All political parties in Nepal are infested with intra-party intrigues and infightings. This is one of the unique features of Nepalese political system. Whether the party in question is a big or a small one, a new comer or an established one, all parties are riddled with intra-party wrangling. But there is none comparable to the Maoists. They stand distinct. It sounds like the party is here to perform multiple roles at a single time. Take look at them. They are in the government and, at the same time, they are also in the streets vehemently opposing government moves. The faction led by Mr. Mohan Vaidya is now threatening to topple the government if their demand for PM resignation goes unheeded. And the establishment faction is equally busy trying to dominate them. The infighting is not limited to Maoists political clans; deep cleavages can be observed amongst their sister organizations like trade union leaders, PLA fighters and YCL cadres. Recently, the rivalry has resulted in a physical assault in Kailali, Dhangadhi. The animosity brewing inside the Maoists Party is deeper and stronger than the one observed inside Nepali Congress Party in early 1990s. The situation has bewildered many political analysts. Some are even wondering whether the infighting situation is a real or a concocted one designed to fool their opponents. Here are five major explanations I have been able to collect on Maoists’ intra-party fighting. Opponents Ploy to weaken Maoists Party:
The proponent of this idea is no other than Chairman Prachanda himself. Probably, being at the helm of the party he has a duty or a moral obligation to churn out this argument that the idea of intra-party division in Maoists Party is nothing more than a ploy of the opponents, primarily, Nepali Congress and UML to severely weaken the party and distract the public. The proponents of this idea further argue, “Unlike other political parties which are moribund political parties, Maoists Party is a lively (jibit) political party, therefore, it is normal to observe some arguments and counter-arguments brewing inside a living system.” Actually, these arguments and counter-arguments are supposed to strengthen, rather than weaken, the party. Except Comrade Prachand and his followers, there is no one to buy this argument.
Inevitability of Maoists downfall:
The most fascinating explanation comes from, I suppose, Mr. Muma Ram Khanal, a political analyst on Maoist movement. Probably, a year back, he is overheard in an interview program in Sagarmatha FM that Maoist Party is in unity simply because the country is in a situation of transition. According to him, the party will breakdown as soon as any of the two conditions are fulfilled. The conditions are: (1) CA successfully completes the drafting of the new constitution or (2) CA cannot draft constitution and hence has to be dissolved. The party is kept intact simply because the country, at present, is between these two conditions – neither the constitution has been drafted nor CA has been dissolved. The situation is something similar to what Antonio Gramsci has described – an interregnum situation – a situation of morbidity where the old is dying and the new cannot be born. The morbid situation has forced the Maoists to stay united. Once the situation comes to an end, their breaking down into pieces is inevitable. If there is any grain of truth in this line of argument then we can expect prolongation of transition period, simply, to keep Maoists from falling together. Sponsored opposition: Another line of argument is that the ongoing Maoists opposition is nothing more than their deliberately crafted strategy to disturb, distract and confuse the opponents, primarily, Nepali Congress and UML. Hitherto the role of parliamentary parties has been limited to reacting to Maoist agenda. By actively taking up an oppositional role, Maoists have even denied them the role of an opponent. They have literally made the opposition parties redundant. Now, what we see that the role of Maoists’ opposition seems to have been taken up by some civil society members. Maoists’ taking up oppositional role may also be a strategy to prove West Ministerial parliamentary model does not work in Nepal. Ask any Maoists cadres about the on-going, unfolding drama, one will invariably get a response like this: “Ours is a different party, it is not like the conventional political parties”. This could also be a ploy to delay, buy time and distract people’s attention away from completing the peace process and drafting of a new constitution. Intra-party could be a lame excuse for not being able to draft constitution. Two line struggle: soft-liners vs. hard-liners: The fourth line of argument is that the infighting is the result of clash between liberal and conservative lines of thinking within the Party. Dr. Bhattarai is projected as a liberal line of thinking while Comrade Kiran represents hard-line conservative faction. Chairman Prachand has managed to survive by meddling in-between. He has lost his charm due to his verbosity and flip-flop, oscillating position. A deeper analysis of the cleavage within the party tells a different story. The difference is not so much between hard-liners and soft-liners; it is between haves and have-nots, between rural, poor Maoists and urban, rich Maoists, between opportunistic, roundabout bahunbadi line of thinking and straight-forward ethnic, janajati line of thinking. The Maoists cleavage is nothing to do with ideology. Now, people are increasingly questioning whether Maoists do have an ideology? India factor: We are very much adept in blaming foreign hands for our misfortunes and national problems. Commensurate with this, there is a line of thinking that puts blame on foreign hands, especially, our Southern big brother India for the ongoing mess inside the Maoists’ Party. It is rumored that after securing largest position in the Parliament, Maoists distanced themselves from the pro-India line of thinking. Their relationship with India came to a freezing point at the height of COAS crisis in May 2009. Since then, India is looking forward to teach Maoists a lesson or two. India thinks Maoist Party must be cut to a size before next elections take place in Nepal. There is some grain of truth in this line of reasoning. The Maoists opposing leaders like Mr. Vaidya and Mr. Gajurel were behind the bars in India when a historic 12-point deal, brokered by India, was signed between Maoists and Seven Political Parties, in New Delhi in November 2005. Many assume the seeds of Maoists intra-party intransigence must have been planted from that point of time.