KATHMANDU, Feb 16: Despite a semblance of unity, the three Maoist factions continue to carry out internal activities to bolster their organizational hold, as the leaders don´t seem convinced that the current intra-party power equation would last long.
While the faction led by Vice-chairman Baburam Bhattarai, who is also the prime minister, has been holding separate programs, party radicals have been reaching out to the grassroots cadres with cultural programs and issuing separate circulars to cadres loyal to them.
Sources say the party radicals do not trust Dahal very much, but don´t want to spoil their relations with him, either. So the faction is very cautious not to offend Dahal. “We are putting in best efforts to bring the party onto the revolutionary track. So we will not attack the chairman publicly and spoil everything,” said Khadga Bahadur Bishwakarma from the radical faction led by Senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya.
This explains why the radicals have remained silent on the recent threats and attacks on PLA personnel loyal to them by those close to Dahal over the issue of financial transparency.
Udaya Chalaune, who was the division vice-commander at Shaktikhor and opted for voluntary retirement, held a press meet exposing the threats issued to him by commanders close to Dahal. But none of the Baidya faction leaders spoke in his favor.
So, why have the leaders, who have all along been raising the issue of financial transparency, remained silent on the issue? “It is because they want the assistance of Dahal to topple the government. The basis of unity between Dahal and Baidya is the dissolution of the Bhattarai-led government, and the possibility of turning the power configuration in each other´s favor. Otherwise there is no space for unity between the two leaders who hold separate political ideologies,” says a leader close to Bhattarai.
And this explains why Dahal frequently asks other parties to form a national consensus government, though the current government is led by the leader of his own party. But his strategy has not worked as the Nepali Congress (NC), the second largest political party, insists that the party will not participate in the government without the current government first concluding the peace process.
“And that´s the reason why the Baidya faction wants the prime minister to resign first, though there seems to be no other alternative to the Bhattarai-led government,” says Maoist leader Ram Karki.
In the ongoing party Standing Committee meeting, the Baidya faction has been vociferously demanding resignation of the prime minister to pave the way for a national consensus government.
“The party has already decided to form a national unity government. So I wonder why he doesn´t step down,” says Hari Bhakta Kandel who is close to Baidya.
Party insiders say the radicals reckon that the resignation will bring about fissures between Dahal and Bhattarai to their great advantage. But circumstances turned adverse with NC and Madhes-based parties expressing unwillingness to form a national unity government at this juncture.
So, what will be its implications on Dahal-Baidya alliance?
Sources say Dahal, albeit hesitatingly, is making compromises with other parties on the peace and constitution drafting process and that doesn´t augur well for the Dahal-Baidya alliance.
Baidya faction sees no possibility of framing a “pro-people” constitution and pushes for an urban revolt to seize state power, while Dahal knows that such a move would be disastrous. And if he doesn´t opt for a revolt, it will strain his relations with Baidya.
So, there seems to be very limited choices for Dahal. With the constitution drafting deadline approaching fast, it will not take very long to see what cards Dahal plays to save the peace and constitution drafting process and the party unity at the same time.