The commander of the People's Liberation Army and supreme leader of the Maoists, Chairman Prachanda is in a minority in his own party. Even before the Maoists' fifth extended conference began, Mohan Baidya ('Kiran') and Ram Bahadur Thapa ('Badal') launched an attack on the Prachanda line. Kiran and Badal think the party should launch a republican rebellion even before the constituent assembly election and in this they are supported by Biplab, Prabhakar, and Sudarshan. In addition, RIM and COMPOSA have also voiced their opposition against the politics of compromise.
Prachanda's forumla is to contest the elections and make a strategy based on the result. Besides these two lines, there is also a small faction that wants to take the Maoists back to armed struggle.
This is not the first time that there has been a serious rift over strategy within the Maoist party. Eight years ago, Prachanda and Baburam themselves had a difference of opinion over the centralisation of leadership and in 2005 Baburam came close to be being expelled from the party. It was the Chunbang central committee meeting that patched up the differences.
The Maoists have in the past tried to put an ideological label on these rifts, but given the kind of abuse that is being hurled the rifts seem to be mostly due to personality clashes. One of the reasons for the present rift is that a party that fought a war, one with its own army has been considerably weakened after the peace process. More than a year after entering the mainstream, the country is still in the shadow of violence and threats. Says one maoist central committee member: "There are always discussions and disagreements at these meetings, and it will happen this time too."
In the past it would be Kiran or Badal who would mediate during rifts, but this time both are aligned against the leadership. Source say the Maoists will be evaluating their activities since the last convention and may decide to announce a rebellion and take steps to reinvigorate the organisation.