Nepal’s Maoist chief urges war on IndiaBy Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
KATHMANDU - Amidst the Indian government’s growing concern about the crisis in Nepal and a renewed war on its own Maoist guerrillas, Nepal’s Maoist supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda has identified India as the arch enemy and urged the party to brace for a war with the southern neighbour, reports said Wednesday.
The 55-year-old former prime minister, who blames New Delhi for the fall of his short-lived government last year and his failure to win the subsequent prime ministerial election, has begun predicting military intervention in Nepal by India and has advocated a “people’s revolt” at a key meet of the party that will formulate the former guerrillas’ future strategy.
The sixth Maoist plenum, an extravaganza that kicked off Sunday in Palungtar, a remote village in western Gorkha district where the party had begun its first military training before launching its “People’s War” in 1996, has now become the battleground between Prachanda and his two deputies, who have attacked him for financial irregularities and other lapses.
Prachanda Tuesday returned the fire opened by his deputies, saying the collective leadership of the party was responsible for the errors, and not he alone.
His counter-attack came after former Maoist finance minister Baburam Bhattarai, who was demoted in 2005 for his ego clashes with Prachanda, accused the party supremo of fostering a personality cult like Stalin and questioned his punishment for advocating laying down arms, a suggestion that was finally followed by the party in 2006 when it signed a peace pact.
Prachanda’s attack on India is believed to be coloured by the suspicion that Bhattarai, a moderate who advocates continuing with peace talks instead of launching a fresh revolt, is being backed by the Indian establishment, an accusation Bhattarai denies.
Media reports Wednesday said that Prachanda, who presented his political document at the conclave Tuesday, had said India was supporting feudal forces in Nepal to prevent the Maoists from coming to power and having a decisive voice in the new constitution though they had emerged as the largest party after the elections in 2008.
“Compradors, feudal forces and Indian expansionism are our arch enemies,” a local daily reported him as saying. “Now we have to ready for a national war against India and begin a people’s revolt and we need to formulate strategies for that.”
Prachanda’s other challenger, Mohan Vaidya Kiran, who was arrested and imprisoned in India’s West Bengal state during the 10-year Maoist insurgency, has been advocating a return to the revolution even before the plenum started.
Vaidya has also recommended joining forces with India’s outlawed Maoist parties. The call for the alliance comes at a time India has formally accused the Maoists of providing arms training to India’s Naxalites, an accusation that has been denied by Prachanda.
As nearly 6,000 members Wednesday begin discussing Prachanda and his deputies’ proposals, New Delhi as well as the west are watching the meet closely to gauge the next step of the Maoists.
The UN has already registered its disapproval of the Maoists’ guerrilla fighters, nearly 1,400 of them, exiting their barracks to take part in the plenum, saying it could affect the peace agreement.
Nepal’s major western donors, ranging from the World Bank to the governments of the US, Britain, Denmark, Finland, Germany and Norway, have expressed growing concern at the lack of progress in forming a new government even five months after the resignation of Prime MInister Madhav Kumar Nepal, implementing the peace process, and writing the new constitution.
Less than two months remain to address the fate of the Maoists’ nearly 20,000-strong People’s Liberation Army (PLA), with their UN monitors leaving Nepal in mid-January.
However, the Maoists, in contradiction to their peace pact, are now refusing to disband the rebel army while the ruling parties have ruled out concluding the peace process as long the PLA remains intact.
(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)