Bamdev-Rambir Drama Party Bruised, Lesson Learnt
Ritu Raj Subedi
Bamdev Gautam finally backed down from his plan to contest by-election from Kathmandu Constituency-7 in the face of strong public protest. Thanks to the social media that burst Bamdev’s bubble in no time. Gautam shelved his irrational ambition only after causing much damage to his party’s credibility. The ruling Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) is now struggling to live up to its promise it gave to the electorate during the election. And Bamdev’s obstinacy to get elected for the member of federal parliament shocked PM Khadga Prasad Oli whose public rating is now dipping alarmingly. Lawmaker Rambir Manandhar, who announced to resign from his position to vacate his constituency for Gautam, threw unusual tantrums to the dismay of all. He has been accused of bartering his post of lawmaker for the ministerial berth. This does not only betray the trust of his voters but also the party that gave him ticket from the said constituency. He has now run the gauntlet from the local people, his own Newar (Manandhar community) and party rank and file. He is likely to face disciplinary action from the party. Nonetheless, the short-lived scam proved to be a big lesson for both Gautam and Rambir: the people’s mandate is not a matter of buy and sell.
Bamdev-Rambir drama has finally turned out to be a damp squib with so many negative implications for the party. This ludicrous episode created distrust among the key leaders of the party. There has been palpable chemistry between PM Oli and co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda. Because of their conviction and guts, the erstwhile CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre were unified, enabling the unified party to pull off the resounding victory. There is no doubt Prachanda is the next executive leader of the party and government if he wholeheartedly supports Oli to lead the government for full term. Prachanda’s backing is fundamental to achieve the full-fledged stability and economic prosperity, which Oli had promised to deliver. But during his recent visit to India, Prachanda had showed his cards. In an interview with an Indian newspaper, he disclosed that he would take over the reins of government after two-and-half years of Oli premiership. This clearly indicated that Prachanda will not sit in silence until he takes up the highest executive post. This type of motive and attitude goes against the spirit of popular mandate so Oli immediately dismissed Prachanda’s claim and said that his government would continue in office for five years.
However, Bamdev-Rambir deal, struck in the presence of Prachanda, points to another ominous development for the CPN that has not yet taken shape of a unified party. Rambir has been close to Oli but he has switched to Prachanda in order to meet his ambition of executive position. He was frustrated after he was not included in the Oli cabinet. Neither did he become the party central committee member. He started to bear grudge against Oli and became ready to be a ladder for Gautam at the behest of Prachanda. Rambir’s resignation came through Prachanda and Oli knew about it only after the party general secretary Bishnu Paudel read it out in the secretariat meeting. Except Gautam and Prachanda, all were shocked by Rambir’s announcement. It must have been a reality check for Oli, who holds three important positions - party parliamentary leader, powerful chairman and PM. Rambir was supposed to put up this matter before Oli but he sidestepped his leader Oli only to stun the party leadership from the top to bottom. It is believed that Prachanda wants to bring Gautam to his factional camp in order to scuttle Oli’s strength within the party and bolster future power equation in his favour.
It is difficult to understand why Gautam is bent on getting elected to the federal parliament. He lost election in Bardiya last year. It is wise that he accepts the people’s verdict and wait for the next election. But Gautam was not content with the people’s mandate and went on searching for pawn lawmaker who can sacrifice for his political ambition. He approached many a sitting lawmaker but to no avail. It goes against the grain of democracy to make a joke of voters’ mandate. Is Gautam a must for the parliament? Is the sky going to fall if Gautam fails to become a lawmaker? These questions hit anyone who is watching Gautam’s freakish politics from close quarters. Gautam has been saying that he wants to lead a powerful reconstruction body that oversees the overall infrastructural development. He even claims that he wants to electrify the House that shows no sign of vigour and vitality at the moment. If the entire party is positive for Gautam’s entrance into the House, why don’t they pick him as a National Assembly member? It is not necessary to be a parliamentarian if Bamdev is really assigned a powerful job to carry out the national construction campaign.
Gautam, who is known as a leader of militant spirit, had played significant role in unifying the two parties. The party should recognise his contribution by giving him space through due democratic process. Even the top leadership is positive about meeting his demand. But the way he employed tactics to get to the federal parliament came under fire. He was also a controversial figure within the party. He had split the party, protesting the contentious Mahakali treaty. Late Madan Bhandari had well understood Gautam’s strength and temperament. He used to say: “Bamdev nabhaye party lulo hunchha, ani bamdev habi bhaye party dhulo hunchha. (The party’s organisational structure gets loose in the absence of Bamdev. If he dominates the party, it will turn to dust.) Therefore, the party needs to put curb on Gautam’s irrational ambition and utilise his ability to the benefit of the country.