The Tricky Issue Of Left Unification
With the landslide victory of the left alliance in the recently held central and provincial elections, the discussion on the formation of the new government has gained greater currency in the political circle. In fact, the chairman of the leading party in the alliance has already been projected as the future Prime Minister of the country. In addition to this, another agenda that is coming to the fore is the formal unification of the CPN-UML and the Maoist Centre, two of the largest parties in Nepal who call themselves ‘communists’ but have looked more ‘capitalists’ in their life style and political behavior in recent days.
The growing capitalist attitude and behaviour has manifested in the recently held election campaigns too where most of the candidates of these two parties spent extravagantly -the corporate and business funding, bypassing the Election Commission’s ceiling of poll expenses.
At a time when Nepalese were enjoying their main festival, unexpected and shocking news of the pre-poll alliance between CPN-UML and the Maoist Centre who were once staunch critics of each other hit the media creating ripples across the entire society including the political fraternity.
Holding a joint press conference, the duo (Dahal and Oli) expressed their commitment to unify the two leftist parties for political stability and prosperity of the nation. Since then, the agenda of unification has taken a backseat with the election victories and power calculations reigning supreme among the top leaders of both the parties. While there seems to be no confusion at least in principle for party unification, practical challenges loom large.
As Hans J. Morgenthau, a towering scholar of political realism rightly pointed out, ‘politics is nothing but struggle for power’, Nepalese politics is once again bracing for the power politics discourse. Intra-party talks within the leftist forces have focused on the power sharing agreements as a prerequisite for unification. Thus, the distribution of influential positions like President, Speaker and Chairman of the to-be-formed unified party have already generated much debate and controversy. Adding fuel to the fire is the recent statement of the General Secretary of the CPN-UML who has opined to name the same person as the Prime Minister and Chairman of the unified party creating scepticism among the coalition partners.
Although the alliance promised the voters to deliver effective services for the national prosperity, political bickering has once again become profound. What is looking a potential scenario is that the unification process will still take some time with the unsettled power politics. Sticking to the original agreement of 60-40, revamping the existing organisational structures of the two parties and ultimately integrating into one will also be daunting. While the Maoists central committee meeting has decided to take the process of unification and government formation hand in hand, the next party in the alliance has stressed on the party integration after the new government. In this way, the atmosphere of the much touted party unification process has witnessed some serious pertinent challenges calling for the pragmatic leadership to rise above on time and break the integration impasse.
In between the development of these incidents, the posture of the Prime Minister (PM) to stall the new political process has invited serious criticism. With a weak moral and ethical ground, the PM has shown his sheer reluctance to quit paving the way for the future political course. Ignoring the fact that his government has already lost credibility and become a caretaker one, he has been adamant to assist the largest parties in forming the government.
Defending his move with an argument that the formation of National Assembly is crucial before the formation of the House of Representatives, a provision which the present constitution hasn’t mentioned, the PM has become increasingly unpopular. With his unpolitical behavior, he has also missed the opportunity of taking credit to the successfully holding the historic elections in the direction of the implementation of the new constitution. Sending the ordinance pertaining to the National Assembly to the president and accusing the president of creating an obstacle, the government has tried to play dirty tricks to foil the process- a prospect which looks almost impossible as the clear public mandate is with the leftist parties.
Twin challenges lie ahead of the leftist parties. On the one hand, they have to forge a new party integrating the two leftist forces and managing expectations within themselves, on the other, they have to take other opposition parties hand in hand in the process of accelerating national development. It will be unwise on their part to negate the voices of other parties represented in their parliament particularly in the direction of charting a better future for the nation.
The onus is on the leftist forces to settle the unification row soon. Otherwise, many unforeseen circumstances might derail the party integration prospect. Coming to a negotiation table keeping the national interest at the centre- a promise that they made during the election to the public, this issue can be amicably managed.
However, based on the past experiences of the mainstream political leadership of Nepal, it is very difficult to assume that they will easily abandon the petty power politics and rise above their vested interests. Nevertheless, the benefit of doubt still goes to these parties who can really transform themselves learning from the past and provide socially and economically viable society in the future.