Dictatorship by any name

Maoist chief Prachanda's political document, now ready for debate in the party's national convention two weeks hence, says the party is committed to establishing the "dictatorship of the proletariat". The Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M), which broke away from the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) last June, said recently that it would launch a people's revolt for the "revolution" the two groups had earlier fought for.

The CPN-M, however, gave a mixed message. While it can start an armed revolution when it feels necessary, it would also want its general secretary, Ram Bahadur Thapa Badal, to be the prime minister in the prevailing confusion and "neo-revisionary" set-up. The CPN-M says it will not be registered with the election commission as it does not want to be branded a parliamentary party, and wants to keep its association with international revolutionary groups intact.

But more than the CPN-M, it's the UCPN-M that has sent across a loaded message at home and abroad, thoroughly disappointing the international community that supported and encouraged the Maoists' entry into mainstream politics in 2006. Is Nepal's peace process, and the collective pledge by political parties including the Maoists to "consolidate" and "institutionalise" democracy, over?

The Maoists have often assured the international revolutionary fraternity they have not compromised on any of their core principles, that their joining the peace process was only tactical and that their final objective remains unchanged. Prachanda's latest political document only endorses that. Although the party has suffered a split and is still not free of personal squabbles, Prachanda's acceptability to both rivals PM Baburam Bhattrai who heads the UCPN-M's government and Mohan Baidya who heads the militant CPN-M opposition remains intact. There are some who believe the Maoist split was as tactical as their joining the peace process.

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