We have learnt that Madhav Kumar Nepal, general secretary of the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist) met with Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai in Delhi last week. According to the grapevine, Madhav Kumar Nepal left Jhalanath Khanal and Bharat Mohan Adhikari in Kolkatta while rushing off to Delhi for a meeting with Bhattarai arranged by an Indian leader.
Nepal is supposed to have told Bhattarai that the UML would pressure the government to hold talks with the Maoists if the latter announced a unilateral cease-fire on 31 August or 1 September. In return, the Maoists would back the UML during the upcoming elections.
A UML source told Tarun that Bhattarai assured the UML of his help in finishing off the Congress if the UML acted as a protective shield. Despite appearances, the UML appears to be internally opposed to the idea of talks between the government and the Maoists, as it stands to lose the most.
We also understand that Madhav Nepal said at the same meeting that he could control the army if the Maoists helped them get a majority in the elections. The Maoists have constantly been asking for support to elect a constituent assembly. Madhav Nepal has given his word to support a plebiscite for either a constituent assembly or for constitutional amendments. Since the army began operations in Dang from 25 August, the Maoists have been displaced from the area. As the army continues to run operations to displace the Maoists before the upcoming elections, the rebels are divided over whether or not to hold talks. Baburam Bhattarai and Prachanda appear to be in favour of talks, but Ram Bahadur Thapa [Badal] and Barsharam Pun are instigating party cadres against supporting talks. Those in favour of talks have been accused of surrendering. Today, the Maoists are on the defensive. The ammunition they've taken from the security forces is depleted and most of their weapons don't work. The army has seized six months of food supplies in Maoist strongholds like Rolpa and Rukum, and blocked supply channels.