Will Maoists Disintegrate?
The Maoist party, UCPN (M) is inexorably moving towards its disintegration, slowly but surely. The cause for this has been as much internal to the party as the obtaining political situation in the country. There is a real danger that the Maoists will fragment into small political and criminal outfits, sooner than later. That is really a serious issue for a politically fragile country.
Often things fall as fast as they rise. The principle of gravity works in politics too. Evidently the Maoists were in political obscurity in the early 1990s, as they could get only 9 seats in the 205-strong parliament in the first general elections. After losing ground in the second vote, they became so frustrated and disenchanted with electoral politics that they launched violent, armed insurgency. The conflict catapulted them into the largest political force by the constituent assembly elections in 2008. But it will be extremely difficult to retain the top spot, because the very foundation on which the Maoists built their strength was wrong.
You cannot hold for long something you have built on false utopia and disingenuous promises. Maoist leaders misled the innocent, poor people pledging that they would emancipate them from wretched poverty and exploitation, although their real intention was to grab power, perpetuate poverty and introduce political slavery under their brutal communist dictatorship. No doubt, the armed conflict picked up quickly and spread across the country like wild fire. But the Maoist project remained incomplete, as it could not capture the state.
Despite the failure of their ill-conceived messianic mission through the force of arms, the Maoist leaders and their rank and file are still living under the shadow of the delusion that they could grab power by deploying deceit and chicanery. By now they should have understood that the Nepali people would not accept communist dictatorship, and India would not tolerate such a state in its backyard until it becomes one. Guided by their delusion, the Maoists have been doing much damage to the country and even more to their own party.
Four years into joining democratic polity, the UCPN (M) remains an unreformed, violent party. It has not abandoned terror, intimidation and extortion as political tools. Neither has it disbanded or disciplined its rogue YCL network and returned the seized private property. The peace process is teetering on the verge of a precipice due to their uncompromising demand for the integration of all their combatants into the army; the business of writing the constitution is stalled; and the country is grappling for the desperately needed stability. What is more, the party is defrauding families of its deceased workers and its combatants as well as the treasury to raise resources for their final assault on the state to impose a dictatorial regime.
The Maoists’ shenanigans are hurting the country left and right. But it has been no less damaging to their party which is heading towards a big crash and disintegration. The departure of the Upendra Yadav faction from the party fold and the split of the Matrika Yadav faction are only a foretaste to what is coming. The UCPN (M) still remains bitterly divided into three groups ready to split at the first serious trigger: One headed by Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachand, another by Baburam Bhattarai and the third by Mohan Kiran Vaidya.
Prachand, more pragmatic among the three, proved to be a great rabble rouser during the conflict and a failure as leader and prime minister in times of relative peace. He blew up the trust of other parties and the international community through his lies, obsession with power, unscrupulous political machinations, vote buying to become prime minister, and January 2 video. After the aborted indefinite strike in May this year, he has also lost the trust of his supporters and shaken the confidence of the intellectuals. He seems like a spent political force.
Vaidya is an unreformed demagogue with limited following. He acts like the ‘bull blinded in monsoon who always sees the world green,’ even though communism has abysmally failed across the world. But with his hard line, Vaidya is driving a wedge in the UCPN (M) and harming it enormously through his outlandish stand and uncompromising attitude.
Intellectually heavyweight but politically lightweight, Bhattarai is woefully blinded by the Marxist-Leninist religion; he holds no promise to offer an open-minded, practical and consensual leadership, something his party so badly need. He has failed to recognize that, although Marx, a great philosopher, introduced a new worldview, his political predictions have turned out to be utterly wrong. Besides, Marxist philosophy has proved starkly deficient to explain the evolution of society and been a total failure as a system of government.
Let me cite a few examples. Marx predicted that the world’s labor would unite and destroy capitalism. In reality, communists do not see eye to eye; and communist states have collapsed and capitalist societies have thrived. Marx forecasted that the bourgeois would dig their own grave by investing in industry. In reality, the bourgeois have done well and helped the poor pull out of their poverty. Marx’s very premise that the history of mankind is history of class struggle is fundamentally flawed. In fact, the history of mankind has been history of people and society making continued efforts to improve their lives vis-à-vis others.
But so far Bhattarai’s blindness remains uncured despite the treatment the real world offers to reopen his vision. It is easier to make a real blind see by treating his ailment, but an intellectual blind rarely curable. Once at the helm, Bhattarai may well turn out to be Gorbachev of Nepal and demolish his party’s delusional goal and prepare grounds for pluralistic politics, as some people hope. However, there is nothing in him to suggest such a prospect, at least so far.
Divided and delusional, the Maoists are lost in a grim political wilderness, unable to figure out their way. Prachand is desperate to occupy Baluwatar without which he cannot keep his warring factions together by bribing them to stand behind him. Otherwise, there is a real danger that the frustrated factions and their supporters will disintegrate and disperse. Some will form fringe political parties. Others such as the YCL militia and Maoist combatants will regroup into criminal gangs. Prachand, straddling between the two other groups, will fall through the gap into the political dark hole, a fate reserved for all out-of-power leftist leaders.
To bring itself out of this gloomy predicament, the UCPN (M) needs a transformational leader like BP Koirala, Manmohan Adhikari and Madan Bhandari who, through their charisma and pragmatism, converted their unruly revolutionary flocks into civilian political workers. It needs Mikhail Gorbachev who recognized that the path his party followed for decades was untenable and detrimental to his country and people.
But unfortunately, the Maoists do not have a transformational leader at this stage. Although Prachand seems to have charisma, he utterly lacks pragmatism and trustworthiness to become such a leader. That is the misfortune of Nepal and Maoists, because until the Maoists reform themselves, Nepal will be deprived of peace, stability and a new constitution.
September 4, 2010
(Published in My Republica on 6 September 2010)