A weakened CPN (Maoist Centre) steps up left unification effortsThe party is reportedly considering shedding its ‘Maoist’ tag and including ‘Socialist’ in its new name.
Tika R Pradhan
Prime Minister and CPN (Maoist Centre) chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Monday said his party is working on a merger of like-minded socialist and communist forces in order to create a socialist front. He also hinted that his party could shed the Maoist tag.
Addressing a function organised at the Maoist Centre headquarters in Kathmandu to mark the “people’s war day,” Dahal appealed to all fringe Maoist parties and groups to join hands to ensure social justice and country’s transformation.
“A process to unify the [Maoist] movement has started of late. I have already begun discussions with many such groups and am confident the unification process will gather momentum,” Dahal said.
“This will encourage not only Maoist leaders and cadres but also the general public. An agreement in principle has also been reached to launch a socialist front comprising communist and socialist forces. I have myself talked to various groups and I believe a socialist front will take shape soon.”
The ruling Maoist Centre is reportedly considering changing its name and election symbol—hammer and sickle inside a circle—to bring about the unity of like-minded forces.
“It is not just about changing the party’s name and election symbol. In a month or two, you will either hear of a unity among ten or so parties or a formation of their joint front,” said Suryaman Dong, a central committee member of the Maoist Centre and a lawmaker. “We are currently in serious discussions with like-minded parties.”
The Maoist party, which emerged as the largest force in the 2008 Constituent Assembly polls, has shrunk to a distant third position after last November’s federal and provincial polls, creating tremendous pressure on the leadership to reinvent the organisation.
Dahal is often criticised by Maoist leaders for only focusing on protecting his own position and interests even as the party’s standing continues to decline.
To pacify party leaders and cadres, Chairman Dahal on Monday said his party is in the process of transformation and unification. Dahal had tried to form a sub-alliance within the Congress-led alliance before the November polls but that could not happen.
CPN (Unified Socialist) is one of the parties that is likely to unify with Dahal’s Maoist Centre. Unified Socialist leaders claimed their party was all set to unite with the Maoist Centre ahead of last November’s polls, but that could not happen after Maoist leaders ditched the idea at the last minute.
“Actually, we had cleared the deck for unification with the Maoist Centre before the elections, but that could not happen due to a sudden reluctance by some Maoist leaders,” said Vijay Kumar Poudel, deputy general secretary of the Unified Socialist. “But the two parties are in unification talks anew.”
Some Unified Socialist leaders said the Maoist Centre refused their earlier unification proposal as the party had wrongly assumed that it would immensely benefit from its electoral alliance with the Congress.
Currently, the Maoist Centre is in talks with Baburam Bhattarai-led Nepal Samajbadi Party, Madhav Nepal-led Unified Socialist, Upendra Yadav-led Janata Samajbadi Party, Netra Bikram Chand-led Nepal Communist Party, and Dharmendra Bastola-led Nepal Communist Party-Bahumat, among others, exploring either full-blown unification or at least an alliance.
Leaders said Dahal had himself been talking to Chand.
Also, Maoist Centre leaders are reportedly reaching out to all former Maoist leaders, including Gopal Kiranti, who splintered from the Maoist Centre and are leading various fringe outfits.
The Maoist Centre had on January 7 announced a five-member talks team led by Maoist Center Vice-chair Krishna Bahadur Mahara and General Secretary Dev Gurung, and with deputy general secretaries Shakti Basnet, Janardan Sharma and Girirajmani Pokhrel as members to discuss unification or collaboration with like-minded parties.
Dahal had also told his party leaders on Monday that there would be immediate unification with some parties, while with other like-minded forces with whom immediate unification is not possible, his party would collaborate under a “socialist front.”
“By the next general elections, we will again emerge as one of the powerful parties and the only alternative force of the country,” Dahal said while addressing the function at his party headquarters. “I see a bright future for the Maoist party. We will move ahead, gaining more power.”
After the Nepal Communist Party split following the Supreme Court’s March 2021 decision, reviving the erstwhile CPN-UML and the CPN (Maoist Centre), Maoist Centre leaders had intensified discussions on removing the term “Maoist” from the party name.
Baburam Bhattarai, who had quit the then Unified CPN (Maoist Centre) after the promulgation of the constitution in 2015, had demanded that the party not only shed the Maoist tag but also stop calling itself a ‘communist’ outfit.
Of late, Bhattarai has been demanding that the party shed the “Maoist” tag in favour of “Socialist”.
“We have intensified talks with many parties and things will soon be clearer,” said Dev Gurung, general secretary of the Maoist Center, who is also a member of the party’s talks team.
Party insiders claimed that unification with the Baburam Bhattarai-led Nepal Samajbadi Party that contested the November 20 elections with Maoist Centre’s election symbol will happen soon, and a unification deal with Madhav Nepal-led CPN (Unified Socialist) is in final stages.
“Unification with the Unified Socialist will take shape after our top leaders address the party’s concerns,” said Girirajmani Pokhrel, Maoist deputy general secretary and member of the talks team. He, however, refused to reveal what the concerns were.
Some other Maoist leaders, however, said the unification process will not be finalised until the presidential election scheduled for March 9 is first completed as new power equations may develop by then.