Ten Maoist parties and factions in Nepal have united under the banner of the biggest party, Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda.
The leaders of the different groups decided on Thursday to rename the UCPN (M) as the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist-Centre).
“This isn’t just unification among Maoists, it is the start of a national unity among those who are oppressed and exploited,” a jubilant Prachanda said after the unification move was officially endorsed.
With 80 seats in the 601-member parliament, UCPN (M) is the third largest party and an important member of the ruling coalition headed by the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist).
The UCPN(M) emerged the biggest party after the 2008 constituent assembly polls but it has, over the years, witnessed a decline in political fortunes due to differences among senior leaders and several splits.
One of the senior-most leaders, former premier Baburam Bhattarai, left the party last year to form a new group called Naya Shakti. On Thursday, Prachanda appealed to his former colleague to return.
The most important inclusion in the new party is the Ram Bahadur Thapa faction of the Mohan Baidya-led Communist Party of Nepal (Revolutionary Maoist).
Baidya, a hardliner who wants to continue with “peoples’ revolution”, had split from the UCPN (M) in 2012 over ideological differences with Prachanda. He is still against unification, unlike many senior leaders who have deserted him.
Other parties who joined on Thursday include the Revolutionary Communist Party led by Mani Thapa and Matrika Yadav’s Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).