Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mohan Baidya and Prachanda debate future of Nepal Revolution at Central Committee Meeting

KATHMANDU, Oct 18th - A 'dissent' paper, proposed by senior Maoist leader Mohan Baidya during the party's recently held Central Committee (CC) meeting, has revealed serious ideological differences between two factions in the CPN-Maoist. While Baidya roots for a "people's republic", Prachanda is for a "democratic republic."

Baidya's proposal carries some weight. The party CC couldn't defeat it. Neither did it endorse Prachanda's paper, which remains committed to the current democratic republic for now. Prachanda's proposal sees a people's republic as a long-term goal, with a "pro-people" constitution as a transition toward that end. In contrast, Baidya stresses that the party must opt for a people's republic with immediate effect.

Baidya's proposal, backed by senior leaders CP Gajurel, Ram Bahadur Thapa and Matrika Yadav among others, advocates state-controlled political and economic systems and says that the state must have strong control over all economic resources. A party CC leader says the state cannot provide justice to all marginalised classes like farmers, labourers, the dalit and the janajati until it has full control over all economic resources.

Further elaborating on the Baidya proposal, the CC leader said the proposal argues that all economic activities, such as industries, must function under direct regulation by the state. "This is how the state can be socialist and dispense justice to all sections of society," he said.

Stressing that the party fought the decade-long war for a people's republic, Baidya argues that the party cannot undervalue the loss of hundreds of party cadres for the cause.

On the political front, Baidya's proposal states that there will be a multi-party democracy but it will not be a parliamentary one. The proposal says various political parties will be free to compete among themselves but they will function only within the norms and guidelines set by the state.

"The underlying meaning of the proposal is that there will be a single major political party in the centre and all other political parties will compete under norms set by the major political party," the CC leader said. "But we are still open to discussing the structure of the political system."

He said the high number of political parties in developing countries poses a hurdle in the development process. "If there is only one major political party in a developing country like ours, we will be free from horse-trading and all other types of political malaise."

Members of all the party's 11 state committees are currently studying both proposals. Some 800 members of the committees are expected to choose either one of the proposals during the party national cadres' conference, scheduled for the second week of November.

"I am sure the cadres will choose Baidya's proposal as it reflects the true aspiration of our decade-long struggle," the CC leader said.

Although he declined to say exactly how many members in the party's 35-member central committee are in favour of the Baidya proposal, he said the party leadership cannot just brush it off, considering its long-term implication for a party with a revolutionary history.

"We hope the party leadership will incorporate the dissenting proposal before presenting a final political paper during the national cadres' conference," he said. "If it fails to do so, major change in the party organisation including its leadership cannot be avoided as a majority of party cadres do not want to give up their long-cherished dream of a people's republic."

The Baidya faction, also known as the hard-line faction, has opposed Chairman Prachanda's recent remark that the party is not in favour of a people's republic, and Prachanda's is desperately trying to consolidate his base, party insiders say.

Prachanda's nervousness can be judged by his frantic efforts to unify his party with the CPN-Unity Centre (Masal). General Secretary of Unity Centre (Masal) Narayan Kaji Shrestha, who played a key role in the past in forging an alliance between the seven political parties and the Maoist, is known to be close to Prachandal. Party insiders say Shrestha has set the condition that after unification the Maoist leadership must be ready to remove all adjectives from the name of the party and rename it the Communist Party of Nepal.

Prachanda and another powerful party leader, Dr Baburam Bhattarai, have agreed to Shrestha's demand. But Baidya, sensing Prachanda's intentions, is strongly opposed to it, according to this story.

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