02/29/2012, 00.00
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Nepalese Maoist leaders evict the poor, while leading "sumptuous" lifestyles

by Kalpit Parajuli
At the center of the controversy the president Prachanda and senior party officials, who recently ordered the eviction of squatters from 15 thousand huts along the rivers, for "environmental" reasons. Maoist leaders charge: "we were cheated." Criticism even from the communist youth movement.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - After years of fighting for the rights of the proletariat and the poorest of the population, the Nepalese Maoist leadership has been criticized for a wild "sumptuous" lifestyle and even of being disinterested in the "basic rights" by lower level party members and party sympathizers. Fuelling the discontent, the recent government decision - headed by a Maoist-led coalition - to evict the poor and homeless who live near the rivers that flow in Kathmandu. The Executive Board decided on the eviction because the rivers are polluted with sewage and waste produced by those living in the shanty towns on the river banks, however, thousands now have no place to go, among them even members of the party.

The ruling - without the proposal of alternative accommodation - issued by the Government involves at least 15 thousand squatters who have occupied so far about 3 thousand huts. Among these is the 31 year old Pradip Bahadur Sunuwar, a Maoist leader, who lived along the river Bagmati. He does not hide his bitterness about the situation and charges: "We are poor, we were cheated by Maoist leaders." He adds: "They promised a society dedicated to equality and better living conditions. [...] But my sacrifices and those of hundreds of people like me have only served to enrich the Maoist leaders."

Among the leaders of the party at the heart of the controversy is also the president of the Maoists, Prachanda, who is accused of having a "lavish" lifestyle, while the country is plagued by problems of different nature: a deep economic crisis, political instability, corruption and closure of industries for the ongoing labor strikes. Aji BK, 50, 10 years resident in one of the thousands of shacks next to the river is very bitter: "The Maoists have used me because I voted for them, but now I am forced to live on the edge of the road because of them."

Interviewed by AsiaNews Mahesh Bahadur Basnet, member of the Standing Committee of the Maoist prime minister and political advisor, said that "the government is aware of the landless poor" and promises "an alternative for their accommodation." He admits that the lifestyle of some leaders of the party is "lavish" but seeks to minimize this, underscoring that it concerns "only a few elements." Criticisms have also come from the top Maoist youth movement, the Young Communist League (YCL), which has announced protests against the leading executives and President Prachanda.


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