Much Ado About Nothing?

Since the handover of keys to 6 PLA cantonments and the public uprising of a section of the Party and their supporters, led by Mohan Vaidya “Kiran”, against the decision there has been a flurry of activity on the the part of Chairman Dahal and Prime Minister and Vice-President of the UCPN(Maoist), Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, to choose a new ministerial team and to calm fears regarding the possible threat of the Kiran faction on the peace process. Because of the entire issue the Kiran faction had decided not to enter into the government and thus CP Gajurel “Gaurav” did not get the Finance Ministry post that he had originally asked for, although it is also notable that Deputy Prime Minister Narayan Karki Shrestha did not receive the post either. Furthermore, after the initial public outcry against the decision the issues seems to have gone ahead with little change. Even the Kiran faction has agreed that they recognize that the decision will not be reversed and simply want Chairman Dahal to apologize for the violation of inner-party process in the decision-making procedure regarding that vital decision. Once again there rumours and counter-rumours regarding the possibility of an “imminent split” are flying with great speed, however, it does not seem like that a split is likely (yet once again). Interestingly, public comments that Chairman Dahal has been making, flanked by Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, suggests that the Bhattarai-Dahal faction are so confident about their current position in the Party that they feel like they can marginalize the Kiran camp and the two-line struggle within the organization, and that the inner-party struggle cannot and will not effect the “peace process” that they have re-initiated. Chairman Dahal has made it clear in recent statements that the peace process has now reached an irreversible stage and thus one could I believe that the decay within the Party may have also reached an irreversible stage as one can definitely point to a close correlation between the state of political affairs in general and the state of affairs within the Party itself. Indeed, if one sees, as Kiran faction member  Netra Bikram Chanda (Biplab) that the Party should return to the path of the people’s war and complete the revolutionary process, although it must be noted that both Chairman Dahal and Dr. Baburam Bhattarai both see the revolution as being furthered by their procedure and that the desired/professed outcomes of the PPW have been achieved, then it is difficult to see how a Party leadership that is so heavily enmeshed in the peace process could ever be “rectified” and be brought back to the armed path which he espouses. Indeed, it seems that only through the process of split/scission could there be the necessary traumatic rupture by which the Party could re-commit itself to a distinctly different revolutionary process albeit the movement continues to lack the necessary theoretical tools, I believe, to explain the conditions that lead them to this current conjuncture or a means by which to overcome those very conditions.

I have also decided to post below different statements that have been produced by the main leaders in the UCPN(Maoist) during the latest row (this is largely for a historical record of the twists and turns of the Nepalese revolution, rather than any specific special political content that these documents contain). The first two statements represent the position represented by Vice-President Mohan Baidya which have been reproduced by The Next Front, a revolutionary intellectual-cultural activist front that is deeply sympathetic to the Kiran faction, a statement by Chairman Dahal of the UCPN(Maoist) that was published in Nepal Everest News, a newspaper sympathetic to the Dahal faction, and finally an interview by Prime Minister and Vice-President, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, that he gave to The Hindu.

Keys handover row won’t obstruct peace: Dahal

KATHMANDU, Sept 6: Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal said on Tuesday that the internal conflict within his party would not pose any threat to the peace process which he claimed has already reached an irreversible stage.

“Inner struggles and debates are not unnatural in a political party. So, the current row over the keys handover would not create any problems for the peace process,” he said.

The Maoist chairman told this to media persons while paying a visit to office of the Naya Patrika Daily that was vandalized by a group of students.

Dahal expressed confidence that the peace process would reach a logical conclusion.

The hardliners within the UCPN (Maoist) have cried foul over the handing over of the keys of the arms containers to the Special Committee. They have demanded a meeting of the party central committee (CC), accusing the party leadership of capitulating to the “regressive forces”.

Dahal, however, claimed that his party would move ahead united despite the rumor that the party is facing an imminent split.

The Maoists are holding a meeting of the party CC on Sept 18 to discuss the keys handover.

 

Party ready to sacrifice for peace: Dahal

SURESH YADAV

JANAKPUR, Sept 6: Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal said on Tuesday that his party is ready to adopt maximum flexibility and make sacrifices for the sake of peace and constitution.

