TIKA R PRADHAN
KATHMANDU: Situation on the fourth day of the seventh plenum of the Unified CPN-Maoist today turned ugly after leaders and cadres close to Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Vice-chairman Baburam Bhattarai engaged in a scuffle over a minor issue of representation.
Tension ran high in the meeting hall after central committee member and Bhojpura State Committee Secretary Anjana Bishankhe, along with her team, began shouting slogans to stop a pro-Bhattarai leader Baliram Sah from airing his views. Dahal’s supporters stood against Sah, saying that he was not their representative.
Situation could have turned worse had Devendra Poudel, a pro-Bhattarai leader, not stopped a pro-Dahal member, who was just about ready to rough up Bhattarai. Sources said a participant from Bajhang had even hurled a chair towards the rostrum, aiming at Chairman Dahal, but Dahal was unhurt. Pro-Dahal and pro-Bhattarai members were said to have engaged in throwing chairs at each other.
Party Spokesperson Dina Nath Sharma denied that any such incident had taken place but admitted that there was tension between members over representation. The official bulletin released in the evening said ‘whatever was being talked out was but rumour’.
Today’s meeting was then called off and leaders were escorted to Nepal Tourism Board, where they held a politburo meeting and decided to allow all the groups to air their views. Sources claimed that Dahal had asked his confidantes, including Janardan Sharma and Lokendra Bista who were said to be too furious, to calm down, saying ‘there was no ideological difference with Bhattarai’ and directed them to defend his political document instead.
What a politburo member close to Bhattarai told this daily is, however, quite startling. “Dahal and Bhattarai suspect that Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha is trying to fish in troubled waters. Bishankhe is close to Shrestha,” he said.
Most of the speakers today vehemently criticised the government and Bhattarai, as prime minister, for signing BIPPA with India, ‘handing over’ TIA management to an Indian company and cracking down on squatters. The party cadres, especially those who are close to Dahal and Shrestha, were furious that Bhattarai had ‘forced PLA to surrender’. Leaders close to Bhattarai failed to defend the government despite they were prepared. This could have led to the scuffle, said a source.
Meanwhile, Chairman Dahal today told Bhattarai that he was surprised by the activities of his cadres. Dahal said the agitated cadres were shouldering the agendas that have been raised by the Mohan Baidhya faction for long.