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Maoists' attempt at reviving structures
Publication Date : 07-02-2013
One of the major problems for the Nepal Maoist party since entering into the peace process has been the question of how to manage their party cadres.
Thousands of people were recruited into the party during the conflict years. At the time, party cadres were very busy—in planning and staging military attacks, travelling through the country establishing party committees in villages and trying to gain the support of the population.
Since the Maoists joined mainstream politics, however, there was less work for them to do. On occasion, party cadres have been mobilised as part of the Young Communist League for protests and other activities. But generally, a large section of the party’s rank-and-file have found that they had little to do in recent years. They feel that their top leadership is ignoring them. Much of the frustration and disillusionment among the Maoists is due to this fact.
It is thus natural that the issue of how to keep their cadres engaged is among the various issues that are currently being discussed by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) at its convention in Hetauda. There have been proposals that certain organisational forms that the rebels practiced during the war be revived. These include communes, for instance, where party cadres are made collectively responsible for the running of farms.
There are also proposals that party units across the country pool together resources and form cooperatives. If these proposals are implemented, it could mark a significant shift in the way parties have been traditionally run. In the past, most party units have depended on their top leadership for funds and other resources. Party leaders have often distributed state resources to their supporters. But the formation of cooperatives on a large scale can create conditions for the creation of productive party units that contribute to the economy. This in turn may make them less dependent on leaders and their patronage.
There is, however, one problem with the Maoists’ plans. They also seem to be contemplating reviving the parallel governments run by party cadres, similar to those run during the conflict. This is unacceptable. It is one thing to engage in productive work within the laws of the state. But parallel structures that try to take over certain aspects of state functioning can only undermine the state. Such steps would also be illegal and run counter to the provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. They could also lead to an excessive dominance of Maoists at the local level at the expense of the other political parties.
The attempt by the Maoists to restructure their grassroots organisation deserves scrutiny. As long as their activities do not interfere with state functions, they can be accepted. If they breach the law, they have to be opposed.