Prachanda Taking Another Stride?
At a time when the process for the unification of the CPN-UML and the CPN-Maoist Center, the two constituents of the victorious left alliance, has not taken expected pace, CPN-MC Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ has hinted at taking a stride. What Prachanda said at a programme in Chitwan a couple of days back may give expression to his feelings with regard to the sluggish progress of the left unification and the immediate need to form the federal government. Although both the UML and MC leaders have been claiming that unification process is going ahead and there are only a few matters including the ideological and organisational structure as well as power sharing issues to be settled, they have yet to discuss on the power sharing in the government. And it is most likely that process for formation of the fresh elected government will start within a week.
Of course, the two parties have settled power sharing at the provincial levels including the chief ministers, ministers of the provincial government and the speaker and deputy speakers in the provincial assembly. Out of 7 provinces, the two parties combined make up majority in six provinces. The two parties or the left alliance also have a comfortable majority in the federal parliament including the House of Representatives. In the light of the way they have settled power sharing issues at the provincial levels, there is no room for any doubt that they will fail in making an amicable power sharing even for the federal government and parliament. But, more important is the issue of unification between the two parties.
Following the comparatively greater victory of the UML in both elections to the House of Representatives and the provincial assembly held in two phases on November 26 and December 7 last year, the UML has changed the criteria for power sharing. For the elections, the two parties had shared seats in a ratio of 60 and 40 per cent, UML getting 60 per cent while MC having 40 per cent. But, after the elections, as the UML emerged victorious compared to the MC, the ratio of power sharing has been changed into 70 and 30. They have shared the powers in the provincial executive and legislative in the same way. They may as well follow this formula to share power at the federal level, in formation of the federal government and holding different positions in the federal parliament.
The MC seems to have accepted this standard for the power sharing in the government. But, the party has strong reservation over following the same criteria for the unification of the two parties whereas the UML wants to apply the same formula. Moreover, the MC has been claiming that the MC Chief Prachanda should be the chairman of the unified party if the UML Chair KP Sharma Oli is to be the head of the government or the Prime Minister. If there is anything that has apparently obstructed the pace of the unification, this is the one. By emphasising on continuing with the 70/30 ratio, many UML leaders have indirectly ruled out possibility of Prachanda becoming the Chairman of the unified party. Almost a month back, Prachanda had said in a public programme in Chitwan that there had been a gentleman’s agreement between the two parties about making Oli the PM and Prachanda the party chief. UML Chair Oli has kept silence over this issue. According to the reports, UML chair Oli is ready to make Prachanda only the co-chairman of the unified party.
While pointing at the possibility of his new stride to what he said move the country out of difficulty, Prachanda defended his moves made in the past as characteristics of a dynamic leader. He claimed he was a dynamic leader and not unstable one as labelled by some. There is some truth in what he said. He has been able to force national politics to move around him for the last two decades. He or his party has been an influential factor. It was his wise decision to switch to UML to form the government in 2015 and leave the UML led ruling coalition to become the Prime Minister himself. No doubt, had he not become the PM dealt properly with the Madhesi parties, no environment for polls would have created.
He played historic role for both the country and the constitution implementation by moving the country toward the elections by holding the first phase of the local level election. In this sense, no one should have reservation to call him a dynamic leader. But, he has made a lot of compromises all along. In some cases his compromises have been betrayal to those who sacrificed during the decade long armed rebellion. If we compare what they dreamt then and what situation we have today, the result of his compromise becomes clear. But, then his compromises have not been so bad.
Around a month ago, Prachanda was offered premiership for full term by the Nepali Congress and Madhesi-centric parties. Then the results of the election to the House of Representatives and provincial assembly have just came out and left alliance had emerged victorious. Just after the formation of the left alliance, Prachanda had said in the public that he was told by some leaders of the Indian ruling party that he had not made a good choice.
Now, very recently, after the two-day Nepal visit of Shushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister of India, Prachanda said those forces which incited him against the left alliance and unity in the past had now tried to incite Oli to keep the unification pending or abort it. No doubt, attempts have been made to thwart the left unity, both internally and internationally.
But, the country needs the left unity for the sake of political stability, which will in turn lead to economic development. If the Maoist chair is mulling over taking another stride, it should be for this cause, for the cause of left unity. But, as a bigger party in view of its strength in the federal and provincial parliament, the UML has a greater role to play, to reciprocate. Does the stride mean that Prachanda is ready to accept co-chair in the unified party and the ratio of the 70/30 in organidational power sharing or he is fed up with the way UML has started minimising him and his party after the elections?