Left Alliance On Shaky Ground?
Chairmen of the two major constituents of the left alliance, CPN-UML’s KP Sharma Oli and CPN-Maoist Centre’s Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda,’ the other day reaffirmed their pledge to form a unified party of them and foil any attempts to divide the left unity. What the two heads of the largest and the third largest party in the country saidat a book launching programme on December 30 in Kathmandu gave a flashback on what the other leaders of these two parties had viewed with regard to the government formation and party unity over the past week and how leaders of the other parties, particularly Nepali Congress, had lured Prachanda with their commitment to support him for premiership for the next five years. It is usual for the NC, which has lost the recent elections, and other national and international forces which see the left alliance as a challenge to their interest to try to create rift in the alliance.
But the attempts were made only after some sharp differences of views related to the government formation and party unity of some leaders of the UML and the MC spilled over in the media. Some UML leaders projected chair Oli as the only leader to be the head of the unified party, Prime Minister and chief of the party’s parliamentary party, which infuriated the MC leaders as they felt they were minimised to nothing. Some UML leaders came to the media with such views as if the MC was to merge with the UML, not that the two parties would get unified. Furthermore, UML chair Oli himself discussed about government formation with Upendra Yadav, chair of Federal Socialist Forum, which prompted MC chair Prachanda to argue a few days back at a programme in Nawalparasi that the UML had turned to the MC only after the FSF rejected the UML appeal to join the government.
Around the same time in Chitwan, Prachanda also said that there had been agreement between the two parties to handle the premiership turn by turn. The abrupt crack seen in the alliance got covered only after Oli and Prachanda held a meeting on December 28 and reaffirmed their commitment for keeping the alliance intact and moving forward for party unity. But, the UML move to seek support from FSF to form government, NC president and Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s offer to support Prachanda for premiership for five years and Prachanda’s delaying to return to Kathmandu from his electoral constituency in Chitwan only vindicated that the ground of the left alliance is still very shaky.
Obviously, a lack of confidence of one another is seen in the leaders of the left alliance. Particularly, the leaders in second in rank seem to be more concerned about their political ambition than the main leadership of the two parties. Or it may be that the main leaders moved their deputies to express their views so as to feel the pulses of the other. Whatever the reasons, the expressions and moves showed some doubts on their part.
The people voted for the left alliance as the UML and the MC had a common election manifesto although they competed in the federal and provincial parliament elections as separate parties. With overwhelming victory in the first-past-the-post electoral system, the UML emerged as the single largest party. However, and fortunately for the left alliance and party unity, the UML did not get majority because of the proportional representative electoral system. Had the UML got majority, the left alliance would most probably have become non-issue for the UML.
Although the UML leaders hype much about the achievements made during the premiership of Oli and analyse the election victory as a result, they forget the fact that the Oli government in October 2015 was formed with support from the MC and Prachanda had his all support in standing against the Indian blockade and getting the trade and transit agreements with China. Moreover, had Oli wanted to keep the then leftist government by implementing the gentlemen’s agreement of handing over power to Prachanda, the leftist government would not have collapsed.
UML leaders like Madhav Kumar Nepal, Jhalanath Khanal and Bamdev Gautam who were involved in forming the leftist government then kept suggesting Oli to hand over power to Prachanda as per agreement, but Oli did not listen to them and Prachanda went to form coalition with the Nepali Congress. Earlier, the UML and NC coalition government had collapsed as the NC did not hand over power to the UML as per agreement. In fact, UML had done to the MC what NC had done to the UML.It is also a fact that election environment was created only after Prachanda became the Prime Minister. Prachanda’s role in moving the country toward election by bringing in the agitating Madhes-based parties and thus paving the way for implementation of the constitution is no less important than Oli’s highly commendable stand against the Indian blockade.
Many see formation of coalitions and alliances only through the lens of the roles of the external forces and brush aside inter and intra party differences, which is not the reality. The formation of the present left alliance is also analysed in the same light, which is only partly true. Therefore, the future of left alliance or party unity between the UML and MC depends much more on the leaders of the parties than on the external forces.
There is no substantial meaning when leaders say there are attempts to divide them simply because it is usual in politics to create conflict in the other parties or alliance. It will be betrayal to the people if the UML and MC fail to form at least a coalition government and ensure political stability at least for the next five years. They have pledged to the people that they will unify their parties, and they should also fulfil this commitment. The shaky ground will be strong only after the two parties are united.