Mohan Baidya, chairman of the more hard line of two principal factions of the Maoists, believes it would be a historic blunder for fraternity to remain divided any longer.
No, he does not believe his decision to break away from Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) in 2012 and create (restore?) the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) was a mistake. That split was historically correct, too. But since history has taken a new turn, politics must do so too.
That’s the least bizarre part. Baidya went on to acknowledge deep differences between the two factions and the other splinters of the organization that led a 10-year ‘people’s war’. In other words, there is a palpable recognition that it’s better to stay divided inside a single party than to function as separate entities.
On the right, the leaders of the two Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) factions, Kamal Thapa and Pashupati Shamsher Rana, came together in public for the first time in a decade to explain how they would solidify the nationalist front. What might be nobler?
But Thapa won’t abandon his royalist agenda, while Rana will resolutely adhere to his republican one. Still, the two factions – dominated principally but not exclusively by decade-long allies of the monarchy – seem to be so serious about uniting that patriarch Surya Bahadur Thapa’s normally pungent trashing of the idea didn’t seem to stick.
So Surya Bahadur Thapa is off to New Delhi, close on the heels of UCPN (Maoist) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s return from China. Who, in turn, had flown up north, weeks after his party comrade-cum-rival Baburam Bhattarai returned from India, imploring – or advising, depending on whom you ask – India’s active engagement in Nepal.
If Nepalis firmly believe that their neighbors are discussing their fate far more seriously, the Chinese and Indians have been nodding their heads more conspicuously. The normally chatty Indians have become even more candid about how they think we should reinvent ourselves, particularly on religious and cultural matters, although careful to profess a hands-off policy.
A few weeks ago, the traditionally reticent Chinese used a leading Nepal expert to reject the prospect of a resurrecting of the Hindu monarchy. Beijing is also using Madhesi leaders to convey its support for any kind of federalism Nepalis wished as long as it did not impair Nepal’s territorial and sovereign integrity. (The implications of the ambiguities surrounding the concepts of “Hindu monarchy” and support for conditional federalism may be left for another time.)
Baidya believes the foreign itineraries and agendas of Nepali leaders are not that important. The party needed to do what Nepal needed: unite.
The right has an easier way out. The unity formula of the two RPPs has room for a republican as well as a monarchical Nepal. Restoring Hindu statehood remains their distinctive common platform, which seems to enjoy popularity in opinion polls and on social media. Hey, the electoral numbers even might catch up soon.
But the Maoists? Even when they try their hand at practicality and expediency, they can’t quit being uppity about ideology, history and objectivity.