Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Baburam, in or out?

Maoist ideologue Baburam Bhattarai along with his wife Hisila Yami and Dinanath Sharma have recently been victims of the Maoist central committee's campaign against 'individual authoritarianism.' The tussle in the Maoist leadership started with the committee's meeting in September when it decided on various controversial issues which included a decision to take on India.

Bhattarai was not in favour of this. Eventually, he listed 13 points to express his disapproval and presented them to the high command of the Maoist party, which called Bhattarai's 13-point, a 'letter bomb'. In December, he sent a commentary to Samaya magazine where he said he was not the 'leader of surrenderers'. And in January, he sent a write-up to Kantipur about the king. The Maoist leaders considered all this a criticism of the decisions and spirit of the party. During its meeting, the leaders had decided that no one in the party except Prachanda and Krishna Bahadur Mahara, would be allowed to speak or write anything independently. Following this decision, not only did the party drop Baburam's regular column from its mouthpiece, Janadesh, it also stopped publishing his interviews, articles or opinions. The politburo meeting took up the matter of Baburam's insubordination in presenting his 13 points of dissent seriously. He was cornered by a majority of Prachanda's supporters. The party then took disciplinary action against Baburam and even his wife Hisila Yami and friend Sharma got into trouble but reasons about the latter two are not clear. Initially, Sharma who joined the party four years ago was considered to be in the pro-Prachanda camp. Now, it is not clear why party action was taken against him. Was it because Sharma had spoken in favour of Bhattarai at the plenum? What seems clear is that this is just the latest in the personality clash between Prachanda and Baburam that has been going on for years. Even before the People's War, Bhattarai had been removed from the position of president of United People's Front and was replaced by Pampha Bhusal. The organisation did not run well under her, so Baburam was reinstated. But by 1997, when the conflict was in its second year, the two top leaders were again having differences. Baburam was already more popular than Prachanda as the Maoist ideologue and also due to his intellect. Another leader Ram Bahadur Thapa (Badal) was gradually gaining popularity but in 2000, he was sidelined and demoted to ordinary membership. Somehow, Badal managed to gain membership in the permanent committee. In 2001, Baburam, too, was nearly ousted from the party during the fourth convention which established Prachanda as the supreme leader and made his face public. It also decided that every political writing by the Maoists should henceforth reflect Prachanda's views. Baburam was not happy, it was evident that the party had been divided into two camps. However, the leadership, knowing that the rift would only benefit their enemy, patched up, establishing Prachanda as the number one and Baburam as the number two.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)