The Youth Communist League have quietened down considerably. Back when the Maoists were in power, they were effectively a paramilitary force, publicly shaming allegedly corrupt officials and intervening in such high visibility arenas as traffic control. When the Maoists left government, the YCL withdrew from the limelight, busying itself behind the scenes in party protests to reinstate civilian supremacy and national independence.
Nine months later, the YCL is back, though thankfully not with a bang. They are launching a 'national youth campaign', a peaceful program aimed to draw the attention of concerned stakeholders for the completion of the peace process and the writing of a pro-people constitution by the May 28 deadline.
"The YCL has always been a social campaigner," says YCL coordinator Ganesh Pun. He says they are prepared to do whatever it takes to take the peace process to a logical conclusion.
Is it possible that the characterisation of the YCL as obsessed with violence is unfair? When a YCL cadre died in Surkhet this week, the group kept mum. "YCL ran artillery, assault and logistical units during the insurgency but we also initiated talks," Pun says, "We never were violent."
Pun also claims it was the YCL who lobbied for the National Youth Policy and the Youth Self-employment Program. "We are ready to support any government if they have a program to fight social inequalities and injustice," he says. It plans to invite the youth wings of other parties, with whom they have lingering disagreements, to participate in their campaign.
According to Pun, the YCL has one million general members from across the country. "We don't need to say what we are capable of doing in one whistle," he says. In a public address in March 2008, Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal urged YCL cadre to become like Buddha. No one listened. Now, it seems, Buddha is back.