Confirming months of doubts on its ability to stay as one, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has now formally divided. With the dissident faction led by Senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya forming a new party named Communist Party of Nepal, Maoist, the largest party in the erstwhile Constituent Assembly (CA) has received a severe jolt. Splits in communist parties in Nepal are not uncommon, and UCPN (Maoist) was no exception. Differences between Baidya and chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal had been steadily growing in the last six years, which had made a formal split only a matter of time.
The differences that began after the then warring Maoists signed a 12-point understanding with the Seven-Party Alliance, came to a boiling point after the party took over government leadership with another vice-chairman Baburam Bhattarai taking over the country’s reins as prime minister. The dissolution of the CA took these differences to a new level, and proved to be the final catalyst for the party division. Baidya has called “this dissociation from reformists and revisionists as the basis for the formation of the new party”.
Baidya’s decision to form a new political front can be seen as a need of the time, as differences between the two sides had made it devilishly hard for party chairman to take crucial decisions on peace and constitution-making process—with the dissident faction putting one hurdle after another on resolution of important issues. The split could therefore provide some respite for the party establishment to reiterate its commitment on the overall peace and constitution writing process. But it has also raised doubts if the UCPN (Maoist), the most important player in the process, would be able to see the twin process through. The split, we believe, need not necessarily have a deleterious impact on the ongoing political process, nor should it necessarily mar the culture of collaboration and dialogue, the mainstay of the whole process.
All sides should understand that there is no going back on the current process of reconciliation that began with the end of the ten-year-long “People’s War”. Some believe Baidya’s ‘radical stance’ on constitution-drafting could jeopardize historic achievements post 2006. The national gathering that split the party has made a decision in favor of all-party government, which is a welcome step. But the democratic credentials of the new outfit, which terms the historic Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) a ‘betrayal of the people’, remains a suspect. Nor has the new outfit’s decision to form an army of its own gone down well with the general public. Baidya’s message that the party’s agenda of ‘people’s revolt’ could be a way station towards ‘people’s war’ is equally alarming.
No one should forget that the signing of the CPA not only created an environment for the political parties to move ahead united to draft a constitution of New Nepal but also helped bridge the gaping trust deficit among major political forces. Hence although the split in UCPN (Maoist) has come as a major setback for the mother party and would undoubtedly impact the current political climate, it should not in any way be allowed to undermine the achievements so far. Towards this goal, all major political forces, including the newly-established CPN, M, should immediately commence dialogue with other important political players to find lasting solutions to the current political and constitutional crisis