Nepal Maoists to drop Mao?

October 17th, 2008 - 3:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Oct 17 (IANS) Twelve years ago Nepal’s Maoist party launched an ambitious armed revolt against the monarchy, inspired by Mao Zedong’s precept that “power grows out of the barrel of a gun”, but now they are considering dropping the Chinese revolutionary leader - literally.The Maoists began to call themselves the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) from 1994-95 after they split from the parent organisation - the Communist Party of Nepal (Unity Centre).

Now, the formerly underground party that returned to mainstream politics two years ago under the leadership of Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”, is considering removing the Maoist tag.

“In the past, there were several communist parties who donned tags like the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist and Communist Party of Nepal-Marxist Leninist to distinguish one party from another,” Maoist Finance Minister and de facto deputy party chief Baburam Bhattarai said Friday.

“So, we also took the tag of Maoist. But now it has been proved that the Maoists are the number one party in Nepal. So we don’t need any tags,” he added.

Bhattarai was bombarded with questions by journalists when he arrived at the Tribhuvan International Airport following reports that during his sojourn in the US he had said that his party was considering removing the Maoist appendage.

“The issue will be discussed at the party’s national convention,” the minister said.

The Maoists’ national convention will be held after a hiatus of nearly 10 years in Kathmandu from Nov 10, a key conference that is expected to make or mar the party.

At an earlier meeting recently, the political report tabled by Prime Minister Prachanda was opposed by the hardliners in the party.

While the party hawks feel the revolution is not complete and the party laid down arms too soon, Prachanda and the pragmatists feel the party should revise its philosophy to keep up with the changing times.

“While the US is moving towards socialism, the Maoists are moving towards capitalism,” Bhattarai had joked at a meeting with journalists in the US.

However, the joke is not just a joke any more.

During his first address to the nation after assuming office, Prachanda said his government’s focus would be on ushering in an economic revolution with public-private sector partnership, wooing foreign investors and liberalising trade policies.

On Wednesday, while appearing at a tea party hosted by the Maoists’ biggest rival, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, Prachanda backtracked on his party’s earlier pledge to transform Nepal into a people’s republic along the lines of the People’s Republic of China.

“During Mao’s time, there was no concept of federalism,” he said. “Nor did it include a multi-party democracy while we have both.”

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