Dahal still undecided on Mahara’s fate

Kiran Poudel 22 Mar 2024
Dahal still undecided on Mahara’s fate

KATHMANDU: The ruling CPN (Maoist Center) has not been able to take any decision about Vice Chairman Krishna Bahadur Mahara who has been arrested for the gold smuggling investigation.

Although Prime Minister and party chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal has held formal and informal discussions with party leaders multiple times after the former Speaker’s arrest, the party has not been able to take any decision on Mahara’s fate.

The recent meeting of Maoist Center office-bearers discussed the matter. However, it failed to decide whether to suspend Mahara. As a result, they have authorized the chairman to take any decision about Mahara. “There was extensive discussion about Mahara but no decision was taken,” Maoist Center Spokesperson Agni Prasad Sapkota said.

Dahal feels it would be easier for him if Mahara himself stood down from his position. If this does not happen, Dahal is under pressure to suspend him. According to an office-bearer, Dahal had telephoned Mahara during the meeting of office-bearers and sought his opinion. “Let’s do as Mahara decides,” Dahal said in the meeting, according to the office-bearer.

The Maoist Center chair has neither been able to ask Mahara to resign, nor become accountable to the party by suspending him.

Mahara used to be very close to Prachanda in the past. According to those familiar with the Maoist armed conflict, Mahara used to be Dahal’s “mouthpiece” during the insurgency. Journalist Ujir Magar, who has closely observed the Maoist insurgency, said: “Mahara could unite all of Mohan Baidya, Ram Bahadur Thapa ‘Badal’ and Baburam Bhattarai. That is why he was made the coordinator of the party’s talks teams in every negotiation with the government.”

No Maoist leader from any faction could raise questions against Mahara. “Since Mahara could unite everyone, he has always been in power even after the party joined the political mainstream,” Magar said. “Mahara became everything except the prime minister. He can unite all leaders.”

When Mahara was the Speaker, he faced allegations of sexual misconduct. He was jailed for some months on charges of sexually abusing an employee of the Federal Parliament Secretariat. Mahara feels Dahal did not show much concern over the case. This has been a matter of grievance for Mahara even today.

Dahal is in power yet again. If he takes action against Mahara, the latter will again feel that Dahal didn’t do much to help him this time too. This is why Dahal is not in the mood to take action against him anytime soon, a Maoist Center leader said.   “That is why Dahal feels it would be easier for him if Mahara himself stepped down from the party position.”

Some Maoist Center leaders are said to be disappointed with Dahal following the arrest of the senior Maoist leader.  “It is clear that there was Dahal’s hand in Mahara’s arrest. He could have saved Dahal if he had wanted. He will have to face the implications,” another Maoist Center office-bearer said.

Maoist Center has postponed all pre-scheduled programs following Mahara’s arrest. Although it has been said that the programs were postponed due to a lack of internal preparation, party sources say the programs were deferred because of Mahara’s arrest.

Of late, Mahara was working for the unification of the Maoist Center and Netra Bikram Chand-led Nepal Communist Party. He had reached Kapilvastu, from where he was arrested, to hold talks with Chand.

“It was because of Mahara that Biplab and Prachanda came closer,” Maoist Center Secretary Ganesh Sah said. “Mahara had also taken the initiative to form the Socialist Front.”

Leaders close to Biplab have said that Mahara’s arrest will not affect the party unification process. “Since we had not reached the extent of party unification yet, his arrest has had no impact,” Sanjay C, a leader close to Chand, said.


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