Calling on all the stakeholders to cooperate with the government for safe-landing of the peace process, the Maoist chairman, flanked by Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, also said that the people would not spare anyone who plans to dismantle the process.

Dahal was speaking at a function held to pay respect to slain party leaders Sherman Kunwar and Mohan Chandra Gautam. He argued that the intra-party disputes over the keys handover would not disrupt the peace process. “We hold very intense debates. There is history that those who could not stand the heat left the party altogether,” he said.

He claimed that the Maoists have a magic wand to intensify the “struggle” and take the “revolution” to a new high.

While talking about the keys handover, he said, “The revolution would not move ahead without taking further risks.”

The Maoist chairman also pointed out the need for cooperation between the political parties to materialize the people´s aspiration for peace. He expressed dismay that the Nepali Congress (NC) and the CPN-UML did not join the government, but added that he has got positive indications from both the parties to conclude the peace process.

The Maoist chairman also said that he would not criticize others in public as the peace process is at a critical juncture.

Speaking at the same program, Prime Minister Bhattarai argued that the goals of the People´s War and the historic mass movement have been partly accomplished.

He said his government doesn´t have any magic to change the country overnight, but added that he would move ahead prioritizing the people´s demands.

“The Maoist-led government is making preparations to bring out relief packages as per the people´s wish,” he said.

Also speaking at the function, party Secretary CP Gajurel, who is close to Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya, who leads the hard-line camp, argued that the party should retain its revolutionary character as the country is yet to see “New Democracy”.

He argued that the party cannot digress leaving the revolutionary process half-way. “There is a two-line struggle within the party. I call on the leaders and cadres not to resort to violence to influence the ideological struggle in the party,” he said.

Handover hots up Maoist Standing Committee

KIRAN PUN

KATHMANDU, Sept 4: Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has conceded that there were some procedural shortcomings while handing over the keys of the weapons containers to the Special Committee, but justified his action saying the party Standing Committee had already endorsed the decision unanimously.

“We should have informed party colleagues about the move. But it is also true that the party Standing Committee had already formally endorsed it,” a party leader quoted Dahal as saying during the Standing Committee meeting that saw a heated debate between party hardliners and moderates.

The hardliners, justifying their protest against the handover, insisted that the party had decided not to hand over the keys before finalizing the modality for integration and the rehabilitation packages.

“It is a deception against the party. We had clearly decided at the last meeting not to hand over the keys,” one leader quoted hardliner Netra Bikram Chand as saying. Party leaders said the hardliners were aggressive at the meeting.

Party leaders Mohan Baidya and CP Gajurel defended their protest against the keys handover.

Similarly, General Secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa also argued that the party made a mistake in handing over the keys to the Special Committee, but said the party should correct its mistake and choose the path of reconciliation.

Party Vice-chairman Narayankaji Shrestha and Girirajmani Pokharel likewise sided with the hardliners.

The party is holding a meeting of top office bearers Sunday morning and a Standing Committee meeting in the afternoon. Also Sunday, the party is likely to finalize the name-list of ministers to be sent into the government.

Press statement by Comrade Kiran and Comrade Badal 

Let us oppose the decision of handing over the keys!

Let us implement the decision of dignified army integration!

The abrupt step taken at 5 pm on September 1 to hand over the keys of containers of the weapons in the cantonments to the special committee under the Council of Ministers is against the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Interim Constitution and the decisions of the party’s central committee and standing committee. We, therefore, strongly demand that the concerned sectors immediately abrogate this decision.

So far as the responsibility of concluding the peace process is concerned, we are committed to accomplishing the part of our party’s responsibility. Army integration is an important aspect of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).  In connection with accomplishing this responsibility, party central committee and standing committee have adopted the policy of integration of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) with weapons and in group even if a mixed structure is to be created and developing this structure as an armed force. The issue concerning its chain of command is also under discussion. The party’s decision is clear that task of integration and regrouping for rehabilitation should be done only after the issue concerning the modality of integration was settled. The handing over the keys of containers of weapons is a step under the concept of disarming the PLA. The ‘Army Integration’ has been clearly incorporated in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Interim Constitution.  Both the CPA and the Interim Constitution have not stated anywhere the concept of individual recruitment of the PLA members as civilian citizens by disarming them. The handing over the keys of weapon containers is a process of disarming the PLA members. We can never agree on this issue on ideological ground.

