Legitimacy of the CPN (Maoist Centre) challenged at the Election CommissionFormer Maoist leaders claim the party has breached the constitutional provision of holding the periodic general convention.
A group of former CPN (Maoist Centre) leaders has challenged the legitimacy of the party at the Election Commission.
Advocate Saroj Budhathoki, on behalf of around two dozen former Maoist leaders who defected to the CPN-UML, registered a complaint at the commission on Wednesday, saying the party, the Maoist Centre, is illegal as it has not abided by the Constitution of Nepal and the Political Party Act, 2017.
Budhathoki has claimed that the Maoist Centre has breached the mandatory constitutional provision of holding the party’s general convention on time as well as Section 54(c) of the Political Party Act, also mandating timely conduct of the party’s conventions at the central and provincial committees.
“The commission would take necessary decisions after going through the complaint and studying the legal provisions,” Raj Kumar Shrestha, spokesperson for the Election Commission, told the Post.
The complainant has demanded that the commission invalidate the Maoist Centre as per Section 13 of the Political Party Act.
Section 13 of the Act states that if any party fails to provide necessary details or doesn’t follow the provisions as prescribed by the constitution and the federal law, the party loses its registration.
“The party is illegitimate. The constitutional commission must scrap the CPN (Maoist Centre) for flouting the constitution and the law,” said Budhathoki.
Article 269 (4) (b) of the constitution makes it mandatory for a political party to hold its general convention at least once in five years. In special circumstances, the constitution allows postponement of the convention by a maximum of six months.
The last convention of the Maoist party was held in February 2013. The party was named UCPN (Maoist) at the time. The convention, which re-elected Pushpa Kamal Dahal as party chair, had also decided to hold a special convention within one year. The special convention was never held.
Former Maoist leader Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, who is now a Standing Committee member of the UML, said while they were in the Maoist Centre, they had repeatedly demanded that the party leadership follow the constitution, law and the party statute, but to no avail.
He accused Dahal of running the party as an autocrat even after joining mainstream politics in 2006.
“He didn’t give up his working style even after entering the political mainstream. Neither the Maoist Centre is a legitimate party, nor Dahal is a legitimate chair,” Rayamajhi told the Post.
Maoist Centre leaders have said the case filed by the former party leaders does not hold water because the UCPN (Maoist) was converted into CPN (Maoist Centre) in May 2016 after a merger of 10 different political parties. Taking the 2013 general convention as a reference is pointless, they argued.
The constitutional deadline of maximum five and a half years for holding the general convention has passed even if the date of the formation of the Maoist Centre is taken into account, but Maoist leaders say that argument could be dismissed considering the 2018 merger between the Maoist Centre and the UML to form Nepal Communist Party (NCP).
“The entire duration of existence of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP), which was formed after the merger between the Maoist Centre and the UML, must be discounted,” said Maoist Centre leader Lilamani Pokharel.
The NCP was formed in May 2018 after the merger of the two Communist parties which lasted for around three years until a Supreme Court order in March dismissed the merger and revived the Maoist Centre and UML.
Pokharel said if the three years period when the Maoist Centre was not in existence is deducted, the party still has three more years to hold its general convention.
“It is wrong that the Election Commission has entertained the complaint filed by the UML leaders to split our party. The act doesn’t even deserve a comment,” Pokharel told the Post. “The complaint doesn’t hold any legal ground.”
The former Maoist leaders, meanwhile, are planning to move the Supreme Court if the case is thrown out by the Election Commission.
“We expect the commission to make a decision in favour of the rule law,” said Rayamajhi. “If it doesn’t, we will move the Supreme Court.”
He said they will also ask the apex court to revive their lawmaker positions in case the House of Representatives gets reinstated, because an illegitimate party cannot sack popularly elected representatives.
Along with Rayamajhi, Gaurishankar Chaudhari, Prabhu Sah and Lekh Raj Bhatta, who were elected to the House of Representatives from the Maoist Centre, had lost their seats following the action from the party.
Ram Bahadur Thapa and Chandra Bahadur Khadka lost their seats in the National Assembly as they sided with the UML after the NCP split.
“The CPN (Maoist Centre) cannot be above the law. As the party has clearly breached the constitutional and legal provisions, it must be scrapped,” said Budhathoki, the advocate.