After people’s war, Nepal Maoists begin peer war

By Sudeshna Sarkar,IANS,

Kathmandu : Twelve years ago, Nepal’s Maoist party decided to quit parliament and wage a war against the state with the aim of establishing a people’s republic. Now, after coming to power, the former guerrillas are geared for a new battle.

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A clash between members of the Maoist party begins in the temple town of Bhaktapur Friday as hardliners challenge moderates in a new struggle that will determine the fate of the former underground party as well as the future of the nascent Himalayan republic.

As the national convention of the party begins after over a decade, over 1,000 representatives from the 75 districts of Nepal as well as the decision-making 35-member central committee are taking part to decide if Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, who is also the chairman of the party, will retain his leadership or be forced to hand over the baton to the hawks.

The bitter rift in the party came to the fore during the just-concluded meet of the central committee during which the Prachanda faction failed to reach an agreement with challenger Mohan Vaidya Kiran and his followers.

Prachanda, who led the 10-year war as the supreme commander of the People’s Liberation Army, now favours a change in keeping with the changing times. His thrust is on economic revolution and a democratic republic in which multi-party competitiveness is encouraged.

The Maoist supremo also favours dropping the Maoist tag from the party name in a bid to allay the world’s fears that he and his men still favour the use of arms.

Kiran is bitterly opposing the axing of Chinese revolutionary leader Mao’s name from the party, saying that it is not a mere tag but an integral part of the party’s identity.

Kiran, who was jailed in India during the insurgency, also advocates pressing ahead with the old goal of establishing a one-party people’s republic in which the state will control all sectors.

At the central committee meeting, Prachanda’s statement outlining the party’s plans and policies was openly opposed by Kiran, who tabled a separate statement of his own.

Even after three days of debate, the central committee failed to reach a consensus between the two sparring peers and has now decided to ask the convention to resolve the feud.

Within three months of being sworn in as prime minister, Prachanda faces growing hurdles. In addition to the revolt in the party and a stiff challenge to his leadership, his government is facing public outrage over the increasing lawlessness among his cadres, who allegedly killed two youths last month soon after the slaying of a businessman.