Nepali Times
Headline
What are they waiting for?

JB PUN



BILASH RAI

After months of dilly-dallying, the Maoists appear to be finally overcoming their fear of elections and trying to iron out a deal that will bring them back into the government.

The main reason for this dramatic change of heart is the conclusion reached by so-called hardliners in the Maoist leadership that postponement of the elections has not helped the party and instead benefited reactionaries.

With the radicals suddenly showing flexibility, the moderate leadership led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Baburam Bhattarai has responded by launching a three-month public relations offensive that they kicked off by meeting senior editors at the Shanker Hotel on Tuesday.

The chairman admitted his party had made mistakes, that high-handedness by some comrades had undermined its prospects in elections, and said the party was now serious about repairing its reputation ahead of elections.

"We need to address our past behaviour, we need to change ourselves, otherwise we are headed towards disaster," Dahal told editors with uncharacteristic candour, adding: "We are now convinced we need elections and for that we need to reform ourselves and I am asking you for your understanding."

To be sure, election dates may take some time to be announced because a part of the deal will be the re-entry of the Maoists into government and there will be the usual haggling over portfolios. But both the NC and Maoist leaders appeared unusually positive and conciliatory after Wednesday's meetings.

The party leadership has also held meetings with its YCL cadre and warned them: "In a war you can kill people, but not in elections. From now on, no beating up people, no extortion."

It remains to be seen how much control Dahal has over his cadre units, which have often said they work independently of the central party. The radical trio of Mohan Baidya, Ram Bahadur Thapa and Netra Bickram Chand have been critical of Dahal and Bhattarai since the August plenum and even forced the chairman to apologise for his unilateralism.

They recently also accused Dahal of speaking impulsively and without consultation within the party about issues like the integration of the PLA.

But all three now appear ready for elections. Chand told Nepali Times this week: "If we don't go for elections now, it will be bad for us."



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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