Following a nearly two-year-long intensive internal conflict, the party and its leaders that waged a decade-long armed insurgency tore apart on June 18 as the national gathering of the dissenting faction declared a new party, CPN-Maoist, detaching itself from the UCPN-Maoist.
The efforts of both UCPN-Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ and the then senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidhya ‘Kiran’, now chairman of the new Maoist party, went in vain. The division has not only weakened the Maoists as a whole for the time being but also derailed the movement for an egalitarian society in the long run.
The obvious cause of the split was political. As long as the UCPN-Maoist remained united, the dissenting faction was pressing the establishment side to take up the line of a people’s revolt. But the establishment was firm that the tactical line of peace and the constitution had not failed; therefore, the party should wait before changing its tactical line.
The dissenting faction had been blaming the establishment side of being stuck in the quicksand of parliamentarianism while the establishment used to accuse the latter of left extremism. On the sidelines were other issues such as misuse of party funds by the establishment and anarchism on the part of the dissidents.
The division of the largest party at this critical time of prolonged transition has added a burden to the nation. Although history of the left parties in Nepal shows that the breakaway faction is unable to outsmart the mother party, Maoist history is different. When they formed the Maoist party some two decades back, they had also broken from another party.
In this sense, the formation of the new party by the Maoist dissident faction may trigger new political events that could shape the political course of the country in the near future. This depends largely on how Prachanda and Kiran manage their inter-party rivalry and the activities of their cadres.
If they succeed to manage it as they have agreed recently in sharing the party’s property, it will be easy; if they fail, there will be an immediate tussle between the two, which may force the breakaway faction to adopt tough tactics to establish itself as a party.
When they fought the people’s war, the Maoist leaders spread a dream that their war would end with the establishment of an egalitarian society. They told the poor that they were fighting for them. Almost all of those who joined the war or supported it and sacrificed their lives in the course were the sons and daughter of the poor people who wanted progressive change in the country. The Maoists defined their war as a form of class struggle and made the poor believe that the success of the war meant a bright future for them, an establishment of a system in which labour was worshipped. This dream, however, has become a daydream with the split in the party and near failure of the war.
Although both the old party and the new one are claiming that they are and will be fighting for the toiling masses, they both lack clarity as to how the rights of the labouring class will be ensured and how their living conditions will be improved. At the moment, both the parties are concentrating on caste liberation in the name of naming the federal units based on ethnicity. It is ironic that those who believe in class struggle and say that everything is determined by the economy are taking up caste and ethnicity. It seems their priority is not class struggle but caste liberation.
This has also shattered the dreams of the poor. Although liberation of the oppressed castes and minorities is a prerequisite for an inclusive democratic society, the economic and political issues of the toiling people should have been of greater importance for the Maoist party.
With the split in the party, the dream of sustainable peace has also been shattered. Although the new Maoist party is unlikely to resort to anything like a people’s revolt in the immediate future due to various reasons, including the party’s strength, the party will push its route toward that direction because of its political line.
What should be noted is that despite the claims of the old Maoist party, the new one carries the sentiment of those who really fought for the people’s war. Had the Maoist party not united with the fringe parties after the peace process started, there was every possibility for the party to take the line of a people’s revolt long ago. All those leaders of the parties which joined the Maoists after the peace process sided with the establishment.
What both the new and old Maoist parties should realise is that whatever dream they shared with the people to empower the rebellion was faulty to some extent. That the dream they shared was a future dream. They must ask their cadres to learn from the failure of socialism in Russia and its adaptation in the Chinese context.
Communism can be a dream, an ideal to attain in the course of time. But attaining social democracy is not that difficult. Social democracy can also lead to communism. For this, issues related to inclusive and participatory democracy should be given priority while carrying out issues related to class struggle. If they cannot come together again, they can still reach a working agreement on issues related to the economy, nationality and international affairs. Doing this will also rekindle the hope of peace and prosperity.