“Maoist Party to Change Constitution to Choose Top Leaders Through Elections”

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“Maoist Party to Change Constitution to Choose Top Leaders Through Elections”

On Sunday, the ruling CPN (Maoist Centre) concluded its central committee meeting, which was organized after 14 months, although the party constitution requires it to be held at least twice a year. The meeting raised numerous issues related to both the party and the government, and the party leadership came under severe criticism. Among these critics was Lehnath Neupan, a member of the central committee of the Maoist Centre. Publish‘c Tika R Pradhan caught up with him. Experts:

Can you tell us a little bit about what happened at the meeting?

We were holding the central committee meeting after 14 months. But it was more of an extended party meeting attended by provincial officials, members of various party committees, as well as additional members of the central committee. But the party only recognizes 149 central members, meaning the party openly flouts its constitution.

Attendees complained that they had not received a political document this time. Has this practice been discontinued?

Those who follow the parliamentary system usually use very few documents. Maybe we’re on the same path.

Does this mean that the Maoist Center is now functioning fully in accordance with the parliamentary system?

Our Eighth General Congress took the path of a peaceful parliamentary system. But discussions are still ongoing. The Maoist movement in Nepal started to expose the duplicity of the parties, especially the CPN-UML, which followed parliamentary democracy. So if we too start following their line entirely, we will lose all our political space.

After the annulment of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP), what is the political line of the Maoist Centre?

We abandoned Maoism while forming the NCP, but re-embraced it after the court dissolved the NCP. Why should we follow the court order and go back to Maoism? But we do not want to discuss such a serious ideological issue. This lack of discussion weakens the Maoist party.

Is the party ready to shed the Maoist label?

Ours is the only party that still adheres to the Maoist label. Again, we have practically abandoned Maoism. It’s only in our banners. I don’t think there will be any objection from within to drop the label. On the other hand, the parliamentary system and Maoism are exact opposites. This ideological paradox is the irony in the life of our party. Such controversies—the adoption of a system the party had fought to abolish—affected not only the party but the country.

What political line should the party take?

Political parties work to transform society. Among them, communist parties focus more on class issues. So first we need to study the status of classes in Nepal. This will clear our relations with different classes – with whom we need friendly relations and against whom we need to fight. This will clear our party line. Things in our society have changed drastically. Migration has affected the production that determines class relations. People no longer have an identity due to migration, which is a serious problem. No political party has explored this changing trend. We must develop policies and programs based on the study of these emerging trends. Can we ignore the parliamentary system and elections? That’s not possible, at least not now. But right now we are only focused on elections, parliament and government as if they are everything. The Maoist identity was lost once we stopped talking about the liberation of the masses.

Was the criticism of the Maoist leadership sharper this time compared to previous meetings?

After the extended meeting in Balaju in August 2007, a trend of positive criticism started in the party. This gradually increased – more in Haripati and then in Palungtar. So, it is true that criticism has increased compared to the past. Criticism of the leadership’s nepotism is increasingly being heard in the party. The criticism was sharp.

What other issues were raised at the meeting?

Even in such a large mass, the leaders could freely express their views, which was positive. But the level of discussions was quite low. For example, some expressed anger at not being able to meet with senior leaders. Such questions divert attention from the main issues. Another problem is that we commit to transform but soon forget about it. It has been six years since the party chairman promised to vacate his rented house in Humaltar, but he is not doing so. We don’t do what we say. Questions were raised: Why do senior leaders appoint family members as their personal assistants? If we continue with this trend, we will not be able to bring socialism to the country in another 5000 years.

I tried to raise ideological issues – there is no example of the rise of communist movements after they have gone down. In this way, not only us, UML will also reach the bottom.

How do you see the Maoist Center in the next election cycle?

Lately, we dare not fight elections alone. We do not know with whom we will make an electoral alliance. We have not discussed the naturalness of our relations with parties representing different classes. Nepal’s left movement is in crisis. In my opinion, we should end cooperation with the Congress and work for the unification of all left forces. I see the possibility of left unity – if we can deal with the battle of egos among the top leaders.

A number of speakers at the meeting gave a high assessment of the government’s activities. Was the praise justified?

Some leaders praised the government. I think it’s a good start. The question is: On what basis is the government taking action? It is important. When the corruption files are opened, if the reasons for the sharp rise in the prices of vegetables and food grains are not sought, people will not get relief. The issue of market surveillance is key. The work of the government will be commendable only if farmers are paid adequately, the role of middlemen is minimized and people can buy things at reasonable prices.

Who do you think is responsible for the deteriorating image of the Maoist party?

The party lacks ideological and theoretical clarity. If we improve our behavioral aspects, it can help move the party forward, but it will only be a temporary measure. The curious thing is that in our party I see that the second generation of leaders are worse than the top ones, and the third generation is the worst. They are just waiting for opportunities and another section is competing to become personal assistants. This shows that our journey is not in the right direction.

What are some of the specific outcomes of the meeting?

First, we decided to call a statutory convention and limit the number of members of individual committees to 99. Second, we decided to organize a special convention to discuss our lapses in ideological matters and our mistakes. Third, there is a proposal for a three-month campaign to give back to the people. If we do go to the table, it will certainly benefit the party. Fourth, in this great gathering the people were allowed to express their opinions, which is an achievement in itself.

Many also raised questions about the leadership change. Is this possible?

Our chairman has been publicly attacked saying he has been in charge since 1990. UML sometimes makes it a big issue. This is a matter for discussion. But it should not be about one person, but about developing a culture. This issue will be solved by making a system of choosing leaders through elections. We are preparing to go that way by changing our bylaws.

Maoist leaders also face allegations of gold smuggling. Why is the mother of the party for this?

Leader Barshaman Pun, who has been implicated by some in the recent gold smuggling case, defended himself at the meeting and promised to support the investigation. There should be no bias in the investigation. But why are questions being raised against our leaders? The key is: their personal properties have increased exponentially. The state, the party, society and everyone must ask the question of the source of their property.

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