Dahal’s party ready to drop ‘Maoist Centre’ tag for unity with communist partiesThe party will decide on the matter at its next general convention, according to a circular to the lower level of party committees.
In a new twist, the CPN (Maoist Centre), which is led by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, has said that it can change the name of the party and remove the Maoist tag. At present, the party’s official name is CPN (Maoist Centre) and if the other communist parties and forces are ready to come together, it would be ready to drop the tag, Maoist Centre, according to a party decision that has been circulated to various party committees.
In the context of the ongoing dialogue and discussions for unification among the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) and other leftist forces, the party will make a decision on removing the tag ‘Maoist Centre’ at its next general convention, according to a circular issued to the lower level of the party committees.
As per the decision of the recently concluded central committee, the circular was issued to the lower committees for discussion. The party held the central committee meeting in the first week of August in Kathmandu.
The Maoist Centre plans to convene its general convention in November-December but hasn’t fixed the dates yet. The circular is signed by the party chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal and the party’s general secretary, Dev Gurung.
At a time when the CPN (Maoist Centre) is leading the Socialist Front, this new decision is seen as a move to accommodate other forces in the front.
On June 19, the CPN (Maoist Centre), the Janata Samajbadi Party, the CPN (Unified Socialist) and the Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal had come together to form the Socialist Front.
Before the front’s formation, the Janata Samajbadi Party, led by Upendra Yadav, and the Socialist Party of Nepal, whose chairman is former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, had objected to the Maoist tag and urged Dahal to remove it, which, they said, would pave the way for unification with like-minded parties. Only four parties came together and announced the front while Bhattarai was excluded.
“We have a history of changing the party’s name, but we have never changed the main one: Nepal Communist Party,” said Gurung, the general secretary. “Otherwise, other addendums to our name have been changing with time… Initially, from the Fourth General Convention led by Nirmal Lama, we kept changing the party’s tag as Masal, Ekata Kendra, Unified Maoist (Ekikrit Maobadi) and now it is Maoist Centre.”
Gurung is unsure whether unity among the communist parties will proceed with CPN-UML, the country’s largest communist party, on board. “We keep talking,” said Gurung. “It is undecided who will come on board and who will not.” According to Gurung, they are flexible in terms of shifts in ideology.
The unity among the communist parties of Nepal has a checkered history. The merger between CPN-UML and Maoist Centre that was forged in May 2018 to form Nepal Communist Party (NCP) could not last long. A Supreme Court verdict invalidated the unification.
Delivering a verdict in March 2021, the court stated that the formation of the NCP was illegitimate. With the court’s ruling, the CPN-UML and the Maoist Centre were revived.
Some leftist observers said that it makes no difference whether the Maoists remove their tag. “Changing the Maoist tag does not make any difference as the Maoists have long abandoned their ideology and programmes,” said Hari Roka, a leftist socio-economist. “It is also immaterial whether the UML abandons the ideology of Marx and Lenin.”
Roka added, “The Maoists these days have no ideology, programmes or perspectives about their country and society. All parties in Nepal look the same. Nepali politics and society have become bereft of ideology and principles.”
Some Maoist leaders think abandoning the Maoist tag will create a positive environment for unity among leftist forces. “Our decision to drop the Maoist tag will send a positive message to the parties that want to unite with us,” said Yubraj Chaulagain, a central committee member of the Maoist Centre. “At first, our priority would be unity with parties that are already under the umbrella of the Socialist Front.”
But there is no immediate plan of unity with UML. “When we merged the party with UML in 2018, we dropped the ‘Maoist Centre’ tag and they dropped the ‘Marxist and Leninist’ tag. But we could not give continuity to the party merger. The reason behind the split was not the names but other causes,” Chaulagain said.
He added that he does not see any possibility of the Maoist Centre’s merger with UML. “As talks are underway with different forces for party unification, this decision will make it easy for us to come together,” he said.