The United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist had never belied its name as it has in recent weeks. It is a disunited lot, waiting to disintegrate any time. This has threatened to throw the peace process into pieces and the constitution making in a limbo.
The momentum seen in the immediate aftermath of the extension of the constituent assembly has virtually come to a halt.
Whatever had been agreed in the army integration special committee and the CA sub committee are in disarray.
The agreed calendar on declaring a draft statute two weeks before the extended deadline and the army integration four days before the deadline is almost certain to be confined to papers.
At the centre of the deadlock is the deep division in the Maoist party. Chairman Prachanda has failed to convince his detractors on what he had agreed with the Nepali Congress, the UML and the Madhesi outfits.
Arch critic Mohan Baidya ‘Kiran’ has defied the party in ending the dual personal security as agreed with other parties. He has refused to return the Maoist combatants, deputed to provide security to the Maoist leaders, and their weapons to the camps.
The modality on the army integration has also caused a deep division in the party, with Baidya openly challenging Prachanda.
With strong opposition from the Baidya faction showing no sign of receding, Prachanda is also unlikely to agree with other parties on a ‘democratic constitution’ and independent judiciary. Baidya faction is insistent on a “people’s constitution’ which the other parties can not accept at any cost.
The internal differences have run so deep that the central committee meeting to thrash them out has not taken place after what was supposed to be a brief interruption last week.
"And until and unless the largest party makes its position clear on key issues of peace process and the constitution making, any headway is impossible.
Said Maoist politburo member Devendra Poudel, “the on-going discussions among the parties are only a formality. They can take a concrete shape only after the Maoists decide its future course.”
Whether Prachanda will be able to get his line endorsed by the central committee will decide the fate of the talks with other parties.
Prachanda has the sympathy of other major parties who feel that he has appeared honest these days on the issue of a democratic constitution and the logical conclusion of the peace process.
Following long talks with the Maoist chief, the Nepali Congress general secretary, Krishna Prasad Sitaula said, “there are grounds to trust Prachand now than before.”
Prachanda has been intensifying consultations with the Nepali Congress vice president Ram Chandra Poudel and the senior UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal to take them into confidence.