The Dilatory Unification Process
It has been over four months since the talk of left unification of the two largest communist parties in Nepal, the CPN-UML and the CPN-Maoist Centre, was mooted. The two parties have been procrastinating in merging them into a single communist party. Although they claim that they have sorted out their ideological differences and organisational structure issues, at least three major issues still remain to be resolved: the election symbol, mention of people’s war in the preamble to the statute and power sharing. The first two may be considered minor issues, while the third has become a real sticking point.
The CPN-UML and the CPN-Maoist Centre contested the provincial and federal elections with distribution of electoral seats in a ratio of 60:40. However, the results showed their strength in a ratio of 70:30. The results were a boon for the CPN-Maoist Centre, which was able to win just 13 per cent seats in the second Constituent Assembly elections. Had the CPN-Maoist Centre not formed an alliance with the CPN-UML this time, it would have fallen on evil days. Seen thus, the left alliance acted as a face-saver for the CPN-Maoist Centre.
Now, the CPN-Maoist Centre is demanding equal representation in the Central Committee and other structures of the unified party. As KP Sharma Oli has become the Prime Minister from the CPN-UML, Maoist Supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda is demanding that he be made the Chairman of the unified party. The first general convention of the unified party will elect the Chairman of the unified party but it seems Prachanda cannot face the election for Chairman.
Both the parties should not forget the fact that they were catapulted to power by the people with the conviction that there would be a stable government in the country and that the government would work in the interests of the country and the people by bringing about economic prosperity. The people have had their fill of political instability, which is one of the factors responsible for underdevelopment in the country. It has been twenty-nine years since the multi-party democracy was reinstated in the country. Over these years, what have the people got in terms of development and uplift of standards of living? Blaming the Panchayat system for development backwaters does not hold water at all. Even the successive governments formed since the dissolution of the Panchayat regime have not done anything tangible towards development.
If anything, the people had to suffer a lot during the insurgency era (1996-2006). It has been twelve years since the Maoist insurgency came to an end. With the Maoists coming to the mainstream of politics through the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2006, some positive developments emerged, the most prominent being the abolition of the 240-year-old monarchy and declaration of the country as a republic. But the transition period persisted till the formation of the federal parliament.
The rise of the left alliance has generated a lot of hope among the people. That is why the two constituents of the alliance should not delay in merging their parties. Analysis of current developments shows that Maoist Supremo Prachanda is fearful of the consequences that may arise after unifying the parties in such a way as to give more power to the CPN-UML on the basis of the criteria formulated at the time of contesting the provincial and federal elections. That is why Prachanda is demanding the post of Chairman of the unified party.
Conventional wisdom dictates that it is wrong of the CPN-Maoist Centre to demand equal power. The power sharing should be in a ratio of either 60:40 (as determined at the time of contesting the provincial and federal elections) or 70:30 (as per the election results). The CPN-Maoist Centre should not forget that their existence would have been in peril but for the CPN-UML. Even the Nepali Congress, which was the largest party before the provincial and federal elections, has admitted that the formation of the left alliance was one of the main factors behind their humiliating rout in the election.
In the past, the political parties were to blame for the sorry state of the country. Their prime concerns were making and breaking governments, thus giving rise to political instability and prolonging the transition period. Now there are hopes of a stable government for a full term. The people are agog with prospects of development and prosperity dangling before their eyes. There are so many development tasks to be carried out to improve the lot of the common people. At such a juncture, the coalition partners of the government are wrangling over the distribution of power in the unified party.
There is no gainsaying that unless political parties rise above their partisan interests and identify themselves with the interests of the country and the people, no tangible development can be notched up. So the CPN-Maoist Centre should put the interests of the country and the people before their own and press ahead with unifying the parties without any delay.
The people have given a clear mandate to the left alliance. It is the obligation of the left alliance to respect the mandate. For this, unification of the left parties is the first step. At present, there are no forces working against the unification of the parties. Rather, India, China and the rest of the world have welcomed the unification proposal. The delay in the unification process can be ascribed to internal, not external, factors. The sooner the parties are unified, the better. This will enable the government and the leaders of the parties to pay heed to more pressing development works in the country. After all, it is the obligation of the left alliance to fulfil the promise of political stability and economic prosperity made during the canvassing to the provincial and federal elections.