Debunking The Myths
Dr. Narad Bharadwaj
With the successful completion of the first year at the helm of the state, the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) has debunked the long-held belief that a communist party cannot attain power through peaceful elections and, even if it does, cannot retain it for long without resorting to coercive methods.
The Communist Party of Nepal has had the privilege of setting a new record of being the first communist party of the world in capturing power through peaceful mobilisation of the people and embracing multiparty democracy as a vehicle of social change. Unlike the communist parties of China, Vietnam, Laos, North Korea and Cuba which had snatched power through tenacious armed revolutions stretching for years, the CPN attained power through peaceful elections and embraced republican federal democratic system of government with an orientation towards socialism.
Another astonishing characteristic of the CPN is that it has acted like a confluence where different hues of communist and socialist movements have converged together and merged to form a torrential flow of change and continuity of social transformation. As a ruling party assuming power through peaceful electoral competition, the Communist Party of Nepal has completed its first year in office but its progress has never been smooth and uneventful. It had to traverse a rugged terrain, negotiate uphill path and avoid hidden threats to arrive where it is today. The Communist Party of Nepal had come to power this very day last year accomplishing one of the strategic tasks of holding three tiers of elections as prescribed by the new constitution. The election was the first but very difficult step towards implementation of the constitution. This election gave mandate to the left coalition to accomplish the remaining tasks of constitution implementation by awarding a two-thirds majority to it.
The historic electoral victory inspired an organisational unity between two largest leftist parties of the country the CPN--UML and CPN--Maoist Centre paving the way for unifying the communist movement of the country. This unity created a strong basis for achieving a stable government after decades of instability. After coming to power, the left government brought out a white paper on the economic status of the country exposing the financial indiscipline of the previous government of the Nepali Congress which had brought the national economy on the brink of collapse.
On the basis of actual situation, the new left government took historic steps to define its economic goals by putting forward the slogan of ‘Prosperous Nepal and Happy Nepali’. Initiatives were taken to formulate policies and programmes to restructure financial administration in line with the federal structure envisaged by the constitution. As soon as KP Oli was elected Prime Minister, he took steps to clean the economic mismanagement left over from the previous government. He declared zero tolerance towards corruption and brought National Intelligence Department, Anti-Money Laundering Department and other key government offices under his direct control. The new left government unveiled programmes with an objective of fulfilling the promises it had made in its election manifesto, expedited implementation of the constitution and took measures to expand infrastructure development under post-earthquake national reconstruction project.
The left government focused its attention on expediting work on national pride projects and introduced policy measures to address the public grievances by introducing reform in transport management, market monitoring and service delivery by public institutions. The government took sweeping measures to break the system of syndicate ending decades of monopoly and arbitrariness in transport sector. It also made policy decision to take action against contractors failing to complete projects within deadline. Because of the close supervision and correct policy decisions of the government, impressive progress were recorded in mega projects like the Melamchi Drinking Water Project, Upper Tamakosi Hydro Project, Bheri Babai Diversion Project, Bhairahawa International Airport and Pokhara International Airport.
The left government also took steps to end perpetual load shedding by introducing effective management of power distribution in the country. As a result, the people of Kathmandu and other cities have been spared from prolonged blackouts. It has improved the life standard of the people and has increased productivity. The government’s initiative to correct the past deviation in financial management has started to show results. Its ability to maintain a growth rate of above 6 per cent is the indication that the national economy is slowly coming on track.
During the short period of time, the government has taken steps to create infrastructure for export based industries. Special economic zones have been opened and environment is being created to lure external investment. Steps have also been taken towards commercialisation and modernisation of agriculture. During the first year of the government, the arrival of foreign tourists is recorded to have increased by 25.4 per cent. This provides optimism towards fulfilling the goal of bringing two million tourists to Nepal by 2020.
KP Oli government has taken bold steps towards strengthening press freedom and making media professionally sustainable and dignified. The introduction of basic minimum pay scale for working journalists has been hailed as a significant step towards protecting media persons from the exploitation of media houses. The introduction of 100-day employment scheme is yet another feather in the cap of the Oli government. This is in line with the declared government’s policy of finding ways to engage youths in self-employment as a way of discouraging the trend among them to seek foreign employment instead of trying to start their own enterprises.
On top of all the above mentioned achievements, the most outstanding success of the KP Oli government is its ability to improve Nepal’s international image. After coming to power, Prime Minister KP Oli visited New Delhi and Beijing in an attempt to restore traditional friendship and obtain their support in Nepal desire to emerge as a bridge linking two rising economies.
Prime Minister Oli’s address to the UN General Assembly was a unique opportunity which provided Nepal a respectable pedestal in the realm of international politics. Similarly, his historic representation at the 49th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos was also an important milestone in Nepal’s effort to project its strategic outlook and to invite foreign investors to take benefit from Nepal’s abundant resources, young population and geostrategic location between two of the largest markets of the world.
The left government had taken over the rein of the state in dire economic circumstances. When it came to power, the diplomatic relation with Nepal’s southern neighbour was still tense. The left government had the challenge of putting national economy in order and refurbishing its international image.
A dispassionate evaluation of the past one year reveals that the left government has succeeded in creating basic preconditions for moving towards the goal of ‘prosperous Nepal and happy Nepali’. There are challenges ahead but there is every possibility that this government will come forward with more visible and quantifiable changes during the remaining four strategic years that lie ahead.
(Dr. Bharadwaj is a freelance writer and holds PhD degree in ethno-history. He writes on history, foreign relations, and contemporary national and international politics)