Unification Hits Roadblocks
Unification between the two ruling communist parties has not yet come to fruition. As both parties seem to be entangled in ensuring their superior positions in the unified party, they have still been unable to merge the two parties. They have missed many deadlines for the much-awaited unification because of the growing fear about their roles and positions in the new unified party. The new unified party, to be named as Nepal Communist Party (CPN), appears to take final shape only after the Maoist Centre (MC) supremo Prachanda is assured of chairmanship of the new party. The MC chair is said to have sought confirmation that the general convention of the unified party must hand him the responsibility of chairmanship in the new party.
In the meantime, other MC leaders are also seeking the confirmation that the powerful new party organisations such as the central committee, politbureau, standing committee must include fifty per cent representation of the Maoist Centre leaders. The inclusion of the half the number of Maoist leaders in the powerful party bodies of the unified party would ensure the new chairman a more comfortable tenure.
The Maoists’ urge for making the unification respectable has yet to be responded well by the larger party of the alliance, the UML, which has proved to be stumbling block for the much-hyped unification of two parties that won the elections with two-thirds majority after they forge electoral alliance with a pledge that they would unify their parties if they would win majority.
Interestingly, the leaders of the both communist parties often express that no one can stop the two parties from embracing the unification to form the Nepal Communist Party, but they appear to have grown fearful of each others with every passing day. While expressing their positive thought on the unification, they appear to ensure an upper hand in the unified party. The UML is averse to the idea of allowing the alliance partner, the Maoist Centre, to have fifty per cent representation in the powerful central organisations. Almost all of the UML leaders are heard saying that the inclusion must be carried out on the basis of at least 60:40 ratio. Since the UML is the bigger party in the parliament, it wants more shares in the new party, which has given heartburns to the MC leaders including the supremo Prachanda.
Though both sides are found airing the view that the unification will be respectful for both parties, the leaders from the UML are not supporting the idea that the unification should happen by including half the number of leaders from the smaller alliance partner.
They have also disliked the idea of handing over the chairmanship of the unified party to the MC chairman. As a way of deflecting this issue, many UML leaders have been found saying that they cannot predict the mood of the convention representatives and hence they cannot decide on the chairmanship to Prachanda. The Maoist Centre has grown apprehensive that once the party merges with the larger alliance partner, many senior Maoist leaders in the new unified party will have to play second fiddle to the UML chair KP Sharma Oli and other senior UML leaders as the large number of UML leaders would naturally dominate them in the decision making process in the new party. The issue of assigning new roles and position satisfactorily to the senior leaders of the two alliance partners has turned out a trickier one.
During a recent programme, held to mark the anniversary of establishment of CPN and birth anniversary of communist leader Lenin, the differences in the mood of the party cadres came to surface over a banner hanged at the City Hall. The banner conspicuously failed to include the image of Lenin, which drove the Maoist Centre leaders and cadres crazy. The programme started after four hours delay and after setting up the portrait of Lenin.
What is noteworthy about the ongoing unification process is that leaders of both sides have spoken positive about it. The top two leaders, who have agreed to take the mantle of co-chairs of the new party unless the general convention picks up new party chair, express that the unification is a sure thing. Stating that both parties should undertake any tricky task to bring the unification to its fruition, the UML chair Oli said that both parties should go to the extent of remodeling the feet to fit the new shoes. On the other hand, Prachanda expressed that the unification would take place suddenly on any unspecified day.
The above mentioned difficulties have indeed proved to be roadblocks to the much-awaited unification. Many think that even if the parties are merged to form the Nepal Communist Party, several leaders of the unified parties would not feel comfortable about their roles, which will deepen the dissatisfaction level among them. The dissatisfied leaders belonging to the UML and MC, who feel that their roles in the unified party has shrunk remarkably, may even walkout to join other parties or form new parties.
Because of inherent fears of losing effective roles and places in the unified party, the MC leaders have grown indifferent to the unification, though they often sound positive about the unification in the public forum. A recent meeting of the MC headquarter decided that no certain date should be fixed for the unification unless the unification would be respectable one for the party. This decision must have come to buy more times to compel the larger alliance partner to give the Maoist leaders more “respectable space” in the unified party, including chairmanship to Prachanda.
The UML, being the larger alliance party, needs to listen to the MC leaders’ urges and grudges if it wants to sail the unification boat smoothly through the present rough water. The UML leaders should also think that they have got the present position in the provincial and federal parliament due to the MC’s support and alliance. The UML, like the MC, had promised to the voters that if its alliance with the Mc would win majority, the party would unify with the MC. The UML, like their alliance partner, must give respect to the people’s mandate which catapulted them to the present powerful position. And the party needs to address the urges of the MC leaders. Should they fail in addressing the MC urges, the unification may not happen, thanks to the overriding fear among the MC leaders regarding their future roles and positions in the unified party.