CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal is under pressure for introspection and reform of the party after invalidation of the party's unification with CPN-UML.
He has sent questionnaires to the rank and file seeking advice on how the party can be moved forward addressing the rage and despair among the cadres, and imbibing commitment in them to fight for the future.
The questionnaires sent through emails mainly focus on four issues. Whether to keep age limit for executive head of the party or not, and what should be the limit if it is kept? Should there be a term limit or not, and what should be the limit if it is kept? Should there be such limits for executive heads in all the committees, or whether there should be different limits? And whether the district committees should be kept as they are or should they be converted into district coordination committees?
Dahal has to revitalize the party that came into prominence through the armed insurgency in absence of many of his fellow rebels. Before the Maoist party signed the comprehensive peace agreement, the party had a 11-strong secretariat, a 35-strong central committee and a six-strong core team to take important decisions immediately.
The core team had Dahal, senior leaders Mohan Baidya and Baburam Bhattarai, Ram Bahadur Thapa, CP Gajurel and Posta Bahadur Bogati. Bogati is dead but none of the rest is currently with Dahal.
The secretariat similarly included Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Dev Gurung, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, Barsha Man Pun and Netra Bikram Chand outside the core team. Only Gurung, Mahara and Pun out of them are now with Dahal.
Baidya and Gajurel are in CPN (Revolutionary Maoist), Bhattarai in Janata Samajwadi Party, and Chand has formed a separate revolutionary party named CPN. .
Similarly, 15 members of the then 35-strong central committee including Indra Mohan Sigdel, Hari Bhakta Kandel, Khadga Bahadur Bishwokarma, Dharmananda Bastola, Hisila Yami, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, Lekh Raj Bhatta, Lokendra Bista, Hemanta Prakash Oli and Gopal Kiranti have also quit the party.
Dahal, however, retains support of leaders like Narayan Kaji Shrestha, Leela Mani Pokharel, Giriraj Mani Pokharel and Ganesh Sah with a long history in left politics who unified with the Maoist party after it started peaceful politics.
Dahal has the challenge of boosting the party's popularity, reinvigorating its organization and also managing financial resources for the party now that it is in power.
"We are not like Nepali Congress and UML. We, therefore, fought the war. The monarchy was uprooted on the back of that and achievements like secularism and federalism were made," Maoist Center central member Saral Sahayatri, who has been taking to the social media for reform of the party, tells Setopati. "We chose the way to go to power even through maneuvers instead of going to the people to strengthen the organization. We took the support of the bourgeois forgetting the class. We are seeing the result of that now. We should get back our class to make the party stronger."
Maoist leader and lawmaker Ram Karki concurs. "This party could not be that of capitalists and big businessmen due to the Maoist past. We forgot the workers and farmers. The bourgeois did not trust us which was natural," he concedes.
He also blames the haste in Dahal and Bhattarai to go to government despite the party adopting the policy of the main leadership not joining the government for the current fate of the party.
He opines that the party should have apologized and expressed commitment to raise the voice of workers and peasants immediately after the unification with UML was invalidated on March 7. "But we kept maneuvering for power. The party cannot move forward without new policy and new leadership now."
Many still believe that the party can be made stronger under Dahal's leadership while others believe that organizational reforms alone cannot revive the party. "It would be nice if the recommendations made on the questions asked are implemented. But the party cannot run in the old leadership style," Sahayatri points. "We must now review the decade after 2006 and find conclusion through collective deliberations. Merely saying Baidya left in anger, Bhattarai went right-wing and Chand became undisciplined will no longer suffice."
He stresses that the general convention should be held as soon as possible and the party run in a system. "There should now be age and term limits in the party. General convention must be held every five years and an individual should not be allowed to lead for more than two terms."