The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is holding an important plenum on November 21 in Gorkha district. The plenum is a significant event in the life of the UCPN-M but it will also be watched keenly from outside the Maoist party as it has implications for national politics. The Maoist party today stands at a crossroads -- it has come a long way in practicing multi-party politics but has also shown great hesitation to fully embrace a democratic polity.
Many of its cadres, and even some top leaders, flirt with the idea of a revolt, but that´s not the road the leadership is willing to take as it´s not a feasible option. So there is a lot of muddle and frustration in the Maoist rank and file at present. The Gorkha plenum is unlikely to once and for all settle all the complications facing the party, but it´s expected to reach a decision about the direction the party wants to take, at lest for now. We hope that the party will decide to stay the democratic course and express its renewed commitment to concluding the peace process and writing a democratic constitution.
The Maoist plenum has of late drawn interest, and serious criticism, for two reasons. First, Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal is trying to block separate reports by his two vice chairmen, Dr Baburam Bhattarai and Mohan Baidya, (which are somewhat counter to his own) from making it to the plenum. On the pretext of synthesizing the three reports, which he argues was mandated by an earlier central committee meeting, Dahal is now preparing a "combined report" to be presented at the plenum.
This is not just undemocratic but an attempt to block deliberations on crucial issues and the grave accusations that the two vice chairmen have leveled against Dahal. Both Bhattarai and Baidya have accused him of opaqueness in handling the party´s finances and its possible misuse. Dahal, who has remained in the party´s top post for the last 22 years without holding a party general convention (and election), exercises sole control over the mobilization of huge party funds. Dahal should realize that an open society and a closed, opaque party cannot coexist for ever.
The second issue is no less controversial. Over 1,000 PLA combatants, who are "in principle" under the constitutionally formed Special Committee since September 17 as announced by the government and the Maoists, are also participating in the plenum. These are the very combatants who are supposed to have severed their ties with any political party and who (at least some of them) will become part of the national army and other security agencies.
No logic can explain why they should attend the Maoist plenum and the Maoist leadership should stop them from heading for Gorkha unless they want to send out the message that the PLA still belongs to the Maoist party and will remain so even after the integration process.