UCPN (Maoist)


FEB 04 – The UCPN (Maoist)’s seventh General Convention, which began on February 2, is scheduled to elect a new party leadership and reshape the party’s political and ideological line. The closed sessions of the convention are on-going and leaders from rival factions are competing to strengthen their hold inside the party by securing top positions. The Post’s Kamal Dev Bhattarai and Phanindra Dahal spoke with party Secretary Post Bahadur Bogati and Standing Committee member Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, who are close to party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Vice-chairman Baburam Bhattarai respectively. Excerpts:  
We cannot perpetually stick to ‘People’s War’orever
There is talk that this convention will make you the UCPN (Maoist)’s General Secretary. Is this true?
This is an issue yet to be decided inside the party. It is natural for such views to surface at the time of the General Convention but I would not like to comment further.
Aren’t you interested in the post?
In a communist party, responsibilities will be allotted to leaders based on necessity. The appointment is not for prestige but rather responsibility. As a communist, I am ready for any responsibility that the party offers.
What are you expecting from this General Convention?
The General Convention is taking place after 21 years. It has historical importance. We assumed the line of a people’s war in 1991. Now, we are at a stage where we need to institutionalise federalism, republicanism and inclusiveness. We are now moving forward in a new manner. We are aiming to complete the outstanding tasks of the people’s revolution and move ahead in preparations for a socialist revolution.
Is the party bringing an end to the line of people’s war as endorsed by the 1991 Convention?
The nature of all movements for societal change is decided in context. In comparison to 1991, the situation has changed, so we should move ahead accordingly. We cannot stick to a people’s war forever.
Party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s document is silent on foreign intervention. He has said that we are now moving towards national independence. Do you have a similar assessment?
As was the case in the past, we are no longer in a semi-colonial situation; the situation where imperialist and expansionist forces controlled state power through direct intervention has come to an end. Instead, there is intervention in financial, cultural and social areas. We should end such interventions and move forward for independence.
The chairman’s document has omitted “Indian expansionism.” What is the reason behind this omission?
We have some problems with India and there is some inequality in the relationship between the two countries. Both Nepalis and Indians feel that way. We should end that inequality and carve out a new relationship based on equality.
One of the party’s Vice-chairmen has expressed dissent over issues of national sovereignty. Is it because the Chairman’s document is incomplete?
So far, he has not put forward any written views. There are minor differences in opinion but I think we can settle them through discussions. There could be minor concerns and questions and there might have been problems in its application. But principally, we are all together on issues of national sovereignty.
Some of your contemporaries formed a new party, blaming your party for wavering from the ideology of change?
It is just a matter of perception. To move forward with a new strategy is similar to digging a new path. At times, we should move right or left. It is natural and we are moving forward with the right ideology. They stayed rigid, dogmatic and held only mechanical opinions and thus, left the party.
Are you saying that the party split was necessary since the rigid leaders have now left the party?
I am not saying it was right. It would have been better if they stayed and conducted discussions within the party. Till the last minute, we tried to avoid the split. However, instead of participating in ideological and political discussions, they decided to quit the party.
Priority: peace, statute & economic revolution
Are you expecting to be elevated from Standing Committee member to an office bearer through this General Convention?
First of all, how the leadership will be appointed and what responsibilities we are given through the General Convention is a secondary thing.
The most important facet of the convention is what type of tactical lines, strategies and programmes we adopt.
There are talks that you are going to become either party secretary or general secretary. Is there any truth to this?
It is up to the party to decide these issues based on consensus. I don’t have any personal desire for such posts. These are secondary matters.
What will be the strategy of the party after this jamboree?
The party will now give first priority to peace, constitution and economic revolution. We will make an effort until the last minute to achieve those goals. However, if we are isolated, nationally and internationally, in fulfilling these agendas and forced towards failure, we will conduct a resistance revolt.
Our current roadmap is to institutionalise federalism, republicanism, secularism and inclusive, proportional representation.
You are considered to be quite close to Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai in the party. Are there any differences between Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and PM Bhattarai now?
Let me clarify that I am equally close to the party Chairman as I am to PM Bhattarai. The relationship between Chairman Prachanda and Vice-Chairman Bhattarai is dialectial. Struggle and unity go hand in hand. Struggle is the basis of unity and we believe in unity, struggle and transformation.
So are we to understand that the mutual appreciation of one another by the two top leaders at the inaugural session of Convention was only for mass consumption?
No, after struggle, the two leaders are now united along the same political and ideological lines. We are guided by the unity that has been gained after their struggle and will move forward in the same spirit.
At the inaugural session, Chairman Dahal said that the party will come up with a formula to end the current impasse after the General Convention. What will be the formula?
I think that will come at the end of this Convention. It is hard to predict that at this moment.
Is it that the country is now moving towards consensus on an independent candidate to head the election government?
That is one of our proposals. Our first proposal is to give national shape to the current government as it is both legitimate and constitutional. This will be the best option. If the opposition parties maintain their ego and refuse to join us, we can propose a candidate from the coalition. If that option is also rejected, we can propose an independent candidate.  The chairman was just reiterating the party’s standing policy at the inaugural speech.
Will this government resign after the General Convention?
We cannot say that right now. Our priority is to transform the current government into a national consensus one. If this government resigns, there is no legal or constitutional basis for the formation of a new government.
If anyone questions the legitimacy of the to-be-formed new government at the Supreme Court and it decides accordingly, the country will plunge into a serious constitutional crisis. We want the opposition parties to accept democratic principles by joining the government and paving the way for national consensus.
The cadres that we’ve spoken to express dissatisfaction over the party’s soft stance on national sovereignty. Is it true that the party is now very flexible regarding foreign intervention?
We need to maintain relationships with our neighbouring countries based on equality and coexistence. We should not adopt a too-soft or too-hard policy with them. There are two extremist trends when talking about our relationship with India. Both serving India’s interest blindly and opposing India aggressively are wrong trends.