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Nepal Maoists to hold national convention after over 20 years

Some 2,500 delegates from across Nepal will attend the general convention of UCPN-Maoists starting February 02.

Kathmandu: In a show of strength, Nepal`s former Maoist combatants will gather at their party`s national convention being held after a gap of over two decades, in which it transformed itself from a guerrilla group to a mainstream political party at the helm.

Some 2,500 delegates from across the country will attend the general convention of UCPN-Maoists starting February 02 in central Nepal`s Hetauda Municipality in an attempt to revamp their organisation.

It will be a show of strength for the Maoists for the first time since the end of the decade-long civil war in which 16,0000 people were killed.

The party had held its last convention in central Nepal`s Chitawan district in 1991, when Prachanda was elected general secretary of Rastriya Janamorcha, the old name of the party.

Now Hetauda, an industrial town, has been selected as venue for the general convention of the party, which has now consolidated its urban organisation as well.

The seventh Unity General Convention of the UCPN-Maoist will endorse the political document to be presented by party chief Prachanda and elect a 125-member central body that will nominate the office bearers, including the party president, for the new term, DR Poudyal, one of the members of the general convention organising committee, said.

Prachanda`s political paper will among other things include a review of the current political situation, the ongoing political transition, necessity to institutionalise the achievements of the decade-long peoples’ war and the peoples’ movement of 2006, Poudyal said.

The convention will formulate the programmes and policies of the party. It will also decide on the future course of action.

Party chief Prachanda is likely to be the single contestant for the post of party president during the post-conflict general convention of the party, party sources said.

However, he has to balance between his two deputies, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and Deputy Prime Minister Narayankaji Shrestha to grab the top post of the party.

Prachanda is expected to consolidate his power through the general convention and revamp the once underground party ahead of the forthcoming election.

The estimated cost of the six-day general convention is around Rs 4.375 crore.

The party currently has 350,000 ordinary members across the country. The Maoists, who failed to win even a single seat in the second Parliamentary Election in 1995 under the banner of Rastriya Janamorcha, took up arms in 1996 to fulfil their 40-point demands.

The Maoists had half a dozen anti-India demands at that time. Their demands included scrapping of Nepal-India Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1950 and banning Indian vehicles and Hindi cinema in Nepal.

The Maoists joined hands with other political forces in 2005 after signing a 12-point deal to topple the monarchy and establish multi-party democracy.

The Maoists entered peaceful politics and swept the 2008 Constituent Assembly polls that abolished 240-year-old monarchy.

After the abolition of monarchy, the Maoists twice formed the government under their leadership after they emerged as the largest party in the Constituent Assembly Elections.

Baburam Bhattarai-led Maoist government is currently at the helm of the coalition government with the backing of Madhesi parties for the last one-and-a half-year.

Bhattarai dissolved the Constituent Assembly in May 2012, without drafting the Constitution and announced fresh elections for November.

The opposition parties, including the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML have been mobilising people to remove Bhattarai as he failed to hold fresh elections in November despite his promise for the same.

The UCPN-Maoist party got a severe blow when it saw vertical split between the hardliner faction led by Mohan Vaidya and liberal faction led by Prachanda last year with the formation a new party called CPN-Maoist.

The Maoist party`s general convention comes at a time when nine opposition parties including Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and Rastriya Prajatantra Party are on a 20-day agitation programme since January 14 in Dailekh district in western Nepal, to topple the government.