Despite the efforts to unify two communist parties, the unification process of CPN-UML and Maoist Center has been postponed till the conclusion of India visit by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.
CPN UML leaders privately blame Maoist Center's 50/50 demand as having thrown the left merger in disarray. “The plan of CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) to finalize the left merger has been thrown into disarray due to the latter's demand for 50 percent stake in the unified party,” said a senior UML leader on condition of anonymity.
One and half months after signing a seven-point framework agreement to merge with UML, CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal demanded "equal and dignified status" in the unified party.
After a series of meeting of leaders of two parties, they seem to be too close for unification. However, the recent events showed that they are too far from the unity. With a strong political base at grass root level, large numbers of CPN-UML leaders are opposing unity with Maoist Center even at 30-70 ratio.
“What I can say is that CPN-UML leader and prime minister KP Sharma Oli and Maoist Center leader Dahal are already united. I don’t know about the rest,” said CPN-UML Pradeep Nepal, reacting to the present political course.
At a time when the leaders of two parties are close to forge the alliance, the Maoist call for 50 percent share in the unified party came as "an unexpected twist" in the political marriage of the two left parties, which were in the last stage of negotiation.
Although the leaders of two parties have already drafted joint documents relating to political, organizational and ideological aspects of the new party, Dahal responded strongly when UML offered Maoist Center 30 percent stake in the new party.
Opposing Oli’s offer to integrate the two parties in 70:30 ratio, Dahal threw the idea of 50 percent share in the newly unified party.
The shift in Prime Minister Oli and Dahal's stands has put doubts on whether the unification would be held by April 22, the self-imposed deadline of the two parties to wrap up the merger.
Despite holding several meetings, some key issues including division of power, election symbol and the Maoist demand for formal recognition of People's War in party statute remain to be settled.
"We have serious differences but these can be addressed if leaders from both the parties show sincerity and maturity. Both sides should compromise since we have already come too far to abort this process,” Maoist Center spokesperson Pampha Bhusal said.
A taskforce headed by UML senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal has prepared a 41-page document, while another taskforce led by Maoist leader Ram Bahadur Thapa has drafted a statute containing 76 articles.
Bhusal said that the unification would conclude as soon as the remaining issues are settled. She said that the taskforces have already sorted out more than 80 percent of work pertaining to various aspects of the merger.
They have already agreed on several issues including the party organization and ideology. But, they are yet to agree on the power sharing as CPN-UML doesn’t want to share the power equally.
“We are ready to unify with CPN-UML in a dignified manner as we too have a strong political and ideological base. As a big party, CPN-UML leaders need to show big heart towards the Maoist Center,” said a Maoist-Center leader.