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Of Revolutionaries and 'Revisionists' in Nepal

Prachanda is trying to drive the constitutional process; his former comrade Baidya a revolutionary one.

The year gone by has been a gloomy one for Nepal’s Maoists. Notwithstanding their earlier big achievements (Nepal as a republic and a secular state), the democratisation of the Nepal Army and federalism, which they had also set out to achieve as part of their short-term transformative agenda, are still not within their grasp. The constituent assembly (CA), which was to draft and approve a new constitution, failed to do so and had to be dissolved upon the completion of its term and the extensions given to it. The stumbling block was the design of a federal system that would satisfy the needs of Nepal’s oppressed nationalities and ethnic communities, with the Maoists lending the lone voice of full support but unable to drive the process in the face of significant behind-the-back resistance to it from the other two big parties, the Nepali Congress (NC) and the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) [UML]. Besides, the NC kept demanding (and continues to do so) the prime minister’s chair, but refused to agree about the date of the elections to a new CA and other important matters.

As if this was not enough of the bad news of 2012, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) [UCPN(M)] itself split into two, with the faction led by the party’s erstwhile vice-chairperson, Mohan Baidya “Kiran”, forming the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) [CPN(M)] in June. Soon thereafter, the CPN(M) submitted a list of 70 demands to Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, which included the scrapping of the Nepal-India Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement that was alleged to be Bhattarai’s contribution to “Indian expansionism”. Will 2013 be a better year for Nepal’s Maoists and, in turn, for the Nepali people? We frame the question thus because, presently it is UCPN(M) leader Prachanda who is doing all he can to break the political impasse and take the constitutional process forward; NC and UML leaders have only been trying to defer crucial constitutional decisions or stall the process altogether.

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