Dahal asserts a ‘leap forward’ as calls grow for him to mend waysMaoist chair manages to get his document endorsed amid criticism but leaders say they want to see it implemented.
Days after presenting his political document to provide direction for his party that has gone astray, Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Friday scrambled to defend materialistic charges levelled on him by the delegates.
The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) chair conveniently resorted to “a great leap forward”, his old and oft-repeated jargon, to assuage the concerns of the delegates who have come down heavily on him.
Dahal has faced a host of questions from his party delegates surrounding his lifestyle, his way of leading the party and his failure to provide clear direction to the organisation.
“To make this party a revolutionary force, I am ready to make any kind of sacrifice that is required,” said Dahal on Friday while responding to the delegates.
The Maoist party has been holding its eighth general convention in Kathmandu since Sunday.
Dahal also refuted charges that the Maoist party had become a reformist.
“In our journey, I see a steady progression and a leap forward,” said Dahal.
Despite criticism, Dahal’s document titled “Nepal’s Road to Socialism in the 21st Century” was endorsed from the convention without any changes.
“I don’t see that it [the political document] needs a revision,” Dahal told the delegates. “You all [the delegates] will get it after we incorporate all the suggestions. All suggestions will be incorporated.”
Multiple leaders the Post spoke to said Dahal has provided a vague response, saying that the political document “is not his personal one but a common property of the party”.
“We are ready to wait and see how Dahal makes attempts to change himself, starting from his promise to leave the Khumaltar house,” said Hemraj Bhandari, a Central Committee member. “There’s no option—either accept what Dahal says or leave the party.”
Dahal’s extravagant lifestyle has often been talked about by party members, who say the party chair has changed into a materialistic person, given his penchant for lavish way of living ever since he came above ground after a peace deal in 2006.
Dahal currently lives in a house at Khumaltar owned by a contractor, who has often courted controversy.
Leaders say that if the party were to transform, it should start from the top leadership—the chairman.
“Dahal has renewed his commitments to transform the party. But the implementation should start from him,” said Bhandari. “If he changes his lifestyle, it can come as some hope that he indeed is committed to doing what he is saying.”
According to Bhandari, the party chair himself has admitted that “there are issues when it comes to our lifestyles”.
“Unless we change ourselves and our lifestyles, people will not accept us and we cannot sustain,” Bhandari quoted Dahal as saying.
At least five leaders have presented their notes of dissent to Dahal’s document—Ram Karki, Lekhnath Neupane, Dharma Dutta Devkota, Parshuram Tamang and Haribol Gajurel.
Neupane, who presented a four-page document of his own, has questioned Dahal’s proposal, saying socialism is not possible through peaceful means.
Neupane has also objected to Dahal's repeated claims that the merger with the CPN-UML was correct.
“How can the unification of our party with a capitalist force help us achieve our goal of socialism?” Neupane asks.
“We can consider an electoral alliance and formation of a front, but it was a serious theoretical and procedural mistake to unite with a rightist leader like KP Sharma Oli,” Neupane writes in his document presented before the delegates. “Are we daring to say that we are preparing for socialism by unifying with a capitalist party? Isn’t it a rightist approach?”
Karki, who presented a separate political report, has identified several flaws in the party ideology.
In his report, Karki has claimed that the party has become like any other traditional party and that it should extricate itself from the quagmire of the parliamentary system.
“The chairman has told the delegates that he would incorporate some issues from my document,” said Karki. “He also said issues raised by Lekhnath Neupane cannot be incorporated in the document because they are against the spirit of his document. But that must be honoured as the party’s property.”
By getting his political document endorsed, Dahal once again has managed to assert his authority, just as he is set to get elected as party chair for the next five years, making himself an uncontested leader of the party for over three decades.
The party has not taken any decision on electing 14 other office bearers.
The Maoist Centre has proposed an amendment to the statute to elect 15 office bearers, including the chair.
The office bearers include a senior vice-chair, six vice-chairs, a general secretary, two deputy general secretaries, three secretaries and a treasurer besides the party chair.
The proposal will be endorsed on Saturday.
“After the convention endorses the party charter on Saturday, we will begin the process to elect Central Committee members who will then elect the office bearers,” said Bishnu Pukar Shrestha, convener of the party’s Central Election Commission.
The party will elect a 299-member Central Committee.
Leaders say though Dahal’s political document has been endorsed, there is little likelihood of its proper implementation.
“Dahal is a skilful orator and a master when it comes to convincing people,” said a senior leader who did not wish to be named fearing retribution. “Given his history of making promises and not living up to them, I doubt the implementation part. Once again we are left with no option than to wait and see how he makes attempts to implement his commitments.”
Before responding to the delegates, Dahal earlier on Friday had called a meeting of the Standing Committee to discuss their views on the floor’s opinions and find ways to tackle them.
Multiple leaders the Post spoke to also said Dahal won’t let this last chance go away and would do his best to take the party to a new height and was ready to make any sacrifices to make it more revolutionary.
To appease them Dahal has promised to hold a special national congress as soon as the polls for all the three levels are over. But some leaders said Dahal cleverly managed to put all the questions against him and the party aside in the name of a special national congress.
Some leaders said Dahal may have made maximum effort to convince the delegates but they will start believing him only when he starts translating his words into action.
“We need at least some months to see how Chairman Dahal implements what he has promised,” said Devendra Parajuli, one of the 1,631 delegates. “There is nothing to doubt in his statement and promises; it’s all about implementation.”