Formation of CPN Powerful Political Entity
After surprise unification between the two communist parties last week, the unified Nepal Communist Party (NCP) leaders are now engaged in creating party organisations, from high command, central committee, standing committee to local level party committees. For the top party honchos, it appears that the task of accommodating the party leaders and cadres of both parties under the newly formed NCP fold is indeed an arduous undertaking.
Despite forging an electoral alliance seven months back, the much-talked about merger between the two communist parties, the erstwhile UML and Maoist Centre, became a reality only last week as the issue of managing the top post in the unified party of the then Maoist Centre chair Prachanda as well as positions to other leaders caused the delay for the unification. At one point, the unity between the former rival communist parties appeared impossible because the issue pertaining to the sharing of positions in the unified party kept on halting the unification bid.
Both KP Sharma Oli and Prachanda held many rounds of one-on-one meetings to resolve tortuous issues related to the managing their erstwhile party colleagues in the unified party’s copious structures. The unification was finally clinched after it became clear that the both top party leaders, Oli and Prachanda, agreed to have a provision of two chairpersons in the unified party. The other two problematic issues- the adoption of the guiding principle for the party and the party’s electoral symbol were pushed to backburners towards the end.
The provision of having two chairpersons in the NCP also ensured that the both chairperson would share equal power while taking party decisions. This has turned Prachanda as powerful as Prime Minister Oli in the new party. The provision of having two chairpersons with equal power and capacity has actually motivated the Maoist chair to accept the unification.
It seems that the first challenge after the unification is actually to steer the boat of the unified party till and after the general convention of the party that would pick up party leadership and other officer bearers to the several of party’s organisations in a democratic manner. With its surprise formation, the new left party is expected to confront a new quandary: there is every chance several leaders of various statures within the new party may feel dissatisfied over the role granted to them or the lack of role for them. The issue of seniority in the party’s newly formed high command has irked senior leader and former Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal so much that he went on to criticise NCP chair Oli and senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal for putting him down the order in the high command.
The erstwhile UML’s vice chairman, Bhim Rawal, who failed to find a place in the high-command, vented his anger after many of his party colleagues hailing from the Province 7 did not get a place in the 441-member central committee of the unified party. After he upped his pressure and threatened to call a meeting of his colleagues, the party leadership relented to include the names proposed by Rawal in the NCP central committee. Rawal was believed to have desired to be one of the members in the NCP high-command.
After both UML and MC merger, many notable leaders found themselves at the receiving end. Two such leaders are: Ishwor Pokharel, who was the general secretary of the then UML party, and the Maoist Centre senior leader Janardan Sharma, who, despite being one of the architects of the unification, failed to find a place in the high-command.
Pokharel though has found a place in the newly formed powerful 9-member high command, his party colleague Bishnu Paudel clearly gained a win over him as he was appointed general secretary of the high command. Several of the leaders cutting across the both communist parties have failed to gain a place either in the high-command or in the central committee or in the standing committee.
The unification of two parties often lead many leaders towards dissatisfaction as many of them feel that their status and role have shrunken. Such kind of situation often arises in the parties that unify to form another single political entity. It is up to the party leadership and their close confidants that they should always strive to keep the level of dissatisfaction as low as possible by addressing the genuine concerns of their party colleagues. Sometimes the perils of dissatisfaction can cause greater harm to the party, especially the one which has been newly created.
It is often said that the communist parties of Nepal have a tendency to unify with other communist parties as quickly as they break up. In the recent past several communist leaders have defected to join other parties. When Dr. Baburam Bhattarai formed his new Nayashakti party, several of leaders from the erstwhile CPN (Maoist) had joined his party. But within few months, many of these leaders returned to the mother party led by Prachanda. Likewise, a group of noted leaders defected from their mother party to join hands with Mohan Baidhya Kiran-led party some six years ago. However, many of them left Baidhya’s Maoist party and returned to the Prachand-led fold. Likewise, some leaders of the Kiran’s party walked away to form another communist party under the Netra Bikram Chand’s leadership.
The management of the dissatisfaction among the party leaders would be a key element for the NCP leadership to keep the party as powerful as it appears now. With its formation, it has now emerged as a powerful communist party in the annals of Nepal’s political history. The unification between the two parties that have been leading the current government has given them huge advantage over their political rivals. With almost two-third majority under its belt, the NCP led government can take decisions that might have lasting implications in the nation’s socio-economic and political life.
The unification has buoyed a large number of leaders of the erstwhile UML and MC. The leadership can now exercise greater power owing to the sheer number of votes they command in the parliament. At present, the unified party that has now emerged as single ruling party of the country has no fear of its downfall from outside. It however can suffer a blow from within if it fails to manage the level of dissatisfaction among the leaders who missed out on opportunities following the unification. But given the powerful control of two chairpersons in the party, this blow to the party may not happen, at least for now and next one or two years.