Dahal appears willing to shed Maoist colours if it wins him UML camp’s favourThe ruling party co-chair’s recent statements have led many to wonder if Pushpa Kamal Dahal is ready to go to any extent to appeal to former UML members.
It has been more than a year and a half since two of the country’s communist forces decided to unite to form the Nepal Communist Party, but the unification, by some party leaders’ own admission, has not been organic as a lack of goodwill is visible between the two factions.
Statements from even the top leaders show that a trust deficit continues to exist between the former CPN-UML and Maoist Centre.
A couple of weeks ago, party Co-chair and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said that “some factors within the party” were to blame for the failure to complete the unification process. He did not name names but the statement seems to have had a telling effect on some leaders from the former Maoist party.
The way things are moving, it is now a race against time for Pushpa Kamal Dahal, also a co-chair, who is unhappy because he does not have any concrete responsibility in the party. Meanwhile, Oli continues to maintain a firm grip on both the government and the party.
According to party leaders, Dahal is concerned whether former UML members have issues when it comes to accepting him as their leader. His recent statements show that he is trying to send a message across that aisle that he is not different from any other UML leader.
On Friday, Dahal said he “is not an original Maoist”, to the surprise of many, as it came from someone who led a Maoist party that waged a decade-long war against the state.
“I am neither original Masal nor Maoist,” said Dahal, addressing an event in Morang. He went on to say that there is no difference between the ‘21st-Century People’s Democracy’ adopted by the former Maoists and ‘People’s Multi-party Democracy’, the guiding principle of the former UML.
Party insiders say that Dahal is trying not just to appease Oli but also Madhav Kumar Nepal, who commands significant clout in the ruling party.
Though Dahal has brought up a deal reached with Oli on leading the government in turns on multiple occasions, he wants to lead the party more than taking over the government, say party leaders.
“Former UML leaders want Dahal to become a leader acceptable to all, not someone who leads a particular faction,” said Devendra Poudel, a standing committee member. “Through Friday’s statement, Dahal wanted to send a message that former UML leaders should not see him as an outsider or a leader of a certain faction. He also wanted to make it clear that he was in favour of unification with the UML for long.”
Dahal recently also said that he was in talks with the late Madan Bhandari, who propounded the UML’s guiding principle, to bring the communist forces in the country together.
Yubaraj Chaulagain, a central committee member, said that Dahal is now trying to send a message that he won’t maintain a rigid stance any longer.
“He wants former UML leaders to know that he will be flexible on crucial issues, including ideological ones,” Chaulagain told the Post. “For his own comrades from the Maoist party, his message is that the [Maoist] party has undergone a huge shift and that they should be ready.”
But Dahal’s statements and the manner in which he’s delivered them have caused some unease among former Maoist leaders.
A leader who represents the former Maoist party said that Dahal’s recent statement is a clear indication that he wouldn’t mind accepting the former UML’s guiding principle of ‘People’s Multi-party Democracy’—if it helps cement his position in the party.
“Dahal can go to any extent,” said the leader, who is a secretariat member, on condition of anonymity, “including adopting the UML’s guiding principle if he gets whatever personal gains he wants in the party.”