Maoists Con­verge

Southasia - - 15 -

Nepal’s former rebel Maoist move­ment re­cently held a pub­lic gath­er­ing for its big­gest show of strength fol­low­ing the end of a decade long in­sur­gency. Nearly 3,000 del­e­gates at­tended the five-day con­ven­tion, the first of its kind, since the top­pling of the last Hindu monar­chy in 2008.

The Maoist party is ex­pected to back its com­mit­ment to democ­racy even though it has failed to de­liver on its prom­ise to hold elec­tions last Novem­ber. How­ever, the party claims that it will not ini­ti­ate a peo­ple’s war again. The con­ven­tion fo­cused on the preser­va­tion of achieve­ments such as sec­u­lar­ism, repub­li­can­ism, and the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a com­pre­hen­sive con­sti­tu­tion and fed­er­al­ism.

A decade has passed since the last con­ven­tion was held in the district of Chit­wan. Mem­bers at this year’s con­ven­tion re­called the grim past when nearly 16,000 peo­ple died in the 1996-2006 con­flict when the Maoists fought against the monar­chy. The party now leads Nepal in a shaky care­taker coali­tion, which has had lit­tle power to make fun­da­men­tal pol­icy de­ci­sions since the par­lia­ment was dis­solved last May. The con­ven­tion is be­lieved to con­sol­i­date the power of Pushpa Ka­mal Da­hal, the party’s chair­per­son.

In ad­di­tion, the con­ven­tion helped to ease ten­sion be­tween Da­hal and his two op­po­nents, Prime Min­is­ter Babu­ram Bhattarai and Deputy Prime Min­is­ter, Narayan Kaji Shrestha. Although some quar­ters in Nepal’s pol­i­tics think that Bhattarai may have used state ma­chin­ery to gain power, it seems that the Maoist leader Prachanda is likely to main­tain his hold in the party. More­over, the con­ven­tion pro­moted the Maoist’s claim for trans­form­ing the party into a main­stream demo­cratic force rather than stick­ing to au­thor­i­tar­ian at­ti­tudes.

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