Spectre Of Communism!
Ritu Raj Subedi
A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of Communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre.’ Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
These lines, extracted from The Communist Manifesto, reflect the panic of ruling classes in mid-19th century Europe when many industrial nations were boiling for revolutions, and the opposition parties across the continent were decried and derided as communist. It appears that a sense of similar fear of Reds is swirling in the psyche of non-left constituency here following the dramatic announcement of three parties - CPN-UML, CPN-Maoist Centre and Naya Shakti Party-Nepal - to contest the upcoming two-tier elections under the same political banner and eventually form a single communist party. Some politicians and commentators have been shocked so much so that they have started seeing the rise of North Korea-styled regime here after the leaders of these three parties declared that their electoral alliance was for securing a two-thirds majority in the federal and provincial parliament. The unexpected development prompted the ruling Nepali Congress to create a Loktantrik alliance to stop the communist block from taking over the reins of the new government. A sense of trepidation has also gripped a section of the media, diplomatic circle and the people of establishment side in India. They fear the new communist alliance will sweep UML chair KP Sharma Oli into the premiership again, which is distasteful for them. They have been arguing that Oli’s rise to power can be a disaster to India. But, it is a flawed, fallacious and unrealistic hypothesis that only hurts the sentiments of majority of Nepalis.
Such nervousness, felt at home and abroad, is unfounded and without credible rationale. The UML, the largest constituent of the alliance, has evolved into a bona fide parliamentary force, and has been the integral part of multiparty democracy for the last 27 years. The Maoist Centre’s intended unification with the UML will neautralise the remaining militant and extremist proclivity of the latter. This will usher the country in peaceful transition in the post-conflict phase, thereby consolidating the federal democratic republic. The critics of the left alliance and unity should be happy as this has triggered polarization of like-minded parties, forcing them to establish clear blue water among them. This can be a milestone in setting the country on the path of stability as it will whittle down the number of political parties and bring the tendency to go for unnatural and opportunistic alliances to an end. This can free the nation from the burden of unnecessary number of parties running on parochial lines.
While speaking at the programme organised to unveil a six-point accord to forge alliance and unity of the three parties, Oli had announced that the new left government would strive to ensure rule of law, curb corruption and enhance national independence, stability and economic prosperity. Trying to allay fears of the southern neighbour, he said, “The new government will adopt balanced and respectable foreign policies guided by the principle of Panchasheel, Non-aligned Movement and the UN Charter.” Only a strong and stable government can execute independent foreign policies with the neighbours and other countries. The formation of this alliance is also good for India and China as this will help make their relations with Nepal predictable and reliable and free them from dealing with so many actors here.
There lay practical reasons behind the creation of the left alliance that in fact appears to be a miraculous event. This entails the aspirations of the three left parties for better survival under the flag of the same party. Nepal’s mixed yet complicated electoral system hardly allows any party to muster a majority of seats in the federal parliament. The UML that emerged the largest party from the local election was not confident of bagging the majority seats in the upcoming federal and provincial polls after it performed badly in the local election held in Province No 2. The second Constituent Assembly election and the two phases of local polls had already dealt a serious blow to the Maoist Centre, forcing it to do a serious soul-searching. Naya Shakti Party-Nepal of Dr Baburam Bhattarai had been reeling from the existential crisis following its humiliating poll drubbing and desertion of its large number of influential leaders and cadres. This objective reality compelled them to forge a political tryst to seal their common destiny.
Those desirous of seeing a single and strong communist party in Nepal have been greatly elated by this incredible development that has been also dubbed the final miracle of Maoist Centre’s chair Prachanda. He is known for inventing and implementing his indigenous theory kram bhangata ‘break in continuity’ and described the poll alliance and eventual merger of three parties with the same phraseology. He said efforts were under way to form a single communist party for the last one decade and now they are inching closer to that goal. Established in 2006 BS, the Nepal Communist Party began to split from its third convention in 2019 BS and since then it has undergone a series of division, disintegration and merger. Now Prachanda and Oli have agreed to name their unified party as ‘Communist Party of Nepal’ and use ‘Sun’ as its poll symbol. It is to note here that the communist parties have generally been bagging more than 60 per cent of votes cast in any election held since the advent of multiparty democracy in the country.
In their sensational feat, Oli, Prachanda and Dr Bhattarai have really pulled a rabbit out of the hat. But, the billion-dollar question is – how can they sustain this magical deed? Given that the three parties have come from different communist schoolings, orientations and ideology, these leaders will find it an uphill task to translate their improbable project into action. The unification drive is based on the top-down approach with the cadres of three parties still struggling to understand and adapt to the new situation. More negative reactions are expected after the three parties distribute tickets to the candidates of upcoming elections. They have just shelved their differences, not solved them. If the architects of left alliance and unity are driven only by the motive of power, they are unlikely to foster stability and progress of the nation. As a political scientist says, they need to define common values based on public and national interests, without sparking the sound and fury of ideology to tackle their real challenges.