The way YCL cadres vandalised the offices of the RPP and the Rastriya Janashakti Party in Dhankuta on Sunday is morally reprehensible, politically condemnable, and legally punishable. But the Maoists have become experts at condoling and condoning at the same time.
A clique inside the CPN-M actively promotes criminal behaviour of their young cadres. Ram Bahadur Thapa (Badal) alludes to a brewing military coup and that goads his young turks into militancy. Mohan Baidya admits to training guerrillas, providing the militia the excuse to openly indulge in extortion. Apparatchiks in the countryside remain wedded to Leninist passions, Stalinist prejudices, Maoist dogma and refuse to internalise the dynamic doctrine of Prachanda Path. These rigid lefties, invisible but insidious, are an even bigger threat to ongoing peace process than the adolescent YCL.
The concern of Maoist commissars about attacks on them in the madhes isn't unfounded. But the militancy of the Chure Bhawar Ekata Samaj is aimed primarily against madhesis and could itself snowball into an anti-Maoist movement. The entire line-up of challengers to the Maoists in the madhes consists of ex-Maoists themselves: JK Goit, Jwala Singh, Bisfot, Upendra Yadav. None have publicly renounced Leninism, Stalinism, and Maoism. Almost all visible leaders of the Chure Bhabar are erstwhile CPN (M-L), the Maoists of 1970s. Khambuan activists in the eastern hills also cut their teeth in the politics of violence under Maoist mentorship.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal has a point when he says that he knows his former comrades very well and can handle them. The problem is, his assurances sound more like threats. Dahal of all people should remember that counter-violence isn't the way to tackle leftwing extremism. The response will have to be much more nuanced.
Lenin's criticism of \'leftwing extremism as an infantile disease of the communist movement' is well-known, but Stalin and Mao went ahead to make fanaticism the fundamental credo of communism anyway. Their sect-like traits include conformity to the party, fervour for the cause, intolerance of dissent, and complete submission to politburo diktats. But it is the deification of the dictator that makes communism the flipside of fascism.
Ironically, the unchallenged primacy of the supreme leader is also the saving grace of communist ideology. It enabled Stalin to marshal the entire Soviet structure against Hitler. Mikhail Gorbachev could introduce glasnost with the confidence of an absolute ruler. A determined despot, Deng Xiaoping initiated a catalytic course correction of the Chinese economy. They could do this unchallenged because questioning authority is anathema in doctrinaire communism. Chairman Dahal will have to show similar resolve and grit to keep the peace process on track towards the constituent assembly elections.
Madhesi Maoists who have crossed over to the various factions of the JTMM or the MJF need to be convinced why their parent party accepted an interim constitution because it addresses almost all their demands except that of meaningful federalism. It is necessary to rein in the YCL and take various protesting groups on board to go to the polls. Despite their drawbacks, the Maoists have better ability, higher credibility, and more sophisticated skills to negotiate (or arm-twist) their former comrades in the madhes militancy than any other party in the ruling coalition.
It needs a courageous leader to exercise his authority and inspire confidence so the less enlightened rebels can come up to speed. If Dahal fails to measure up, he too risks being gobbled up by the communist quicksand.