The simmering restlessness of CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has finally been spilled in the open.
Dahal during the one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister (PM) and CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli on Monday, and the unification coordination committee meeting also held at the PM’s official residence in Baluwatar on Tuesday has openly expressed his unease and suspicions.
The main concern of Dahal is whether he will get the leadership of the unified party after the coming general convention.
Dahal put forward three issues in the meeting according to a member of the coordination committee.
The first, how the general convention will be held and whether there will be election or not. How will the leadership be selected?
The second, how the issue of policy and ideology will be decided after the general convention.
And the last, if the organizations structures of the parties are not unified on equal terms would that be unification or a takeover?
Dahal had discussed all the three issues with UML Chairman Oli on Monday. Oli had briefed the standing committee meeting Monday evening about the discussion with Dahal.
“I have found he has not been assured about how unification will work in the future,” a UML leader quoted Oli as briefing during the standing committee meeting.
Dahal has opined that the policy and ideology of the Maoist party should also be included in the documents of the unified party if he were to be established at the helm of the united party. “Dahal seems to doubt how the leader who drove the Maoist party will be established as the leader of the unified party if the legacy of ideology and policy of the Maoist party does not get a space in the documents,” the UML leader confided.
Dahal who was enthusiastic after the seven-point agreement for unification of the parties on February 19 is gradually getting suspicious. The foundation of that seven-point agreement was the various rounds of dialogue between Oli and Dahal. Oli had assured Dahal during those meetings that Dahal will be the party chairman after the general convention of unification.
“Dahal who was enthusiastic after being assured by Oli that he will be made consensus chairman after the general convention seems to have started to fear what will happen if he were not made chairman. This is why he has been unsettled,” a UML leader said.
The UML leader has revealed that Dahal wants guarantee for chairmanship right now. “Dahal has sought guarantee on issues that cannot be guaranteed now,” the leader said.
The leader claimed that UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal is one of the reasons for Dahal’s fears.
Nepal has not just supported unification but openly lobbied for that in recent times. He has made all the efforts from his side. “Dahal doubts that Oli may have also assured Nepal, like Oli has assured him, of chairmanship,” according to the UML leader. “Dahal is baffled why Nepal is not speaking when Oli has said he will hand over chairmanship of such a big party to another person and why Nepal seems so happy.”
Dahal and Nepal talked at the former’s residence in Khumaltar on Monday amidst all these suspicions.
Another issue to trouble Dahal, according to a Maoist Center leader, is the Maoists would be finished if things go awry after unification. “All the lawmakers will be lawmakers of the united party after unification. One would require 40 percent in both the parliamentary party and central committee to split the party,” the leader pointed. “It will not be easy to split the party even on the eve of election as all those with Maoist background may not leave the united party then. The split party will be even smaller than it is now.”
Dahal has taken his suspicions into the Tuesday’s meeting by linking them with the general convention.
“The Maoists who rose from the People’s War and UML that has practiced parliamentary politics both have strong contribution in politics. There will be illusion that the Maoist ideology failed if our ideology were not accepted today and the role of Maoist revolution is not mentioned,” a leader quoted Dahal as saying in the meeting.
A Maoist leader pointed at another reason for Dahal’s concern in the political report that has been drafted now.
“Dahal has prepared political documents of the Maoists for 25 years and has only included his own contribution in them,” the Maoist leader pointed. “He is deflated on seeing that contribution of a man who has been recognized officially by naming the party ideology as ‘Prachandapath’ has not been generously acknowledged in the current report.”
Dahal also spoke about the working style of Oli during the unification coordination committee meeting on Tuesday.
“We have talked about two chairmen until the general convention. Will both the chairmen be executive or one ceremonial? His working style hints that he will be the executive and the other ceremonial,” a Maoist leader quoted Dahal as saying during the meeting.
He also expressed dissatisfaction saying the transfer of secretaries without informing Maoist ministers has demonstrated that working style.
Oli who spoke after Dahal did not address the major concerns of Dahal about the general convention and the process for leadership of selection. Oli spent most of his time talking about transfer of secretaries and working style.
“Secretaries have not been transferred without consultation. I had already said that tinkering with secretaries by the ministers has harmed good governance,” a leader in the coordination committee quoted Oli as saying. “I had informed home minister about transfer of home secretary.”
Oli bluntly asked Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, who was also present in the meeting, whether he had consulted with Thapa and offered to send the best man or not.
Thapa was speechless. Thapa had briefed his party that secretaries were transferred without consulting the Maoist ministers.
Oli also opined that there should not be a fixed proportion of sharing representation during unification. “Let us not fix a certain percent and also not talk about equal terms. Let us address this in a practical manner,” Oli was quoted as proposing.
The meeting submitted the report to the two chairmen for redrafting after both the chairmen spoke. The unification of UML and Maoist Center scheduled for April 22 has been postponed for now after Dahal’s reservations.
Unification of UML and Maoist Center will depend on whether the clouds of suspicions deepening in Dahal will clear in the coming days or when they will clear.