to leaders, the Maoist party is scheduled to hold a formal meeting with the Madhesi Democratic Front (MDF) at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, and also hold talks with the Nepali Congress (NC) and the CPN-UML in the evening if possible.

The top office bearers´ meeting has decided to appoint Ram Karki from the Bhattarai faction as in-charge of the Maoist Limbuwan state, Dilaram Acharya and Giridharilal Neupane, both of whom joined the party recently, as deputy in-charges of Abadh and Magarat respectively, and Sabitri Kumar Kafle from the Baidya faction as secretary for Kochila.

Maoists, Madhesi leaders for consensus govt


KATHMANDU, Aug 17: The UCPN (Maoist) has begun talks with other political parties for the formation of a consensus government under the leadership of party Vice-chairman Dr Baburam Bhattarai.

On Tuesday, the party held talks with top leaders of with the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF), an alliance of five Madhes-based parties, and decided to take initiatives for the formation of consensus government.

“We found them (leaders of Madhes based parties) very positive. They asked us to take the move saying that they would play a “decisive” role for the formation of a consensus government,” said Maoist Vice-chairman Dr Baburam Bhattarai after the meeting with Madhes based leaders in Singha Durbar.

Top Maoist leaders including Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal had held discussions with senior UDMF leaders Mahanta Thakur, JP Gupta, Bijaya Gachchhadar, Rajendra Mahato, and Mahendra Yadav, among others.

UDMF leaders reiterated that would support formation of a consensus government.

“Only a national consensus government can conclude the peace process and constitution drafting and the Maoists know that very well. We clarified that we would lend support to the party that succeeds in forging national consensus,” said Bijay Kumar Gachchhdar, Chairman of Madhesi People´s Rights Forum-Democratic (MPRF-D). Maoist leadership had tried to woo UDMF leaders saying that the Madhes based parties and UCPN (Maoist) have many similar political agendas, including the issue of federalism.

“Both the UCPN (Maoist) and Madhes based parties are change makers and entered politics through revolt. So we must move ahead in a united manner,” MPRF-D leader Nandan Dutta quoted Dahal as saying.

During the meeting, the Maoists also vowed to conclude integration of the Maoist combatants sooner than later and expressed their commitment to start regrouping of the ex-combatants.

UDMF leaders are scheduled to hold a meeting with Nepali Congress leaders on the formation of consensus government Thursday.


One thought on “Dr. Baburam Bhattarai and the Race to the Prime Ministership

  1. I find the current deadlock in Nepal extremely disheartening. It’s reminiscent of Eritrea — a liberating People’s War clears the way for top Party officials to divorce themselves from the masses and join the power structure.

    Reading the ’90s Prachanda saying shit like “Down with Parliamentarism! Long Live New Democracy!” and then comparing it to the current grey, dull and bourgeois politician-like talk about army integration, peace process, constituent assembly, etc, really puts you down and kills your morale. And maybe in Nepal it does too.

    But this might just be petty-bourgeois impatience on my side.

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