Test for ex-Maoists as CPN-UML elects provincial leadersPurna Budha Magar is senior-most ex-Maoist among his comrades to be elected to Lumbini provincial committee.
As the CPN-UML on Wednesday elected the party’s Lumbini leadership from the first-ever provincial convention, a former Maoist leader got elected as deputy secretary of the provincial committee under the open category.
Newly elected member of the UML provincial chapter Purna Budha Magar of Rolpa had contested against his insurgency-era commander Barshaman Pun in the general elections last year. Former minister Pun is currently the deputy general secretary of the CPN (Maoist Centre).
Now Magar is the senior-most former Maoist leader in the UML provincial committee among his comrades, who formed around 10 percent of the UML central committee after the NCP split into the Maoist Centre and the UML two and a half years ago.
In the newly elected 205-member executive committee, there are 19 former Maoists including deputy secretary Budha Magar and an accounts committee member. This means former Maoists make up only around nine percent of the committee.
“They managed to win nine percent seats mainly because of elections and they got the backing of both former Maoists and UML members,” said a UML provincial leader Kamal Shahi, who is also a former Maoist. “Had the positions been filled through direct nominations, hardly five percent of the former Maoists would be in the provincial committee.”
This development comes amid complaints of discrimination against former Maoists in the main opposition party.
Former Maoist leader from the Maoist heartland of Thawang, Nabin Roka, now a central committee member of the UML, expressed delight at the increased representation of former Maoists in the Lumbini committee.
However, the situation is less than favourable for many central-level former Maoists leaders and those in other provincial committees of the UML.
Many senior leaders, who remained in the UML after the split, are in a wait-and-see mode. One of the central leaders said they [former Maoists] are waiting for the new political development in the country that would provide them a better context to take a new decision.
Like Lumbini, things are no different in other provinces as well.
In the around 400-strong Karnali provincial committee, there are around 50 former Maoists. But the committee’s size will be reduced to 150 members through the upcoming provincial convention scheduled for September 27 and 28.
With an influential leader Prabhu Sah along with many other leaders quitting the UML, the presence of former Maoists in the UML’s Madhesh Province has decreased to around 3 to 4 percent, according to a few former Maoists the Post talked to.
They claimed that a large number of former Maoist leaders including party’s central member Tek Bahadur Balampaki have already returned to the mother party [Maoist Centre] and those who are still in the UML are not happy.
“Being members of the provincial assembly, we cannot revolt now in the party,” said a former Maoist leader who is now a provincial member in the UML’s Madhesh committee. “But we are not happy here.”
Most of the Maoist leaders, who chose the UML after the NCP split, were not given the positions they wanted, leading to their frustration.
Ram Bahadur Thapa, who served as home minister in the NCP government led by KP Sharma Oli, is the senior most among the Maoists who chose to stay in the UML. He is also nowhere visible these days in the party.
Prabhu Sah formed his own Aam Janata Party Nepal after quitting the UML, 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.
The UML provincial convention in Madhesh will be held on September 22 and 23, Bagmati on September 25 and 26, Karnali on September 27 and 28, Koshi on September 29 and 30 and Gandaki on October 2 and 3, at Kathmandu Valley Special Province on October 6 and 7 and Sudur Paschim on October 8 and 9.