Nepali Times
State Of The State
Keep them guessing


In his first interview to the media after taking up arms, Pushpa Kamal Dahal told the Revolutionary Worker in 1999: "We condemn all revisionist cliques as vulgar evolutionism?I hate revisionism. I seriously hate revisionism."

This pleased Maoist ideologue Mohan Baidya (Pokharel) aka Comrade Kiran so much that he used his influence in the party to help Dahal emerge as supreme leader. But the mentor lost his acolyte somewhere along the way. With the acceptance of Prachanda Path as an equal of Maoism, Dahal established himself as the sole interpreter of revolutionary ideology. He has consistently used his authority since then to sideline purists and further the cause of pragmatism.

In Marxist parlance, revisionism refers to the ideology that social transformation could be achieved gradually and peacefully through political institutions. A revisionist is one who believes that halfway measures adopted to achieve total revolution doesn't amount to a sell-out.

It's his revisionism that has metamorphosed shadowy Prachanda into the successful revolutionary and prime minister. Paradoxically, Dahal owes his success to the very revisionism he once hated so much. He now has everything
he ever craved for: the limelight, the highlife and the power to keep everyone on their toes.

Dahal was at his manipulative best in engineering the outcome he wanted from the Maoist central committee and the national convention of cadres this week in Bhaktapur. On the face of it, dogmatism has taken a beating and revisionism has triumphed. Baidya has discovered that his disciple has learned more than what he taught him, and used the knowledge and skill to marginalise all rivals within the party.

Dahal's critics, competitors and opponents outside now know that dealing with the Maoist party implies unquestioned acceptance of his leadership. He is to Maoists what Girija Prasad Koirala is to Kangressis?love them or hate them, but ignore them you can't.

Recently, scientists at University College London established what romantics have known for eons: the chemicals that trigger love and hate in the brain are identical. Litterateurs have long believed that both these extreme emotions emanated from the heart and were beyond human understanding. Biologists now tell us that love and hate have similar effects because they share the same synapses, but hate is somehow more rational. So, there is a scientific explanation for the triumph of the Dahal Doctrine.

In politics, the line between pragmatism and opportunism is very thin. The UML brought about its own demise by embracing expediency and pushing ideology into the background. The NC lost its way when a group of arrivistes in the party succeeded in sidelining the venerable old guard of socialism. Will the Maoists suffer the same fate? It's too early to say, but Dahal must make it clear whether his hatred for the NC and UML was enough to wage a full-fledged armed insurgency against the state.

In a moment of candour, Baidya admitted to an interlocutor soon after his release in 2006: "Had the April Uprising not succeeded, we would have rotted in Indian jails till our death." When he and CP Gajurel, the so-called hardliners, were behind bars in Siliguri and Madras, their better-placed colleagues were using the hospitality of Indian government to engage leaders of parliamentary parties in Lucknow and New Delhi. Despite his stubbornness, Baidya is more honest.

The underlying message of the compromise document of the Maoists this week is disconcerting. It says that nobody should pay any heed to what its chairman says and wait anxiously instead to see what he does. Hypocrisy is a strong term, but nothing else captures the essence of Dahal's leadership.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)