Many Hands Of Comrade Prachanda: Though they didn’t speak in the press conference, three deputy commanders of the Maoist People Liberation Army (PLA) were the attraction. Clockwise from left: Baldev (Chandra Khanal), Passang (Nanda Kishor Pun) and Prabhakar (Janardhan Sharma). Pic by Shailendra Kharel
Prachanda will explain his party’s policy and programs on Friday when he will appear publicly for the first time in the past 25 years.
By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal
One of my friends in the Maoists circle called this afternoon to let me know that the rebels were going to announce something very important in a press conference in Rastriya Sabha Griha, Kathmandu. He asked me if I wanted to be there at 2 PM, on the second floor of the building. Why not? It’s going to be a big day, I guessed, and I must experience all these events personally. I was planning to meet a female model and singer in connection with my reporting for Kala ra Shailee. “Models later,” I told myself. “Comrades are in priority for the time being. Let me give the bhau to these comrades now.” When I told about my afternoon plan to one my colleague in the office, this is the response I got: “Yes, go, go. There will be no opportunity in future to give them bhau as their arms will be locked up in cantonments with UN lock in the near future and people will start beating Maoists if [rebels] continue bullying at them. :)” I agreed with him. The “Peoples’ War’ was definitely difficult for the rebels but the days of peace will not be easy ride. Answer as plain and straight as “Keep Quiet, we are fighting for the oppressed ones” will not make people quite against their highhandedness. This time, instead of arrogant comrades, ‘poor’ people will be armed and powerful. They will be armed with a weapon called VOTE. The Maoist comrades will be in desperate need of that vote to strengthen their position in the Constituent Assembly, the new battleground of the competitive politics.
Photojournalist Shailendra Kharel and I went to Rastriya Sabha Griha (City Hall) in time. There were three comrades chatting with each other on the backyard of the convention hall. They confirmed that a press conference was to occur in a few minutes. Krishna Bahadur Mahara and the Chairman of Newa Rastriyay Mukti Morcha, a Maoist sister organization, would be addressing the reporters. [Chairman Prachanda was taking part in a gathering of Nepali cine artists in Nepal Academy.] What would be Mahara telling in a press meet organized barely 1.5 hours before the summit talks between Seven Party Alliance and the Maoists in the Prime Minister residence in Baluwataar? Reporters were curious and we waited for about 40 minutes before the press meet kicked off. I was already disappointed as I got the hint from one of the comrades that the press conference was about the upcoming general convention of Morcha. It was announced that the Morcha general convention has been differed by two months and the planned convention has been turned into a Mass Meeting where Prachanda would appear publicly for the first time in 25 years. That was definitely news but one could question: Haven’t we seen Prachanda before? What is this hoopla about his appearance? I wanted to ask Mahara the question but I didn’t because I knew the answer. Maoists are telling that Prachanda hasn’t appeared publicly officially. “We think his appearance is a national event,” said Mahara. “And we decided to give due importance to this national event but postponing the Morcha convention, turning the scheduled gathering into the Mass Meeting to be organized on the central level.”
This announcement, and other developments in the recent days, has confirmed that talks are going to be successful and Maoists are coming into the mainstream competitive politics. In a way, I am surprised how fast these events are happening. I can only imagine how it feels to be Prachanda in these circumstances. He has this huge task of convincing his guerillas about the “achievements” of the bloody and “great” ‘peoples’ war’ and telling them convincingly that the movement has brought about so many changes in Nepali society. There is a big risk of the party being split into more than two factions and one of them continuing the war. That will be counterproductive not only to Prachanda but to all of us Nepalis. We don’t want only a faction of the party coming into the main stream and the remaining part continuing the fighting. For that, we need to give him time to explain his cadres about what he is agreeing with the government and why is he doing so.
That is exactly what Prachanda wants to do on the day of his appearance (on Friday, November 10). He will be explaining about the new political scenario and the role of his party in the changed context. “He will publicize the party’s new policy,” Mahara said. He also hinted that the Maoist mass meeting will be organized in Tundikhel (the Army Dais) instead of the traditionally used Shahid Manch (Martyrs Dais). Prachanda will also speak about the journey his party conducted in the past decade.
So expect a pretty much long speech from the Chairman Comrade!
So, this is how comrades are preparing for the [to be] BIG and HISTORIC ‘Apparance’ mass gathering in Kathmandu on Friday.
Maoists descend upon valley locals
By Kosh Raj Koirala
in the Kathmandu Post
KATHMANDU, Nov 6 – Even as the peace talks are going on and Maoists leaders are pledging to respect people’s freedom and uphold human rights, their cadre are “forcing” residents in the three districts of Kathmandu Valley to provide free shelter to their friends. The Post has received complaints from dozens of residents in Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur informing that the Maoists have asked them to provide shelter to Maoist supporters and cadre who have gathered in Kathmandu to take part in the national convention of the Newa Mukti Morcha scheduled for November 10.
Maoists are launching a massive drive to bring over a sea of cadres and sympathizers from outside the valley to Kathmandu to attend the convention which will be addressed by Maoist Chairman Prachanda.
Some residents in localities including Bagdol, Nakkhipot, Dhobighat, Dholahiti, Balkhu, Thapagaun, Magargaun, Bhainsepati, Khumaltar, Hattiban and Kusunti complained that they have been asked to provide shelter to up to 10 cadre each. They have also asked the residents to feed their cadre for three days. Locals at Pulchowk and Mangalbazar and in Harisiddhi area have even protested against the Maoist demand at the local police offices.
In Kathmandu the rebels have made similar demands at Kalanki, Balaju, Bouddha, Phutung and Buddhanagar and in Bhaktapur at Jadibuti, Gatthaghar and Madhyapur Thimi, among other localities.
According to police sources, the rebels have also captured garment factories at Bouddha and Buddhanagar and the Pashupati Area Development Trust office at Gaushala and other premises for the purpose.
“Maoists reached my house this morning asking me to provide shelter for at least 10 cadre,” said a senior government official residing in Lalitpur district.
“Maoists, on one hand, call it voluntary but, on the other, make tacit threats to comply with their demand,” fumed a local resident at Gatthaghar, Bhaktapur.
Talking to the Post, Pawan Man Shrestha, president of Maoist-affiliated Newa Mukti Morcha, said, “It’s true that we have requested the locals to help us by providing shelter to our cadre.” He, however, denied having pressured the locals to provide shelter. “If there are such incidents people can register their complain at the party’s central office,” he said.
Madhav Prasad Nepal, chief of Lalitpur District Police Office, said he has also received several complaints that the Maoists are forcing local residents to provide shelter.
Meanwhile, lawmakers also raised the issue in the House of Representatives meeting on Monday. Taking special time at the meeting, Krishna Lal Maharjan, UML lawmaker from Lalitpur, drew the attention of the government to rebel cadre sending letters to Lalitpur residents asking them to provide food and shelter to their cadre.