Saturday, September 07, 2013

Maoists Divided, Maoists United…

Netra Bikram Chand
Seven years into our former Maoist rebels’ grand entry onto the political center stage, many Nepalis are still intrigued by what their real motives might be. So much so that, on the eve of elections deemed so crucial to saving our souls, we’re still debating whether this constellation of comrades – formally arrayed today as pro- and anti-election parties – had ever really split.
Netra Bikram Chand, secretary of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist – the poll-boycotting, more hard-line adherents of the Great Helmsman – has reignited that question through a spate of sizzling public speeches.
Exhorting us to forego the notion that the foot soldiers of Nepal’s bloodiest political movement had split in two, Chand kind of stepped back a day later, stressing the possibility of reunification between the leadership. (Okay, the leaders parted ways, but the followers stayed put.)
Yet his formulation was provoking enough, at least to Maila Baje, to suggest that his party is not on the defensive. Any unity, Chand insisted, must rest on a clear acknowledgement by Pushpa Kamal Dahal, chief of the establishment United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, of the leadership (supremacy?) of the group led by Mohan Baidya.
Dahal, who until the other day was gleefully proclaiming how the Baidya faction was ensuring its oblivion through its boycott call, conceded that talks were being held, but ruled out imminent unity. So something must be going on, right?
What makes this flicker of camaraderie particularly fascinating is that it comes amid feverish reports of another game plan the establishment Maoists have purportedly hatched against their rivals.
By depicting the Baidya-led Maoists as anti-democratic, by dint of their vow to actively boycott the November elections, Dahal and Co. are said to be contemplating state suppression as their ultimate option. That way, the establishment Maoists not only get to ‘prove’ that they have transformed into a peace-loving and democratic entity but also get to heap accountability for all the insurgency-era atrocities on their rivals all the way to The Hague.
Chand’s remarks came upon his return from a recent ‘mysterious’ trip to China, fueling speculation that the mandarins up north, even in the midst of their own factional bloodletting, might have something up their sleeves.
The fact that India has sent a new ambassador to Nepal, Ranjit Rae – someone who was said to have been actively involved in the signing of the 12-point agreement between the Seven Party Alliance and the Maoists – may or may not have energized the Chinese at this particular moment.
Since Beijing can be more far more inscrutable than any of our Maoists could ever hope to be, it makes sense to pursue this line of inquiry all the way. But before you think you have finally figured out what may be going on in dark corridors, don’t forget that Chand is one of our few Maoists who reportedly enjoy strong links in both Beijing and New Delhi.