In this connection, the party chairman had put forth the proposal in the meeting of the standing committee held a few days ago regarding the handing over the keys. This proposal had been discussed thoroughly and rejected unanimously by the standing committee meeting as the standing committee reached a conclusion that such a proposal was against the principle and spirit of the Interim Constitution and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. After that an amended proposal was adopted by deleting and removing the words and phrase concerning the handing over the key. But the way the proposal concerning the handing over the keys of weapon containers, which was rejected by the standing committee, was implemented through the special committee under the government has seriously violated the minimum political honesty and morality. Even in the process taking such a step and decision, comrade Chairman had not only consulted with the office bearers of the party but has also not informed general secretary ‘Badal’, who is the in charge of the Security Department of the party. Thus, the decision has been taken in a mysterious way.

In addition to this, the step of disarming the PLA members is not only against the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Interim Constitution and decision of the party. The disarming of the patriotic People’s Liberation Army is also not correct on the perspective of national independence as this is an indication of the act of national capitulation.

We, therefore, humbly call upon the government and party chairman to annul the decision of handing over the keys of weapon containers and implement the dignified process of army integration.

In this connection, we express our gratitude to the patriotic and revolutionary people of Nepal who demonstrated their solidarity with us by symbolically protesting nationwide in the form of transport halt and torch processions. We also appeal to the distinguished people to carry this act of solidarity to a newer height.  In connection with the protest in Biratangar, more than 25 comrades including Kochila State Committee member and Morang district co-in charge of the party Comrade Hem Karki, Comrade Saugat, Comrade Sundas and Morang district secretary of the party Comrade Kushal and members comrade Mahabir and comrade Lochan have been arrested. Similarly, in Nuwakot, five comrades including comrade Laxmi Mudwari sustained injuries in a police baton charge in connection with torch procession. We condemn this kind of suppression and arrest being perpetrated by the government and demand immediate release of all the arrested comrades.

Mohan Vaidya ‘ Kiran’ 

Vice-chairman – UCPN (Maoist)

Ram Bahadur Thapa ‘ Badal’

General Secretary – UCPN (Maoist)

(September 2, 2011)

 

Full Statement by Com. Mohan Baidya

(The design and mission of Prachanda and Baburam, who had long been planning to disarm, dissolve and liquidate the People’s Army under various pretexts, have finally come to fruition. They have handed over the keys of the containers, in which weapons of the People’s Liberation Army have been locked, to the Army Integration Special Committee without the consent of party’s vice chairman Mohan Baidhya’Kiran’ and even without consultation with general secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa ‘Badal’ who is the in-charge of the party’s army department. The keys of the containers have been handed over to the government against the spirit of the party’s official decision. This decision is a kind of design to liquidate the PLA. We, therefore, condemn this kind of capitulationism. Following is the statement issued on behalf of revolutionaries on this issue.)

Our party has been committed to carrying the tasks of constitution writing and army integration to a meaningful conclusion in accordance with the spirit of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). We have made it clear that both of these responsibilities have to be accomplished simultaneously. There can be no divided opinion about the fact that army integration is an important part of the peace process.  It is known to all that we have been advancing the issue of army integration with consensus.

It is also clear that the meetings of our party held at different levels and on different occasions have taken the decision to integrate the army in a dignified manner. Despite the formal decision of the party to agree on the regrouping of the PLA members only after settling the issues concerning the modality of integration and rehabilitation package, the sudden and surprise decision to hand over the keys of the containers and weapons is against the decision of the party’s standing committee and central committee. This decision is a ploy to dissolve and liquidate the People’s Liberation Army by disarming it.  We strongly condemn this type of decision and also appeal to all concerned people and sectors to immediately terminate this suicidal decision.

