By Gopal Khanal (KATHMANDU, 3 March 2021) – On 17 March 2018, Nepal Communist Party (NCP) was formed after the unification of CPN-UML and CPN – Maoist Centre, eight months after the two parties made an initial agreement on party unity on May 2018. The unity was up to the mark till the issue of power sharing was not raised by some power monger leaders of both the parties. Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda and Madhav Kumar Nepal played antagonistic role.
On 7 March 2021, the Supreme Court quashed the unification of Nepal Communist Party and gave verdict that the leaders of NCP should return to their previous parties – CPN- UML and Maoist Centre. The SC said that the EC had earlier wrongly awarded the NCP name to KP Sharma Oli and Prachanda-led party because NCP was already registered under the name of Rishiram Kattel. Kattel had filed the case in SC three years before. The EC, possibly, gave name to Oli and Prachanda seeing the accumulated power of two previous Prime Ministers and chairmen of two largest communist parties.
Surprises & shockwaves
The recent two verdicts of the Supreme Court, which were related to the future course of Nepali politics, have made many surprises and some others have been badly hit by sudden shockwaves. These verdicts are fair enough with the enduring impact in reshaping the Nepali politics. The first verdict restored the HoR, which was dissolved by Prime Minister Oli citing the internal conflict within his party. The Prime Minister accepted the verdict though it was against his own move.
The second verdict annulled the unification of two communist parties, which was also against the move of Oli and Prachanda. But, this verdict drew flak by some sections of UML and Maoist Centre, just because it did not favour them. The Prime Minister has again welcomed the verdict of Supreme Court saying that he believes in independent judiciary.
With this verdict of SC, the UML has become the largest party of the parliament with 121 seats, while Nepali Congress is the second largest with 63 seats and Maoist Centre in the third position with 53 seats. Now, no party has absolute majority needed to form the government. The formation of Nepal Communist Party merging the UML and Maoist Centre was just the marriage of convenience devoid of love and commitments. It was for personal gains.
Leaving aside the policy, ideology and philosophy, leaders of the UML and Maoist Centre had hastily unified the party aiming to get victory in 2017 election. Though their alliance got comfortable majority in the election, the emotional unity was still a far cry. The interim party organisational structure was totally wrong to maintain harmony within the party and that ultimately led to the latest disaster. The party unification was also a surprising event in Nepali politics since Oli was the sharp dissenter of Maoist violent politics. Oli had opposed the Maoist violent activities while some other leaders of the UML had been in close contact with the Maoists.
Even after the unification, the leaders and cadres of both the parties would like to introduce themselves as their previous identities. They could never have forgotten their long political background that was distinct not only in guiding principles, but also in the way to achieve their goals. In communist parties, it is normally said that policy is decisive factor to elect the leadership. If the formation of NCP is closely and critically observed, disaster in the life of NCP was quite expected. But the most unfortunate thing is that the party divided after three years not on the ground of ideological difference, but on the issues of personality cult and power struggles.
With the revival of two parties, Prime Minister Oli has to take a vote of confidence in the parliament if the Maoist Centre withdraws its support to the government. But, the Maoist Centre has not yet decided to pull out of its support from the government. It has started consultations with other parties to form the coalition government under its own leadership.
Prachanda held talks with the leaders of Nepali Congress, including Sher Bahadur Deuba and Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP). His sole agenda was to oust Oli from power at all cost. But, Nepali Congress has its own game to play. It wants to take all other parties into confidence, excluding UML to lead the next government.
Since UML is the largest party, it has high possibility to lead the next government. UML leaders have also begun their consultations with other parties. It is obvious that the UML wants to muster the support of the Janata Samajbadi Party. For this, it has formed a task force under deputy leader of parliamentary party- Subash Nemwang with Bishnu Poudel and Rajan Bhattarai as its members. They have held the first round of meeting, exploring the possibilities the formation of the government.
Apparently, the JSP stands to suffer a division. Upendra Yadav and Dr. Baburam Bhattarai are likely to hobnob with Prachanda while Mahanta Thakur and Rahendra Mahato have chemistry with Prime Minister Oli. In principle, the Madhesi leaders raise the issue of constitution amendment and demand the release of lawmaker from Kailali Resham Chaudhary but in the exchange of power, they could not stick to their principled stand and agenda till the last moment. That’s why they have been blamed being not sincere about the development of Madhes and prosperity of Madhesi people.
It was Prime Minister Oli, who had initiated the major development works in Madhes under the title of Madhes Sambridhi Aviyan. The Oli government allocated huge budget to construct big physical infrastructures, including roads, bridges and irrigation projects. Prime Minister Oli is not an anti-Madhesi leader as some vainly try to project, but he has proved himself as a pro-Madhes person committed to its overall development. Therefore, the better option at the moment is to form Oli-led government in the backing of JSP so as to steer country towards the robust path of development and prosperity. Then it will obviously hold the elections too.