For those who are following the twin Maoist movements in India and Nepal, there was a delicious irony May 30 when Prachanda, leader of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M), sent a condolence letter to Indian political boss Sonia Gandhi over the recent attack by Maoist Naxalite guerillas in which 27 were killed, including senior leaders of Gandhi's Congress Party. "Our party UCPN-Maoist is deeply shocked and saddened by the demise of leaders and workers of the Indian National Congress in the recent attack in Chattisgarh…unleashed by Indian Maoists," Prachanda wrote. Zee News notes that among the dead was Mahendra Karma, a notorious paramilitary leader who was accused of atrocities against perceived guerilla sympathists. A like letter from Nepali Congress party leader Sushil Koirala said: "I am extremely shocked and deeply saddened by the news of the death of senior Congress leader Mahendra Karma, other leaders and cadres of your party along with other innocent people in the ambush by the Maoists in Chattisgarh."
How have the Nepalese Maoists been so thoroughly pitted against the Indian Maoists? Ironically, the decisive factor is thoroughly post-Maoist China. We've noted that Nepal's counterinsurgency against the UCPN-M was initially backed with military aid from the US and India. When these succumbed to pressure from human rights groups and scaled back aid, China took up the slack—seeking to establish Nepal as a buffer state against regional rival India. At the same time, China began quietly aiding the Naxalites, since they were conveniently making trouble for Delhi.
You'll note how little this has to do with, um, ideology. It will be interesting (in a geekish sort of way) to see how sectarian Maoist factions in the US will react to this. The biggest, the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), was avidly rooting for the Nepalese Maoists, but seems to have dropped them after the UCPN-M agreed to lay down arms and join the political process. The Kasama Project appears to have its money on the Naxalites, calling out Prachanda on his hypocrisy. We'd sure like to hear what the RCP have to say about the stance of their erstwhile Nepalese comrades.