The skeletons are finally rattling in the Maoist closet and this time there is no wishing it away. When the party finally handed over the keys of its weapon containers to the Special Committee, it was seen within Nepal and internationally as a great leap forward by the ex-guerillas.
But it came at a cost. It appears to have sparked off an open mutiny within the party leadership even though a day before the handover, the party's central committee had approved the decision. "When we gathered to hand over the keys, we asked the leaders if it they were united in the decision. Vice-chairman Baidya was there and said he had no issues," a PLA commander told me this week.
He went on to explain how the PLA has been patient and committed in its share of responsibility and rubbished speculation of a mutiny. "We have been living in those makeshift camps for the last five years. We don't have to prove our commitment to peace and constitution just because some individual in Kathmandu makes a statement on our behalf."
The anger of the fighters against their leadership is unmistakable. Even though this has not spilled over to the increasingly bitter debate at Paris Danda, party factions are exploiting that anger and battling for their hearts and minds. The meeting of dissatisfied comrades at New Baneswor on Wednesday indicates there is a gathering storm that is sure to hit the party's central committee meeting at the end of this month. The Baidya faction is sharpening its knives and hopes to have a parallel party structure in place over Dasain.
"If the leaders push for integration by majority decision, they will be responsible for what follows," warned Netra Bikram Chand, an outspoken Baidya-loyalist. His faction believes the purity of the revolution is in danger and the Baburam Bhattarai-led government has abandoned what they fought for. He believes his party's alliance with the Madhesi parties is an obstacle on the path to revolution, and other members of his faction have even labeled the four-point agreement an attempt to "Sikkimise" Nepal.
Chand's views represent the most rigid even within the hardliners, and it is natural that all those who did not get portfolios, or who have a visceral hatred for Bhattarai will gravitate to this faction. Even earlier fence-sitters like Ram Bahadur Thapa are now in the Baidya camp.
However, Bhattarai's aides are convinced that the hardline comrades will fall in line and integration will pick up pace once the prime minister returns from New York. The party mainstream doesn't seem very worried about what comrades like Chand say in private to reporters because, they say they are much more accommodative at party meetings. But even if the hardliners are saying one thing in public and another in private, it smacks of posturing and corrodes the party's image.
The big "breakthroughs" made by the Maoists in the last one month proves Pushpa Kamal Dahal still has the required numbers and influence to back his decisions at any level in the party. His unconditional support to Bhattarai government is the only thing that has helped retain people's trust that finally the Maoists really mean what they say.
However, like any left movement around the world there is a strong anarchist tendency within the party because of the ultra-radical line of some members. This rift has surfaced repeatedly in the last six years, and has been hurriedly patched up. It essentially boils down to those who believe the party should have fought on because victory was at hand, and those who believed that the peace process was just another kind of revolution.
So it is a disagreement over the means, not the end. The hardliners feel more Nepalis have to die in order to complete the revolution, and a lesser price is not change. The Baidya faction thinks it is ideologically pure and the other side has sold out.
What they don't realise is that they have got their history lessons all wrong. What do you expect of a party that has air-brushed the excesses of the Cultural Revolution in China? They fail to understand that change is an idea, and ideas are never permanent: they evolve, they are subjective and self-reflective. Ideas are not prisoners of doctrine, but dwell freely in people's aspirations. Perhaps the over excited lot must sit down and reassess what Lenin meant when he warned against fashionable preaching of opportunism going hand-in-hand with narrowest forms of action.
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Ex-fighters are determined to see the integration process through, despite opposition from hardliners
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A significant faction of the Maoist party remains committed to armed revolution