Maoists lack office bearers—8 months after conventionParty chair Dahal delaying in selecting them as it helps him assert his authority and impose decisions, insiders say.
More than five weeks after the Central Committee meeting and eight months after the eighth national convention, the CPN (Maoist Centre) has yet to pick its office bearers.
The Central Committee meeting concluded on July 7 gave the full shape to the party’s 377-member Central Committee, 125-member politburo and selected 15 members for the 41-strong Standing Committee.
Maoist chair Dahal, however, has shown no interest in selecting 15 office bearers.
Insiders say the party chair prefers taking decisions on his own, rather than putting the issues for sorting out collectively.
The party has to elect a senior vice-chair, six vice-chairs, a general secretary, two deputy general secretaries, three secretaries and a treasurer.
Insiders say Dahal is under pressure to “manage” leaders as there are many aspirants for 15 office bearers’ posts.
Dahal himself has admitted the same.
On Saturday, while addressing the seventh annual general meeting of the Post Bahadur Bogati Memorial Academy, Dahal said a section of leaders has lost faith in the ideology, behaviour, policy and leadership appropriate for the party.
“The challenge now is to manage leaders; this is my greatest challenge today,” Dahal said. “If we can manage leaders and establish a unified leadership there is no problem with the people.”
During the Standing Committee meeting held on Saturday, Dahal didn’t talk much about the office bearers and giving full shape to the Standing Committee.
“Dahal seems uninterested in electing office bearers anytime soon,” said a Standing Committee member. “If the process of electing the office bearers doesn’t begin in the next meeting scheduled for Monday, it may not happen before the November 20 polls.”
The leaders said Dahal doesn't want to spoil the environment for polls by deciding on office bearers.
The party has mandated Dahal to pick office bearers and give the full shape to the Standing Committee.
The general secretary is a key post in the party and the chairman is in a fix over who to appoint, say insiders.
While Dahal’s choice is Barsha Man Pun, Janardan Sharma too is staking claim to the post. Now both have built their own supporters.
Party leaders said on Saturday that they won’t vote only to elect the general secretary because if an election is necessary, all office bearers should be elected.
“The situation has got complicated as the party chair doesn't want an election of office bearers,” said Chakrapani Khanal, a Standing Committee member. “Today our meeting only focused on the upcoming elections. If the party chair fails to announce the office bearers at the next meeting, we will have to wait until the elections are over.”
An election for party positions is not a thing in the Maoist Centre. Dahal has been leading the party for over three decades by imposing himself as its chairman. During the eighth general convention held eight months ago, Dahal got himself installed as the party chair and his document endorsed.
Insiders say collective decision making is lacking in the party.
All major decisions including on endorsing the Millennium Challenge Corporation and citizenship amendment bill as well his recent India and Japan visits and selection of party ministers were taken by Dahal himself, which were then presented to the meeting of former Standing Committee members, insiders say.
Dahal has already announced Narayan Kaji Shrestha as the senior vice-chair, for which Matrika Yadav too was vying.
“Whatever the result, I have told the party chair that I will contest for the senior vice-chair post,” said Yadav. “But Dahal has said he will present his list at the Standing Committee and those who want to contest the polls can go for it.”
Political commentators say Dahal is unlikely to select office bearers before the upcoming polls.
“Actually Dahal doesn't want to give the most powerful position after him to any other powerful leader like Janardan Sharma and Barshaman Pun,” said Mumaram Khanal, a former Maoist leader and political commentator. “He knows that if unified, Sharma and Pun can challenge his authority as the leaders of Rolpa and Rukum have got more chances to remain in power.”
According to Khanal, if Dahal indeed wanted to appoint office bearers, he would have done so long ago.
Dahal, who has served as prime minister twice, aspires to become prime minister at least one more time and he has made his intentions clear. From the local elections, the party has emerged as the kingmaker and he sees a good chance of leading the government—for a longer period of time compared to his earlier stints which lasted ten months or so.
Analysts say Dahal fears that selecting office bearers at this time may affect the party’s poll prospects and subsequently his chances of becoming prime minister.
“At this time, he will delay selection of office bearers, saying conflict among the leaders could affect polls,” said Khanal. “Dahal will settle this issue only after analysing the possible power equation after the results of the November 20 polls.”