At the end of the week-long Palungtar plenum, Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ boasted of a grand success of the meet.
He told reporters, “it has been a win-win for all of us – the chairman, vice chairmen, the people and the nation.”
His facial expression and the body language defied the claims. So did the facts on the ground.
The plenum had ended in a clear defeat for the once all-powerful chairman.
For the first time in the party’s history, the Maoist chairman failed to push through his report. Despite a clear majority among the 6000 delegates.
Faced with tough opposition from vice chairmen, Mohan Baidya ‘Kiran’
and Baburam Bhattarai ‘Laldhoj’, Prachanda had no choice but to relent.
He could not force through his report. Nor did he let the other two’s reports.
“Had he gone his way”, said a party insider, “the party would have witnessed a vertical split.”
Added another, “the chairman is no longer the all-powerful he used to be.”
The plenum failed to sort out the differences of the three top leaders on a number of issues including the peace process, the constitution-making, the future course and policy on India.
The issues have been returned to the central committee (CC) which had been inconclusive prior to the plenum.
The CC was set to begin December 2.
Prachanda did manage to avert a visible split of the party. But seeds of division have deepened after the Palungatar conclave.
Ideological and emotional division was there to see in the broadday light.
The three different groups of cadres and the combatants supporting the three leaders met separately to discuss the three reports.
The division at the top had descended to the bottom.
The supreme commander of the 19000-combatant party seemed to lose his grip over them too.
Most of the participating 1200 combatants did indeed threw their weight behind the top boss.
But some dared to challenge him and back the other two junior bosses.
Some sided with Vaidya some with Bhattarai.
Not that Prachanda did not think of giving a try at proving who is the boss.
On the third day of the plenum, he quietly initiated a signature campaign to show his majority.
He had to back out in the wake of the two vice chairmen’s warning.
They said, “the issue is not who holds the majority and who does not, but the issue is ideological one.
In yet another attempt to sway the meet in his favour, Prachanda sought to win over influential young turks like pro-Vaidya Netra Bikram Chanda ‘Biplav’.