Amid crisis, largest Nepal political party splits

Hard-core leftists broke away from Nepal's biggest political party and announced a new faction Tuesday in a split that further complicates the country's messy political crisis.

Nepal has been without a legally sanctioned government since late May when its Constituent Assembly expired without agreeing on a new constitution for the post-monarchy era, although Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai has continued on, as caretaker, and called new elections for November.

Leftists within Bhattarai's party - which is Nepal's biggest and which represents former Maoist rebels - have grown increasingly frustrated with the top leadership, saying it has failed to secure favorable positions for former Maoist fighters or undertake promised land reform.

Mohan Baidya, who led the breakaway group and took about a third of the party's central committee members with him, said that Bhattarai and party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dalal were driving the party in the "wrong direction."

"They were concentrating more on staying in power than following party ideologies," Baidya said. "Our new party will adopt a pro-revolutionary political course."

The new party will be called Nepal Communist Party - Maoist.

Dina Nath Sharma, education minister in Bhattarai's government and senior member of his Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) party, said the split was unfortunate.

"This will only lead to further trouble for both the Maoist party and the splinter group. It will not benefit either of us," Sharma said.

The Maoist rebels had fought government troops between 1996 and 2006 until they joined a peace process and contested elections two years later after the country's constitutional monarchy was abolished.

The Maoist group emerged as the largest party in the 2008 polls, gaining about 38 percent of the seats in the Constituent Assembly, but it has struggled to effectively govern in a coalition amid Nepal's notoriously querulous politics.

The country's Constituent Assembly expired last month after failing to write a new constitution despite repeated extensions of the body's self-imposed deadline, leaving the country in a political limbo. Analysts said the split among the Maoists would make the situation deteriorate further.

"This will only lead to further political instability, said Yagya Prasad Adhikari, a political science professor at the Tribhuwan University in Katmandu.

Adhikari warned that the split could even lead to violence between the factions.

Some of the conflict arises from a November agreement that Maoist leaders signed on the integration of their former fighters into the national army.

The splinter faction says the fighters were given low ranks and that the party leadership failed to secure them a better deal. It also accuses party leaders of failing to make any effort to launch promised land reforms to redistribute land from the rich to landless farmers.

Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) breakaway group leader Mohan Baidya addresses a press conference in Katmandu, Nepal, Tuesday, June 19, 2012. Dissatisfied members of Nepal's ruling political party announced Tuesday forming a breakaway party in a split that is likely to further deepen the nation's political crisis. (AP Photo/Binod Joshi) Enlargephoto

Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) breakaway group leader Mohan Baidya addresses a press conference in Katmandu, Nepal, Tuesday, June 19, 2012. Dissatisfied members of Nepal's ruling political party announced Tuesday forming a breakaway party in a split that is likely to further deepen the nation's political crisis. (AP Photo/Binod Joshi)