Kathmandu: After remaining unchallenged as its supremo for over two decades, Prachanda`s leadership of Nepal`s Maoist party is now at stake after it faced a humiliating defeat in the assembly polls.
Arguing that the UCPN-M has been led by a single man for over 22 years, senior Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai has demanded a change in the leadership during a high level meeting yesterday, according to party sources.
Addressing the ongoing Central Committee meeting of the party at its headquarters, former prime minister Bhattarai forcefully raised the issue of change in party leadership. He said the leadership of same person for too long could give rise to "autocracy" within the party.
"If the same leader assumes leadership on all fronts, including the party`s organisation, its ideology and its state powers for long, it may give birth to a dictator within the party," Bhattarai was quoted by the national daily Republica as saying.
Bhattarai insisted that this was a right time to hand over the party leadership as the issue had been deferred in the past on various pretexts, such as that the party was at war, or in the peace process, or facing elections.
"We deferred the issue several times in the past. But since we are trying to reform the party organisation this is the most opportune time for handing over leadership," he said.
Bhattarai`s remarks were apparently targeted at 59-year-old Pushpa Kamal Dahal, popularly known as Prachanda.
The UCPN-Maoist, which had emerged as the largest party in the first assembly polls in 2008, was reduced to the third position in November 19 Constituent Assembly polls. The party won 80 seats in the 601-member assembly.
Prachanda lost in one of the two constituencies he contested the polls from.
Senior party leaders, including Bhattarai and Narayan Kaji Shrestha, held Prachanda responsible for the poor show in the polls.