Maoist Standing Committee fails to sort out issues ahead of statute conventionThe draft, to be tabled at the first such convention, seeks to trim the central committee from 600-strong to 151.
The Standing Committee of the CPN (Maoist Centre) has failed to iron out several issues including the party’s core political principle.
The party is in intense discussion to prepare a draft statute to be presented in its first ever statute convention that kicks off in Kathmandu on Tuesday. During the two-day meeting of the Standing Committee, its members had no unanimity on whether the party should establish itself as one embracing multi-party democracy or take a line of “revolutionary communism”.
The committee spent ample time discussing why the party failed to develop a new crop of leaders. “Among concerns that leadership development had stalled in the party, we had intense discussions on the issue,” Ganesh Shah, the party’s secretary, told the Post.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal has led the party for around three and a half decades. Yet he seems to be in no mood to give up the chair soon. Party Deputy General Secretaries Barsha Man Pun and Janardan Sharma have made strong demands for a system to promote a new generation of leaders.
Shah said leaders had differences over whether the party should have district committees. Some have argued that district-level structures must be scrapped as the country has adopted federalism. Others said they must get continuity.
“For many years, we have been discussing how the party should be linked with production. Both leaders and cadres should be engaged in some productive activities so that the party doesn’t need to rely on donations. The meeting couldn’t reach a conclusion on the issue as well,” Shah said.
The Standing Committee, after failing to draft the dossiers to be presented to the statute convention, has authorised office bearers to prepare them. “The party office bearers will prepare the proposal for the convention and the convention will endorse the statute to guide the party,” said Agni Sapkota, the Maoist Centre spokesperson.
As many as 1,300 party representatives from across the country will come together for the three-day national gathering to give a final shape to the party statute and set the party’s political course.
The draft statute proposes cutting the central committee’s strength from the existing 600 to 151. Sapkota said the Standing Committee has agreed to downsize the central committee.
If the proposals are endorsed, the size of the politburo would be reduced to a third of the central committee while the Standing Committee would be a third of the politburo.
A seven-member panel led by party vice-chair Pampha Bhusal prepared the draft statute and presented it to the Standing Committee. General Secretary Dev Prasad Gurung, deputy general secretaries Giriraj Mani Pokharel, Barsha Man Pun and Janardan Sharma and secretaries Ganesh Shah and Surendra Karki are members of the committee.
As per the draft statute, the chairperson would be the party supremo, but the Maoist Centre will also follow the principle of collective leadership. It envisions a senior vice-chair, vice-chair, general secretary, deputy general secretary, secretary and treasurer. However, it doesn’t specify their numbers. Led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the party currently has 15 office bearers.
If the statute gets endorsed, all party committees will have 49 percent representation of the marginalised and underprivileged communities. There is 45 percent reservation for such groups in the constitution.
The draft statute envisions 35 percent women representation in all party structures. Similarly, only those who have been with the party for 10 years can be representatives for the general convention.
The provincial committees will be 125-strong with nine-member office bearers while the party will have 99-member district committees.
As the Maoist Centre's general convention held in December 2021 was solely focused on selecting the party leadership, there was an agreement among the leaders to hold a separate convention to discuss and endorse the party statute.
However, it took more than two years for the party to fix a date for the special general convention. The party’s Central Committee meeting in August last year had decided to hold the statute convention by mid-December and the special general convention six months later. The statute convention was delayed by two months.
While the seven-member committee submitted the draft statute in consensus, Sharma has also presented a proposal outlining a set of suggestions. Sharma’s proposal mainly focuses on the party leadership selection process.
Of late, he has been calling for a change in leadership saying that the new generation should get the opportunity to steer the party.
Dahal continues to lead the Maoist party, for over three decades now. Similarly, he has been monopolising the selection of other office bearers. Sharma and Pun were the main contenders for the general secretary’s position in the previous general convention.
However, Dahal gave the post to Gurung months after the conclusion of the general convention. The party has never gone to an election to decide its leadership. Sharma’s proposal aims to pick the leadership through a vote.