Maoist juggernaut starts rolling in Nepal with communist merger

January 13th, 2009 - 1:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Jan 13 (IANS) Following the example of northern neighbour China’s monolithic communist party, Nepal’s ruling Maoist party has started the process of unification of left parties in the Himalayan republic with a formal merger with another formerly underground party.On Tuesday, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) is set to rechristen itself as the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified-Maoist) after protracted negotiations finally resulted in a merger with fringe party Communist Party of Nepal (Unity Centre-Masal).

Last month, the fringe party pulled off another merger with yet another minor left party, People’s Front-Nepal, which was a junior member in the Maoist-headed ruling coalition.

With the new alliances, the Maoists, who had won 220 seats in the 601-member constituent assembly last April, have their strength boosted by nine more lawmakers.

While the founding general secretary of the Masal faction, Mohan Vikram Singh, still remains underground, the organisation and its current chief Narayan Kaji Shrestha “Prakash” came out of hiding last year after the election that saw the Maoists emerge as the largest party.

“We decided to merge in order to usher in a new democratic revolution in the country,” Prakash told the media.

China, which has begun wooing the Maoist government in a bid to suppress anti-Beijing protests in the Himalayan republic by Tibetan dissenters, has been urging Nepal’s communist parties to unite and form a single powerful left party.

The merger comes as a shot in the arm for the Maoist government that has seen its popularity dip recently following growing violence, militant trade unionism, efforts to intervene in religious and cultural matters and the imposition of a 16-hour blackout daily due to an acute power shortage.

However, with growing internal squabbles in the Maoist party, it remains to be seen if the merger will heal the rift or fuel it further.

While Maoist chief and Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda will head the new party as its chairman, it will have a mammoth central committee of 175 members.

Its agenda remains a worrying issue for the international community, especially the US and southern neighbour India.

The Masal group has been against the US while the Maoists have stepped up an anti-India campaign ever since they came to power last year.

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