Maoists, foreign forces blamed for division
KATHMANDU, Oct 6: Top CPN-UML leaders claimed on Friday that the party would not be affected all despite scores of dissident leaders quitting the party on Thursday.
In a scathing criticism of those who quit the party, UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal, among others, described his party as the "main trunk of a bamboo" and asserted that those who left the party are only the barks.
"With falling of dry barks, the trunk of a bamboo is never weakened rather it becomes stronger," Khanal said at Ratnapark where thousands of party cadres gathered to demand ouster of the present government.
Reiterating the party´s official position on federal system, Khanal insisted that his party was firm in its stance that provinces should be named and delineate based on multiple identity.
UML leaders´ remarks came a day after scores of dissident leaders and cadres including the party Vice-chairman Ashok Rai quit the party amidst a function in Kathmandu on Thursday. All those addressing the crowd saw Maoist leaders´ and foreign elements´ hands on encouraging the dissidents to quit the party.
In a harsher comment, senior UML leader KP Sharma Oli labeled the party deserters as "balls" that are being played by others. "See, a ball doesn´t bounce without external forces. It needs to be played by someone else. The Janajaati leaders are like balls that are being played by someone else," Oli said at the gathering.
He claimed that those who quit the party were pawns of domestic as well as foreign elements. "Some domestic as well as foreign forces want to create anarchy in Nepal and they are conspiring and making huge investment for that," said Oli.
Oli said the UML wouldn´t make any compromise against those who are trying to create instability and ethnic divisions in the country "because UML is a seasoned political party belonging not only to an ethnic or regional community but to all the communities of the country."
The party´s Vice-chairman Bamdev Gautam said that the UCPN (Maoist) wanted to incite ethnic conflict while the UML was for communal harmony in the country. "The fight is between the two sides and the front led by UML championing communal harmony will finally win the battle," said Gautam.
Another Vice-chairperson Bidya Bhandari went on to compare those who quit the party with the deserters from an army.
Though the opposition party UML launched the anti-government protests starting Friday, all the leaders addressing the crowd devoted much of their speeches harshly criticizing the UCPN (Maoist) and those who quit the party.
The crowd would cheer and wave the flag when the leaders made pointed criticism against Maoists and party defectors. All the leaders, while addressing the mass, accused the Maoists of trying to incite communal violence in the society and of always trying to fool the people by making false promises.
´They´ve left party for wrong reasons´
Republica asked some UML demonstrators in Kathmandu what they thought of dissident leaders´ desertion of the party. Excerpts:
Dhan Kumari Sunar, central member, special coordination committee
Leaders who want status-quo prevail in all the major political parties including the UML. There must be drastic improvements in policy to accommodate the people´s aspirations for change. If they fail to come up with a visionary and effective plan to address the concerns of various marginalized and oppressed communities, more people may quit the party and the leaders will not be able to stop it. Bringing about a change has become urgent.
Navaraj Kafle, member, Gongabu area committee
It is very unfortunate that some established leaders like Ashok Rai have quit the UML accusing the party of not being ready for ethnicity-based federalism. It is the UML that groomed Ashok Rai and other leaders who deserted the party. For years, they taught people that there is only one caste in the world and they trained cadres to fight for the proletariats. There is no need to worry as they have left the party for wrong reasons. UML shouldn´t stand for ethnic-based federalism.
Santaram Sapkota, student leader, Nepal Law Campus
UML leaders quit the party dancing to the tunes of Maoists because the proposal to adopt ethnicity-based federalism is a Maoist agenda. The idea has failed in countries such as Sudan and Nigeria and is inappropriate for our country also. Their desertion is welcome because they were championing a wrong agenda.
Sangita Karki, Dhading-Kathmandu liaison chapter
Leaders like Ashok Rai have deserted UML in the hope of reaping dollars by becoming a pawn in the hands of foreign elements. UML groomed them for years and availed opportunities but they have now betrayed the party. They are advocating a wrong agenda and the UML´s official stance is right because ethnicity-based federalism is not suitable for our society.