Mohan Baidhya ‘ Kiran’

Vice Chairman

Unified Communist party of Nepal (Maoist)


Maoist Appealed Not to be Stimulated by Baidya’s Anti-Move Towards Party

Kathmandu, Sept. 2: Maoist has expressed its deep concern towards the statement intentionally expressed with dissatisfaction on the issue of handing over the weapons and containers to special committee that was released by Baidhy panelled. Maoist has made further clearance on the ill statement of Baidhy panelled that was circulated as stating that it was the decision of majority in its party’s standing committee for handing over the People’s Liberation Army and the weapons to the special committee.

Press release:

It is well known that our party UCPN Maoist has been determined to peace process, statute and the progressive transfermation of the country.

There is an clear image of our party and its proper performances on the dignified army integration, constitution drafting including the comprehensive peace talk, interim constitution and other understandings and agreemos. According to the central committee meeting held in July 24th 2011 to July. 25, 2011 to forward the peace process and constitution drafting the standing committee of our party has passed five points concept and commitment in 25 Aug. with the periferi of the eintire majority decision. The decision has been carried on handing over the weapons and the containers to the special committee by entire majority in the point ‘Army Integration of Maoist’s Combatats’ and rehabilitation’ immediately after formation of the Maoist lead government.

It’s a duty of a responsible party to dignify the commitments that were put in front of the people. The decision carried on by the special committee held in Aug. 31 to handover the PLA, weapons and the containers to the follow up committee under by special committee and to implement that decision by Sept. 1 is therefore, clear for all and it is not negative towards the party’s decision too.

In this regard, the party has expressed its deep concern to the statement released by our party’s Chairman Comrade Kiran’s dissatisfaction to the decision carried on by the special committee stating it as being against to the party’s decision. Therefore, we appeal to all the party members, PLA and even to all Nepalese not to be eggerative towards the statement issuing by Comarade Kiran and to unite being patien and well determined for the official decision.

Prachanda

Chairman – UCPN(Maoist)

Sept. 2, 2011-09-02

‘Nepal won’t jeopardise any genuine Indian interest’

 Prashant Jha

Interview with newly-elected Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai.

In the middle of negotiations over cabinet formation and the future of Maoist combatants, Nepal’s new Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai took time out for an exclusive interview with Prashant Jha on Friday afternoon at his office. Excerpts:

You had consistently argued for a consensus government, but are now heading a majority government. Why did efforts at forging a national consensus fail?

I am still for a consensus form of government because according to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and the Interim Constitution, we need to take major decisions through consensus. The Special Committee (SC) responsible for the integration and rehabilitation of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) cadres has to function through consensus and the Constitution has to be adopted through a two-thirds majority. If we have a consensus government of major parties, it would facilitate those two processes. But unfortunately, since that could not happen, the second choice was to start with a majoritarian and work for a consensus government.

Immediately after my election, I reached out to the Nepali Congress, the UML and other parties. I need their support on the peace process. We have already chalked out a time frame of 45 days for integration and rehabilitation. If we reach broad consensus, we can stick to the deadline. By that time, the NC and the UML will also join the government, and it can then take the shape of a national consensus government.

What is the basis for the Maoist-Madhesi alliance, which many have called ‘unnatural’?

Maoists and Madhes based parties are natural allies because on many cardinal principles and political line, there is common ground. The agenda of the Maoists is restructuring of the state and society. And Madhes based parties came forward with the agenda of the federal restructuring of the state. These are basic issues which the traditional NC and UML could not address. This natural alliance has brought a new dawn in Nepalese politics.

Given the tensions in the past, are you confident of the support of your party chairman, Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’?

I have the full support of my chairman, comrade Prachanda. Though we have gone through series of ideological and political struggles, we have been in the same party committee at the leadership level for the last twenty years. We know each other. Despite our differences, there are a lot of commonalities. Our personal capacity is also more complementary, rather than competitive. We need each other. I need the chairman and the chairman needs me. Ideologically, politically and personally, continuity between the two of us has been prevailing and will prevail in the future.

What about the third component of the party, senior vice-chairman Mohan Vaidya ‘Kiran’? He has already opposed your decision to hand over keys of the arms containers.

