The metamorphosis of a partyMaoist Centre transfixed with parliamentary system once it wanted to overthrow
The CPN (Maoist Centre), which as the CPN (Maoist) launched an armed a struggled in 1996, had “changing the parliamentary system” as its one of the top agendas then.
A decade later in 2006, the party laid down arms as part of a peace process that formally brought the Maoists into the mainstream politics. One more decade has elapsed since, and they have so far participated in two elections.
As the party stands today, leading the government despite being the third largest party in Parliament, it appears it is transfixed with the same parliamentary system that it once loathed the most.
On Tuesday, top leaders of the party, who are also Parliament members, decided to form a parliamentary department under the leadership of Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, deputy leader of the Parliamentary Party. Rayamajhi had led the party in the erstwhile KP Sharma Oli-led government as a deputy prime minister and minister for energy.
Party sources say the Maoist Centre felt the need to form a parliamentary department “to counter the strong opposition” from the CPN-UML and defend government activities. Former ministers Haribol Gajurel, Agni Sapkota, Shakti Basnet and Girirajmani Pokhrel are the member of the parliamentary department.
According to leader Gajurel, a meeting of the party’s former ministers held on Tuesday in Baluwatar decided to form the parliamentary department and that the decision would be endorsed by the party’s upcoming headquarters meeting scheduled for September 13.
The Maoist Centre, or party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal for that matter, has often been accused by leaders from within and outside the party of “deviating from the ideology”.
Leaders who had left the mother party to form splinter groups earlier had also charged Dahal with failing to toe the original line taken by the Maoists. Even Baburam Bhattarai, the Maoist ideologue, decided to sever his ties with the party in September last year following the promulgation of the constitution, saying that the Maoist party had outlived its utility, as it too had become one of the parties that believed in the parliamentary system that the Maoists wanted to overthrow to instate a new order.
For the Maoist Centre, observers say, it has become a question of survival now. After being relegated to third position in the elections held in 2013, the party faces the threat of losing constituencies, and the UML could cash in on the recent developments, which could deal a further blow to the Maoists, they say.
And it seems, the Maoist Centre has taken a leaf out of UML’s book.
The UML has formed a strong parliamentary department under the leadership of former Speaker Subas Chandra Nembang, and the party has decided to play the role of a strong opposition.
“It is good to hear that the Maoist Centre is gradually excelling in parliamentary system,” UML leader Agni Kharel said with a tinge of sarcasm.
The Maoist Centre has also formed a parliamentary board comprising Ram Narayan Bidari, Girirajmani Pokhrel, Agni Sapkota, Haribol Gajurel, Shakti Basnet, Pravu Sah, Ganeshman Pun, Rekha Sharma, Santu Darai and Shiva Kumar Mandal.
The board led by Chairman Dahal also has Rayamajhi and party whip Sita Nepali. Bidari has been appointed the secretary of the parliamentary board.
The formation of the parliamentary department seems to be a strong indication that the Maoist Centre has wholeheartedly embraced the parliamentary system, even though it says its struggle to change is not over yet.
The Parliamentary Party has also selected coordinators for all seven provinces—Shiva Kumar Mandal for Province No 1, Ram Singh Yadav for 2, Santu Darai for 3, Krishna Dhital for 4, Dor Prasad Upadhyay for 5, Mahendra Bahadur Shahi for 6 and Hari Lal Gyawali for Province No 7.