Has Netra Bikram Chand returned to peaceful politics? Or does he have something else up his sleeve?

Ashim Neupane

  • Read Time 4 min.

After the change of guard in Singha Durbar, Biplav has been intensifying meetings and talks with all the top leaders of the political parties while his cadres are busy in staging small demonstrations.  Is he acting out as per the commitment for peaceful politics?

 

Kathmandu: With the formation of the new government, the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) led by Netra Bikram Chand has expedited high-level political meetings. Netra Bikram Chand, who is also known with his nom de guerre Biplav, appears to have changed himself.

In the past two weeks, he has been meeting with the top leaders and interacting with them. He himself has been making the photos of his meetings with the top leaders public through his Twitter page.

On July 14, he met Nepal Communist Party (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal. “I discussed contemporary politics and the implementation of the three-point agreement with the government,” he wrote on Twitter.

The next day, on July 15, he met Madhav Kumar Nepal, the top leader of CPN-UML. “I discussed contemporary politics and the issue regarding release of prisoners from jail,” he wrote.

On July 16, he met Baburam Bhattarai followed by Mohan Baidya on July 17.  On July 18, he met Top Bahadur Rajamajhi, Mani Thapa and Lekhraj Bhatta—all former Maoist leaders.

Then on July 20, he met KP Sharma Oli, CPN-UML Chairman and erstwhile Prime Minister, with whom his party had signed a three-point deal. Then on July 21, he met the new prime minister, Sher Bahadur Deuba.

What’s the intention? 

On March 4, Biplav and the government of KP Sharma Oli had signed a three-point agreement whereby his party had agreed to get political issues addressed through dialogue, expressed commitment to conduct its activities in a peaceful manner, in return of which the government had agreed to lift the ban imposed on CPN, free the CPN cadres from jail and withdraw court cases against them. 

Oli had propagated the deal as a major achievement in terms of bringing the violent outfit into mainstream politics.

Apparently, Biplav is in peaceful politics. The government with which he had signed the three-point deal is no longer in power.  From the state side, the ban imposed on the political activities of his party has been lifted.  Withdrawing cases and releasing cadres from jail remain yet to be done.

Netra Bikram Chand was opposed to the second Constituent Assembly elections of 2013 and he was opposed to the constitution drafting process of 2015. His party opposed the general elections of 2017 as well.  Thereafter, Biplav and his cadres took to violent means—detonating bombs, enforcing general strikes, arson attacks, extortion, even killing the opponents—all reminiscent of the days of Maoist conflict. Then the government started crackdown measures against his party and outlawed the organization in 2019, following which a number of top leaders and cadres of his party were arrested.

Then the surprise news of Biplav coming to peaceful politics came out in March.

After the change of guard in Singha Durbar, Biplav has been intensifying meetings and talks with all the top leaders of the political parties.  Is he acting out as per the commitment for peaceful politics or does he have something else up his sleeve?

According to political analyst Jhalak Subedi, the latest meetings of Netra Bikram Chand with top leaders should be analysed in a context. “First, this is a joint government. Then government led by KP Sharma Oli had signed a three-point deal with Chand, but some of those agreements are yet to be implemented. So, these meetings can just be seen as Chand requesting the joint government to fulfill their demands,” said Subedi.

However, Subedi feels that these meetings do not indicate left forces joining hands or making a new alliance. “I do not see any possibility of Netra Bikram Chand joining hands with forces already in mainstream politics,” he added.

Although the Chand-led party has already signed a peace deal with the government, the party is yet to hand over arms and weapons to the state. “As the party is yet to hand over arms and weapons, I feel the party is still guided by the mindset of violence,” he added. 

The Chand-led party is also saying that the current political system is outdated and needs to be changed, for which a referendum needs to be held. “Is it possible to hold a referendum?” Subedi questioned.

On the other hand, Chand’s party claims the recent high-level political meetings were focused on two agendas. “We discussed the implementation of a deal signed with the government, and about the latest political developments,” said Dharmendra Bastola of Communist Party of Nepal.

“Our 150 cadres are still behind the bars, we want them to be released as per the agreement,” he said. 

According to analyst Shyam Shrestha, the meetings must be about the implementation of the agreement, and about the possibility of leftist merger. “Although they must have discussed the merger, it is difficult to merge at this time. But one cannot predict Nepali politics,” he said.

In the meantime, another analyst Hari Rokka said the Chand-led party has become weak. “They are committed to entering mainstream politics. They also want to exercise power, but is it possible for them to enter the mainstream? That’s a big question” he said.

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