Oli Leaves Behind An Ineffaceable Legacy
Ritu Raj Subedi
History, as the saying goes, takes strange turns and politics makes strange bedfellows.’ This motto aptly applies to the anomalous alliance between Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba and CPN-Maoist Centre chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda. Deuba and Prachanda were arch foes during the decade long ruthless Maoist insurgency and now they have become strange bedfellows to upset the national politics at a time when it is taking its right course under the stewardship of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. As their exoneration from the serious rights violation occurred during the cruel conflict period is getting slim, they entered into dubious partnership. Accordingly, Prachanda dealt a jolt to the Oli-led coalition by abruptly pulling out of the coalition. The bizarre political development has earned more critics than the supporters. And it is Prachanda who has drawn much ire from different quarters than Deuba. Oli is set to deliver skewering speech to expose his friend-turned foe Prachanda’s ‘betrayal’ in the House while facing the no-confidence motion. But, the fallouts of this crisis risk of upending the new constitution that has envisioned erecting a prosperous republic. Many believe there is diabolic design to disrupt the ongoing momentum built on the proactive and popular performance of the Oli government.
Nine months ago, the UML and the Maoist Centre had inked a 14-point deal in which both the communist parties pledged to give continuity to their alliance until the local, provincial and general elections are held. Once these vital polls are conducted, the new constitution is believed to take off. The cracks in their relationship came to the fore after the NC played gooseberry between them. Prachanda had almost risen to the bait and quit the government but the UML and the Maoist Centre signed yet another 9-point agreement to save their wobbly coalition from the collapse three months ago. This accord did not keep their unity intact either. The Centre parted company with the UML over the implementation of the controversial agreement that sought to give amnesty to those involved even in serious crimes. The Centre claimed that the UML did not give a hoot about implementing the deal but PM Oli has rebutted the charges saying that he has been honestly implementing it. He even challenged his deviated partner to prove which point of the agreement has not been implemented. Briefing the Parliamentary Party meeting about the goings-on that culminated in the exit of the Maoist Centre, Oli said that the two parties had discussed about ‘modality’ to form the new government under the Maoist leadership in the evening of July 11 and Prachanda left the meeting with this understanding. “But, all of sudden, Prachanda informed me over telephone that his party decided to withdraw its support to the government. Despite having written agreement, the Centre betrayed us,” Oli said in the meeting.
The fact is that the pending tasks of peace process are unlikely to be sorted out if the major parties- the NC, the UML and the Maoist Centre- do not come to common ground. It is sheer misjudgment on the part of the Centre that it would be able to tame the snowballing political crisis with the support of only NC and Madhes-based parties. In order to blunt the growing criticisms against him, Prachanda, who will be soon anointed as the 39th Prime Minister of Nepal in the backing of the NC, Friday rushed to Khula Manch to express his solidarity with the Federal Alliance’s relay hunger strike. A few weeks ago, the NC president Deuba too had reached the venue to support Madhesi parties’ agitation. The alliance has demanded to carve up the southern plains into two states based on the ethnic identity. This very demand was flatly rejected by both Deuba and Prachanda during the promulgation of the new constitution. And now both the leaders have thrown support behind the Alliance’s demand, a move that smacks of opportunism.
The Nepalese are fed up to the teeth with frequent changes in the guard. Their tempers have again frayed with the recent political u-turn that has been viewed with a suspicion. The finger of suspicion pomited at the Indian establishment for the nasty political development must not be taken for granted. A host of top figures including PM Oli, veteran communist leaders Mohan Bikram Singh, Chitra Bahadur KC and Narayan Man Bijukchhe have directly and indirectly have pinned blame on India for playing a villainous role in destabilizing Nepal. While Prachanda has termed this as ‘stupid accusation,’ the four seasoned left leaders have used various metaphors to characterise Prachanda and his party. Oli has compared the Maoist Centre as one operated by battery and it goes on the blink once its power ends. Singh argued that the Oli government was brought down at the behest of India. KC accused Prachanda of being ‘a bet of India’ used in a stratagem against Nepal. Bijukchhe called him as ‘a Trojan Horse’ that India is employing to destroy Nepal. Even his deputy Narayan Kaji Shrestha has denounced the NC-Maoist Centre alliance stating that it would damage the national interest in the long-run. He argued that the unnatural political development intended to sabotage the landmark agreements with China. These allegations are serious and Prachanda must invalidate them when he takes the helm of power so that he would be able to revive his image.
Moral High Ground
Although the Maoist Centre is knocking Oli off their pedestal, he has seized the moral high ground. His soaring popularity can be gauged from the spontaneous pouring of apolitical youths in the streets of Kathmandu and Pokhara in his support. He took on the leadership mantle at the most difficult period. Still he did not let the people down. He is as steady as rock when it comes to defending dignity, independence, nationalism and right to self-determination, which makes every Nepali to hold his/her head high. He called upon the Nepalese to shed their inferiority complex and dream about their affluent future. For this, he floated a slew of ambitious development schemes. He will go down in history as an indomitable PM, who never kowtowed to the hegemon that often looks down on its small neighbours. No matter which party comes to power, his successor will find it difficult to erase his legacy.