Maoist Center Shaken To Roots
The results of the first phase of local polls have made it clear that the CPN-Maoist Center will remain as the third largest party in terms of the number of its candidates who have won the seats at the local units in the first phase of local election, held in the three provinces, province no. 3, 4 and 6, on May 14. According to the results made public so far, the CPN-UML and the Nepali Congress each have claimed victory in over 100 local units that included the rural municipalities and municipalities, whereas the Maoist Center has been successful in less than 50 local units.
The Maoist Center has been defeated in many places which were supposed to be its stronghold. The party’s performance in the districts like Gorkha and Sindhupalchok is depressing. It has however remained as strong as in the past in the district such as Rukum, which used to be a Maoist stronghold during the decade long armed conflict.
As some of the areas where the first phase of the poll was held covered places considered to be Maoist stronghold, it was expected that the Maoist Center would at least come at the second place. But it has become a distant third and the party has been shaken to its root, which demands that the party should make introspection for the other polls such as the provincial and federal or parliamentary polls to be held within next eight months.
If we compare its present performance and the one during the second Constituent Assembly (CA) election in 2014, and the way party got split after the election, we should consider that the present performance of the MC is not that bad.
This local poll is the first of its kind held under the government led by the former rebel party that staged a decade long armed insurgency. And this election has been held in perfectly peaceful environment despite the fact that there were threats from different quarters.
The way the Maoist-led government created the environment for the polls and thus steered the country toward smooth implementation of the federal constitution is historic no matter what political maneuvers the Maoist party adopted. By holding this election, the Maoist Center has also established itself as a more and mature democratic party. In this respect, the Maoist party has made a great progress.
In addition to other factors, the defeat of the Maoist Center can be attributed to the way it focused on holding the local polls by bringing disgruntled Madhes-based political parties on board. Its efforts to address the demands of the Madhesi parties were distorted by the opposition parties such as CPN-UML as appeasing to the Indian interests. Thus the UML won the hearts of the people hit hard by the over six-month long Indian blockade in 2015. Had there been UML led government and had that government rejected the Madhesi demands all along, no election could have been possible at this time. The Maoist Center and the Nepali Congress knew that the kind of stance the UML was taking would not help for the election and thus they made a ruling collation to oust the UML led government. But by then the UML had already gained a new image of being a strong nationalist force all because of the Indian blockade and the way the UML led government took stance position during that time.
Although Maoist Center was a ruling partner with the UML, the UML made such political tactics that it pointed the Maoist Center as being pro-Indian. As an influential player in the national politics, the Maoist Center bore the brunt of all UML accusations. The UML spared the NC simply because it believed that the vote base of the UML and the Maoist Center was almost the same.
Even the election alliance with the Nepali Congress did not help the Maoist Center much. While it helped NC to win in many places, the Maoist Center lost everywhere in the local levels where they had the common candidate of the two parties. This means that there are rare chances for the MC to make any progress in the upcoming election by having an alliance with the NC or other parties.
The MC lost the election primarily because of its split. The party suffered two major splits, one just before the second CA election in 2013 and the other just after promulgation of the new constitution in 2015. In the first major split, leaders like Mohan Baidhya formed a new party while in the second major split leaders like Dr Baburam Bhattarai formed another new party.
After the damaging splits, the people disenchanted with the mother party as those who formed the new party piled up accusations on the mother party. If we calculate the votes the MC and the Nayashakti of Baburam Bhattarai have got in the district like Gorkha, we can get the point that had the party not split, it would have become the second largest at least. But the past is past, and the MC has to make a lot of efforts to win the votes of the people in the upcoming elections.
The way the newly formed parties like Sajha Party and Bibekshil Nepali Party has got votes in Kathmandu metropolis and Lalitpur sub-metropolis shows that the people want change. It is a great challenge for all the mainstream parties. The number of votes the newly formed parties has showed that the people are irritated by the methods and styles of the mainstream parties. The people want parties to fight corruption and improve transparency, and they also want young leadership. That’s all because both the Sajha party and the Bibekshil have raised issues of transparency. It is up to the mainstream parties how they take the ‘successes of the newly formed parties in Kathmandu and Lalitpur.