Progress In Communist Unity
Dr. Narad Bharadwaj
It is over six months since the former CPN - UML and the CPN – Maoist Centre announced party unification. However, the committees of the two parties are yet to be merged at provincial, district and village levels. As a result the whole party structure is in a state of confusion, directionless and ideologically obfuscated.
Everything looks hunky-dory at the top but there is considerable restlessness and suffocation at lower echelons of the party organisation. After unification, the central committee and the standing committee of the two parties have been fused though in a cumbersome and non- functional form. They appear to be coming alive slowly but the entire local entities of the party have been left in a state of disarray.
The general perception in party rank and file is that the local priorities of the party functions have been pushed under the carpet ever since the UML started political mobilisation in early 1990s with focus on parliamentary elections. Ever since the party’s local political mobilisation has remained limited and mostly election-centred. There have been regular complaints within the party that the central leadership had long since lost interest in attracting youths to the party and educating them with the philosophy and ideology of Marxism with an objective of luring the brightest people to leadership.
During the period of parliamentary political mobilisation, people got attracted to political parties as a quick way to acquire power and wealth. During those days, political parties gave preference to those people who could flail muscles, generate funds, pull the crowd and create storms. Those who were ideologically sound, had excellent academic record, were established intellectually in their areas, were capable of constructing ideas and were popular among the general masses were given the short shrift.
Such practice is always fraught with the risk of establishing a leadership which is spurned by the free intellectuals and disparaged by the people resulting in undermining the popular base of the party. As a result, the inter-relationship between the free intellectuals and the party leadership is not equal, comfortable and mutually reinforcing in matters of enhancing the capacity. The tendency of free intellectuals regarding political leaders as being below academic standard and political leaders regarding free intellectuals as superficial pedants is quite strong.
Today, there are no fixed benchmarks of qualification for a career growth in any political parties. There are no clear criteria for formal education, philosophical and ideological understanding, duration of minimum active service in the party, background of proven capacity for solving problems and level of popularity for gaining eligibility for a certain level of leadership position. This has put the leadership of the political parties at the risk of being devoid of academic, political and philosophical content.
In the present context of unification between the two largest communist parties of Nepal, a new challenge of creating an interface between leaders and cadres brought up through different political cultures, different ideological schooling and different organisational structures has emerged. The UML was a party which had practiced the principle of peaceful political transformation for a long time. The cadres of the former MC still strongly carry the culture and behaviour which they had cultivated during their armed rebellion. The level of theoretical and political consciousness is lower among the Maoist cadres than the cadres of the former UML.
While these two parties are in the process of fusion, the leaders and cadres of both the parties appear oblivious of the potential challenges the new party may face in the foreseeable future. The present political leadership does not appear to be according priority to the need of creating condition for natural evolution of leaders capable of filling the possible leadership vacuum in the future.
Within the present day party structure, it appears impossible to protect the organisational leadership from the infiltration of opportunists, careerists, ambitious people and business tycoons. It is necessary to evolve a mechanism to cleanse party leadership if it hopes to stabilise the ideological base of the party and to set standard for philosophical, theoretical and organisational ethos for the party building. A communist party needs to be intolerant to the culture of promoting factionalism and personality cult within the party organisations if it ever hopes to consolidate its ideological base and facilitate leadership transfer as a natural process.
The unified party is about to start a process of unifying its local committees. If the party workers are not given responsibility of leadership on the basis of their academic qualification, capacity and dedication, the objective of unification will not be met. The tendency of imposing decisions from the top will bring about more serious deviations in the future. The unification of the local party units should, therefore, be effected in a way that transmits the message of unification in the real sense.
We are poised to advance towards building socialism to achieve stability and prosperity which the Nepali people have aspired for decades. This is appropriate time to introduce structural reform in party organisation also. The two-thirds majority which the left government commands at present provides environment conducive for achieving this.
The left political leadership needs strong will to take steps towards reform. But a united party organisation will not be made if leaders do not free themselves from the cobwebs of old ideas. The communist movement is at an unprecedented height of popularity. But this height has been achieved at the cost of great sacrifice from thousands of sons and daughters of Nepal. Many merited and thoughtful people have chosen a life of oblivion, many are still actively involved in the party work bearing with harassment, discrimination and psychological pain, while others have let themselves buried unhonoured and unsung.
There are a host of opportunist, selfish and careerist people at the central leadership. It is they who often dominate organisational decision making process. At times, it looks pointless to talk about theory, philosophy, ideal and organisational principle. The old generation of leadership has reached the point of taking recess. But there are no visible second generation leaders to take over the helm. This situation has come because of the practice of taking resort to ad-hocism instead of evolving criteria for developing leadership in a planned way.
The unification of the two largest parties of the country has created an opportunity to break the process of division set into motion by the great polemic within the international communist movement in 1963. This opportunity will be best served if the unification is effected on the basis of principle instead of using power sharing as a tool for achieving unity. If leaders fail to think this way, the unification between the two leftist parties will not be durable. The social political transformation which is so close to success, will get caught in turmoil and the dream of making Nepal a stable and prosperous socialist republic will remain unfulfilled.