Naxalites to host Nepalese Maoist leader in Kolkata

May 17th, 2008 - 2:07 pm ICT by admin  

By Pranay Sharma
New Delhi, May 17 (IANS) Nepalese Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai is coming to Kolkata in early June. Interestingly, it is not the ruling Left Front but the Naxalites who are hosting him. Kolkata, where the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front has been in power for the past 30 years, is considered as the country’s left bastion. But the Maoists’ decision to have the first meaningful engagement with the Naxalites and not the CPI (M)- led front, is likely to raise quite a few eyebrows in political circles here.

“A decision taken by the central committee of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) to send a delegation to Kolkata has been convyed to us,” Kushal Debnath, one of the main organizers hosting the Maoists, told IANS over telephone from Kolkata Saturday. “The delegation will comprise Baburam Bhattarai and some other senior leaders of the party,” he said.

Bhattarai and the other central committee members of his party will address a rally and share the dias with a number of Naxalite leaders. The CPI-ML (New Democracy), the CPI-ML (State Organising Committee) and Santosh Rana’s Provincial Coordination Committee, CPI-ML, are among the parties taking part in the rally.

Debnath, whose Mazdoor Kranti Parishad is one of the organizers of the event, said discussions are being held with a number of other Naxalite groups to join the rally in Kolkata being hosted to celebrate the recent victory of the Maoists in the Constituent Assembly elections of Nepal. His links with the Maoists had been deepening since the armed rebels decided to join the democratic process in Nepal in 2006. Debnath had also visited Nepal during last month’s election when he and 10 others were invited by the Maoists as “observers” for the polls.

The proposed visit of Bhattarai and his delegation next month will be the first official engagement between the Nepalese Maoists and the left parties in India since the former rebels’ victory in the April Constituent Assembly elections. Bhattarai’s wife Hisila Yami, who is also an important leader among Nepalese Maoists, had come to Patna last month to take part in a conference organized by the public diplomacy division of the external affairs ministry. But none of them have so far visited Kolkata.

Bhattarai, considered the second most important leader after Prachanda among Nepal Maoists, was to come to Kolkata on May 31 and address a rally at Shahid Minar, the famous martyrs’ column, in the heart of the city. But the important session of the Constituent Assembly that begins towards the end of May has forced him to stay back. He has requested the organizers to re-schedule his visit to Kolkata.

“We received a fax from him Friday asking us to re-work the dates of his visit to Kolkata since he will be busy till the end of this month,” Debnath said. “We are now looking for fresh dates which will be in the early days of June.” Though the fresh dates have not yet been announced formally, they are likely to be on June 10 and 11.

It is interesting to see how the ruling Left Front, especially the CPI (M), reacts to Bhattarai’s visit to Kolkata. The party leaders, particularly its politburo and Rajya Sabha member Sitaram Yechury had played an important role to bring some kind of a rapprochement between the Indian government and the Maoists.

During his visit to Kathmandu earlier this month, Yechury had met Prachanda and a number of other senior Maoist leaders. After the meeting, Prachanda had expressed a desire to visit Kolkata to pick up a trick or two on how the CPI (M) led Front had been ruling West Bengal for the past three decades.

“The Left Front no longer pursues left policies,” Santosh Rana, veteran Naxalite leader, told IANS from Kolkata. “Perhaps, this is yet another indication of that,” he said in response to why the Maoists chose the Naxalites and not the CPI (M)-led Front for their engagement.

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