Former Maoists in UML are a frustrated lotMany of them have gradually faded into the background, and say they are in a wait-and-see mode.
When a Supreme Court order in March 2021 led to a split of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP), which was formed through a merger between two largest leftist parties, CPN-UML and the CPN (Maoist Centre), many Maoist leaders opted to remain with the UML.
But after more than two years, most of them are frustrated with the way the UML leadership treated them.
Most of the Maoist leaders, who stayed with the UML, were not given the positions they wanted, leading to their frustration. The leaders, however, say they have not gone public with their displeasure fearing retribution.
Former senior Maoist Centre leader Ram Bahadur Thapa, who served as home minister in the NCP government led by KP Sharma Oli, is nowhere to be seen these days.
Prabhu Sah has already quit the UML and formed his own Aam Janata Party Nepal, while Top Bahadur Rayamajhi has been suspended from party secretary over his alleged involvement in the fake Bhutanese refugees scam. Rayamajhi is currently in judicial custody.
Political analysts and many Maoist Centre leaders say the UML has refused to throw its weight behind Rayamajhi because the party still considers him as an outsider.
“If any UML leader other than Top Bahadur was indicted, the UML would have made a lot of hue and cry,” said a Maoist Centre leader asking not to be named. “Maybe they don’t consider him to be a bona fide UML leader.”
He said it was wrong for the Maoist Centre, whose leader heads the government, to go after its own former leader in the refugee scam.
UML leaders with Maoist backgrounds were also frustrated after the party leadership continued to criticise the Maoist insurgency, in which they had been a part.
Among the senior leaders, Standing Committee member Mani Thapa has gradually started expressing his frustrations, although not very vocally.
“I see there is a problem in our working approaches,” Thapa told the Post. “There are also differences in our interpretations of whether the UML is the continuation of the NCP.”
Some former Maoist Centre leaders told the Post that they felt more hurt when the UML leaders publicly expressed their hatred against the Maoist movement.
“Most of the leaders coming from Maoist backgrounds are frustrated, but they are currently not in a position to speak out,” said a former Maoist, who is with the UML. “We are in a wait-and-see mode.”
At least five such leaders the Post spoke to, claimed that they would bide their time for around a year until things become clear, and collectively decide about what to do next.
They are also not very positive about rejoining their mother party as they feel the party’s popularity is on the wane.
“You cannot predict what will happen in the political landscape in the next one year, because things are evolving fast,” said the leader. “So, currently we have no option but to wait and see.”
Around 30 former Maoist leaders are currently on the UML’s central committee. Among them Ram Bahadur Thapa is the vice chair, Lekhraj Bhatta party secretary, Mani Thapa standing committee member, and Lil Bahadur Thapa and Jwala Kumari Sah are politburo members. Balkrishna Dhungel, who also joined the UML as politburo member, died last year
Former Maoists in the UML central committee include Tanka Aanbuhang Limbu, Jivan Gautam, Dinesh Panthi, Giridharilal Neupane, Chandra Bahadur Khadka, Dharma Raj Regmi, Nabin Roka Magar, Manoj Jung Thapa, Parshuram Adhikari, Prem Tamang, Pasang Sherpa, Yamuna Roka Tamang, Ram Chandra Mandal, Bisham Lal Danuwar, Shila Yadav, Shree Prasad Jagebu, Krishna Bahadur KC, Gauri Shankar Chaudhary and Dawa Tamang.
Pasang Sherpa, who had quit his party in 2012, the UML, to launch an ethnic-based party, later joined the Maoist Centre. Sherpa, who rejoined the UML in 2021, said Maoists in the UML are grappling with challenges owing to the sharp differences in the working styles of the two parties.
“Actually, the problem is with their schooling,” said Sherpa. “When I was in Maoist Centre, I, too, had experienced such difficulty.”
According to him, the UML leadership used to direct its leaders and cadres to treat new entrants with respect and prioritise them while assigning party responsibilities.
But, former Maoists in the UML have a different experience and they feel being discriminated against.
Kamal Shahi, a Maoist who had opted to join the UML after the NCP split, was removed from the post of secretary of the Karnali Province some eight months ago. The UML accused him of remaining inactive.
Shahi said he is still with the UML, but remains inactive as the party has not heeded his concerns.
“I left my responsibilities due to differences in our approaches to work,” Shahi told the Post. “But I don’t have anything against the party leadership.”