There was some confusion about this so called handover issue. This is a part of the integration process. It is implied in the CPA, and the earlier schedule worked out by the Special Committee. Formally, it had already been decided that the PLA and cantonments would be looked after by the Special Committee but in practice, there were some difficulties. After formation of my government, I took the initiative and practically handed over the PLA, cantonments, cadres and weapons to the SC. In that SC, both the PLA and the Nepal Army are there. It is not a question of surrendering to the state, but handing over to the SC which is a joint committee. The party chairman has already issued a statement fully supporting the decision of the SC.

But there seems to be a school within your party opposed to the whole process. Do you think they can obstruct it, or potentially cause a split?

There has been a consistent two-line struggle in the party over the political line followed since 2005. A section has had some reservations, but the overwhelming majority of the leadership and cadre are firmly behind this political line which has charted out a unique path of political transformation. Even if some leaders and cadre may oppose or some splinter groups may move out, it won’t make much impact on the party’s political line.

What is the meeting point on the contentious issues regarding the future of Maoist combatants?

First, for modality, we have more or less agreed that a separate directorate will be created under the Nepal Army. Second, international norms of security forces will be obeyed by all members to be integrated. But there will be certain concessions on age, education, marital status etc. Third, on ranks, our senior commanders will be brought back for political work and junior commanders can be adjusted. The fourth issue is package for those opting for rehabilitation or voluntary retirement or golden handshake. We are working out an honourable settlement. And on numbers, we proposed a figure between 8,000 and 10,000. With Madhesi parties, there was an agreement of around 7,000. Other parties have come to about 6,000. We will finally settle around 7,000; that should be the compromise number of those to be integrated. We can then immediately start regrouping, which can be completed in one month. And within two weeks after that, we should be able to complete the process of integration.

One of the points in the agreement with Madhesi parties is withdrawal of cases against those accused during the war and movements. Isn’t this a travesty of justice?

There is already an agreement in the CPA for withdrawal of cases against political cadres stamped by the old state during the insurgency and People’s Movement. We only said we will implement that agreement. The Maoists and the Madhesi parties have come through struggle. So, naturally pending cases should be withdrawn. It happens everywhere. This has nothing to do with human rights issues. We are fully committed to obey human rights.

Is the three-month extension of the CA enough?

Three months is not enough. If you go by the CA’s schedule, we need at least six to nine months. We will need another extension. But let us try our best to take this process forward in the next three months and then, if need be, we can extend it again.

Your party has often criticised India’s role in domestic Nepali politics. What was its stance during the government formation process this time around?

Nepal is sandwiched between the two huge states of India and China. Historically, our sovereignty and independence has been maintained by having well-balanced relations with these two big neighbours. Practically, we are more closely integrated with India, with an open border and closer economic ties. So we have more interaction with India and more problems also, which sometimes creates misunderstanding. The Maoist party and I am personally convinced we need to work more closely and do more business with the government and people of India. Despite certain misgivings in the past, I am confident we will have a very good working relationship in the future.

I don’t think there is any role for any outside power in making and breaking governments in a sovereign country. But at times, certain misgivings arise. The political process in Nepal should be decided by the people and political parties of Nepal. But we need the goodwill of neighbours like India.

How would you respond to India’s security concerns in Nepal?

There are security concerns of both India and China in Nepal. We are sensitive to those genuine concerns and we will address those concerns of both sides. I am confident I can win the goodwill of both our neighbours.

Indian investors in Nepal have often complained of harassment by Maoists. What is your position on foreign, especially Indian, investors?

Our party’s position is that we need foreign direct investment in Nepal, though the priorities will be decided by the Nepal government. Unfortunately, during this transition period, certain unfortunate incidents have taken place. That is not in consonance with the official party position. I would like to assure all the foreign investors, both in India and elsewhere, that you are most welcome to invest in Nepal and the government will provide full security.

What is your expectation from policymakers in New Delhi?

I would like to appeal to our friends in India that Nepal is not anti-Indian. We want to have good, friendly relations with India. I myself studied and spent 12-13 years in India. There is a lot of room for cooperation between the two countries. I would like to assure that Nepal won’t jeopardise any genuine interest of India in Nepal, security or economic or otherwise. We need cooperation to stabilise peace, democracy and development. Being a sovereign, independent country, we would like to maintain balanced relations with all our neighbours. And that should not be seen as being anti-Indian.

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