How Will Left Coalition Fare?
the three leftist parties – CPN -UML, CPN –Maoist Centre and Naya Shakti Party – Nepal’s announcement to forge themselves into grand coalition has rocked the political boat in the country. What is most significant is that they have not only agreed to set up electoral alliance for the upcoming federal and provincial level polls but also cede themselves into a single leftist party through the process of merger and consolidation. The three parties have formulated a six-point accord signifying that they would not only enter into electoral alliance through seat sharing and mutual adjustment but also work out the process for unification of the parties into a single organisation. According to the terms of the agreement, the UML will be allotted to compete in sixty per cent of the seats for federal and provincial parliament while the Maoist Centre will contest in the forty per cent. The exact number of seats will be apportioned to each of the parties after sharing the seats with the Naya Shati Party and other left forces willing to enter into the coalition.
It is relevant to note that Naya Shakti Party, led by Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, is a kind of post –communist political formation in which both persons with communist and non-communist background had coalesced together to form the new outfit during the precious years . It was formed with the intent of building an alternative political force to combat the conventional political groups that are allegedly corrupt and politically obsolete. Needless to say communist parties have been predisposed to split and create factions along what they call ideological issues and polemics. This is not the case not only in Nepal but also the phenomenon in the world communist movement.
The ideological issues had driven wedge and conflicts among the communist parties, especially when the then Soviet Union and People’s Republic China were locked at ideological loggerheads and they were also engaged in vilification propaganda against each other. Needless to say China under the leadership of the Mao did contend that his country was the real Marxist and revolutionary state and the Chinese communist party was pursuing the correct ideological path. The then Soviet Union was accused of being revisionist and social imperialist whereas the Soviet Union used to castigate the China as a pseudo Marxist and pseudo revolutionary attempting to malign and outrage the world communist movement.
The Nepalese communist parties were also split along these lines and sizeable splinter communist groups had emerged claiming that they were the real adherents of the Marxist and Leninist principles. Some groups were pro-Soviet whereas others were toeing to the pro- Maoist line. However, despite the ideological veneer and pretensions each split was rather engineered due to personal ego, interest and clash, not substantiated in any way by the ideological rhyme and reason. The demise of communism in the then Soviet union and Eastern Europe and end of cold war discredited the communism as an ideology and the countries that had subscribed fully or partially the elements of communism did abandon their allegiance to it one and after the other.
However, Nepal appeared to be a unique case in the sense that the communist parties mounted their strength to present themselves as the influential and colossal political force in the country. The Maoists challenged the state through the bogey of people’s war and attempted to smash it through ten-year-long armed conflict whereas the UML maintained its competitive vigor through participation in the democratic elections. The comprehensive peace accord, signed in 2006, ended the Maoist armed insurgency and paved the way for mainstreaming the Maoists into the peaceful democratic process. Consequently, Nepal did witness the emergence of the two stronger parties competing for their role and share as the governing party in the democratic process.
In the last two elections held for the Constituent Assembly that pitted both the parties into democratic competition against each other together with the Nepali Congress, these parties had demonstrated their clout and strength as indicated by the poll results despite the fact that the Maoists had come crashing down losing out their support base to the rivals to some extent. As the Maoists were searching for their existential rationale and validity, they forged alliance with the Nepali Congress too as part of the power sharing. This power sharing arrangement of the Maoists with the Nepali Congress is still on and they are part of the current lamed duck coalition government.
However, the Maoists under the leadership of Prachanda has shown unstable political behavior and they have switched to the UML to forge alliance for the upcoming federal and provincial elections by rebuffing the expectations and chances of electoral understanding with its incumbent ruling coalition ally Nepali Congress. Politics in Nepal has been reduced into such a abhorrent game that is guided by opportunism and convenience. In the Nepalese politics, there is neither permanent enemy nor permanent friend and one can befriend others unpredictably if it suits to serve political ends. Especially after the Maoists joined the peace process, it has split into several factions ranging from ultra- leftist, centrist and rightist of the centre.
With the depleting political credibility and factional duels, the Maoists, led by Prachanda, were really desperate to find a strong ally to save them from the state of political turbulence. Similarly, Babu Ram’s Naya Shakti had been in deeper crisis and the proposition to enter into grand coalition has come as an opportunity to him as well. The political move to form grand coalition of leftist forces can be said a welcome development but its successful landing will need a deft and mature handling. It is yet to be seen whether the egoist and self-centred leaders will work for the larger interest of political aggregation and consolidation.