Government yet to respond to Biplav group’s call for talksSince the split in Nepal Communist Party, both factions are trying to woo leaders of the banned outfit. The ruling faction’s efforts, however, seem half-hearted as it fears they might support the rival camp once they join the mainstream.
On February 2, Minister for Water Supplies Mani Thapa visited Nakkhu prison to meet Hemanta Prakash Oli, the jailed senior leader of the Communist Party of Nepal led by Netra Bikram Chand.
Minister Thapa said he discussed with Oli the possibility of dialogue with his party whose activities were banned by the government almost two years ago.
Following the new political development in the country after Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli dissolved the House of Representatives on December 20, Chand, who is better known as Biplav, has expressed his party’s willingness to hold dialogue with the government but the government has yet to respond to the gesture positively even as the authorities say they are trying to reach out to them.
After the dissolution of the House of Representatives, the Nepal Communist Party has been vertically divided into two though they are fighting a legal battle for legitimacy.
With the outlawed party’s signal to join the political mainstream, both factions of the communist party led by Prime Minister Oli and his former colleague Pushpa Kamal Dahal have started reaching out to the party for their political gains. Following violent activities, the government imposed restrictions on the activities of Biplav’s party on March 12, 2019.
“The government is positive on holding dialogue with the outlawed force led by Chand,” said Indrajit Rai, security expert to Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, who commanded the Maoist fighting force along with Chand during the decade-long insurgency. “But they have presented some pre-conditions. We want them to declare a ceasefire and then we can hold dialogue.”
While the government seems to be ready to bring the outfit to the negotiating table, it has not stopped arresting the leaders and cadres of Chand’s party.
Standing Committee member Dharmendra Banskota, who according to the party insiders was entering the Kathmandu valley for the purpose of creating an environment for dialogue, was nabbed from Lalitpur on January 13. On Monday, Banskota was re-arrested after the court ordered the government to release him.
“Biplav’s party is ready for dialogue but the government is not creating an environment for the same,” said Bishwo Bhakta Dulal, who leads the Baigyanik Samajbadi Communist Party, one of the four forces including the Chand party. “We have been protesting the government’s imposition of restrictions on the party led by Chand without any reason.”
But the government authorities are suspicious if the leaders of Chand’s party could join hands with their opponents instead—after they come to peaceful politics.
“We have information that they are in touch with the Dahal-Nepal faction,” said Rai, the security advisor. “So we are in a wait and see mood.”
He said Chand’s party is a divided house with one group in favour of dialogue and the other for joining the struggle against the government’s move with the Dahal-Nepal faction.
Since the Dahal-Nepal faction is against the elections, they could use Biplav’s party to foil the polls, Rai told the Post. “But still efforts are on to bring them to peaceful politics.”
Biplav’s party has been demanding that the government release all their leaders and cadres who are in prisons. They also want the ban on their activities lifted and be invited for talks. Government officials say they have proposed direct talks with the prime minister and have refused to hold talks through mediators.
After the government continued arresting its leaders and cadres, Chand has decided to form a front with three fringe left parties—the Mohan Baidya-led Revolutionary Maoist Party, Bishwo Bhakta Dulal-led Baigyanik Samajbadi Communist Party and Rishi Kattel-led Nepal Communist Party.
On Friday, talking with journalists at Sanepa, Dahal said Oli had taken the decision to ban the activities of Chand’s party without consulting him.
“Now the government is sending letters to Chand for dialogue,” Dahal had said. “But the government should lift the ban for talks to begin.”
But leaders close to Chand say the outlawed party has become a possible ally of both factions of the Nepal Communist Party suddenly after the House dissolution.
“I think the issue of dialogue with Biplav’s party was only a ploy,” said Ekraj Bhandari, an advocate who handles cases related to Chand supporters. “To show Dahal, Oli wants to bring Chand’s party to dialogue but there is no sincere effort.”