Left Alliance Heads For Resounding Victory
Ritu Raj Subedi
The preliminary results of federal and provincial elections put the Left Alliance on the course of roaring success with the ruling Nepali Congress (NC) trailing the CPN-Maoist Centre for the political survival. As many of the NC heavyweights have already faced humiliating drubbing, the grand old party is set to suffer the worst defeat in its history. The CPN-UML and the Maoist Centre, key allies of Left Alliance, have grabbed most of the electoral seats. Their decision to forge electoral alliance and eventual unity ahead of the poll proved to be a successful tactical move and produced synergic effect on the voters. In addition, it provided a rare political elixir to the Maoist Centre that risked being pushed into oblivion following the second Constituent Assembly and recent local polls. The voters have rewarded the UML for its nationalist stand for sovereignty and territorial integrity. Nepal has of late become a playground of foreign power centres but UML under its strongman KP Sharma Oli took a bold stance against the uncalled for foreign intervention, which finally paid off in the crucial elections conducted in sync with the roadmap of the new constitution written in 2015.
Apparently, the electorates punished the NC for its flawed position and a set of unpopular decisions. While its nationalistic credentials remained horribly low, it disgustingly undermined the basic values of democracy and political ethics while in power. To the chagrin of Nepalis, the NC refused to term the Indian blockade as blockade imposed on Nepal in retaliation for promulgating the constitution without its consent. When Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba promised before Indian PM Narendra Modi that he would make maximum efforts to amend the constitution following the three-tier election, it severely damaged the image of NC in the eyes of Nepalis. His pledge amounted to surrendering of national dignity to India, a repulsing thing for Nepalis, who never came under the colonial rule of any foreign country since the birth of Nepali nation more than 250 years ago. The NC hurt the sentiments of hill people to appease a handful of Madhesi leaders, who have been acting at beck and call of the southern neighbour. It is here worth mentioning that it is the hill that unified Nepal and kept the national sovereignty intact by balancing the two giant neighbours.
The NC formed the government several times in the past but it miserably failed to institutionalise hard-won political achievements and deliver the goods and prosperity to the people. Corruption thrived to endemic proportions with many of its top leaders implicated and jailed for siphoning the state coffers. Instead of avoiding many of its leaders convicted of various corruption scandals, the party gave them political space only to mock good governance and fiscal ethics. The neo-liberalization policy its government implemented blindly following the restoration of multiparty democracy dismantled the edifice of welfare state envisaged by the 1990 constitution. The Washington Consensus became its mantra. It threw socialism and nationalism, propounded by its founding leader BP Koirala, into dustbin. Today quality education and health service are beyond the reach of common people because of the unchecked market economy. The unregulated privatisation led to the collapse of public enterprises, forcing millions of youths to search for their future in the Gulf countries.
More importantly, the NC puts itself on the wrong foot when it came to the agenda of election. The parties contesting the polls were supposed to focus on stability, peace and development as the country was saturated with many movements and revolution. The nation has already got the democratic and inclusive statute. It is time for all to implement the national charter wholeheartedly. But the NC erroneously stoked the fear of communist dictatorship to vilify the Left Alliance but the voters did not give a hoot about this accusation because it hardly corresponded with the historical consciousness and enlightenment of Nepalis. Nepali society’s social and cultural consciousness never allows the dictatorship of any sort. The NC harped on this faulty tactic that sorely underestimated the role of Nepalis communists to establish democracy in Nepal.
The Nepali communists have relentlessly fought against the autocracies – be it Rana rule or party-less Panchayat. The Communist Party of Nepal was born in course of fighting against the totalitarian Rana rule. When the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) was at its fledgling stage in 2007 BC, its founding general secretary Pushpa Lal Shrestha led a separate anti-Rana movement after the NC refused to work with it together. Pushpa Lal Shrestha continually pushed for united struggle against Panchayat system but the NC failed to comprehend the verity of his vision. It was Pushpa Lal who presented the correct political guideline to fight against the autocratic Panchayat system. His tactical line materialized only after his able disciple late Madan Bhandari convinced the then NC supremo Ganesh Man Singh to launch a unified movement against the Panchayat in 2046 BS, which became successful and led the country to the democratic victory. It is surprising and big irony that the NC could not learn this important chapter of Nepal history and was swayed by false consciousness. This shows an utter lack of intellectual insight and imagination within the NC leadership. Oli himself embodies the sacrifice and struggle against the autocratic rule. He endured ordeals of 14-year-long prison life during the Panchayati autocracy.
When CPN-Maoist Centre chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda consorted with NC president Sher Bahadur Deuba to form NC-MC coalition, it was not seen as an anomalous venture. As Prachanda went to collaborate with UML, the NC panicked to the extent that it resorted to the outdated anti-communist Cold War rhetoric that eventually boomeranged on it in the election. Only hardcore NC leaders and cadres bought this idea, which had little impact on the common and neutral voters. The NC’s double standard was laid bare in its short-sighted poll campaign. Its leaders had only tried to pull the wool over the eyes of voters by accusing Oli of attempting to impose an authoritarian regime through the election.
The NC went to the poll under Deuba’s stewardship. Though he was strong and unrivaled within the NC, he is not a popular figure in the contemporary politics. When UML chair Oli hogged the limelight most of the time, Deuba often found himself dragged into unwarranted controversies. The people did not commend the formation of the biggest cabinet of caretaker government he constituted to save it from dissolution. He has been accused of taking many unpopular decisions in order to cling to power. The NC also fared badly in the contents and their articulation during the poll drive. Deuba could not appeal to the masses. He was mostly inarticulate and the audiences were left struggling to grasp his message. Quite the contrary, the UML has some rich ideological message with its influential messenger - Oli. He effectively communicated the party’s contents and vision to the people. The national politics has revolved around Oli for the last couple of years because of his stance, charisma and audacity. Tipped as the future PM, Oli has a daunting challenge to utilize his charisma for the broader benefit of the nation.